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Valentine’s Day Thought

“What do you do for Valentine’s day?”  This question comes up every year, as do the other holiday traditions that well meaning people ask every year. Traditions change for the empty nester, as they do when your life partner dies, but Valentine’s Day is a bit different.  People don’t like to hear the words”Nothing” and the response usually elicits pity. But, for the record, I probably said nothing when Jim was still living!

We did exchange a thought or a card and occasionally flowers or chocolate, but mostly the day was too busy or expensive and felt contrived.  Valentine’s Day, like carrying Christmas in your heart, is to be celebrated every day of the year. If there is a day to pull out all the stops it should be anniversaries!

Saint Valentine of Rome was a priest who was persecuted for performing weddings for soldiers who had been forbidden to marry, making him the patron saint of love!  The day (like so many other special days) is so much more than what we have reduced it to in the way of heart shaped candy and Cupid. The day is meant to celebrate sacrificial love; the kind of love that is lived out when it is really difficult like when the kids are sick, the budget is tight, and there are pressures at work. It is the lifestyle that models servanthood and consistent commitment all the days of one’s life, through the busyness, the brokenness, the ugliness.

My husband knew me better than anyone else and saw me at my worst yet he never stopped loving me, relentlessly prayed for me and faithfully served as a model of the love that Christ has for his bride. It is about building romance by reflecting God everyday. It is about bringing out the best in each other, putting others first, honoring your family, being thankful and learning another language, the love languages, that you learn to speak fluently.

This is Us is Us!

Grief is part of the landscape of life. It made itself at home long ago and yet I realized its presence in a profound way when my life partner left earth. It is always there and I ignore it in the same way that I function with a low grade headache or keep eating popcorn when I am already full.  Yet sometimes it still startles me.

I was first captivated by the television show This is Us because of the well-written script that captures the complexity of grief as it provides a fresh glimpse at the ongoing part that such sorrow plays in life.  Every time I watched over the last two seasons I have resonated with this depiction of family life and the reality of grief that changes over time but is still part of their lives.

I love the way that the life of Jack Pearson continues to impact his family and friends.  Perhaps the irony of Jack’s death is that he dies in a fire.  Grief is like fire; It is all consuming, terrifying, and immediate. It is a refining force that transforms perspective and faith.  The smoldering embers of a fire, the emanation of heat and the wisps of smoke that linger are a reminder of the fire’s intensity just like the impact of the afterglow of a life well lived.  This television show paints a realistic portrait of grief and every time I watch I feel like I am watching a great depiction of the life I live; this is us!

I am Gomer…

The one character in the Bible that I do not ever want to be identified with is Gomer.  Ok, well there are several others, but no matter how much I think I am different than Hosea’s wayward wife, it does not take more than a few seconds to realize I am not – different, that is!

The book of Hosea is quite overwhelming.  The thought of this guy going out and marrying a prostitute just because God commanded him to and then to keep chasing after her every time she leaves him is crazy!  If God told me to do something so bizarre I am sure I would dismiss it as not really something God would ever ask anyone to do, let alone me!  I wonder how clearly the Lord revealed this to Hosea! (just like the instructions to Isaiah to go naked and barefoot for 3 years). Really?!

But as I read the story I am stunned by the reality that I am Gomer.  I am the wanderer that Jesus is continually chasing after. And I am so grateful for Hosea’s obedience because thousands of years later as I run after the things of this world, Jesus keeps coming and finding me and redeeming me, bringing me back home as faithfully as I am faithless. Jesus keeps loving me No.Matter.What. Amazing love –  how can it be?

Ears to Hear Sunday January 28

Proverbs 3:13-26

13 Blessed is the one who finds wisdom,
and the one who obtains understanding.

14 For her benefit is more profitable than silver,
and her gain is better than gold.

15 She is more precious than rubies,
and none of the things you desire can compare with her.

16 Long life is in her right hand;
in her left hand are riches and honor.

17 Her ways are very pleasant,
and all her paths are peaceful.

18 She is like a tree of life to those who obtain her,
and everyone who grasps hold of her will be blessed.

19 By wisdom the Lord laid the foundation of the earth;
he established the heavens by understanding.

20 By his knowledge the primordial sea was broken open,
and the clouds drip down dew.

21 My child, do not let them escape from your sight;
safeguard sound wisdom and discretion.

22 So they will give life to you,
and grace to adorn your neck.

23 Then you will walk on your way with security,
and you will not stumble.

24 When you lie down you will not be filled with fear;
when you lie down your sleep will be pleasant.

25 You will not be afraid of sudden disaster,
or when destruction overtakes the wicked;

26 for the Lord will be the source of your confidence,
and he will guard your foot from being caught in a trap.

