Thursday, September 30, 2010

back to Walther...

To continue the 18th Evening Lecture based on the ninth thesis:

In the fifth place, the Word of God is not rightly divided when sinners who have been struck down and terrified by the Law are directed, not to the Word and the Sacraments, but to their own prayers and wrestlings with God in order that they may win their way into a state of grace; in other words, when they are told to keep on praying and struggling untile they feel God has received them into grace.

I shall repeat the last bit I quoted before moving on:

In view of this, are we not blessed, highly favored men?  Our bliss beggars description.  Heaven and earth are full of the goodness and grace of the Lord, our God.  Anyway and everywhere all things cry to us:  "You are redeemed; your sins are forgiven; heaven is thrown open to you.  Oh, believe it, do believe it, and you have this bliss." (180)

Walther moves from here to note that his previous three evening lectures have shown how false doctrine has vitiated this bliss.  In this evening lecture, he focuses on the rejection of absolution.  He uses the text from the 19th Sunday after Trinity (the story of the paralytic whose sins Christ forgave and Luther's House Postil for this day, this reading, Matthew 9:1-8:

Getting into a boat, Jesus crossed over the sea and came to His own city.  And they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic, "Take courage, son; your sins are forgiven."
And some of the scribes said to themselves, "This fellow blasphemes."
And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, "Why are you thinking evil in your hearts?  Which is easier, to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up, and walk'?  But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins"--then He said to the paralytic, "Get up, pick up your bed and go home."
And he got up and went home. But when the crowds saw this, they were awestruck, and glorified God, who had given such authority to men.

It is the whole "given to men" part that become a stickler.  When I first read about the Office of the Keys in the Book of Concord, I admit it gave me pause.  All I knew about confession was snippets heard about Catholic confession that requires penances and such.  It was a relief, almost, to read how the Fathers delineated the differences between what confession should be and how it was perverted by placing such a terrible burden on penitents by making their forgiveness conditional on their own words and works.  The paralytic was forgiven requiring neither.

Alas...I am too tired to continue...can you figure out where I was going????????

Lord, I believe.  Help my unbelief!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

alas, I was not done...

Come to find out this morning, as I am trying to walk out the door for an appointment, that I was actually not done with Verizon.

They had canceled my phone when I called last week, even though I specifically gave a date for the disconnect for the following Saturday, since the switch was happening on Friday.  Cox, it turns out, cannot take a disconnected phone number.

So, my alarm has had no service for the past week.  Given that I live off my cell phone, I hadn't even noticed.  Cox did.

After much brouhaha, I was given a new phone number and gave up the one I have had for 12 years that is on all my accounts and such.  SIGH.

I was warned by four different people, also, that I should expect to have unexpected, unpleasant items on my final bill from Verizon.  Such the battle.  I am ready to be done with battles.

Tell me, how in the world does one keep one's voice laced with kindness whilst conversing with people in customer service clearly intent on not serving you?

All the while, I kept thinking about the fact that I am baptized.  If Christ can love me, daily and richly forgive my sins, of which there are so many I can barely stand the thought of them, then surely I can muster up at least kindness for Verizon folk?

Will I ever truly understand Pastor F's favorite parting observation:  Christ is with you in your baptism?

Lord, I believe.  Help my unbelief!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Am I truly done?

The cable guy got the Internet hooked up, but my ancient router has to be configured at a price of more than half of what it would cost for a new router.  So, no Internet for my laptop outside cafes until tomorrow (hopefully).

When I called Verizon to cancel, the representative had the gall to tell me that there would be a $700 early termination fee because one of the myriad technicians who worked on my service actually changed the service.  Two hours and fifty-five minutes and four supervisors later, I got a confirmation code for cancelation of service without a fee.  I also was given the direct phone number of a supervisor to call back if my final bill is not correct. 

So embattled has this become, I went ahead and changed phone service too.  As of Friday, I hope never to have to speak to another Verizon person again. 

