Monday, February 11, 2019

Hagerman Bible Study 02/04/19

Readings:
Scriptures
Matthew 5:31-4:2, Isaiah 66, John 17
Lesson Three from the book

The section from the book was titled, Learning to Trust. Keller speaks of Lass finally allowing the author to pull the angry wild rose thorns from between Lasses toes. The image of a dog lamed by thorns unable to do his master's work, gave us pause. The fact of the thorns being angry called to mind our own hurts and fears and how God could pull those thorns from our feet. Without His help, we are lamed by them.
Keller noticed that he was as much a servant as his dog, then stated, "God's gentle Spirit showed me in vivid reality the enormous condescension of Christ, who in love and self-humiliation tends human needs."
Keller speaks of a lifetime lesson, that faith was his "personal, positive response to the Word of God, to the point where" he acted in quiet trust.
As Keller noticed Lass's fidelity grow, he admitted his devotion to God fell short of his dog's devotion to the author. He realized that "God can only trust those who truly trust Him. He gives Himself in wondrous plentitude to the person whose single-minded devotion, love, and loyalty is given to the Lord."
In Isaiah 66:2, we found parallels to our lesson. God will bless those who have a humble and contrite heart. In Isaiah 66:3 we discussed those things that don't please God. and that Lass was at first wary and didn't answer and chose that in which his master didn't delight. In 66:10-14 God will nurture and heal and develop a loving relationship for those that honor Him.
We spent some time on John 17 letting it sink in, a prayer for the people of God, for us. We are not of the world like Lass discovering who she really was, not meant to chase cars and pull at leashes. We are not of this world, but we must trust God to discern our calling.
We talked of how Jesus in John 17 is feeding the world shelf-stable food, food we can draw on for a life-time. We noted that Lass would only eat what her master fed her. We spoke of how confused we are when we try to feed off the world and then want God's manna.
We turned finally to Matthew and found slim parallels. The dog is loyal unlike in Matthew, those who seek divorce.
Bible study begins at 6:30 tonight. I hope to see you there. Thanks for reading. Bev

Joy Writers 2019 Reading II

Joy Writers Reading II
Sunday February 17, 2019
2:00-4:00
The Roswell Museum and Art Center

The reading is open to the public. It is the second of two Joy Writer winter readings. Come listen to new work from The Joy Writers then and stay to talk over coffee and treats. If you are a writer, come learn more about who we are and if we are a fit for you. 

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Disappointments and Faulty Alignments

