Not Following the Guidelines

I love to write.  For years I have kept a journal.  My entries range from routine, boring comments about the weather to reflections of my feelings during a battle with cancer.

A few years ago I entered the world of blogging.  Really having no idea how to have a successful blog, I have read other blogs, articles and books on the subject.

Most have said that you need to “find” your audience, to write for them.  A lot recommended that your blog stick to one idea or theme.  Reading other blogs I have seen many seem to follow that pattern.

  • Blogs writing about travel
  • Blogs writing about mental health
  • Blogs writing about raising children
  • Blogs writing about the Bible

I started out thinking my blog would be sharing stories from the years I was a pastor’s wife.  There were stories that were funny and others that I thought might be inspiring.  I named my blog Grandma’s Ramblings because I also wanted to share stories of my beautiful grandchildren.

But after writing a blog since late 2014 it seems my blogs are all over the place.  My husband and I love to take road trips and I enjoy sharing pictures of those trips.  A Christian who loves Bible studies I also share thoughts from my devotions.  An history nut I love to research and share stories about our country’s history.  Then my family gives me much to write about.  From one blog to another I often have no idea where I am going until I start writing.  I just have this need to write.

Being concerned that I seem to have no “theme” I went back to the tag line I made when I started this blog.

Stories of a lifetime to make you laugh, cry and hopefully walk away encouraged!

That really has been my purpose – just to give someone a good laugh, maybe a challenging thought or words that might encourage.

My idea of success?  It’s encouraging to see the number of those following my blog increasing, but the real success I find is when someone comments that I did make them laugh, cry or be encouraged.

So I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing – and we will see where it all leads.

For those of you who follow my blog – thank you.  For those of you who have shared comments, thanks for your encouragement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m Good Enough – I’m Not Good Enough

My husband and I are reading the book of Isaiah this month.  Chapter six is one we are very familiar with.  Anyone who grew up in church has no doubt heard the story of Isaiah’s vision of God.

It was in the year King Uzziah died that I saw the Lord. He was sitting on a lofty throne, and the train of his robe filled the Temple. Attending him were mighty seraphim, each having six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew.They were calling out to each other,

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies!
    The whole earth is filled with his glory!”

Their voices shook the Temple to its foundations, and the entire building was filled with smoke…..Isaiah 6:1-4

 

Isaiah

Isaiah’s response is one I think most of us would have if we saw such a sight!

His immediate reaction was one of total sense of unworthiness.

Then I said, “It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips. Yet I have seen the King, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.”….Isaiah 6:5

Interesting to me that he saw his sin as being connected to his lips and the lips of the people he lived with.  Why his lips?

There are probably many different takes on that, but here it is mine.

Words matter.  With words we can hurt, damage people’s reputations, discourage others, create division and hatred.  The Bible has much to say about our tongues.

James wrote that:

the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison….James

Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless….James 1:26

Jesus told us:

It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person….Matthew 15:11

For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks….Matthew 12:34

Isaiah’s response is one we all should have when we recognize our need of forgiveness.  Sadly, many people never reach this conclusion.  They think they are “good enough.”  But if our standard for goodness is based on who God is, we cannot measure up.  Do not misunderstand me.  I am not saying that people who do not believe in God are not good.  I actually know some who are atheists that show more “goodness” than many of my fellow Christians.

But the standard is not how good we are compared to others.  It is how good we are compared to God.  Based on that gold standard, we are not good enough.

An illustration of this thought:

A group of people are going to see a movie.  The price of entrance is $5.00 When they get there, many are very short of the price having only a dollar or two, or maybe just fifty cents.  Clearly they will not get in.  Along comes someone who is sure they will get in because they have $4.99.  But the price is $5.00.  Although they are much closer to having the price of the ticket, they are still short and will not get in.

But wait!  God did not leave Isaiah bemoaning his unworthiness.

He had a solution.

Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal he had taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. He touched my lips with it and said, “See, this coal has touched your lips. Now your guilt is removed, and your sins are forgiven.”….Isaiah 6:6-7

Thank God for Jesus.  There is a solution.

So now we come to the second group of people’s response to the goodness of God.  Unlike Isaiah they never move beyond that initial sense of unworthiness.  Although many claim they know they are “not good enough” and question how God can love them, they are just like the first group – relying on their own goodness.

