Reading & Musing on a Sunday Morning

I was reading a passage of scripture this morning and decided to write my thoughts down, in case anyone is interested.

II Corinthians 12: 2-10

In this account, the Apostle Paul is telling the church members at Corinth about an experience he has had, and the effect this vision has had in his life. He doesn’t name himself, yet Bible scholars agree that he’s telling his own story here.

2 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago…such an one caught up to the third heaven.
3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth)
4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

Some scholars have read the story of when Paul was stoned and left for dead, wondering if he really did have an out-of-body experience. The Apostle himself isn’t certain, and leaves it open as to whether he was really dead or if this was a vision he had. However, during this experience he saw such beauty and glory, and heard such words as could never be described to an audience here on earth.

5 Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities.

So why doesn’t he tell the world about his experience? Why does he refer to it so discreetly, not mentioning that this happened to him? Why does he rather rejoice that he has these infirmities that drag him down? First, he doesn’t want people lifting him up:

6 For though I would desire to glory…now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me.
7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.

Most scholars agree that this “thorn in the flesh” was an infirmity that slowed him down, and probably a disfiguring one. We get the impression from different passages that Paul wasn’t such an attractive man.

8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

God has chosen to leave him weak so that the Spirit of the Lord can speak through him. People aren’t meant to look to Paul for the answers in life. The Lord Jesus doesn’t want people following Paul because he’s physically attractive or such a persuasive orator. So the Lord leaves him with this weakness, one which seems, from other scriptures as well, to be obvious to Paul’s audience.

Paul accepts this situation with grace:
10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

It’s so human to want to be strong, to be talented, articulate, to have our listeners nod when we present our ideas. The thought of stepping up to speak, either to an individual or to a crowd, and having absolutely no speech planned out is frightening. The thought of stammering and groping for words is abhorrent to most of us. Likewise we’re inclined to shy away from a task if we’ve had no prior experience in that line. None of us want to sound, or look, dumb.

When we lived in Ontario our neighbour was a minister in another denomination. One day his wife explained to me how ministers were hired. A congregation in need will hear of a pastor who wants to move from the place he’s at, so a small delegation from the pastor-less church goes to hear him —or her, in this group— speak. If the pastor presents a good sermon, if they like the looks of him and feel he’d be a good fit for their own congregation, they offer to hire him. (Again, or her.) How tempting would it be to put a lot of effort into making a good physical impression.

Paul has adopted a different mind-set. In one place he says, “The ways of God are higher than ours.” Aware of his own weakness as a human being, he “takes a step back from himself” and rather goes forward in the Lord. The idea of winning followers of using eloquence to gain a good salary, these are laid aside. He doesn’t take pains to please the audience or “keep out of trouble.” He rather lets the words of Jesus flow through him and speak to the hearts of his audience.

This is more pleasing to God and the Gospel more effective, than if Paul could attract listeners and entertain them with his own oratory ability, or persuade them by his skillful reasoning. He leaves us this example, so none of us can feel we’ve nothing to offer. When we feel we have no talent, skills, physical attraction, or never “the right words,” we can comfort ourselves God’s words to Paul: “My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

 

Party’s Over

I often get inspired to write a haiku for the Troutswirl weekly feature, What’s at Hand, but I seldom get my verse ready and sent off by Saturday afternoon. So I’ll just share my ideas here.

beach party over
empty bottles settle
into the sand

beer cans
in the cave – signs of
intelligent life

Don’t you just hate garbage left lying around?
Bottle + gull

Writing Prompts

Good morning everyone! Lovely sunshine today…when I’d rather see rain. How’s that for perversity? But we did get a sprinkle yesterday and it froze last night, so there’s front on the grass this morning.

The cats have already gone in and out, in and out, in and out. A very short train has just chugged by on the track not far from our yard, headed south with a dozen or so empty gravel-hauling cars. I’m not sure where the gravel comes from, but they use it to build and maintain track north of us.