Lighted, Light Up, Christmas Indoor/Outdoor Yard or Lawn Decorations (34" Santa Claus)If you click on this you should be directed to Amazon's site to purchase the item in the photo. Why purchase a large plastic Santa, you may wonder? I wondered the same when Lonny in one of our first forays into decorating a large, new-to-us, home presented one for my approval. This particular Santa isn't the one he found, but it is similar enough.
We were at Walmart and while I stupidly searched for elegance and distinction amid the clutter of real life, Christmas and all, he searched for things to delight and amuse a new bride who was hopelessly out of her element, lost really in conflicts so silly I am embarrassed to remember them. I wanted to impress my neighbors. I wanted them to like me.
Lonny knew we were already welcomed, largely because we didn't try to impress. Lonny knew I secretly wanted the hard plastic Santa, and so did he because it would please me. He held up the decoration and moved to the center of the aisle. "Bev, what do you think? Great huh?" He shouted over the din of holiday shoppers.
I turned, embarrassment flushing my cheeks. What did I think? Not that. Never that. I was thinking delicate gold branches in planters strewn with tiny white lights. I was thinking beautiful but understated.
He was thinking, beloved Bride understated elegance will never work for us, and you probably won't find it here in this store. Perhaps I can distract you with color and lights. Perhaps then you won't be so disappointed with your efforts.
Why wouldn't elegant gold branches with tiny white lights work for us? Because I was never that girl or woman, or decorator even. I liked colors, big fat round Christmas C-9s in enough shades to never repeat over a ten foot length. My closet bore the same strain of trying to professionalize. Somber women's suits with a few beige or white silk blouses, hung neatly in the back encapsulated in their dry-cleaning bags, some still held their price tags. Outrageous prints tumbled to the front, well-worn and softened by numerous machine washes. I knew better than most, that the price of adulting your wardrobe, and by extension your way of life, was impossibly dear and not, in the end, worthwhile. I kept trying. I was married after all and should to comply with perceived standards.
But Lonny knew me. He knew I liked colors. He knew I was trying desperately to fit some image, he couldn't quite grasp. He knew he loved me and that I loved him, and that he wanted to please me.
One of my biggest small regrets happened that night, but it taught me a lesson. I told him no, no Santa. I grimaced. I saw his face fall. I tried not to care, not to 'get it.' I turned my nose up, and shopped for tiny white lights and gold branches. 
For several years now, I have searched for that Santa. This one on Amazon was way too expensive. This one would have been his present this last Christmas. It would have said to him, how did you know? It would have asked, how could you know me so well and I not know myself? I would have said, husband of mine, I love you and I am so sorry I didn't see. I am so sorry for all of my distractions, new pretentious Christmas decorations when we were first married, wanting homes and yards and meaningful stuff, the best, the most perfect, or not at all. But you were the best, surely the best for me. I cherished our time together, and then ... and then I couldn't stand to see you failing, couldn't stand seeing your clear blue eyes vacant of understanding, you who knew I wanted a brightly colored Santa with all my heart. Oh you sweet man, how I miss you. How I miss the way that you loved even me.
Painfully slowly, I learned to ask Lonny before attempting a new scheme. I learned to seek the church's needs before I plowed forward with what I thought was my calling. I learned so slowly that there is One and more than One who loves even me. With Lonny's help, I learned that those things I would dismiss as inappropriate to me were often where I should turn to grow.
Well that's enough of me. More of Lonny later. Thank you for reading. Bev

Monday, February 4, 2019

Bible Study Notes from 28 January


(These notes are short. I have been travelling and am out of time,. Should people like to peruse them before Bible study tonight, I must post them now. In any event, I hope the reader can find something of value in them.)



Keying off Matthew 5:21-26, we discussed anger, determining it a bad master-the wrong mater. In relation to our sheep dog from the book, she has had the wrong master-an angry master. She became fearful and feral.
In a personal note, as my husband's health failed, I struggled with anger. I was angry at the situation, but often vented my frustration on Lonny. My outbursts compounded my guilt and worry. Matthew 5:25 speaks of the Accuser. The Accuser finds me guilty in the court of my own conscience.I cannot argue with Satan. He is correct. I am guilty. Happily, I can throw myself on God's mercy. God sees me through the redemption of Christ.
In Ecclesiastes we read a warning against religious conceit. The wicked man finds security in his ways, like the dog insisting on her freedom which almost killed her through starvation. She was almost destroyed. (The logic here worked better on Monday. I apologize, but for those who couldn't be present, I included it anyway.)
Verse 7:7 of Ecclesiastes speaks of oppression driving a man to madness, so too, the wrong mater's oppression of the dog led to the dog becoming feral. Contrast this to the choices that God gives us. We may follow, learn, obey the Good Master or not. He doesn't oppress.
We will meet tonight at 6:30. We will discuss Lesson Three from the book and continue our study of the Sermon on the Mount.
   

