Poems, Personal Stories, and Observations

A sentence (or variations thereof) often attributed to the American author Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) is “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” However, according to an entry in QuoteInvestigator.com, nobody quite knows who first said it.

An intriguing version of the quote is, “Our times call not for diction but for action. It has been said that the two most important days of a man’s life are the day on which he was born and the day on which he discovers why he was born. This is why we were born: To love the Lord our God with all our heart and soul and mind and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves.” [Sermon by Minister Ernest T. Campbell, delivered on January 25, 1970 in New York City.] Note that Mr. Campbell states, “It has been said…,” so he apparently didn’t know the source of the saying, either.

The Quote Investigator entry goes on to note other variations by quite a few authors or speakers, including a later variation by Mr. Campbell.

Though I’m not commenting on every thought or belief of Mr. Campbell, I like his original continuation of the quote as to why we were born: “To love the Lord our God with all our heart and soul and mind and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves.” Though the Quote Investigator considers the quote to be by “Anonymous,” who knows? Perhaps Mark Twain did say it after all.

I Hang by a Thread

I hang by a thread, on the edge of a steep precipice;
I am weak and vulnerable.
Yet the Lord will rescue and deliver me.

I sit in the dark, not understanding;
I suffer from blindness.
Yet the Lord will bring His light.

I don’t know His plan for me,
Yet He said He has one.
So I hang in the dark, hoping and trusting.

“He who has begun a good work in you
Will bring it to completion
On the day of Jesus Christ.”
(Philippians 1:6)

With broken heart and contrite sigh
A trembling sinner, Lord, I cry:
Thy pardoning grace is rich and free
O God, be merciful to me.

I smite upon my troubled breast,
With deep and conscience guilt oppressed;
Christ and His cross my only plea:
O God, be merciful to me.

Far off I stand with tearful eyes,
Nor dare uplift them to the skies;
But Thou dost all my anguish see:
O God, be merciful to me.

Nor alms, nor deeds that I have done,
Can for a single sin atone;
To Calvary alone I flee:
O God, be merciful to me.

And when, redeemed from sin and hell,
With all the ransomed throng I dwell,
My raptured song shall ever be,
God has been merciful to me.

[A hymn by Cornelius Elven, 1852, public domain]

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people chosen as his inheritance.” (Psalm 33:12)

“So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36)

“…for what has been achieved we give you thanks, for the work that still remains we ask your help…” (from an Independence Day prayer)

For blood that’s been shed,
For many prayers said,
For all the tears cried,
Lord, be by our side.

Forgive all that’s wrong;
Lord, help us be strong.
Celebrate what’s good;
Increase brotherhood.

We give You our past;
Only heaven will last.
Go forward again,
Let divisions all mend.

About one year ago (June 27, 2021), my husband and I set out on our journey to move to Ohio from California. We chose to take nine days to do the drive, with our cat.

The trip here, and life afterwards have been an adventure, to say the least. For me, it’s been a bigger deal than for my husband. He grew up in Ohio, whereas I had lived in California my entire life, not even going away to college, not even a college within California (except as a commuter student, three or four times). Possibly, making a big change like this when you’re 67 might be slightly difficult!

We ended up in what I might call a semi-suburb. We are outside the limits, and on the east side of a large city. Our zip code is the same as a nearby small town, but we don’t live inside that town’s city limits. Although we have a sewer system rather than septic tanks, and other suburban amenities, it’s a very quiet neighborhood (development), which happens to have a small woodsy section in the center permanently preserved for wildlife. We often see deer, rabbits, chipmunks, squirrels, and many, many birds. On the other hand, my son and his family, who live within the west side of the same big city mentioned above, also see deer, plus have woodchucks nesting in their big yard, and other wildlife makes its presence known to them.

The people in Ohio have been wonderful. The biggest adjustments for me are climate (humidity and cold), bugs (chiggers are the most difficult so far), and poison ivy (rooting it out can take a lot of work, and you practically have to where a hazmat suit to work on it). Getting a new driver’s license (because of my unconventional birth certificate) and setting up new doctors were also challenging.

And the many good things: Abundance of natural life, plenty of water, dramatic clouds and thunderstorms, friendly neighbors who almost always wave, family helping each other, fireflies, a beautiful river just a few miles away and the riverside trail along it, etc.!

