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Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Boxing Day (Tell His Story)

On the night of Christmas Eve, Santa comes down the chimney to bring presents to all the good little children.

On the night before Boxing Day, Mike Tyson comes down the chimney to deal with the bad kids.

And hey, it's even kinda Scriptural!

Blessed be the Lord my strength which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight... - Psalm 144:1

I hope that you had a great Christmas. I was pretty sick, and so this post is short...but Tell His Story continues.

Music from Bill Conti with Gonna Fly Now 

Sylvia's a lover not a fighter, unless the ice cream runs out.


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Thursday, December 21, 2023

Be Not Afraid

 I had the chance to go Home this morning.

Wasn't feeling terrible, but suddenly everything got distant and the ceiling opened with a bright golden light that drew me up. It was all so peaceful and wonderful. There was the truth there, if no need for fear. I was going Home.

And I decided against it. I had freedom of choice, and I chose to stay.

It's not over yet. Dogs and cats to care for, people to help, and most important, a dear wife to support with everything I have.

Don't regret it, but the decision broke my heart.

The ceiling just dissolved away,
and I saw the golden light
that said I need no longer stay,
and could cease my fight.
I was drawn up to that peace
that I had never understood,
and I reached out for sweet release
as God knew that I would.
But then I heard the quiet call
of my obligation.
I let my hand, and heart, too, fall,
and said, 'This is my station,
and I'll pursue my war right here
for everything that I hold dear.'

Music from John Michael Talbot, with Be Not Afraid

Sylvia's only fear is that the McDonald's soft serve ice cream machine breaks.

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Travelling Mercies (Tell His Story/

 I would bet that many of you will be travelling over the next couple of weeks, and in do doing you'll be fulfilling one of the great themes of Christmas.

God leaving Heaven to come to Earth...

Joseph and Mary having to go from Nazareth to Bethlehem...

The shepherds coming down from the hills...

The Magi following the star...

And later, Joseph and Mary fleeing to Egypt...

Buddha is quoted as saying that it is better to travel than to arrive, but hey, that's just him.

For a Christian, the arrival is everything. Like it says in Luke 13:29...

And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God.

Music from The Traveling Wilburys, with End Of The Line 

Sylvia suggests we travel now to McDonald's for some ice cream.

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Thursday, December 14, 2023


 I was always an avid reader, and now, with shelves bowing under the weight of accumulated books...

...it's getting really hard to stay focused on anything I read. I'll pick up a book, read a few chapters, then put it down and start another. Too often I forget what I was reading. I just can't connect with a story any more.

I don't know if it's cancer, or the result of too many recent high fevers...or maybe I've changed.

Writing's harder, too. I bet you can tell.

Whatever. Life is still good, there's lots to do, and I don't mourn a vanished past.

I'm putting this out there for anyone who may see this in a loved one, or see it in themselves.

Change, and a feeling of loss that might be related to it, are not to be hated. They may be uncomfortable, may be frustrating, but in the end, God's in control. Maybe He's doing this for a reason.

Maybe He wants you to put aside others' stories, so He can tell you your own.

I drew such inspiration
from all the tales of derring-do,
and in part became creation
of the stories I lived through,
but now the words don't resonate,
falling empty at my feet,
and I am forced to contemplate
that what I thought made me complete
was a step upon a road
that leads...I don't know where!
The principles that were a goad
have vanished into crystal air,
leaving me to understand
that it's time to take God's hand.

The Five Minute Friday prompt this week is STORE.

Always loved the bookstore,
Barnes and Noble, Borders too
(and when the latter shut its door,
I was really, really blue).
There's something 'bout the smell of books
that nothing else can truly reach;
it might be the domain of cooks,
a recipe no-one can teach.
But all that is now nearly gone,
BN has more knick-knacky stuff.
Books now come from Amazon,
but somehow that's not quite enough
to re-create a lovely past
that was just too good to last.

Three minutes, and it kinda hurt to go there.

Music from Enya, with (well, why not) Book Of Days

Sylvia says there are only two words worth reading.



Tuesday, December 12, 2023

The Gift We Hate To Give (Tell His Story)


Trees and tinsel and mistletoe, friends and family and food, carols and movies and the mall (well, used to be the mall, now it's Etsy).

And church on Christmas Eve, or Christmas morning.

That's the grace of Christmas...or is it?

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. - John 3:16

It's all very cozy, very comforting, until you realize that Christmas morning puts Jesus on a collision course with betrayal, an unfair trial, scourging, the Via Dolorosa, and his brutal murder on the Cross.