Seven months of arguing, calling, begging, pleading, and alternating between being patient, constrained, irritated, and overwhelmed by frustration.  The cable guy was in disbelief that I waited so long to make the switch.  Later on, he called me back to say he worked on my "deal" a bit more and got it down to having crazy fast Internet, phone, and the same cable for just $17 a month more and locked that rate in for two years, with the understanding that if I move out of their service area before the end of that period, I will not be penalized. 

I asked several people for help.  Four times I had another person call for me.  Nothing really mattered.  It was always something in the "Central Office."  Supervisor after supervisor on the "Escalation Team" promised to resolve it, but no one ever did.

So, I am sitting here, exhausted, after the battle to get the $700 fee waived.  I am sitting here thinking that so very much of my life over the past seven months has been this battle with Verizon.  So much of my energy and time.  So much of the limitations on being productive from home and staying in touch via Skype.  So much frustration.  Shouldn't a person be able to have service that worked fine for over six years restored in a seven month period in the year 2010?

I apologized and asked forgiveness from all of the supervisors as they passed me on to the next person because it was near impossible to remain calm.  I just couldn't believe that anyone would think it logical for a person calling tech support since the third week of February to be making a long-term committment to such poor service.  Each one repeated the same "script" about his/her hands being tied until the last one. 

He was patient, listened carefully, and offered his home phone number just to let me give him an opportunity to restore my service.  Feeling rather broken, I told him I just needed to be done with Verizon.  I need less battles, not more.  I need for service, while not perfect, to be reliable.  I need not to have to think about or worry about that service.  And I need to know that if I am given leave to work from home I have the service that will afford me to do so with integrity and a solid connection to my work server.

For months, I have not liked who I am with Verizon.  Each call, I start out patient, even when it drags on into a second hour.  But some time around the tenth "I'm sorry for your inconvenience, but we are going to have to have antoher person look into this and troubleshoot with you," I start to lose it.  Yes, I have turned off and then back on the modem and the router and the computer.  Yes, I have plugged and unplugged all the cables.  Yes, the filters are on all the jacks in the house.  No, the speed test only shows about .55 mb of the 3 mb of service.  No, I cannot open websites with graphics.  No, I cannot watch You Tube without a hour or more of buffering.  No, I cannot download attachments.  No, I cannot Skype.   Tech person to tech person, no matter the escalation level, has the same script, asks the same bloody questions (name, phone number, address, operating system, model model number, call back number, power cycle, plug and unplug, reboot, etc.).  My patience wans with each successive tech person and well into the second hour, I just want to hang up and give up.  But I kept trying, even when I end up crying and terse, biting my tongue to keep from saying the ugly things running through my head.

Three times, I ended up yelling.  I was ashamed and apologized, but if you know me, you know that I do not yell.  Not since I was a little girl and fighting was the only language in our family.  Lately, I when I get very, very frustrated, my throat tightens up, tears flow, and I end up raising my voice.  I am not angry.  I am actually near despair.  And I am very, very weary.

So, am I done?  Am I really and truly done? 

Hopefullly, tomorrow the new router will arrive and tech support shall walk me through its configuration.
Hopefully, Friday another service man will come to connect the new phone service to the alarm system. 
Hopefully, next week a final bill will arrive. 

When we ask God to save us, I always think that is from the devil and his machinations.  However, these days, I also want Him to save me from myself.  From my weaknesses and frailties and foibles.  From the things that have changed in my brain that make it difficult for me to process information, problem solve, and contain my emotions. 

But...maybe...saving me doesn't mean changing any of that.  Maybe...saving me means giving me the strength to endure all that.  And...maybe...saving me means giving me the peace of knowing, fully and completely knowing, that...somehow...I am actually forgiven, daily and richly, for not merely the sin of Adam's choice in that garden of long ago, but also the sins of my flesh that bind me from and blind me to the breadth and depth of the riches gained and remembered in "I am baptized."

Lord, I believe.  Help my unbelief!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

what can be changed...

I should not be in a house with stairs, but I cannot change that.  I should not be living on my own, but I cannot change that.  I should not be working full time, but I cannot change that.  For the next three weeks, I am concentrating on what I can change.

