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The Bible Tells Me

I’m not the Bible scholar I should be. I know some verses; not as many as I ought. Still, I find most of my experiences can be framed or underscored, explained or illuminated, by Scripture. Or maybe a hymn or a worship song, a devotional or a testimony. Frequently, I have those “Oh, yeah” moments when I see God clearly in an event. Or realized that I should have seen Him.

These are the moments of “The Bible tells me.”

These essays reflect that. Do know that I can proof-text as well as anyone. I have a concordance, and I know how to use it. Well, truthfully, I do all of that online now, where I can quickly find a passage, see it in many versions, and choose the one I like best. I try not to be narrow, but instead broad, as I apply Bible words to my experiences. I know that your interpretations and understanding may be different than mine. But I also know that our God is big enough for all of us.

I have a friend who, in her prayer time, likes to tell jokes to God. “I know He knows the punch line,” she says. “But I tell them anyway. He likes it when I laugh.”

He likes it when I laugh. I’m going to hang on to that. It’s Biblical. The Bible tells me.

Our mouths were filled with laughter then,
and our tongues with shouts of joy.
Then they said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord had done great things for us;
we were joyful.

Psalm 126: 2,3 (HCSB)


Oh, Christmas Tree, Oh, Christmas Tree!

 

How lovely are your branches! I love Christmas. I love the lights and the smells and the joy and the wonder and all the other stuff. Like lots and lots of other folks do.

For our first Christmas, we bought a tree at K-Mart. A tree in a box. There was a looming dock strike, and the most talked-about threat was not loss of jobs, not disaster for small businesses. It was, “There won’t be any Christmas trees!” Apparently, fresh evergreen trees are shipped to the Hawaiian Islands for Christmas. And we, not knowing anything different, went to K-Mart for a tree. It was one of those “bottle-brush” artificial trees. We had some ornaments that people in the apartment across from us had left behind when they moved. We’d been to a nice department store and, as we got to the top of the escalator, we smelled the smell of Christmas. We bought the aerosol spray. And we were all set.

The only thing we didn’t have was a tree-top ornament.

Our first non-artificial tree. A little scrawny, but it really did fill up the space better than the barely six-foot artificial one.

Our first non-artificial tree. A little scrawny, but it really did fill up the space better than the barely six-foot artificial one.

We used that tree for several years, then we bought a house and it had 10 foot ceilings. The old tree seemed too short for the new space.

David had been doing work for some folks, out in the country. He’d seen a tree he thought would work for us, and it needed to be cut down anyway. It was great. It made the house smell like Christmas. And instead of the miniature lights that were required, at the time, for artificial trees, we used the large, real Christmas lights that I knew from my childhood. (They were the handed-down lights from Mother and Daddy, so they may have been the lights of my childhood!)

A couple of years later, some friends bought some land out in the country and needed to do some clearing. They offered their place for tree-cutting for Christmas trees. And we went. But, here in Central Texas, the kinds of “evergreen” trees we have growing locally are Cedar Junipers. Yes, they are evergreen. Yes, they smell like Christmas. But they are rather ball-shaped, as opposed to the usual pyramid/cone type of tree that one gets at the tree lot. And, an enormous problem with going out to the country to cut a tree that’s growing out under God’s big, blue sky, is that they don’t look all that big, out there, in the wild.

We had those kinds of trees, for years. Big, full balls of Christmas trees that filled about a third of the dining room. They held several strings of lights and lots and lots of ornaments. But: 1) they do not really have “tops.” They’re a big ball. And 2) they banged right up against the ceiling. David put a big hook (like you would use for a swag light or a hanging plant) into the ceiling and tied the tree to it each year.

So, no tree-top ornament. For years.

 

I resisted the idea of an artificial tree for a long time, mainly because I still wanted those big-bulbed tree lights (you know, the ones from my childhood). A few years ago, I saw an artificial tree at Lowe’s. It had small lights AND big lights!! It cost about a hundred dollars, and I thought that was too much and didn’t get it. And I was instantly sorry. It would be less than the cost of ten trees over ten years time. I went back to Lowe’s and it was gone. I told JoAnne about my poor decision, after I’d been to HEB and gotten a fresh (sort of fresh) tree. She called me a few days later, after her family had gone to Tyler to visit Jim’s mom. “I’m standing in the Lowe’s here, and I think I see the tree you wanted. Do you want me to get it?” Oh, yes, I did want her to get it. It stood, in its box in the garage, for the whole next year, when JoAnne and Natalie were back, and we put it together, and plugged it in. Ta-Dah. An artificial tree with the lights of my childhood.

