Archives for posts with tag: Lent

Am I ever glad this is a new month, a new week, and a new day. The past few weeks have been frustrating to say the least. You know how that is at times, right?

My Internet router went kaput a month or so ago…after I had gotten a totally new one in January. A visit with an online tech got it going again. Then three weeks later off it went, and this time the tech couldn’t get it running, so they ordered a personal visit from a repair person…in another week. Argh!

While messing with the router’s settings, something happened to the computer which totally messed up everything so that my writing documents were not showing up, and even worse, the word processing software was not showing up either! Yikes.

On top of that, the printer wouldn’t work, and still is not. Joys!

Then last Thursday evening our water heater had a pipe that broke (not found until Friday morning) and a few inches of water had sprayed into the basement. Luckily our 115-year-old basement floor tilts toward the drain, so most of the water was already running out; and it is not a finished basement, so no damage there. Just no hot water. We got a plumber to come out late afternoon on Friday and fix the broken pipe and fitting; however, he said we needed a new water heater since the bottom of this one had gotten wet and would not light and heat safely (this one was only 3 years old).

working water heater

Then Saturday morning (remember the record-setting cold air that swooped down last weekend?) we found out the furnace had apparently had some water spray onto it and it would not work. (House temp was 55.) We toughed it out–with the help of our gas fireplace and its blower and lots of blankets and a few floor heaters in the basement keeping the pipes from freezing–until we called a furnace repair company to come out. They got here on Tuesday, assessed the actual damage and said a new furnace was needed (this one was 15 years old).

On Wednesday, a new furnace was installed.

Thursday, got us a new water heater. And a new router.

So…..despite my husband’s right arm being in a sling from shoulder surgery three weeks ago, we are doing okay. But am I ever glad we have had electricity and gas throughout all this. Counting blessings despite the adversity of modern life conveniences.

But let me tell you, in the midst of all that turmoil, my attitude took a nose dive. Especially my inner desire to continue writing. I was at the point where I threw my hands up and said, “Okay. I’m just not going to write anymore. And computers are too much of a hassle. I’ll do email and Facebook on my phone and that’s it.”

And frankly, if it weren’t for my husband that may have happened. But I knew he really wanted a Wi-Fi network for his computer. So I trudged along waiting for the repair tech to get here on Thursday.

Sometimes life just gets overwhelming, doesn’t it?

Sometimes no matter what you do, things fall apart.

Sometimes you want to crawl back into that couch-cushion pillow fort with your coloring books.

But day-by-day, hour-by-hour, my “world” got straightened out. And I praised God that we had the financial ability to do what we did. We lifted prayers for all those who did not and for those who have problems so much greater than ours. We had “first-world” problems. Hot water, heat, and computer problems.

As the season of Lent is upon us, you may want to consider what you can do without in this First World. Some of my friends are giving up Facebook until after Easter. Some are going without sweets of any kind.

I wasn’t raised in a church that urged a “denial” of anything leading up to Easter, so it is really a foreign concept to me. But what I have focused on is what I need to ADD to my spiritual life.

I need to add a truly thankful heart for every single thing I have. And a big, extra-thankful heart for me is that my computer documents are all back again! Whew!  But I’m not thankful for just family and friends and “things;” but forgiveness, grace and mercy.

Without God being perfectly Merciful, full of Grace and showering His creation with Forgiveness, I would have no hope.

No hope.

None.

Zip.

“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me!”

by Cindy Best

As I write this, the wind is shrieking outside my window, rattling the siding and windows.  Although my home is reasonably new and well insulated, if I hold my hand against the door frame I can feel cold air pushing through.  Until my family moved to Iowa nearly eight years ago, never had I experienced the 30-40 mph sustained winds with 50-60 mph gusts that are not at all uncommon here.  Snow and rain blow sideways, and the birds struggle not to get pushed backward.  What a day!

The rushing wind brings to mind a story from the book of Acts:  “When the day of Pentecost came, they [the apostles] were all together in one place.  Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.  They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.  All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit” (2:1-4a New International Version).

Last week the Christian church all over the world observed Ash Wednesday, which begins the season of Lent, the forty days (excluding Sundays) leading up to Easter.  It is a time for us to reflect on our faith walk and to prepare our hearts for both the sorrow and joy we will experience as we commemorate our Lord’s last meal with his disciples, his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, his betrayal, trial, and crucifixion, and, finally, his resurrection.  During last Wednesday’s service, many of the faithful had the sign of the cross traced onto their foreheads with ashes, a symbol of mourning and a prompt toward sober reflection.  The cross marks us as believers and followers of Jesus. Although we enjoy celebrating the joyful occasions, we are a people who must also remember and grieve the sorrowful ones.

That cross made of ash is an external, though temporary, mark.  There is a more important mark that does not appear on our flesh; rather, it is evident in how we live our lives.  The apostle Paul exhorts the church at Ephesus:  “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.  Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.  Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:30-32 NIV).  We are marked with the Holy Spirit, a sign to us of our redemption through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.  And what was done at the moment of our surrender to God through confession cannot be easily undone.  Once we have invited Jesus to capture our hearts and rescue us from our sin, the Holy Spirit takes up residence in us, and we are indelibly marked.

One Lenten tradition is to give up something that you feel has become an obstacle to a closer relationship with Jesus.  I’ve never felt compelled to do this before; usually I just try to re-commit to the disciplines:  studying the scriptures, praying, worshipping regularly with my church, serving in my community.  But this year I realized that I had let my computer take over my life.  It serves a useful purpose (this blog, for instance), but it also had become a black hole that consumed too much of my time and attention.  Giving up the computer entirely was not practical, but I could give up one aspect of it that had become a big time waster for me:  Facebook.  I resisted joining Facebook for a long time, but I finally gave in last year.  It’s fun to keep up with old and new friends and to share interesting things we find on the internet, but I was using it as a way to avoid doing other things, particularly the work of figuring out who I am meant to be.

I confess, I am a big procrastinator, and if I can immerse myself in one thing, I can easily justify not doing something else.  But as I have written here before, I am on a quest of self-discovery, and I realized that I will not find myself on my Facebook wall.  So for Lent this year, I gave up Facebook.  It wasn’t that difficult.  I am still reachable by email, phone, and text.  I do miss reading all the interesting things my friends post, but I can let that go for 40 (or so) days.  The trick is not to replace my Facebook time with other equally wasteful things.  Every day I have to remind myself that the whole reason I gave that up is to focus on who God is in my life and who I am becoming and whether I am moving in the right direction or any direction at all.  I realized that I have allowed myself to get stuck, and something will have to happen to un-stick me, and that something is not likely to happen if I am glued to the computer watching silly cat videos (which I admit I have a weakness for!).

Come, Lord Jesus.  Capture my heart anew.  Retrace the indelible mark of your Spirit within me.  Rescue me, I pray, from fear, from worry, from the noise inside my busy head, and let my thoughts, my words, and my actions be pleasing to you.  Make me into the person you know I can be.  I surrender. 

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