I have taken medical leave from work so that I might swallow some things, chief among them the dysautonomia and continuing to adjust to the new medications (for fainting and for evening out blood sugar).  I also had a very difficult circumstance that has made swallowing just about everything all that much more difficult.

My chief aim for the next three weeks is sleep.

I want to be as well-rested as possible when I return to work, so that the boundaries I have been working to set might have the best possible outcome.  Right now, I am just too tired for most everything.

However, next to sleep, I want to look at the things I can change during this time.  Today, I made two small steps in my home that have to do with getting ready and one that affects my activities at both home and work.

My Dresser
I pulled everything out of my dresser, made a pile for donations, and put back the remaining items in order of importance for getting dressed.  The top drawer is now filled with the things that are essential, so that I can just open the drawer and pull them out.  The second drawer, has that which I can grab easily while not looking so I can decrease the amount of bending over (decrease dizziness and possible fainting).  The third drawer is those things I use less, and I have vowed to only open it if I am actually sitting on the floor.

Bathroom Mirror Cabinet
I keep my make-up brushes, mascara, and toothpaste tube in a plastic cup-like container on the lowest shelf.  With a great decrease in small motor skills, I have gotten to the point where I knock it over nearly every darn day.  That makes a mess, usually the also knocks over whatever is on the edge of the sink onto the floor, and I get dizzy or faint retrieving everything.  Plus, if there has been water in the sink, the brushes get wet and I cannot use them until they dry out.  So, first, I moved a coffee cup I had spared from a closet cleaning because I couldn't bear to give it away (a beautiful one with a Chinese dragon on it).  [Why people give coffee cups/mugs to a person who detests coffee is a mystery to me.]  The coffee cup is quite heavy, so I will not be knocking it over.

Second, I dug through all of the travel containers I somehow have managed to accumulate to choose ones to use in the bathroom cabinet.  For one, using them makes the three small shelves less crowded, giving me a better chance of grabbing what I need without knocking anything else over.  Using them will also help with the fact that my weakening hand strength makes holding things more difficult.  All of them, even filled, are not too heavy for me to easily pick up, use, and replace. 

Third, I purchased a small "make-up" mirror that has a wide bottom.  Because I cannot see very well, the mirror of the bathroom cabinet is too far away to use to put in my contacts.  Three times now, I have broken the small  mirror I use, leaving shards all over the floor until I could clean up the mess.  The one I chose is more of a travel mirror, but it has a single piece plastic bottom instead of two pieces that act like a sort of like the legs of a tripod.  Having separate pieces made it easier to slide off the edge of the sink where I rest it.  This one has a bottom that is an inch and a half wide and is quite sturdy.  The only better option would be a rubber one.

So, I now have a much, much greater chance of getting ready for work or church without fainting and without breaking things or otherwise creating a mess!

My other change for the day was that I gave up my battle with Verizon.  Seven months is long enough to have poor or absent DSL service. I am not sure why it worked for well over six years and has now become such an issue.  I have called and called and called, staying home from work for many service appointments that did not change anything.  I have been calm. I have raised my voice. I have cried.  I have begged.  I have worked my way up the food chain.  I got the personal cell phone number for a local technician.  Enough is enough.  So, I called Cox to order the more expensive cable Internet service.  This also means a costly service call.  However, by tomorrow evening, I should finally be able to Skype again, watch videos on-line, and most importantly, work from home if I can win that as a "reasonable accommodation" at my job. 

I have not worked from home unless I didn't need to connect to our server in months because of my crappy Verizon service.  If I could work from home one day a week, I think that would make a tremendous difference for me with regard to fatigue.  This is the first step toward accomplishing that.

Of course, I realized, rather belatedly, this means I have to recreate my resume website since it is hosted on a free service through Verizon.  "Manna" had recently found a free website service with Microsoft that will not matter what Internet service I have.  It also allows more free storage for the PDFs of my writing and design portfolio items.  This evening, I got all the pages set up, the photos added, uploaded all the PDFs to my online folder, and began linking them.  Tomorrow, it should be completed before the Cox serviceman comes.