Don't want that as your tree-topper.

We celebrate with an exchange of gifts, in the footsteps of the Magi, but we tend to overlook the fact that the true gift of Christmas is the grace God extended to us, the grace that through a blood offering, the blood and suffering of His Son, delivered us from the inevitable cost of sin, and saved us from eternal damnation.

Perhaps that's what we should be paying forward.

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you... - Matthew 5:44

The gift we can't bear to offer, but that we must share, is the forgiveness God has for us.

As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. - Psalm 103:13

Music from Band Aid, with Do They Know It's Christmas?

Forgiveness, says Sylvia, should include ice cream.

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Thursday, December 7, 2023

Honey Is Home

Honey is the German Shepherd in the middle of the picture. At left are Henry the deaf Pittie and Cocoa Chihuahua. At right is Bray the Dachshund. This is their first meeting. They're pals now.

Honey's mom, the mother of a friend of Barb's, died suddenly this week.

Honey had nowhere to go.

Except here.

 It was only yesterday
that Honey came to call.
She had no other place to stay,
no other place at all.
It was only yesterday
that Honey came to live
with us, to protect and play,
with so much love to give.
It was only yesterday
that she became a part
of our unruly dog-array,
and chose to give her heart
to the pack that took her in
so a new life could begin.

The Five Minute Friday prompt this week is TURN.

Come on, doggies, wait your turn,
there's food enough for all of you.
Oh, dear Lord, will they not learn
all that they have put me through
when they rush the dinner dishes,
barking like the end has come,
leaving me with bitter wishes
that I'd not exposed my thumb
to a beast of fourteen pound
(three-quarters of that weight is teeth),
who through experience has found
that if part of me falls beneath
that hard and razor-y dentition,
feeding her first becomes my mission.

Just under three minutes, and yes, the truth hurts.

I apologise for not keeping up on replying to comments, and not leaving comments on your blog posts. With Barb's recent fall and facial fractures, I have become the caregiver. It's taken a lot out of me.

Music from Johnny Mathis, with I'm Coming Home.

Sylvia figures the more the merrier, as long as I don't have to share my ice cream.

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

The Misguided Loyalties Of Christmas 3: Keeping Up With The Joneses


We've all seen the commercials...a luxury car with a bow on the roof, standing in the driveway on Christmas morning.

Or the modest envelope in the stocking, holding tickets for a Caribbean cruise.

Do you wish you could give that, instead of socks and a couple of CDs?

Do people even buy CDs anymore?

And so we spend our way into debt. It's Christmas, after all, and we've been offered a deal where we won't have to pay a dime until March! (Interest will, of course, accrue.)

We'll pay it off before next Christmas.

But somehow, we never do, and debt, like middle-age spread, grows.

We do our best to keep up with the Joneses, but it exacts a toll...and somehow we always fall behind. The chimera of the social success of our generosity gets further from our reach.

Does it bring joy, bring us to the meaning of Christmas?

Next Christmas, will anyone remember what we worked so hard to pick, and went into debt to give?

God has something to say about keeping up with the Joneses, in Galatians 6:4...

But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.

You need not find joy in measuring yourself against what your neighbour does...find it in what you can, and should, do.

And going into debt is not what you should do.

The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender. - Proverbs 22:7

If we're using extravagant gift-giving to impress others and gain their affection, well, Proverbs 19:4 addresses that.

Wealth maketh many friends; but the poor is separated from his neighbour.

Really, is all of the stress we put on ourselves, trying to be loyal to a mythical past, trying to please family and friends, and trying to measure up to the standards society sets needed for the celebration of Christmas?

We can all chorus No!, but are we willing to take a step into the unknown, and have a different kind of Christmas?

A Christmas that nods to that manger, so long ago, when love came to save us.

I hope I am.

Music from the Goo Goo Dolls, with Better Days

Sylvia doesn't worry about keeping up with the Joneses. She just wants to eat her ice cream before it melts.

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Thursday, November 30, 2023

Falling Into Grace


Last week got busy.

It's strange that we got to see
the measure of God's grace
when occasion came to be
the breaking of Barb's face,
when she fell (it's almost funny)
and hit the hard stall door
en route from seat upon the dunny
to that firm unyielding floor,
but there were friends come to her aid,
and rushed her off to hospital,
and there was nothing that delayed
immediacy of care withal
to show once more and then again
our stories told by God's own pen.

The Five Minute Friday prompt this week is LEFT.