Monday, January 28, 2019

Bible Study Notes, Lessons from a Sheep Dog, One

Hello all.
We began a new study last Monday using Lessons from a Sheep Dog by Phillip Keller.
Our scriptures were Matthew 5:1-20 and Isaiah 55.
We read the story in the beginning of the book and then Lesson One. The story told of the author saving a Border Collie from being put down by an owner that could not understand the dog. Keller adopted the dog and had to set the dog free in order for the dog to finally trust him. Under Keller's guidance the dog, Lass, became a great hand at managing livestock. The story at the beginning of the book concludes  with several points: how Lass was eager to obey a kind and good master, and how Keller learned from Lass what it was that Christ, Our Great Shepherd wants to do with us.
Lesson One speaks to how we often place ourselves in the wrong hands, the hands of predators, or abusers, or those who are uncaring or mean. It speaks to how we may fall in the Accusers hands or under his spell. Keller likens this to Lass's predicament before Keller adopted the dog.
In discussing the Scripture reading for the day, we looked at how the poor in spirit Jesus refers to in the Sermon on the Mount, are those that are humble and teachable and how Lass was teachable just scared and scarred. We examined how people that know their place in a Christian sense clear the path for God to work with them and how being so vulnerable flies in the face of being our own boss. 
In the passage on Salt and Light from Matthew 5, we saw that the dog's "salt" was almost gone, but that Keller was able to 'revive' Lass. We noted that often we are low on salt and have hidden our light, and how we can turn to God in these instance, and every instance for that matter. We discussed how we are the light as Christians because God's light shines through us.
In discussing our final section of Matthew we noted how Jesus came to fulfill the law, how Jesus is the 'flesh and bones' on the commands and demands of the law, so that we in our own flesh and bones may live for Jesus and He has already fulfilled the law. We noted that Lass was able to follow the good master's commands.
In Isaiah 55 we looked at God's open invitation. the parallel to our book was in Keller freeing Lass so that Lass could finally come of her own accord back to Keller. Keller had chosen Lass, fed and watered her, and set her free.We noted also what pleasure Keller received when Lass came to him. We imagined that God also is so pleased when we seek Him and learn to obey Him.
Tonight's study will be Lesson Two of the book and Matthew 5:21-30, and Ecclesiastes 7.

Friday, January 18, 2019


Joy Writers Reading I, 2019
Roswell Museum and Art Center
Sunday 20, 2019
2:00 pm
Free of charge
Public welcome

Monday, January 14, 2019

Review Whistling Past the Graveyard

Whistling Past the GraveyardIn Whistling Past the Graveyard, author Susan Crandall examines the struggle of growing up as a white girl in the deep south in the early sixties. Crandall fuels her story with the expected issues of bigotry, gender conflict and double standards, fanning the predictable flames throughout the book. I have read and re-read the same themes often, and though the themes carried the book, the story itself was compelling enough without these issues. The story might have even been more believable set in today's south or north or anywhere, really.
Nine-year-old Starla Claudelle narrates the story with a sassy southern voice that drew me into the book early and kept me in it throughout. Deciding to hitchhike to Tennessee to find her mother in Nashville, Starla runs away from an overbearing grandmother, and her Mississippi home. The story breaks down for me when a black woman, Eula, kidnaps Starla, just after having taken a baby from the church steps in Starla's hometown. I couldn't believe Eula's naivete and boldness. Eula's actions made her character cartoon-ish, which is unfortunate because Eula's journey would have been more interesting to me than the story of young Starla.
Starla and Baby James are held captive by Eula's abusive husband. He tries to kill Starla and the baby when he finds them after their failed escape attempt.
The author develops a a rationale for Eula's actions that stretched the limits of the story. So too, Eula's husband is a stock character and a familiar villain. Starla's unreliable narration proves to be part of the problem. The reader has to guess Eula's motivation and Elua's husband's motivation seemed only to be pure meanness. Eula reads as a predictably wise and insanely foolish woman, and, while she is ultimately beloved in the story, she never beaks out of a caricature role.
Eula kills her husband by whacking him over the head with a frying pan while he is trying to choke the life out of Starla.
The scene work and tension in Eula's home reads well with high tension and drama, even though I couldn't figure out Eula's quixotic nature.
Freed from a tyrant and captivity, Eula, Starla and Baby James set out for Tennessee. Here the book compounds its use of familiar theme. An evil white man runs the trio off the road leaving them wrecked and destitute on a baking hot day in Mississippi. While the story still interested me, this is where I began to tire of familiar axes and grinds.
The remainder of the book plays out in expected ways, but Starla's journey, her emotional and spiritual development and her method of dealing with heartache made the book a decent read.
Read this book for a an entertaining fast-paced romp and enjoy Starla's snappy voice.