Is that not a day full of accomplishments, even though I slept until well after noon?

How else might I make my home safer for me and easier to accomplish the things I need to do?

All day, I have been thinking about a bit from the Book of Concord as I worked and planned.  It is from the Large Catechism, a favorite part of mine where Luther suggests that if you are not hungering for the Lord's Supper, you should place your hand beneath your shirt to see if your heart is still beating.  I had not remembered this very important reminder that comes next:

Therefore, if you cannot discern this, at least believe the Scriptures. They will not lie to you, and they know your flesh better than you yourself. [BOC, LC, V, 76]

The "this" he is talking about is a warning about how our flesh will steer us wrong, embroiled in sin as it is.  The Scriptures will not lie to me.  Lately, I have been amazing things I should get tattooed on my forearm so that I might remember them.  This definitely should come first, before even my beloved "I am baptized!" and all that means for me.  The Scriptures will not lie to me. 

I am not one for anthropomorphism and usually jump all over my writing students for ascribing human actions/emotions to inanimate things.  Chief among my pet peeves is "This paper/report will state/show/tell..."  The paper cannot do anything.  Only the author.  Yet, as Luther teaches in the previous part on Baptism, the Scriptures are and can do all that God is and does.  That is why they are the Living Word.  That is why they actually can and do speak to me.  What they speak is the Truth.  This I know. This I cling to.  But what I need to remember is that is that they also do not lie.  In other words, I shall gain no false guidance or assurance from them...only from this world.

The Scriptures will not lie to me.

Lord, I believe.  Help my unbelief!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Would someone PLEASE push my reset button?

One of the things that the dysautonomia diagnosis answered was why I get so bloody cold at times.  Thermoregulation.  What a word. 

Tonight, I have on bike shorts, tights, leggings, pants, three tanks, two t-shirts, sweat jacket, three pairs of socks, mittens, and a scarf.  I am tucked in bed beneath five blankets.  Still, waves of deep chills are racing up and down my body and my nose feels like I am in Alaska in the dead of winter.

The funny thing is that last night, or rather early this morning, I awoke roasting in my bed.  For three hours, I lay atop my covers in just a tank and bike shorts, rotating wet clothes as I tried to cool down.  It was not anything like I have read about hot flashes.  I felt as if someone had set up heat lamps all about the bed and I was baking beneath them.  For the record, the thermostat read 64 degrees when I checked, certain that somehow the heat had come on whilst I was sleeping.  Oh, was I miserable.

That was the third time now that the wonky thermoregulation when south instead of north, leaving me feeling as if I were residing in the Sahara Desert. 

I cannot decide which is worse, freezing or roasting.

I spent almost all of yesterday packing up school supplies for the children at our sister school, praying over each item I placed in the bags.  I kept wondering what their first weekend was like with the food.  But that also meant quite a bit of moving and lifting and bending and straightening.  So, I am rather sore today.  Since I am shivering rather violently at this point, teeth chattering non-stop, the accompanying tremors and muscle spasms are quite painful. 

Last night, crying and praying and desparate for sleep, I kept thinking I would rather be freezing.  With extremities turning numb with cold, I am now certain roasting is better.

Would someone please push my reset button?

I am Yours, Lord. Save me!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

No matter what we do the grave is the same...

One of the best days I have ever had was back when I was a hospice volunteer. 

Attending the dying is the greatest privilege I have ever had.  Hands down.  No questions asked.  Spend any amount of time with an n-stage terminal patient and you will gain perspective in spades.  You will also be awash in humility as you realize the depth and breadth of life.  It spans a lifetime.  It is gone in a single heartbeat.

Sometimes I wonder if I am more awed by God as a creator having now two chronic incurable conditions that are mercurial in nature, not easily pinned down, and a mystery in an of themselves.  Our bodies are so infinitely complex that even in 2010, we have not a clue as to the whole of them.  One of the best physicians I have ever had stressed to me all the time that she was only "practicing" medicine, because so very much of the time her profession is a best guess.  She did not have faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, but she did acknowledge a Creator.  Looking at the human body, it is hard not to admit an ineffable genius behind its workings...especially all those times when patients simply defy odds, tumors disappear.