On boxing Barb is really hooked
a kind of Rock of Ages cleft,
and this week she's really looked
like she walked into Mike Tyson's left.
The truth is rather more mundane,
a hard fall from the Great White Throne,
but that is harder to explain
(and when explained brings forth a groan),
so it's best to call it fight,
a duel in ring's defining ropes,
a battle royal, Saturday Night
against the malefactors' hopes,
and though Barb has a blackened eye,
you should see the other guy!

Four minutes, bit less for this masterpiece.

Music from Tom Petty, with Freefalling

Sylvia says that before you hit the ground, throw me the ice cream!

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

The Misguided Loyalties Of Christmas, Part 2: People Pleasing (Tell His Story)


'I love what you did with the house for Christmas!'

Ah, there it is. The approval! The proof that We Did Christmas RIGHT!

We answer with a modest thank you, of course (while doing emotional cartwheels), and such is the constant chase to please, to be the best host, to stand out in hospitality.

To be loved by our relatives and friends and peers. To be accepted for what we do.

And we feel good, sometimes ,because we did it better than someone else.

No wonder the season from Thanksgiving to Christmas is exhausting.

Mary was exhausted from giving birth. And then the shepherds showed up.

Do you think they expected music and coloured lights and a groaning table?

Or do you think that they just came to be there?

A lot of Christians call Easter the highlight of the year, but I don't agree.

Christmas was God's decision, in John 3:16.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Easter was the fulfillment, and could not have happened without that humble manger, without those unlettered peasants.

So why do we turn it into social striving , and even one-upsmanship?

Who are we trying to impress, and why?

Would our efforts impress Mary and Joseph if they dropped by, or would they make kind apologies and return to the manger and the Meaning?

God, that busybody know-it-all, has something (as usual !) to say, like in Galatians 2:20:

For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.

Or would you like something from the Old Testament, say Proverbs 29:25?

The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe.

Perhaps Isaiah, maybe 2:22...

Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?

There's nothing wrong with gatherings, nothing bad about hospitality.

We just need to focus them on the meaning.

Music from Jars Of Clay, with the charming song and video, Love Came Down

Sylvia says that where there's ice cream, there's meaning. Woof.

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Tuesday, November 21, 2023

The Misguided Loyalties Of Christmas, Part 1: Tradition (Tell His Story)

Care for some baseball-sized hail, anyone?

The holidays are coming!

Time to cringe, like a deer caught in the headlights.

It doesn't have to be this way. It's not supposed to be this way.

But every year, with each good intention marshalled, we do it to ourselves, and so often all ends in tears, the ugliest of which are unshed.

Any why? We try earnestly to make the season special, and at the end it's almost always a disappointment.

Perhaps it might be a result of misguided loyalties.

This is the first of a three-part series.

This week, let's talk about loyalty to tradition.

We try to be loyal to the past, to the Christmases we remember, and to the people who made them special.

We want to live in legacy, to see ourselves as part of a chain of tradition and joy, stretching our loving arms to the past, and handing our treasured memories to the future.

There's truth in our recollections, but memory is fallible, and we gloss over the time Dad was carving a turkey and cut off his middle finger, rendering him unable to express himself.

Or when Mom lassoed Uncle Edmund and duct-taped his mouth because he said Talk To The Hand one too many times!

Jeremiah 17:9 says, 'The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?'

So the heart lies, but knowing this, we don't have to accept and honour its message.

It's dumb to ruin today with comparison to a rose-tinted yesterday 

God has something to say about this, through Ecclesiastes.

7:10 Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were better than these? for thou dost not enquire wisely concerning this.

Yes, you're supposed to honour you parents and their example, but does it honour them to try to wedge today into the mold of an imagined yesterday?

So put up a keepsake ornament, but make Christmas and Thanksgiving your own.

After all, didn't Jesus say, in Revelation 21:5,

'And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.'

Music from Bon Jovi, with Lost Highway

Sylvia thinks all Christmas Eve traditions should include a trip to McDonald's for ice cream.

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Thursday, November 16, 2023

Doors Close

I see the doors a-closin',
but I'm too sick to care.
I am just supposin'
that God don't want me there
in the place where I had dreams
that were not too bad,
but all is cool and it all seems
that I need not be sad,
'cause He done saved all my tears,
and, perhaps, yeah, all my hopes
from the young and wasted years
and I just gotta copes
until I meet Eternity
and He gives them back to me.

The Five Minute Friday prompt this week is RESULT.

