The New Church Lady

Weightier Matters

IT WAS THE BEST OF TIMES. IT WAS THE WORST OF TIMES.

Or possibly both at the same time. At least it was interesting times.

For Daniel and his friends, being taken away to a strange land as teenagers, to serve a foreign king in a country with foreign customs, it probably seemed like the worst of times. 

For Esther, yanked out of her cozy home as a teenager to be put on parade before the king, knowing that one night doing something you had no experience at (the prerequisite was that you did not have any experience) would change your life either to one of cloistered captivity or high privilege, and knowing she had a terrible secret to hide, it probably seemed like the worst of times.

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THE YEAR OF THE ROOSTER

This past week was the start the Chinese New Year. And, wow, do the Chinese know how to party. Unlike the USA, where we have a one-day celebration, the Chinese have 15 day celebration for the New Year. They decorate doors and windows, serve special foods and hand out traditional “red packets” of money.

You may already know that each year in China is related to an animal and cycles through dog, pig, rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey and rooster. Similar to what some people think about the Zodiac signs, the Chinese believe that you can predict how the year will be, according to the animal of that year, and that those born in the year of a particular animal have certain qualities themselves. 

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THE ODDS ARE EVER IN YOU FAVOR

You have probably heard this more than once: “If I were a betting man…” Typically, it is followed by what they would bet on. If you are going to bet, you look for the best odds. 

In the Hunger Games trilogy, when annually sending 24 children out to fight in a horrific battle to the death against one another, they always said, “may the odds be ever in your favor.” The odds were 24 to 1 against you coming out alive. Not good odds, especially when it comes to life and death.

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SKIN IN THE GAME

I have to say that Christians in India definitely have some “skin in the game” when it comes to practicing their faith. At the Feast of Tabernacles in Land Between the Lakes, Kentucky this past year, Michael Deering gave a presentation about the life of Christians in India. It was at once appalling and also inspiring to see our brothers in Christ rejoice in the Lord in spite of the poverty and persecution they face. 

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A FRIEND WITH CHOCOLATE

The children’s book author, Linda Grayson, said, “There is nothing better than a friend, unless it is a friend with chocolate.” I might say, “Or one who brings you Starbucks in the morning and remembers just the way you like it.” 

If you were taking out a “friend wanted” ad, how would you describe the perfect friend? Loyal? Thoughtful? Caring?

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THE ONE THING AND ALL THE OTHER THINGS

If you watched the movie City Slickers, you may remember this pivotal scene (cleaned up and abbreviated):
Curly: Do you know what the secret of life is? [holds up one finger] This.

Mitch: Your finger? 

Curly: One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and the rest don't mean (anything). 

Mitch: But, what is the "one thing?" 

Curly: [smiles] That's what you have to find out. 

I don’t know if Lenny Cacchio is a fan of the movie, but about a year ago he gave similar advice when it comes to overcoming as a Christian. I believe he gave the sermon in CGI Tyler around the spring Holy days last year on May 7th. In it, Lenny mentioned that it can be overwhelming to try to overcome all our faults and said that what he does is pick a single focus for the year. 

 

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I NEED SOMEONE OLDER AND WISER

I was watching a part of The Sound of Music on TV last week and I had a “yelling at the TV” moment. Liesl, the eldest Von Trapp daughter and her boyfriend, Rolfe, are singing “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” and Liesl sings, “I need someone older and wiser, telling me what to do. You are 17, going on 18, I’ll depend on you.” WHAT???!!! The LAST person a 16 year old girl needs telling her what to do is a 17 year old boy! And, yes, I actually yelled at the screen, “Are you CRAZY?!”

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BUT WHAT KIND OF A GLASS?

It’s popular to ask if someone is a “glass half full” or “glass half empty” kind of a person. Often that is followed by encouraging those “glass half empty” folks to see life, lessons, trials, etc. from a perspective of the glass being half full. 

I’d like us to forget for a moment any concern over how full the glass is and think about the container itself. 

I confess that I am still learning. I can still read a scripture and gain new understanding - even realize that my previous understanding was all wrong. That was the case recently when Beth Moore used a scripture as part of one lesson in her Daniel Bible study that I had read many times before and it hit me with a fresh meaning.

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THE TYRANNY OF LAYERS

I recently ran into what I call the tyranny of layers and it was very frustrating. I got a notice from my insurance FSA account saying they could not confirm that I had valid, payable services for which I paid $120 through the account and if I couldn’t prove the services were valid, then the IRS requires that I pay it back to my FSA account. It happened because of layers. The facility I went to outsourced their billing. The billing company (not a medical facility) charged my FSA account. It was reported to the insurance company on the date I paid, not on the date of service. Apparently, the billing agent provided no information about where the service actually took place or what the service was. I certainly did not recognize the name of the billing company, nor did my day planner show that I had any medical service on the date reported to my insurance. So, two phone calls, a rummage through medical receipts and a fax later, and the matter is settled. 

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YOU CAN NEVER BE TOO RICH OR TOO THIN

Wallis Simpson (former Duchess of Windsor) is credited with saying, “You can never be too rich or too thin.” 

