Sacrifice Of Praise

Monday morning often finds me singing or humming the worship songs we sang in church the day before.  It is a lovely way to begin the week, reminded of the God who loves me and made me and all around me.

This week I am reminded that God loves, lives, and saves.  Kind of the whole story there; minus any of those three He wouldn’t be the God I worship.

I believe I have written of the ‘Sacrifice of praise’ before.  To me it is a sacred concept, praising God when I don’t feel like praising is a sacrifice with immense benefits.  

It changes my heart.  

It changes my outlook.   

It changes my focus.

God IS good, all the time.  If He is good in the good times, He is good in the bad times.  He doesn’t change, He doesn’t have too, He is already more and more and more.

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Stories Part 1

Due to my very active imagination, stories have always played a big part in my life. My mom read children’s’ books ‘to me  about gingerbread men, kittens and places like the farm, and “Puffs Garden Patch”.  Each night she read a chapter of a book to my brother and I; books like Rebecca of Sunnybrook farm, and Just David.  There came a time when I just couldn’t wait to see what happened next and would surreptitiously read ahead.

The library in Columbus was on the same block as our doctor.  When I was in grade school my brother fell ill with a chronic condition that required hospitalization for an extended amount of time and frequent doctor visits for a considerable amount of time.  I also was diagnosed with severe allergies to bee stings and required twice weekly injections for the first year.  I spent a lot of time down in hospital waiting rooms in the evenings, unless you were over 12, you could not go upstairs to patients rooms.  During those evening I read biographies of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington.  These men became heroes to me and those books were the impetus for a life-long love of history ad historical characters.

Mom allowed me be go to the library to choose four books every two weeks.  Four books was the maximum amount allowed per check out.  I read my way through dog books, horse books, biographies.  Little Women led to all of Louisa May Alcott’s books.  I read Dr. Doolittle and his various sequels, Mary Poppins, Anne of Green Gables, The Jungle Book, Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn and so many more.

These stories expanded my world from the farm I  grew up on in northern Platte County to the Mississippi River to the Jungles of India.   I searched for ‘kindred spirits’ with Anne, whitewashed fences with Tom’s friends, traveled the northern trails with Silver
Chief, and wept over Black Beauty’s woes.   I was fired with the desire to write my own stories after reading Little Women and all about Meg and Jo, (author), Beth and Amy.

These are just a few of the books that entered my memory as I write here, there were many, many more.  Over the years I searched library sales, and summer street sales for these titles and added them to my ever growing library.

 

 

Reading “Dorothy Dunnett”

I  have to admit right away that I borrowed the title Reading “Dunnett” from a Facebook group that I belong to.  For fans of Dorothy Dunnett’s books it is a place to gather and read a chosen book together and discuss all the questions and observations that have plagued her readers over the years.

Dorothy Dunnett is the author of several fascinating historical fiction books.  I first checked out “The Game Of Kings” from my library  mainly because it was a fat book which was the beginning of a rather long series.  I was deep in grief at the time, and looking for escapism.  Well, I found it!  At first I didn’t know if I was reading about a hero, a villain, or something in between, however the fantastic use of language by this author kept me reading.  I finished ‘Kings’, and moved on to “Queens Play”.  I still wasn’t sure about her main character, Francis Crawford, but he was growing on me.  Even when I didn’t like how he acted, I found him endlessly fascinating.  So did many of the characters in the books, and I found out years later that many readers of DD did also.

On one of my many re-reads of the Lymond Chronicles I began to notice that she was using words that I didn’t always know the meanings of, and I thought I was pretty literate!  In fact, I found out that there was at least one word every few pages that I wasn’t always sure about. This says something about her writing ability that I was so absorbed in the plots and characters  of her novels that I didn’t even notice all those words at first.  I tried keeping a dictionary at hand to look up all the words that I wasn’t sure of, because her writing is so nuanced that literally every word matters!  However that soon gave away to just indulging in a good read.

When I got my Kindle and began reading Dorothy Dunnett on it, it was exciting to be able to record my comments and questions for future reads, and to look up obscure historical figures and events and All Those Words!

 

Christmas

I used to think I was rather trendy at Christmas, every year I would add to or make new Christmas decorations for our home.  I loved to sew, and that added all sorts of creativity. These years tho, my favorite and most treasured decorations often involve the very old, and the child-made kind.