In this case they feel their own goodness is not enough, but they still are relying on it.  Because they continue to say they are “not good enough” they are judging themselves by their own goodness – or lack there of.

They have refused to accept the gift that God has given us though Jesus Christ.  We are not “good enough.”  That is the whole point of Christianity.  Because we are not “good enough” Jesus came and He gives us His goodness.

To continue to insist how unworthy we are, we are denying the whole message of the cross.  We are still relying on our goodness, or in this case, our lack of goodness.  We are rejecting the very Word of God that tells us through Him we are made worthy.

God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him….John 3:16,17\

To Him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name….Acts 10:43

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness….1 John 1:9

Going back to my illustration of the movie tickets:

The group are all standing there realizing they do not have enough to get in.  Along comes someone who offers to give them what they lack.  Those with only a dollar or two will probably jump at the chance to get some help.  But the person with $4.99 may very well think if they just look though their pockets again, or search in the car they will be able to find that penny they are lacking.  Sadly, some who are lacking the full price will probably refuse the stranger’s offer of help because they do not think they should taking something for which they have given nothing.

Only when we recognize our need of a savior and also realize how much He loves us – not because we somehow deserve His love, but because He just loves us, can we have the response Isaiah had.

After his lips were cleansed, he answered the call of God.

Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?”

I said, “Here I am. Send me.”….Isaiah 6:8

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Bad Can It Get?

I have often shared how my husband and I love Scrabble.  For us it is almost an addiction.

For those who follow my blog you have already read about this, but if you are new and interested, here are the links to my stories behind our addiction.

Confessions of a Scrabble Addict!

I Owe My Scrabble Addiction to an Out-of-work Architect

My Addiction has Returned

This past weekend we realized how much we do love Scrabble!

Our power went out this past weekend.  After fifteen hours without any electricity, service finally came on again, only to go out again in three hours.  We had planned to play a game of Scrabble after supper.

When we started the game it was still light out and with the curtains all open we had no problem seeing the board.

Most Scrabble games take anywhere from one to two hours depending on the number of players.

But not for us!

Our games go on forever.

First, we have a “super Scrabble” board.  This board is much larger than the normal game and it has twice as many tiles.

scrabble 3

Second, we are very competitive and not only want to win but want to get as high a score as possible.

scrabble

So each play may take minutes as we rearrange our tiles over and over trying to find the right word to get the most points.

We also play defensively so we need to play where our opponent does not have a chance to play on a triple or quadruple spot on the board.

So as the evening proceeded the sun slowly descended in the sky until it was dark both outside and in our house.

Did that stop us?

Not at all!

Out came the candles and the flashlights and we continued on in the dark.  This only slowed our game down more as we could hardly see our tiles.

DSCF0018(1)

Over four hours later we finally finished the game and used our flashlight to find our way to bed.

Oh – by the way – I won!

 

 

Not Politically Correct – But Shut Up!

As I approach the final chapters of my life and look back at the earlier chapters, I realize the big flaw (do I dare call it sin) in my life has been my tendency to speak before I think.

Many times my motives have been good.  I’m the kind of person who likes to fix things, make things better for others.  So when someone comes to me to share a concern, a problem, a difficult situation, I am often quick to give advice on what they should do to take care of the problem.  Quick to share my opinion on how they should handle things.  Even quick to do something myself to make things better.

Good intentions – to help.

BUT – perhaps they do not need or want my advice.  Perhaps they just need to have someone listen to them and maybe give them a hug.

Other times, I must confess, my motives have not been good.  I have spoken quickly out of anger or hurt.

However, I do not think I am the only one with this flaw.  Reading the Proverbs this week with my husband I could not help but notice how many times the writer tells us to watch our words.

Proverbs 17:28 – “Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent; with their mouths shut, they seem intelligent.”

Proverbs 18:13 – “Spouting off before listening to the facts is both shameful and foolish.”

Proverbs 21:23 – “Watch your tongue and keep your mouth shut, and you will stay out of trouble.”

But the one I love the most is Proverbs 10:19 – “Too much talk leads to sin.  Be sensible and keep your mouth shut.

talk

Now if we could just get our politicians and news reporters to follow that advice.

More and more I find myself praying the words of Psalms 19:14 – “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.”