This year, both sons, both daughters-in-law, and the grandson were with us for Thanksgiving. On Friday, we got that great tree out of its box and worked together putting it up, plugging it in, and decorating. They brought in all the Christmas boxes from the garage, and opened them up to put out other decorations. Jeremy pulled a box from the large can that held the Christmas stockings and asked “What’s this?”

“It’s the tree-top ornament that belonged to my grandparents,” I said.

“Let’s use it,” he said.

“I don’t think it will work,” I said. The opening at the bottom is narrow, and the artificial tree, while not the stiff bottle-brushed tree of our early years still has a rather, um, bristley upright center.

“I’ll try,” he said.

“No, don’t,” I fretted. “It’s very old, and I don’t want it to break.”

“It’ll be all right,” he insisted. And he gently pushed it onto the top of the tree.

 

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.

Psalm 98:4 (King James Version)

Isaac Watts wrote the the words to “Joy to the World,” based on the second half of Psalm 98. It wasn’t meant to be a Christmas carol. But, aren’t we glad that it turned out that way. Our Christmas traditions, celebrations, and joy are gifts we receive and gifts we give others. Glad tidings to you and yours.

Goodbye, Old Paint*

That first Buick

That first Buick

The next one looked very much like this (at least as I remember it).

The next one looked very much like this (at least as I remember it).

My parents’ first car was a Buick. There was a brother-in-law who had a Buick dealership in Hillsboro, and maybe he made them a good deal. However it happened, Daddy forevermore drove Buicks. (Well, there were a couple of Volkswagen bugs that we had when JoAnne and I were teenagers and needed to drive ourselves around. Otherwise, Buick after Buick after Buick.)

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The Game’s Afoot

 

When Kevin, and then Jeremy, were at TCU, I used to visit Hulen Mall in Fort Worth pretty regularly. It was sort of on the way to the university—just a matter of where one turned off I35. There was a Container Store in front of the mall, and right across the street there was a Border’s Bookstore. Lots to do. After graduation, Kevin moved to the Cultural District; Jeremy eventually moved over there, too. Kevin and April still live in that area. Jeremy and Sarah married and moved to Brooklyn. The Border’s moved much closer to Kevin and April. Then, that store closed down, and The Container Store moved into the old Border’s spot. So, all in all, I don’t have much reason to visit the Hulen Mall area any more. Until yesterday. I was on my way to hear a speaker at a Fort Worth library which was really close to the Mall, and I’m on a quest to find a skirt with pockets, which turns out to be a much more difficult task that any sensible person might imagine. Maybe it is nonsense, but I tried.

 

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The More Things Change . . .

 

Sometimes they stay the same. Sometimes they keep on changing.

Peter was here a few weeks ago. He was wandering around the house while I was making a list on the computer. “Mimi,” he said, as he walked by the room. “I’m going to call you. Get your phone.”

So, I got my phone.

So, I got my phone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hello, Tim? This Is Mom.

I guess there’s always been some sort of disconnect between generations. The older folks have to get used to new-fangled things like cars instead of horses and buggys. And, televisions instead of radios. And radios instead of, um, people sitting around campfires and telling stories and sharing news. Mail instead of smoke signals and drums. Microwave ovens. Computers. (Insert red-faced angry emoticon here.) Emoticons instead of actual words.

Actually, I’m fond of computers. They make my life easier in lots of ways. Until they don’t.

And we’ve had a computer in the house for about 35 years. (Ollie, Mollie, Gollie, can it have been that long?) The first one was barely more than a toy, but I did a lot of writing on it. Then we bought an Apple II from a school friend of Kevin’s who was getting a new computer. Then, we bought, TA-DAH, a Mac Classic. The screen on that computer was about one-fourth the size of what I have now. THEN, we got an IMac. THEN, it got stolen. THEN, we replaced it with a new IMac, but it was RED. And then David got his own IMac (blue), and we were a two-computer family.