By very old I usually mean pretty shabby as these don’t always stand the test of time very well.  But Christmas would not be Christmas if we didn’t hang or set out these precious relics of our lives.img_2701

There is the little stocking I crocheted when our boys were small, and there is one of the plastic canvas ornaments that my dad’s cousin sent us almost every year.  Oh, and there is our daughter’s cat.  She isn’t a relic, but rather a symbol of all the cats who have graced our lives. At the left hand top of the picture is the tip of the wing of a handmade glass angel that a former pastor gave to each child in the church.  Above the cat is a paper star with glitter that our daughter made long, long ago in Sunday School.  These things meld together and make up our Christmas memories today.

My mom always hung a faded  tissue paper bell between our dining room and our living room. It was one of those accordion types, that folded flat to store, and you opened up to use.  It had belonged to some grandma, and probably held good memories for her. Having  always been a lover of things past, the faded bell never bothered me, but I wish I had asked mom its history.

One thing that always remains constant in our Christmas is the nativity scene that was made for us by my sister in law years ago.  Every year we unpack and set it up, and every year we are thankful for that little Baby that God sent so long ago.  That Baby grew up to be our Savior and the means by which we will rejoin all our family members who believe in Him someday in heaven.  Thank you Jesus.

38 Years

38 years ago this past Sunday our eldest child was born.  It was Sept 4, 1979, and it was Labor Day.  I always considered that quite appropriate!  Jeffrey William Joekel came into the world at 8pounds 12 ounces of wriggling joy.  Roger and my hearts were enthralled at once.  He had only 11 years to live.

Now more than 25 years after Jeff left for heaven, I still miss him.  Wistfully I wonder what it would be like to have one more place (family) at the Christmas table, one more child to text and write and call.  We will never know this here on earth, but in heaven we will.

Jeff was so excited to have a little brother 2 and a half years later.  “My brother, John Trabis!” he would announce proudly.  (Johns’ middle name was actually Travis, but Jeff was only two.) The brothers did everything together.  More than I knew in fact!  John has told me several adventures that I had no idea had taken place, one which involved a cat smuggling incident which ended in cat barbering.

Where Jeff led, John loyally followed.  John was coerced to be the one who tried out Jeffs attempt at bike ramp building.  The ramp was more of a tetter-totter, and ended with a scraped up and bruised little brother and a wildly explaining big brother.

I have many memories of those years, some funny, some that I just shake my head at. The memory that came to me Sunday was the first fall that we had moved to western Nebraska.  Our community was holding a Fall Festival type thing and one of the events was an air balloon flight.  We got up before sun up on a cold October morning, and headed up to Scottsbluff to watch the balloons inflate and take off.

It was just the four of us, Roger, myself, Jeff and John.  We had lived here for less than three months, and had no family near to share the time with us.  We shivered, and walked around, marvelling at the brightly colored silks glowing in the dark and growing larger and larger.  Just a family outing.  One that we would never have together again.

I am grateful for the time we had.  I love the memories.  I look forward to the reunion.

I Did Not Raise My Hands

I have always loved music, and music was a big part of my home when I was growing up in Northern Platte County.  My dad played the piano, the saw and the tenor sax.  My mom played the piano and sang.  Oh, and my dad sang also, and as I became proficient on the piano I often accompanied him.  It wasn’t unusual for mom and dad to provide special music for our church, and my dad often led the singing in our little North American Baptist Church.

So yes, I love music and I love the worship time in our church, Calvary Memorial.  Calvary is an independent Bible teaching church that we have belonged to for over 25 years, ever since we came to Gering.

In the beginning we had traditional worship with hymnals and an organ.  Gradually a guitar was added here and there, then a Clavinova, and after a long time, drums.  We have a fantastic group of people who lead us in singing modern songs that you hear on Christian radio.  I love it!

But here comes my problem.  Many times the songs we sing are very moving and inspiring.  People raise their hands in praise and adoration.  However my hands hang heavy at my sides, weighed down by Baptist decorum.  I want to raise my hands, but I can’t!  That German-Baptist-turned-NAB seriousness keeps me standing there praising God in my heart, but stiff and awkward on the outside. We were taught very specific standard of behavior in the church auditorium, and it did not include unnecessary movement in the sanctuary!  We even had a pastors wife who made us kneel down and ask for forgiveness for running in the sanctuary while our parents cleaned up after a potluck.

I am determined that this inhibition whall not rule me forever.  One of these days my hands will be bound to just lift on their own, raising up in praise and the love of our wonderful Father in heaven that grows in my heart as we worship.