Response by Miriam Mohler

A pun-loving minister disguised as a Family Ministries Admin

 

When I was growing up my dad challenged me to memorize scripture by chapter; this was the first chapter I learned by heart. Over the years the words have been brought to mind more times than I can count. Proverbs is intended to make its readers understand and gain wisdom. Proverbs 3:13 states, “Joyful is the person who finds wisdom, the one who gains understanding.”

 

Wisdom does not guarantee that I will live to be 100. Wisdom does not guarantee that I will be wealthy financially. Wisdom does not guarantee that I will have prestige. What Wisdom does offer is brighter days of joy because of the skillful way I live my life. Wisdom offers honor by displaying integrity to the world. Those who are wise are protected from stumbling and have confidence that God is delighted in them! We begin to be wise when we fear God.

 

Proverbs 3:18 says that wisdom is a tree of life. The tree of life is found in 2 places in the Bible. It is is the Garden of Eden (Gen. 2) and in the New Jerusalem (Rev. 22). So when the writer of Proverbs says we can have the tree of life by attaining wisdom, this is powerful! By holding tightly to wisdom and relying on it for all of our decisions, we are assured the joy filled, blessed life now! So our well-being is not granted once for all; rather, we will be forever sustained and renewed by His provision. That is really living!!!

Weird!

When we were dating, our common friends would remark that we certainly belonged together since we are both weird.  Not sure if that word has new or negative connotations but at the time it certainly was accurate!  So much so, that 35 years later the child of one of our former students texted me to ask me to help her to learn to have fun and play!  hahahaha

Jim had wit, and I grew up learning the same thing.  I think he got a great deal of his from his dad and his uncle John.  Conversations always included puns and jokes in both our homes.  Philosophical discussions about a variety of topics included things that really puzzled us:

Why doesn’t the glue stick to the inside of the bottle?

If swimming is healthy then why are whales fat?

Why does a round pizza come in a square box? (Similarly, if bread is square why is lunch meat round?)

Why do you put in your 2 cents worth when it is only a penny for your thoughts?

Why do we say we are head over heels when we are happy?  Isn’t it always that way?

If I run at the speed of sound will I be able to hear the music on my ipod?

What is a picture of 1000 words worth?

If you are bald, what color hair do you put on your driver’s license?

In the song Yankee Doodle, is he calling the horse or the feather “macaroni”?

You get the idea…..Silly. Weird. Odd. Funny. Strange. Goofy. Curious. Unusual.

Today Jim’s uncle passed away.  He was one of my favorite people to have these “discussions” with!  A special man.

Dr. John Mohler

Who am I?

I know I wear a variety of hats in my life.  Most of them give me hat head so that I don’t want to take them off.  Nevertheless, I need to be ready to switch roles and I have put some hats on a shelf (pastor) or thrown them out (wife).

Often at work I am told that I am the mother hen in the student ministries office.  While I am older than those I work with, I really don’t feel like I “mother” them.  Well, maybe a little. But I am not sure if that is a bad thing or not!  I guess it feels like a derogatory term.  For one thing we all have a mother and don’t necessarily need another! Especially since I picture a mother hen as a person who cares for the needs of others in an overprotecting or interfering way.

Also, I want to partner with those I work with as a a fellow teammate/friend or as a coach and not as their mother.


 

 

 

 

 

 

I kind of think I am more like the little janitor guy at the end of the fractured fairy tales cartoons or the Carol Burnett as the cleaning woman graphic. This is also rather demeaning; not because I go around cleaning up someone else’s messes but because we live in a culture that does not value or treat this hardworking portion of the working class with respect.  The term janitor seems like a person to be pitied or who is ignorant, has failed or highly expendable. It is that embarrassing way that I feel when I tell someone I am an administrative assistant.  I guess, though, that it feels more authentic than being called a Smother Hen!

I wish things were different for me sometimes.  Don’t get me wrong – I am grateful for this job but sometimes the ways that I am treated seems very much like the caste system and I am at the bottom wrung. I really would rather have a better title, maybe even a different job so I could wear a different hat and throw out those with negative labels. But how?  How can I come across as someone not so pushy, less of a know-it-all, unintrusive and more caring, genuinely interested, dedicated to bringing out the best in others? Looking for a new hat!

Anniversaries!

50 years Dennie and Diana

This ministry power couple has had a powerful impact on many people, but most importantly (for me anyways), they have shaped me more than they will ever know. It is an honor to celebrate their marriage and I join the 1000’s of others who would be first in line to say thank you to them as well.  The example of their marriage, the example of their parenting, the fruitfulness of their partnership in ministry, the kindness and faithfulness they exude and the humble and consistent faith are extraordinary.  Blessings a bunch to the Clemetsons.