Sitting at the side of a dying person, I always think most of our Creator.  Watching a chest wall rise and fall, hearing the rattle that voices impending death, I wonder and marvel that God would have ever created me, Myrtle, and that having done so He would continue to love me, given the mess I make of the life He has given me.

Granted, I have not attended the dying since joining the Lutheran confession.  I wonder if my thoughts at such a time would now be different.

The last time I was with someone who was about to pass out of this vale of tears, all I could think was that I knew her death was imminent, but the staff did not warn her husband.  I wanted so badly to tell him to stay when he went to leave.  Such love there was between he and his wife. I know he would have wanted to be with her.  But I was too afraid of the wrath of family members if I spoke.  What does Myrtle know?  I think my decision to remain silent at that moment is one of my top 5 regrets in life.

[Do Lutherans have regrets?]

But back to that day.  I know I have written of it before, but it is on my mind again.

I had two funerals that day:  a high Catholic mass and a pauper's funeral.  It was not the services that struck me so strongly.  It was the graves.  At the first graveside, there was a tent, masses of gorgeous flower arrangements, padded chairs covered in rich brocade fabric, an ornate gilded casket, a string quartet, and a soft, green cloth covering the mound of dirt.  At the second graveside, there was a pine box and a pile of raw earth.  No chairs.  No flowers.  No music.  No pretty trappings to ease the fact that at both graves we were there for the same reason.  Death.

I thought attending the dying, giving respite to their families and easing the passing of the person with tender care of his/her body, brought all the perspective you can gain from hospice, but those two funerals showed me that no matter what we do the grave is the same.  No matter how it looks on the outside, it is still death that fills it.

Death fills it because of our sin.  No matter what we do, no matter what we tell ourselves or what trappings we cover ourselves and our lives with, it is still sin.

How incredible then, is it, that Jesus Christ would come and enter this vale of tears, live this life,  suffer as we do, and then embrace death that we, ourselves, will never have to taste its sting?

Then Job answered the Lord, and said, "I know that Thou canst do all things, and that no purpose of Thine can be thwarted.  'Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?'  Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.  Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.  'Hear, now, and I will speak; I will ask Thee, and do Thou instruct me.'  I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear; but now my eye sees Thee; therefore I retract, and I repent in dust and ashes."  
~Job 42:1-6

Lord, I believe.  Help my unbelief!

Friday, September 10, 2010

the heart of a friend...

When someone is grieving or facing a serious illness or a life crisis, often people remain silent or stay away because they think that there is nothing they can possibly say or do to help.  The thing they are misunderstanding is that it is not up to them to fix the problem or heal the person.  That's God's task, which He will or will not accomplish, to His glory, in His time, through His masks.  All you really have to let the person know he or she is not alone.

Bettina is so wonderful at that.  I mean, she does have that stinking brilliant mind.  But mostly what she does is those wonderful small things to let me know she is thinking about me.  Like her ringing my phone.  No great words of wisdom or huge investment of time and energy.  Just a little buzz.

"Manna" buzzes in a different way.  She sends these micro emails.  Little snippets of her day.  Often just a few sentences.  Shopping.  Home Renovation.  A walk.  Dinner.  Little updates and a few witty quips that warm the cockles of my heart.

Such mercy.

Bettina, however, did also apply that fine mind for me this week. 

Tuesday night was the first night that I broke the boundary I had set on leaving work since I returned from vacation, trapped there until 7:30 PM when I walked out because a late night was not necessary, was not critical.  Then, at 2:42 AM that night/Wednesday morning, I was awoken by a text from my boss.

I had tried to set the boundary of no texts.  That earned me great ire and lots of passive aggressive behavior.  The text, in part, was contradicting what the CEO wanted me to do the next day to which my boss had agreed when the three of us were together.  I never went back to sleep.  Being caught between my boss and the CEO, between my boss and the good of the organization is a strain. Right now, any additional strain is near unbearable, so weak and weary am I.