Thanks be to God and to all who prayed for us and made this journey possible.

Heaven in a Dream

Last night I dreamed about a church young adult group I was in, twenty-five to thirty years ago. In the dream I was in the current time and now lived in a huge house, with my kids and grandkids. Someone (I don’t know if it was my daughter or someone else) arranged a surprise party for me, inviting all the people from the young adult group. It was a wonderful time. — End of dream.

When we were both awake, I told my husband about the dream. He asked, “That’s your idea of heaven, isn’t? Lots of people together and getting along.” I answered, “Yes.”

A New Arrival!

Our second grandchild, Lucy Marie, has arrived!

Born to Jacob and Teresa
May 10, 2022, 8:04 a.m., 7 pounds 11 ounces, 20 inches, 
Cincinnati, Ohio, USA

We are overwhelmed with gratitude, especially for the following reasons:

The obstetrician had decided a month or two ago to do a C-section, because the baby had turned and was presenting breech.  So 5/10 was five days before the projected natural due date.

It turns out that the umbilical cord was wrapped twice around Lucy’s neck.  Given that problem and the breech presentation, it’s probable that the C-section saved both the baby’s and perhaps even the mother’s life.  In another time or place, it could have been an incredibly sad day.

My two brothers were breech birth, and thank God they survived, and our mom survived the births!  I don’t think she had C-sections.

So we give thanks and praise to God for His overwhelming mercy.  We also say that when things turn out more tragically — we thank God because He helps us get through those times.

John 20:13-18
Why do you weep,
Oh woman, why do you weep?
Because they’ve taken my Lord,
And I don’t know where they’ve laid Him.
But, when Jesus said to her, “Mary,”
She knew Him and went rejoicing to tell others.

Luke 24:5-12
Why do you seek,
Oh women, why do you seek
The living among the dead?
He is not here, but has risen.
So they rushed back
From the tomb and
Told everyone else
What had happened.

Acts 1:11-14
Why do you gaze,
Oh men of Galilee, why do you gaze
Up to the heavens?
This Jesus will come again from heaven
In the same way that you saw Him go.
So they returned to Jerusalem
And were constantly united in prayer.

Luke 12:32
Why do you fear,
Oh little flock, why do you fear?
For it is your Father’s good pleasure
To give you the kingdom.
So let us trust and obey
The One who loves us.

God Is Like …

God is like the wind —
You can’t see it but you see and feel its effects.

God is like a wild cat —
Impossible to catch: it comes to you on its own terms.

God is like a faint star —
You get a glimpse of it only if you look at it sideways.

All arts are just shadows;
All words are inadequate.

God and Time

The Bible is a fascinating book. It gives us glimpses of God, if only from the limited human understanding of its authors, who were inspired by the Holy Spirit. So I’m going to take it as a given that the Bible does not lie, but again, the Holy Spirit worked through human instruments in the writing.

If we agree that God: knows all, never changes, has no beginning nor end, and has no deceit in Him, can we attempt to have any inkling of how God relates to time?

I’m including here some ideas that my husband gave me, as we had a good discussion on this theme.

So, God created time; however, He is outside of time. We as humans don’t have a clue how that works, but there it is! Here are some Bible quotes relating to time:

Luke 18:7-8: ‘and will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”’ Comment: What does “quickly” mean for God? So often, don’t we ask God, “How long, O Lord?”

2 Peter 3:8-9: “But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one dayThe Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance.” Comment: Ah, here is a clue, perhaps obvious; God has a different concept of time than we do.

Revelation 22:7: ‘“See, I am coming soon! Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”’ Revelation 22:20: ‘The one who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” Comment: What is “soon” for God? Bible verses can have many layers of meaning. Certain scholars say that Revelation was written before the siege of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.; the verse could refer to God’s judgment coming that year. Or it may refer to Jesus Second Coming, or to both.

But I gained a powerful insight in discussing all this with my husband. So often I have felt desolate, even somewhat abandoned by God, because “nothing seems to be happening,” or the changes I would desire (often in myself) don’t seem to be coming to fruition. But, hopefully looking at things more from God’s point of view, HE REALLY DOES CARE; He is just doing things in His own timing. What a comfort to know God’s care. Let me always remember that He has a good plan, with the best timing.

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