 

The Power of Words

Sticks and stones may break my bones
But words can never harm me

Growing up I heard this little rhyme many times.  It was said to encourage those who were being bullied or harassed by others.  However, this message is simply not true.

Words have such power.

Power to encourage, power to put down.  Power to make you laugh, power to make you cry.

Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose…Proverbs 18:21

Spoken words that hurt:

As a young girl I experienced the harm that words can do.  In the sixth grade my family moved in the middle of the school year.  The first day at my new school I was walking up the stairs to my room when two young boys passed me on the stair well.  Upon seeing me, one of the boys grabbed the other one and pulled him to the side of the stairs away from me.  As I passed he said, “Look at her!  She is ugly!” The other boy laughed and I quickly went on to my classroom.

When class started this young boy walked in and sat down in the row next to me.  Every time the teacher would turn her back he would point at me and softly say “ugly.”  This harassment continued on the playground.  Soon he had half of the class laughing at me.

From that day on I felt so ugly.  Only in my 40’s did I start to look at pictures of me as a young girl.  While I would never win a beauty contest, I realized I was not ugly.  But those words took me years to over come.

Unspoken words that hurt:

Then there are the words that we need to hear, but never do.

As a young girl I idolized my father.  He was my hero.  After my parents divorced I was very hurt and although I no longer looked up to him, I still loved him.  But throughout my life I never heard him say “I love you.”  In our relationship, words of praise were never on his lips.  He was quick to point out anything I did or said that did not meet his approval.  Others in the family told me he told them nice things about me, but I never heard any of them.  To this day, as an old woman, I still wish I could have heard those words of love.

Spoken words that bless:

But I am thankful for the words of affirmation I have received from so many others in my life.

My husband who says “I love you” several times throughout the day.

My grandchildren who call to share memories from their childhood.

My sister who still calls me her “baby sister.”

My church family who speak words of encouragement and love every week.

Words that are misunderstood:

Looking back over my life at the old age of 70 I think of the many times that words have been misunderstood.  Times when what I said and what they heard were different – or what they said and what I heard were different.

How sad I am for the times that misunderstanding led to broken relationships, hurt feelings, angry hearts.

How thankful I am for the ability to forgive and to ask forgiveness when those times occurred.

Now that I am writing more I worry about the words I use.  Do I express myself clearly?  Could what I say be hurtful although my intent might be to encourage?

My most recent concern was the post I made about not complaining.  While I wrote that wanting to encourage us to count our blessings and not let circumstances get us down, I fear others may have seen it as implying we should never say we are hurting or we are discouraged.

So I ask God for wisdom in my writing.  My prayer is that my words will be a blessing and that I will be more mindful of what I write and how I write.

This verse is my prayer both as I speak to others and as I write:

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, Lord, my rock and my redeemer….Psalm 19:14

 

Words Do Matter and I’m NOT Ugly!

Sticks and Stones

Edgewood, Illinois.

Just the mention of that town brings back bad memories.  About three months into my sixth grade school year, we moved from Mason to Edgewood (both small towns about 10 miles apart).  For me, they were opposite sides of the universe.  Mason Grade School was one of my happiest times in school.  I had lots of friends, was always busy playing with the group at recess.  I took my hula hoop to school each day and we would all gather in the playground after lunch to see who could keep the hoop going the longest.  It was great!

My fifth grade teacher was very impressed with me and told mother in testing they had done I tested as a genius.  She also thought I was the most polite child she had ever had in her classes.  When I began sixth grade my teacher designed extra curriculum for me and talked about advancing me to the next grade.   I was a very confident and happy girl.

Then came Edgewood

Shortly after sixth grade started my family moved to Edgewood and there I lost my confidence and happiness.

The school building at Edgewood had eight grades in four rooms.  The first four grades were on the lower floor and the last four grades were upstairs.  My first morning at Edgewood, I started climbing up the stairs to go to my new classroom.  About half way up the stairs, I met two boys coming down the stairs.  As they got about two stairs above me, one of the boys grabbed the other boy, pointed at me and in a very loud voice said, “Move over!  Don’t get near her.  That’s the ugliest girl I have ever seen.”  They both laughed and moved over as far to the other side of the staircase as they could get from me.  I hurried on up to my classroom hoping they would not be in my class.