Well, Bettina called me to let me know she had an idea for me:  I could block my boss' cell phone number from texting me.  In telling me this, she said that it was not my problem that my boss couldn't accept the boundary, but unfortunately her inability to do so meant that it fell to me to find another way to keep that separation between work and personal life.  In other words, I shouldn't have to block her number, but in blocking her number I could keep the boundary line drawn firmly.

That's what Bettina does for me so very often.  She does not try to solve big problems, things so overwhelming just thinking about them is exhausting.  She goes after teeny, tiny things.  A way to remember just one thing.  A way to keep my beloved asparagus fresher longer.  A way to keep my boss from sending less-than-kind texts to my personal phone.

Christ's mercy through ringing and buzzing and teeny, tiny things...and, of course, two women who also regularly share the Living Word with me in voice and song and the love they pour over this struggling sheep.

Lord, I believe.  Help my unbelief!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

the more things change, the more they stay the same...

Mowed.  Fainted.  Twice.

Since I was hot and sticky, I tried to scrub the tub, but ended up falling in the bathroom anyway.  So, at noon yesterday, I crawled back into bed and slept until late afternoon.

Then, I spent the entire evening looking forward to a phone call that never came.  Foolish me.

Someone wrote me about some folk who were making an important decision in their parish, but did not pray about it.  He said they were being stupid sheep, himself included.  He said they needed mercy, then noted the following was a good prayer:  "Lord, have mercy on stupid sheep."

I agree.  I keep believing things my experience has told me will not really happen.  How many times have I told myself, over the past year or so, that I will stop doing that?  When will I learn?

I have been trying to decided if silence or polite words are worse.  It's a toss up, really. 

A while ago, I was talking with "Manna" about how someone needed to do a booklet on all the gestures and stuff in a confessional Lutheran liturgical service, since children might be taught those things, but adults won't be.  I agree with those who say the Divine Service should be experienced and absorbed, but there comes a point in time when instruction is helpful, especially when everyone but you are doing the same thing.  Pastor W's most excellent post on gestures was immensely helpful, but not comprehensive enough.  Of course, as the person I was talking with pointed out, many confessional Lutheran churches are not liturgical in the least.  I guess what I have experienced is a privilege of sorts.  Still, I would pay very good money for such a booklet. 

Yet what I long for just as badly is a social skills manual.  I think I have finally learned the hard way to never answer the question: "How are you doing?" truthfully, even in church.  And I, hope, I have now learned to also not give an answer to the question:  "How can I help you?" or "What can I do to help?" truthfully, especially amongst Christians.  Somehow, doing so is selfish.  But what I haven't learned is how to handle, how to address, is all the other times people are just being polite and do not mean what they say. 

Funny, I get that there is a social contract and how I have broken it rather terribly this past year.  I even learned why it was that I did so.  And I am trying very hard not to do so in the new parish.  But I just don't know how to handle when people say they will do things and do not.  Big things.  Small things.  I get, now, that I am not supposed to be disappointed that they do not happen.  Because...really...they were never meant in the first place.  The offer itself is actually not the offer I think it is, just like the question "How are you doing?" is not really the question it sounds like.

I believe people when I should not, both those who are not trustworthy and those who are.  In both cases, I believe what I hear when what I hear is not what is being spoken.  And then I am wrong for having believed them.  I am coming to understand that, contrary to what I would think would be true, intentions mean more than actions.  Because it is the speaking of the offer that counts, not the following through with the offer.  The words are not what I think they are.

Sort of like how Gospel and salvation and baptism and the Lord's Supper and promises and such are different in confessional Lutheranism doctrine.  I can study Luther and Walther myself and have a shot at understanding such things.  But who is there to study about non-doctrine words that are also different?

The funny thing is, truly odd, is that I find this to be the case, at least with me, more amongst Christians than non-Christians.  With most Christians, I share the language of faith, but nothing else. With most non-Christians, they do not share my language of faithfind me rather odd, but accept it, accept mebut share everything else.  Only, since my world view is different and I do not wish to walk in their world, the awkwardness remains.  In both worlds, I am an interloper, socially speaking at the least...probably more.