During the Thanksgiving holiday in America, the nation as a whole kicks off what I call the “eating and shopping season.” People who hardly cook all year are pressured into making turkey and dressing and pies for Thanksgiving, baking cookies for the office cookie exchange, and sampling homemade sweets and store bought candies supplied generous work mates. 

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FALL Y’ALL

The English language is interesting in that a single word can have multiple meanings. I’m sure it isn’t unique in that way, but I haven’t studied any other languages. So, I cannot comment on French or Hebrew or Pashtu. 

Take the word fall for example. I might say, “Don’t fall for that Ponzi scheme,” meaning “Don’t be taken in by it.” I might say, “Be careful so you don’t fall on the icy steps,” meaning to keep you from face planting and injuring yourself. Or I might say, “Fall is my favorite season of the year.” Any one of these is the correct use of the word in context.

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The Anchor

From Nancy White: This week’s blog is penned by my friend and “sister from another mister,” Latresa Powell. Her passion for Christ and the word of God is an inspiration.

The Anchor

As I was checking my bank balance online this morning, the website flashed ads while I waited for my account information to load.  That’s when I saw it - one simple quote – “The storm proves the anchor’s worth”.  Maybe it caught my eye because of the recent hurricane, but it made me stop and think about the power of my spiritual anchor.

 

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HOW MANY RIGHTEOUS PEOPLE DOES IT TAKE TO CHANGE A COUNTRY?

For Sodom and Gomorrah, it was exactly 10 righteous people, plus one man who cared enough to petition God for them. What about the USA? 

We’ll start with the story of Sodom and Gomorrah found in Genesis 18:20-33. God let Abraham in on His plan to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham convinced God to save the cities if they had just 10 righteous people between them. Sadly, there were not 10 righteous among those cities and God destroyed them.

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The Struggle is Real

The struggle is real ladies. Well, at least it is for me. Do I want to be part of the problem or part of the solution? This is a question I have been contemplating for the last few weeks and in a couple of different situations, but the mostly in my attitude dealing with people.  

Sometimes folks can be just down right grouchy and mean. Sometimes in situations I may feel like I am the only one who is trying. Humanly speaking, being part of the problem seems like the easier way to go. After all, I would just be doing what the other folks are doing, right?

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HITLER VS ME

Does God love me more than Adolph Hitler? Does God love me more than your average member of ISIS? More than an abortionist? Is the message of the Old Testament that He loved Israel more than Moab (or other nations)? Before you answer, let me offer some ideas on the subject. 

Who doesn’t want to be “Daddy’s favorite” child? My mother often told about how I’d sit on my Dad’s lap and eat exotic cheeses that he liked (and I did not) just to try to become his favorite among his children. Some human parents do, in fact, show favoritism among their children and it often causes a lot of trouble in the family.

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EVERYONE, PLEASE JUST TAKE A TIME OUT!

Parents have been putting their kids in “time out” as a method of training for centuries. It is meant to give the child time to calm down, disengage from the highly emotional issue(s) and reflect on his/her behavior that lead to this situation. Often, it is the only way to stop a meltdown from continuing or a situation from getting worse. 

The desired outcome is a reset of sorts so that an issue, situation, or behavior can be faced calmly and reasonable, and more easily be resolved. 

Welcome to the Feast of Tabernacles. 

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EAT UP!

When I was a kid, my parents always insisted we clean our plates at meals. No dessert if you didn’t and no getting up from the table until you did. I remember sitting at the table long after others were gone and slowly choking down liver and onions that I really would rather have skipped.

Many of us will fast from food and water for 24 hours on the Day of Atonement.

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LAST AND FINAL CALL!

One of my pet peeves regarding travel is the “last and final” call. First, I hear: “This is the last and final call for ABC Airlines flight 123 with service to XYZ. Doors will close soon.” And then, five minutes later, I hear, “Last and final call for ABC Airlines flight 123 to XYZ. Doors are closing and you will be left.” And then, about two minutes later, “This is the last and final…” And possibly the call will go out a few more times yet.

Really?! How many “last and final” calls are there? And why is it “last AND final?” Wouldn’t either last OR final work? Eventually, I guess they actually do shut the doors and take off. Hopefully, the tardy passengers hear the call and hustle over to their plane.

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I BLAME AMERICAN AIRLINES

If we are being honest, it all started with American Airlines taking out just another two inches between rows so they could have an additional row of seats to sell. But on my recent trip for work, I was concerned that it might end up in a fist fight between the guy in the seat to my right who tried to stop the guy in front of him from leaning back before the flight even took off and the guy in front trying to lean back too early. There were words exchanged, but, thankfully, my neighbor quickly gave up and accepted the inconvenience of having this guy lean back into his space and doing it before the flight even took off. 

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Hold Me

On a recent trip home from Kansas, the interstate went from a quick means of travel to a parking lot in an instant. As I crept forward at a snail’s pace, my mind began to dance with thoughts of irritation on how a trip that should be a short and sweet seven hours was going to take me well beyond that if this traffic kept up. Luckily my temperament was buffered by the grace of a strong signal from my favorite Contemporary Christian music station.  As I hummed along with Casting Crown’s song “Just be Held” for the fourth time that day, the lyrics suddenly spoke to me in a way that previously had not. 

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