Shortly after the teacher had showed me where I would sit and I was settled in my new desk, in walked the young boy who had just called me the ugliest girl he has ever seen.  He was sitting in the next row over from me.  Every time the teacher’s back was turned, he would look at me and make faces as if the sight of me was making him sick.  Kids around him started laughing.  Of course, when the teacher turned around and wanted to know what was funny, nobody seemed to know.

The harassment continued on the play ground.  When we played games that required us to pick participants, he would always yell out, “Don’t pick the ugly girl.”  Everyone would laugh and I would be the last one picked.  He was obviously the leader of the kids and he saw to it that no one played with me or sat with me after lunch.

Every day I cried as I walked to school.  I couldn’t wait for the dismissal bell to ring so I could get out of there.  I quit bringing my hula hoop to school because no one wanted me to play with me.  Most of the time after lunch I would sit and read my Bible.  Of course, that probably brought more ridicule for me.

Until that time I had not really given much thought about how I looked.  What little thought I had given was positive.  In second grade I had been in a style show at the high school with my oldest sister  She had made us matching dresses and we were part of a program at the high school showcasing the talents of the students.  My sister practiced with me over and over how I was to walk out on the stage, how to turn around to show off my dress and then return to the back of the stage.  I was the hit of the show.  Everyone had commented how cute I was, how beautiful my red hair was.  My sister was clearly very proud of me.

Everywhere my family went, people would comment on my beautiful red hair so I had a pretty positive image of myself.  But the experiences at Edgewood Grade School left me feeling very ugly.  All though my teenage years and even into adulthood, I felt ugly.  Although the compliments on my red hair continued, I always thought “Yeah, my hair is pretty but it doesn’t make up for the fact that my face is ugly.”

It was only years later that I came to understand perhaps why this boy made so much fun of me.  He was a poor student, barely passing.  He was also a bully and a trouble maker and spent a lot of time in the principal’s office or in detention after school.  And guess who his mother was?  My fifth grade teacher.

I, of course, do not know, but as an adult I realize it is very possible that his mother had told him about me transferring to his school and perhaps bragged on what a smart and polite student I was.  Or, maybe he was just a bully who picked on me because I was the new kid.

Looking at pictures of me as a teenager now I realize while I was no Miss America, I actually was a pretty cute kid.  How sad that it was not until I reached my 40’s that I began to gain confidence in my appearance.

Words matter!

So sad to see today how bullying on social media is causing other young girls and boys to have no confidence in who they are.  I also hate it when I hear parents in the stores yelling at their kids sometimes telling them they are stupid, dumb, mean.

Words matter!  Think before you speak.  Speak up when you see someone bullying another.

My Addiction Cost Me 27 Days in 2017

I am addicted.  I have made my confession before.  Confessions of a Scrabble Addict!

I have tried hard to overcome it but I have not been able to do so as I reported in  My Addiction has Returned.

And now this year it has taken 27 days of my life.

We played 216 games in 2017.  It takes us about 3 hours to play a game.  So that amounts to 27 days playing scrabble.

We play on a super scrabble board which has twice the letters of regular scrabble and an expanded board.

We also take forever to take a turn because we are so competitive and try to either play a seven letter word which gives us 50 extra points or find a place on the board to give us triple or quadruple points.

scrabble 3

Winning with us is like a seesaw.  I get a couple of games ahead, then he comes backs, ties me and pulls ahead two or three games.  The most anyone of us has been ahead is five games.  When I get that many games behind, the adrenalin kicks in and I HAVE to catch up.

 

Keeping scores since 2008 we ended this year with a tie.  We each won 107 games with two tied games.  In the ten years of keeping score, I have won one more game than he has.  One more game in ten years.  What a tight contest!

So into the New Year we go!  Suspect mounts!

Will he be able to win more games than me in 2018?

Will I pull ahead even more?

For those who follow my blog and are tired of hearing about scrabble (which proves my addiction) I promise no more posts on this subject for a while (at least I promise I will try).

So just a few scrabble jokes to end this blog and start another attempt to overcome my addiction.

  • In Russia when a baby is born, the parents play a game of scrabble and the letters they pick up is the name of their child.
  • Scrabble is all fun and games until someone loses an “i”
  • the dreaded Old MacDonald rack – eieiooo
  • I accidentally swallowed some scrabble tiles.  My next movement could spell disaster.