Separation

I have a selection from Charles H. Spurgeon’s book, “Morning and Evening”, delivered to my inbox daily. To my regret, I do not always read it, but when I do, I never fail to find something amazing in its relevance to modern life.

…the world loves not the non-conformity of nonconformity, or the dissidence of dissent; it would have us be more charitable and not carry matters with too severe a hand. Death to the world, and burial with Christ, are experiences which carnal minds treat with ridicule, and hence the ordinance which sets them forth is almost universally neglected, and even condemned. Worldly wisdom recommends the path of compromise, and talks of “moderation.” According to this carnal policy, purity is admitted to be very desirable, but we are warned against being too precise; truth is of course to be followed, but error is not to be severely denounced. “Yes,” says the world, “be spiritually minded by all means, but do not deny yourself a little gay society, an occasional ball, and a Christmas visit to a theatre. What’s the good of crying down a thing when it is so fashionable, and everybody does it?” –Charles Spurgeon, Morning and Evening

With each passing year I feel more and more the divergence of modern American beliefs from Christian doctrine, so it is stunning to see the same observation made 150 years before this thought occurred to me. Everything happens with God’s perfect timing, but I wonder at the disparity between His time-frame and mine. It seems to me the divide grows deeper every day and yet it has been going on for 150 years, longer in fact. How long will it continue and how wide will the rift become?

And what will be the final result? I look at my modern-day life of work, government, schools (for grandbabies), movies, music, books, and personal rights and wonder how long I can continue to live what passes for a “normal” life in America while still practicing my beliefs. When will my fellow citizens start to view me as odd, or quirky, or dangerous?

 When the town is on fire, our house cannot be too far from the flames. When the plague is abroad, a man cannot be too far from its haunts. The further from a viper the better, and the further from worldly conformity the better. To all true believers let the trumpet-call be sounded, “Come ye out from among them, be ye separate.” –Charles Spurgeon, Morning and Evening

 

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Writing 101 Day 17: Fear, the John Updike way

What are you scared of? Address one of your worst fears. If you’re up for a twist, write this post in a style that’s different from your own.

 

Her appointment was at 1:30 pm. It was now noon and she felt anxious. She showered and went downstairs. She decided some work at the computer might take the edge of the anxiety and distract her. Work on the computer frequently had that effect on her. Once she worked all night long. That was on a programming project. 

She wondered if the RN was correct. That the injection would block the nerve pain and resolve the problem. She’d had this kind of injection once before but that was in the hand. It was different with the neck. Lots of things could go wrong with the neck. She tried willing herself to relax. It was useless.

Writing 101, Day Fourteen, Dear Florida

Writing 101, Day Fourteen: To Whom It May Concern

Dear Florida,

It’s been way too long since I’ve had a chance to visit you. My last few trips, I’ve just been passing through on my way to another destination, whether a Caribbean island or a cruise ship leaving from Miami.

I have fond memories of the times we spent together. A trip to Disney World way back before my children were born. My first business trip was to a city in Florida, I can’t remember which, over thirty years ago now. Although I was traveling alone, it was a good trip because my hotel was near the beach. I remember driving up A1A from the airport, watching the show. On a trip with my husband, We ate at Mother Butler’s Pies, a chain of restaurants serving only pie. It was so good, we took two pies home with us on the plane.

Hopefully we’ll be able to get together soon. I still want to see the Florida Keys, including, of course, Key West. As you know, I’m a huge Jimmy Buffet fan. Wouldn’t it be great to see him in concert somewhere in Key West? And what about Dry Tortugas? I’m up for a helicopter ride out to the island and some snorkeling. I hear it’s some of the best snorkeling in the US. Oh, and the everglades. I’d like to see the everglades and the people that live there. It seems like such a unique way of living.

Before I started writing this letter, I had forgotten how many great things there are for us to do together. Maybe things will work out and we can get together again some time.

 

 

 

Writing 101 Day 12 — Testimony

Writing 101 Day 12 Conversations and Foreshadowing 

When I think back to the day my life changed forever, it couldn’t have been a more ordinary day. When I was a child of about ten, my parents stopped going to church. I have some memories of going to church as a family, but very few. Around the dinner table, my mother and father would openly question the existence of God–conversations that I now wish I had never heard but thought nothing of at the time.

As the years slipped away, I moved away from home, graduated college, got married, and had two children of my own. Despite my lack of a religious upbringing, I did  notice that some people seemed to get a lot out of their faith. It was an important and highly valued part of their lives. I wondered if it might be that way for two my sons someday. I made a promise to myself that if either of my boys ever expressed an interest in going to church, I would take them.

