Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Sparknotes May Help

I've hit the Jackpot. I've just located the Sparknotes for my new book that hasn't been published yet. I've worked for three years on Coming Home, the story of the return of the Jews to Jerusalem to build their temple. It's been a real struggle, but no more. I can now tell my story using any of three outlines.

God stirs up a Persian king.
The king commissions a Jewish leader to accomplish a task.
The leader overcomes opposition and succeeds.
Success is followed by a great celebration.
or
Rebuilding the temple.
Ezra's mission.
Nehemiah's help.
or
God uses foreign rulers to help the Jews.
The Jews face opposition from foreign neighbors.
The Jews separate from their foreign wives to preserve the purity of their seed.

It all sounds so easy.
NOT!

Insightfully yours,
Paulita

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Writing, Crying, Starbucks, and John MacArthur

What do you do when you get the overwhelms? I usually cry. So what did I cry about this morning? I  have just spent two hours writing at Starbucks (my usual duration and place on Tuesdays). I must say that I am in the middle of writing about the return of the Jews from Babylonian captivity. "The middle of" sounds funny because I have been working on this book for about three years, I think. I first wrote until I was completely befuddled and then put the manuscript under my desk for two years. Now I'm working on it again. This is to be a story, not a history lesson. It has multiple main characters, but I've learned that that is possible if you do it right. There are many people in the Old Testament with the same names. No one seems to be absolutely sure of who went where when.

My problem is that I want to write out of knowledge, not ignorance. I want to be intimately acquainted with Ezra's mindset so I'm going over Psalm 119 (primarily) with a fine-toothed comb. I want to know who the guys are that are standing on the platform with Ezra when he is reading the law to the Jews, so I look them all up. I want to understand the significance of the Water Gate. I want to join in the excitement of the Feast of Tabernacles. I want to feel the sorrow of sin - the ripping of clothes and the pulling out of the beard. Knowing that God hates divorce, I want to grasp the reason why the Jews had to divorce their pagan wives, some already with children.

I have notes after notes after notes, many handwritten at Starbucks, but then my thinking process usually involves physical writing. I don't think on the computer. So what was my insight that made me cry this morning? I don't have to be John MacArthur! I was called to be me, a writer, still at my advanced age telling God's story to the next generation. Hm-m-m, if that sounds scriptural, it is.

"Since my youth, O God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds. Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, until I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come." Psalm 71:17-18
Insightfully yours,
Paulita

Thursday, January 30, 2014

My First Scam Call

Yesterday I got my first ever Scam call. The phone woke me up at 7AM. I ran to the phone and picked it up just as the "leave a message" recording kicked in.
"Hello"
"Hello. You know who this is, right?"
"No."
"It's your grandson."
"Stephen?"
"Yeah."
This didn't exactly sound like Stephen so I commented to which he said he had a bit of a cold.
...
"Grandma, I'm on a trip. Did you hear about it?"
"No."
"Well, I'm in  Mexico."
"On a mission trip?"
"What? You're cutting out. Are you still there?
"Yes."
"Grandma, (He kept calling me Grandma. Stephen doesn't call me Grandma.) What did you say about a trip?"
"Are you on a mission trip? What kind of trip are you on?"
I'm on a vacation with my friend, Michael."
Here I started to laugh.
"We're just down here visiting to see the ruins. You know about the ruins, right?"
"Of course."
Stephen isn't this forward. There is no school vacation that I know of. Stephen wouldn't have gone to Mexico without his parents, and most likely wouldn't have called me from there. Besides he's coming to see me in a week and a half.
"Michael's dad works for American Airlines and he gives Michael free trips once a year. That's the  only reason I would have came down here."
Whoops! Stephen doesn't make grammatical errors in his speech like that. Who is this?
"Stephen, when are you coming to see me?"
"Well the trip ends Sunday so we should be back Sunday night or Monday. When are you available?"
"Any time."
"OK I'll probably see you then. Grandma, I have something to talk to you about. Do you have a minute?"
"Yes."
"It's very important so you have to keep it a secret. I want to tell everyone face to face, so you have to promise to keep it a secret."
"OK."
"You promise?"
"Of course."
"I  got arrested this morning."
Silence.
"For what?"
"During our layover we were hungry so we stopped to get a bite to eat and some souvenirs."
At that point, my recorder went off with a beep.
"Everything went bad from that point on. What was that sound?"
"Oh that was just my recorder going off."
I think that spooked him but he kept going.
When he finally paused, I said, "Stephen, what is your last name?"
(Sounded like) "Eye width. Why?"
"Because you're not my grandson."
Click.

It pays to know your grandson!
Insightfully yours,
Paulita


Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year's Eve

Christmas is over and we've been blessed beyond measure. We are old and don't need or want "things" any more. So our family tends more toward consumable gifts or passing on family treasures  or remembrances to the next generation. It's all good, but my heart turns to some children we know who don't have reliable parents and need foster care, to homeless people who sleep near noisy railroad tracks or under a bridge, to the man who wraps himself in black plastic bags to keep warm in the winter.