That was two or three computers ago, and I cannot even tell you what I have now, except that it’s bigger and faster. (Not great big, just bigger.) It came with “El Capitan” software. Then the word processing program said it could upgrade but I would need to upgrade my operating system and … (insert imagined conversations between me and Jeremy here) … so I did, rather accidentally, start the upgrading process to install the Sierra operating system and it always take so much longer than I expect, so I went to bed. Then, the next morning, THERE’S A NEW BACKGROUND PICTURE ON MY COMPUTER.

I liked the previous picture. Apparently, the previous picture actually was El Capitan. And the new picture is (you know this already, don’t you) actually Sierra. That’s how far behind the curve I am with many things “computer.”

THEN the phone said: new operating system; upgrade now! Or something like that. So I did. And, TA-DAH, I can’t find stuff on my phone. So, in a royal snit I called Jeremy. “I can’t find anything. Nothing’s where it’s supposed to be. This is making me NUTS!!! Who’s responsible for this? I know Steve Jobs died. Who’s running things now? Who is it that I want to go to Seattle and throttle?!?!?!?”

Tim Cook

This is Tim Cook who actually lives in Cupertino, California.

I suppose some folks, the younger, hipper folks, who grew up knowing how to use a computer the way my generation knew how to do things our parents couldn’t, even though nothing comes to mind right away, they like all the changes, and like changes all the time.

Both sons are basically kind and patient with me when I phone them for help. And when I phone them for help, it’s because I’ve tried and tried and cannot find the solution to whatever problem I may be having, so I’m not particularly patient. I don’t want to be walked through some scenarios and look for things to try, I want it TO WORK. NOW!

Sometimes when I phone for help, they will say: "Did you follow the steps on Jeremy's chart?"

Sometimes when I phone for help, they will say: “Did you follow the steps on Jeremy’s chart?”

 

Even so, Jeremy sent me a schematic for computer problem-solving. And, as you can see, there are notes on Post-Its that tell me how to do things. Still, I call, because there’s always some new thing I need help with. Which led us to a conversation about what sorts of phone calls Tim Cook might get, from his mom. “Hello? Tim, honey? HELP ME!! I can’t get this silly computer to: a) send a photo; b) send a letter; c) balance my checkbook; d) show me how to get to the zoo; e) 30,000 other things. Choose one. Or all.

 

 

When Kevin was here over Labor Day weekend, he was doing something on my computer (10 years old), and remarked how slow it was. Indeed. And he looked up new computers and said, “If you order this by 5:00, you can get it tomorrow.” What! Huh? “The beauty of it is that I’ll be here to set it up,” he went on. So, long story short, that’s what we did.

computers

Funny how photos of one’s own desk never look as nice and neat as the ones in catalogs, that show a desk that no one has ever actually done much work on.

Please go ahead and click to get the whole image. Yes, you’re seeing right. There’s the new computer, and on the shelf above, the old computer and a television. I’m in the process of moving things from old to new and making sure nothing important gets left behind. So, yes, there are two screens, two keyboards, and two mouses (is the plural for more than one computer mouse mouses or mice. Mice just seems wrong.)

And, as Kevin was putting all the computer stuff together, he said, casually, “you know there’s no disc player.” WHAT?!? How do I play CDs? DVDs? Apparently, I’m supposed to download music and get a streaming service. Really, I prefer going to the library and checking stuff out, for free. I’m sooooo not a modern girl. When we ordered the computer, we got an external disc drive, too. I can only make a limited number of changes at a time.

 

 

 

                                                                  

   Don’t you see that children are God’s best gift? The fruit of the womb his generous legacy?

Psalm 127:3 (The Message)

And so helpful, too.

 

 

 

I’ve Noticed This Odd Thing

Years ago, when I was teaching at the community college, on mornings I didn’t have a class, I liked to watch the Today show (while I stayed in bed and read the paper, too). One morning, the show (and probably the other news shows) was preempted by National Security Advisor, Condoleeza Rice’s testimony before the 9/11 Commission. It was pretty interesting, and I watched it all.

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