What will be the end result
of everything you've tried?
We're rabbits from your top hats pulled,
and was your chicken fried?
Did your quest for Elvis' ghost
end up a spectral interview,
with The King as gracious host,
hardly scaring you?
Did you set out to find yourself,
get up from rocking chair,
place timid thoughts upon a shelf,
and find you were not there?
And at the last, did fading eyes
see the Christ who bids you rise?

Didn't know where I was going, there, but five minutes is five minutes.

Music from Bon Jovi, with Who Says You Can't Go Home

Sylvia says that where there's ice cream, that's home.

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Comparison: The Devil's Favourite Tool (Tell His Story)

 Comparison... social media has made it a part of what we consider every day.

We see others' lives on Facebook and Instagram. Not their complete warts-and-all lives, but the highlight reel. The best moments, the perfect Christmases, the vacations to exotic places that the rest of us have only ever seen on the National Geographic Channel.

We don't see the money problems, the ugly crying jags, the backed-up dunny.

And while what we see seems real, what we don't see...well, 'I don't know and I don't care, if I can't see it, it isn't there.'

So we compare our lives with the imagined lives we see, and we come off the worse...and thus Satan leads us into sin.

Specifically, when we compare ourselves negatively we're practicing jealousy, and jealousy translates into covetousness. We want what our neighbour has... maybe not enough to try to take it, but enough to wonder Why Her And Not Me?

Exodus 20:17 “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.”

Personally, I don't covet anyone's ass. Mine is still quite tight, thank you very much...which leads me to the flip side of covetousness.

It's easy to go the other way, and disdain those who present a sanitized picture of their lives.

'I'm better than that.'

And thus the devil has you, going either way, with covetousness, or pride.

From the 18th chapter of the Gospel according to Luke:

 9 And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:

10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.

11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.

12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.

13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.

14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

What to do?

Just be you, put aside the comparison, and know that God made you for the life you have.

From Psalm 139...

14 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.

You are beyond compare.

Music from Bon Jovi, with We Weren't Born To Follow

Sylvia won't follow anyone, unless they have ice cream.

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Thursday, November 9, 2023

Staying Close To God

 As the whole cancer thing gets way worse (major setback in the last couple of weeks), I find that I'm still happy, still forward-looking, and still find purpose in days in which simply rising from a chair, let alone walking, takes planning.

(For what it's worth, I have two favoured chairs, one a wooden dining-room chair, the other a piece of plastic lawn furniture. Both are relatively tall, and neither are cushioned, factors which make getting to my feet with leg metastases a lot easier.)

Anyway, I think that the reason I'm doing OK is that I make a deliberate effort to stay close to God.

First, whenever I'm tempted to self-pity or frustration, I think about Jesus' ordeal, from Gethsemane to Calvary. The remembered imagery from The Passion Of The Christ helps.

Second, I censor what's coming in, and any media with unhelpful messaging gets the boot. This does include some Christian programming; Health and Wealth gospel isn't welcome here.

The only commercial TV we watch is NASCAR and football. Otherwise it's all TBN.

Third, I keep The Chosen on while I'm doing woodwork, or, more often now, cleaning up 3D prints (I got a low-budget Ender 3 cheap). The way the story is told really resonates in my heart.

Fourth, and most important, I talk to God. Yes, He reads my heart, but I've got to use words, so I know exactly what I'm saying.

I always had a yearning for just this, casual conversation with an immanent God. Now I'm here, and if cancer is the price of entry, it's gladly paid.

I wanted so to stroll with Him
in the fragrant cool of evening,
when streetlights were all a-glim,
that I'd listen close, receiving
wisdom and enlightenment,
holding all He cared to say,
but this smacked of entitlement,
and things didn't work that way.
Now my dinner makes me wince,
and 'fore I stand I grit my teeth,
but I won't whine or murmur since
through cancer I did fall beneath
the blessed shadow of His wing,
and I would not change a thing.

The Five Minute Friday prompt this week is MAINTAIN.

I once thought I could maintain
a quite vigourous life,
but then the cancer brought the rain,
and flooded days with strife,
a fight where I could not prevail,
but moved backwards, inch by yard,
and in the face of this I'd quail
because it was so very hard,
but Someone stepped in front of me
to take all of hell's rage,
Someone who I'd learned to see
upon thin dusty page,
but now stood boldly in my stead
that I might rest my weary head.

Four minutes, and about fifteen seconds.

Music from Jimmy Buffett, with Jolly Mon Sing

Sylvia stays close to God through ice cream.