I could think it is because I did not grow up amongst Christians.  However, I think the real reason is just that I am just plain stupid in a way three college degrees cannot help.  Brother Goose was telling me how he has no common sense, though I would think the whole world would agree God has blessed him with immense amount of  spiritual common sense, incredible spiritual discernment and wisdom in a rather humble heart.  This is something he's had to come to terms with, accept the way he is, because he does not want to be an oaf in this manner. 

He observed that he thought I did have common sense.  I do.  I mean, I do for others.  I have been rather successful at solving business problems for people because of common sense.  I also have a collection of folk who see me at their life coach of sorts, great at helping them sort out things in their lives.  And the appeal of the booklet on how to read the Book of Concord shows that I have common sense in instruction.  Being a teacher is something I have always greatly excelled at because that is a gift God clearly has given me (otherwise being the lame brain I am).  I just never understood the social stuff around that. 

Obviously, as I have documented here, I don't have common sense when it comes to me.  Nor, apparently I now realize, do I understand the words I hear.

Lord, have mercy on this rather stupid sheep!

Saturday, September 04, 2010

the way of things...

It seems wrong that I should be grieving the loss of something I did not want in the first place, but I am.  I wish I could understand such a thing.  I wish I didn't feel as if I am being swallowed up by a black hole.

Bettina, that dear woman, has found another way to say, "I love you, Myrtle!"  She knows that the mere sound of the ring tone I chose for her brings joy to my heart.  [Fifteen years later and I still grow giddy at the mere thought of getting to talk with her and practically bounce off the walls from excitement when she visits.]  So, she has taken to buzzing me here and there.  She cannot talk but for a moment.  The point isn't to talk.  The point is that she is telling me (reminding me) that she loves me and is thinking of me just by first letting me hear her ring and then her voice telling me where she is or what's next in her day.

"Manna,"  I believe, also practically shouted, "I love you, Myrtle!"  She sent me an image of Christ holding a lamb.  But it was not a blond, handsome Jesus dressed in a pristine robe holding a white lamb.  This Christ is a bit swarthy and is holding a black lamb.

That's me, alright.  A black sheep.  And yet Jesus holds me still.  Such a thought.  Such a wondrous thought!

And so I thought I would remind myself of some more of the sweet, sweet Gospel given to me via Papa Dore's emails:

On Christ the Shepherd:  

You are Jesus' little lamb, and He is such a great Good Shepherd, that He will not leave you lost and helpless, alone or in danger.  He will seek you out and find you.  He will lay you upon His strong shoulders and bring you home with great rejoicing.  He will lead you into His pleasant pastures of the Gospel.  He will bring you daily back to the cool clear waters of your Holy Baptism, to the forgiveness of all your sins, to the quenching of your deepest thirst.  And He will feed you at His Table with the choicest of meats, and pour out for you the finest of wines, His own holy and precious blood, from the overflowing Chalice of His free and full salvation.  Truly, He will.

On Christ crucified:

I wanted to point out that, if Jesus has risen from the dead and ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father, then you also are risen and ascended and seated with Him in the heavenly places.  For consider that He, who knew no sin, became sin for us; that He became the curse of sin and death, that He made Himself sinful and unclean with our sins and uncleaness; that He bore our guilt and shame and nakedness, and all our sins against Him and our neighbor, and all our neighbors sins against us, and He made all of that His own, as though He alone were the Sinner.  He willingly suffered and died for all of that.  He shed His holy precious blood to atone for all of that, to cover all of that.  He received upon Himself the righteous wrath and judgment and punishment of God against all of that.  He was crucified, dead and buried.

See, here are Christ's hands; put your finger in the holes made by the nails.  Put your hand here in His wounded side.  Hide yourself there, in safety and peace, and find your Sabbath Rest in Him, both now and forever.

Lord, I believe.  Help my unbelief!