One day when my oldest son was in fourth grade, he came to me and said he wanted to go to church. Remembering my promise, I told him I would find a church for us to go to that Sunday–but he wasn’t finished with the conversation yet. “If I don’t go to church, I’ll grow in body but not in spirit,” he said. And that was it. That conversation with a ten-year old boy set in motion the events that would change my life in more ways that I could even begin to imagine.

 

Writing 101, Day 6, Character Building: The War

I arrive at the apartment of my newest clients. They are a charming couple, silver-haired and in their 90’s. They invite me in and we sit down to get acquainted so that I can determine the home health services they need. He explains that they have recently moved from their big home in Loudoun County hunt country to this modest first floor apartment because it better fits their current needs. They need to be near their grown daughter and they need single story, first floor living because the wife is recovering from a stroke.

They both speak strongly accented English, one of the Scandinavian countries, I think. She confirms this by telling me where they were born and the different European countries in which they have lived. They raised their children in France. As she talks, she gestures constantly, her one hand playing a supporting role as she tells me their history.

I can see that both husband and wife are slim and fit. I learn that at one time they were both avid downhill skiers in winter and extreme hikers during warmer months. More recently they have enjoyed long walks along the Appalachian Trail out in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western Virginia. Her eyes tear up as she tells me she fears she will never again be able to go on the walks she so loves.

I glance around the apartment to get further clues to her hobbies and preferences. I see beautiful examples of handmade lace framed and under glass, proudly displayed. I know a little about lace making. She confirms that it is, indeed, handmade bobbin lace from Europe–she made it when she lived there. She learned as a child. There is a piano against one wall. She couldn’t possibly play, could she? Her husband proudly confirms that she is a talented pianist, despite the fact that she has only one hand. He tells me she was born with her left arm ending at the wrist. She tells me her mother never made much of a fuss about it and treated her like all the other children. She says she never felt she was at any disadvantage. Remarkable.

Inevitably, we talk about The War. She tells me she has a secret that she does not share with many because she still  fears there could be repercussions, she does not want to endanger me. He tells me she sometimes has nightmares about it, all these years later. She confides that she worked with the French underground as a young woman living in occupied France. She tells me that during the first winter, under the Nazis, her family eventually burned everything they owned that was made of wood so that they could cook and try to get warm–first their furniture, then the wooden trim from the walls, then finally the doors. She leans in closer and tells me that for food they ate things that she never dreamed she would eat. The animals you find in every neighborhood, she tells me.

“I hate chicken,” he says. I see from his face that he is looking back on a time I will never know. I’m confused, they had chickens in their neighborhood? No, she tells me gently, during the war he was captured and held in a prisoner of war camp in Poland. “To this day I can’t eat chicken,” he tells me. He explains that prisoners in the camp all had jobs. His was to kill the chickens. Every day he killed the chickens, which were then used to feed the prisoners. He tells me that he killed thousands of chickens. At first it was sickening, but, in time, it didn’t bother him as much. But he will never like chicken.

 

Writing 101, Day 5, Be Brief: Have you heard this one?

An American missionary is traveling in China by train. During the train trip, he discovers that one of his fellow passengers is a local Chinese man that speaks some English. They exchange some information, including what each does for a living. When the missionary explains that he is a pastor, a man of God, the other man slowly removes a folded piece of paper from his pocket. He carefully unfolds the paper and leans forward. “I found this paper five years ago,” he explains. The pastor sees that it is a single page from an English language Bible. “Please,” the man continues, “I want to know more about this God.”

When I think about this, I always wonder what I would have done had I been in the Chinese man’s places.

Writing 101 Day 4, Serial Killer: Meet, Lose, Repeat

I know from the first moment I meet Myles that our time together will be brief. Sometimes that’s how it goes.  With others I have more time. I meet his family members first, a wife and two grown sons with children of their own.

They are a wonderful, loving family, so it is easy for me to connect with them. I oversee this case personally because I know the time with Myles will be short. I spend time with him and get to know him. He is polite and kind and totally devoted to his wife whom he refers to as “my sweet Dottie.” She is the first person he asks to see every morning. I form fond memories of Myles and Dottie.

The family members come to me with questions. They follow my advice about bathing and safety and quickly get all the needed equipment. They are focused on what they believe will extend his time with them: stay in bed, take the pain meds even if they are not yet needed, drink only water and eat only the prescribed diet.

I fail to convince them of the things I know to be important. Take him outside to sit in the sun. Sit up and talk with him at night when he can’t sleep. It’s okay for him to have a few sips of his favorite orange soda.

It is nearly four weeks from the day I meet Myles until the day we lose him. In the end, he was at home, surround by his loving family. Who can ask for more. I praise the Lord for providing me the opportunity to meet such a wonderful man, such a wonderful family.