Mother Teresa said, "If I look at the masses, I won't act, but if I look at one, I can."

Proverbs 14:31 says, "He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God."

Throughout the year I've collected quotes on little pieces of paper, but New Year's Eve is the time to let go of the old year and prepare for the new. Before I tear and toss, I'll share a few:

"Christ distributes courage through community; he dissipates doubts through fellowship. He never deposits all knowledge in one person but distributes pieces of the jigsaw puzzle to many." Max Lucado

"I want to develop whatever gifts God has given me, but gift development almost never happens for me if I let my schedule drift." John Ortberg

Here are two invaders:
1. We are too busy - we feel we must accomplish things. God wants us to just be with Him. Ps. 46:10
2. Technology lures us away from relationships, away from intimacy.

Meth dehumanizes
Bullying dehumanizes
Pornography dehumanizes
Alcoholism dehumanizes

We see Jesus not as a Savior,but as a Supplement.

Relationships will change. What is there in your life that won't give way?

"Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you, I lift up my soul" Ps.143:8

The last little scrap of paper I saved says, 1 C peanut butter, 1 C sugar, 3 eggs. I have no idea what it becomes, but it is gluten free.
Insightfully yours,
Paulita

Monday, August 19, 2013

Starting My Day

As I was making my bed this morning, I was reminded of a children's story. In the story a wizard told a couple he would grant them a wish: whatever they started doing the first thing in the morning, they would continue to do the rest of the day.

The man and his wife couldn't decide what to do first and didn't want to waste their wish, so until they could agree on an activity, the wife decided to fill her time by cleaning up the yard. Unfortunately, since that was the first thing she did, she continued to do it the rest of the day.

What do you do for your first activity of the day? Eat breakfast? Have your newspaper and coffee? Exercise? Make your bed? Read the Bible? Spend time with God?
Insightfully yours,
Paulita

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Only for Children?

Some 40 years ago we had a company Christmas party at our home. I sat down at the piano and began playing Christmas carols. A couple of guests came over and said, "I remember those. We sang those songs when we were kids."

Last Sunday we sat around one of the tables at Adult Sunday School and discussed how we could become the persons God meant for us to be. Our table was a truly intergenerational table: 2 couples in their 80's, one couple probably late 60's and one couple in their 30's. The outline before us suggested that we could become what God meant us to be by knowing Him and His word. I suggested that we are never too old to memorize Scripture so we can use it to thwart Satan's attacks on our minds. I mentioned the 23rd Psalm which I presumed they all knew. I was astounded when they tried to piece together parts of it they had memorized as children - "He leads me beside still waters," "walk through the valley of the shadow of death," "anoints my head with oil." Finally they all agreed it ended with "I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."

My question is what happens to these Christmas carols and memorized verses of Scripture when we are adults? Do we dismiss them with "When I was a child I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man I put childish ways behind me." (I Corinthians 13:11) Or do we hide them in our hearts (Psalm 119:11) so we can bring them out as treasures old and new (Matthew 13:52) to comfort and encourage our daily walk?
Insightfully yours,
Paulita

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Change

What does the verb "change" mean to you? I react negatively to it. It means disrupting my schedule, my thinking, and perhaps, my values. I don't want to change.

In Bible Study Fellowship, we are often asked, "How has this Bible passage changed your thinking?" or "How will you change because of this insight?" For some reason, my hackles go up. I've already changed. I've chosen to follow Jesus Christ - that's settled. I'm not going to change my mind. I've decided these changes must have to do with  my sanctification - the process that continually makes me more like Christ - nothing big, just tweaking, some major and some minor.

I remember a long time ago when I played Marion, the Librarian in the Music Man, my counterpart who played Harold Hill remarked, "You say your lines the same way every time." Wasn't I supposed to do that? I'd practiced them until I figured out the inflections and  nuances that sounded right and then delivered them.They were right. Why would I change them every time? Wasn't that an indication of insecurity, let alone fickleness or wishy-washyness? One must know what one thinks, feels, believes, and then move forward.

But I don't want to be what Christ called stiff-necked. I want to be open to His whispers: "Veer right. Edge to the left. Apply brakes. Don't look back." How about "Stop and rest a while." "Look. What do you see?"  "Listen. Hear Me above the chatter. I will speak to you in thoughts, plant songs in your subconscious, and help you retrieve Scripture when you need it most. Don't be afraid of change. I will not deceive you. I love You."

God told Isaac, " Do not go to Egypt. Live in the land I gave you." The situation was a famine. God told Isaac's son Jacob, "Don't be afraid to go to Egypt." God was moving the entire family out of Canaan temporarily.

Am I close enough to God to hear His changes as He directs my life?
Insightfully yours,
Paulita