17 Years David & Angelique

I got to perform their ceremony.  It is still one of the highlights of my life!

30 Years Jonathan & Judy

2 of my siblings and one of Jim’s have now been married longer than I was.  I have to admit that I am a bit jealous!  I do miss being married (to Jim specifically)

60 Years  Mom and Dad

My parents have been married for 60 years.  Wow! I am not sure how my siblings feel, but I am grateful for the fact that God chose to put me in this family. (At least most of the time).  What a rare privilege to grow up in a home with enough food, enough education, needs met well enough and more than enough love and laughter.  I could focus on the mistakes my parents made, or any number of injustices, or stale and weird things we were offered to eat.  My siblings and I can recount many stories of how the folks made decisions that negatively impacted us.  And yet, not only could it have been worse, it is more about how well it was that in spite of all else, we were blessed with a home that modeled faith and love. We were given much.

At the anniversary dinner, my mom was sharing how they learned to trust God throughout their marriage as they raised us kids but that was not clear to those who were listening.  In their defense, which I feel I must come to more often than I ever used to, they may not be the best at communicating but I think they have expressed their love for the Lord and each other and their family in consistent ways for all my life

Thank you for praying for me and for leading me into a reasonable and intelligent faith.

Thank you for providing me with food, clothes, shelter and more.

Thank you for creating traditions that we still enjoy today and are passing on.

Some of the lessons I learned were through your failures and mistakes.

Thank you for not divorcing, even though a relative “assured” us kids that it would happen.

Thank you for more than you will ever know.

With Admiration and love,

Miriam

 

 

PS. 70 of Earl & Connie is coming in April!!!!

Barnacles on the Ship of Life

So I know that I am getting older. No matter how I try to disguise it or ignore it, it is a real thing. There are things about getting older that are good, but this one thing is not. I went to my doctor this week to have her check some spots on my skin, only to be told that I have barnacles! Yes, she actually said that word! I told her it wasn’t very nice since this was my last visit with her/Kaiser (since my health insurance changes this week). Then I went home and looked it up and it is a real thing. What the heck?! I remember when I got my first opportunity to “join” AARP. I was only 26 and deeply offended. That feeling was nothing compared to being called an “old ship” with barnacles.

Seborrheic keratosis is the dermatological term that is synonymous with age spot or barnacle. They are benign and don’t evolve into cancer, yet they can make cancer detection more difficult. I know that a person does not have to be ancient to have them but their prevalence increases with age. The problem is that unlike other things that I had control over such as sun exposure and weather or diet growing up, these annoying and semi-parasitic creatures are not a result of anything I could have controlled. Rather, they are genetic! I was literally programmed to get them and there is nothing I can do to prevent or eradicate these growths. Thanks to my gene pool!

Most people would like to grow old; unfortunately, I was not expecting to get barnacles to show for it. If a person walks along the beach, barnacles can be found on almost every solid surface that gets covered by water: the hulls of ships, whales, the pylons of a pier. They are not dangerous but they do create a “drag” that slows down a boat. Isn’t that funny?

Well, I could move to fresh water since barnacles only like the ocean.  The trouble is that I do think I need the preserving qualities of salt! What to do!? Hahaha.  I will just grow old and ignore the barnacles on my hull!

I am reminded of the parody sung to the tune of My Favorite Things:

Maalox and nose drops and needles for knitting,
Walkers and handrails and new dental fittings,
Bundles of magazines tied up in string,
These are a few of my favourite things.

Cadillacs and cataracts and hearing aids and glasses,
Polident and Fixodent and false teeth in glasses,
Pacemakers, golf carts and porches with swings,
These are a few of my favourite things.

When the pipes leak, When the bones creak,
When the knees go bad,
I simply remember my favourite things,
And then I don’t feel so bad.

Hot tea and crumpets, and corn pads for bunions,
No spicy hot food or food cooked with onions,
Bathrobes and heat pads and hot meals they bring,
These are a few of my favourite things.

Back pains, confused brains, and no fear of sinnin’,
Thin bones and fractures and hair that is thinnin’,
And we won’t mention our short shrunken frames,
When we remember our favorite things.

When the joints ache, when the hips break,
When the eyes grow dim,
Then I remember the great life I’ve had,
And then I don’t feel so bad.

Thanksgiving at my Brother’s house:

On the day of Thanksgiving my family was blessed:

with a 25 pound turkey

2 many cooks

3 kinds of pie

4 blended households

5 bearded men

6 grandkids present

7 coffee drinkers

8 sparkling ciders

9 side dishes

10 college graduates

11 thousand blessings

12 music lovers

I love my wacky family and being with them fills me up (whether or not we eat turkey!)

 

Mohler Thanksgiving 2017

This is instead of a Christmas Card!

mohler letter 17

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