I learned a few things about my writing, and about you, dear readers, when I did a search for my most popular blog posts two days ago. One of the rules of the Mystery Blogger Award as to list your ten most popular posts and I discovered that my MOST-VIEWED post of all time was this one:
WRITING PROMPT SOURCES

I wrote this shortly after WordPress discontinued their Daily Prompt. Since I was never very devoted to following the Daily Prompt, I haven’t really missed it, plus other sites have stepped in to fill the gap. So I think it’s time I update my data, for those who are interested in writing prompts.

If you’re looking for a daily prompt WORD, check out the following:
RAGTAG Community
Word of the Day
Fandango’s FOWC
Your Daily Word Prompt

The following sites offer a weekly photo prompt, and would welcome new contributors:
What Pegman Saw
What Do You See
Friday Fictioneers
Crispina’s Crimson Challenge

The 50 Word Thursdays prompt, cohosted by Kristian and the Haunted Wordsmith, offers both a photo and a line you’re supposed to use somewhere in your story, plus the story is to be written in multiples of 50 words.

And  Sammi Cox offers a weekend writing prompt. She gives participants a WORD, plus a specific word-limit. This week it’s 77; last week it was 47.

I’m sure there are more but I think I’ve put enough links in this post. If you’re looking for ideas and topics, the sites I’ve listed could keep you writing all week long. 🙂

Failures

Wise words from Edgar A Guest

‘Tis better to have tried in vain
sincerely striving for a goal,
than to have lived upon the plain
an idle and a timid soul.

‘Tis better to have fought and spent
your courage, missing all applause,
than to have lived in smug content
and never ventured for a cause.

For he who tries and fails may be
the founder of a better day;
though never his the victory,
from him shall others learn the way.

From his book A Heap O’ Livin

Mystery Blogger Award

What is Mystery Blogger Award?

the-mystery-blogger-award

“Mystery Blogger Award” is an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging; and they do it with so much love and passion.”
– Okoto Enigma

As I mentioned yesterday, I have been nominated for this award, created by Okoto Enigma, who would love to have you drop by and say Hello.

Special thanks to Sue at Crooked Creek, who selected me for this award. She likewise would welcome visitors and has written some very interesting and thought-provoking posts.

Award Rules:
– Put the award logo/image on your blog
– List the rules.
– Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
– Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well
– Tell your readers 3 things about yourself
– You have to nominate 10 – 20 people
– Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog
– Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question (specify)
– Share a link to your best post(s)

Three things about me:
– I have lived in six out of Canada’s ten provinces, and visited New Brunswick & Nova Scotia.
– My siblings were raised by our parents, whereas I was raised by my aunt & uncle. However, we had frequent contact during holidays.
– I’m such a soft-heart that I’ve even been known to rescue sidewalk-stranded earthworms from dehydration after a rain.

The questions I’ve been asked are:
– What influenced you to start blogging?
– Have you ever thought of discontinuing your blog?
– What do you do when you are not writing?
– What is your biggest challenge to blogging?
– The “weird” one: If you were not a human what do you think you’d be?

Answers:
– Over coffee a friend and fellow writer talked of blogging. I said, “Too technical. I could never get it.” She gave me a quick “How to” so I came home and followed her instructions, mainly to prove it was too complex for me.
– Have I ever thought of quitting. Oodles of times. At times I’ve resolved to cease and desist…but then this idea, subject, or experience comes along that I just have to share.
– When I’m not writing I do all the other things that need my attention. Laundry, meals, dishes… Today I dug up part of my long-neglected flowerbed…which inspired a little verse I want to share soon.
– My biggest challenge is time management. That is, not spending all day every day blogging, which is something I really enjoy.
– If I were not a human, I couldn’t think or choose. However, from where I am now…it might be nice to be a bee. They’re social, yet independent, desired and respected.

My best posts are:

Writing Prompt Sources
Life Goes On
The Ages of Women
Baking Bread the Irish Way
The Look
Breaking the Land
Nature Makes Cats Too Smart
It’s Payback Time
The Waters of Babylon
Gift From the Heavens

Most of these posts are flash fiction written for Friday Fictioneers. As I went over my posts to pick out the most viewed and liked, I realize I did my best writing when I was participating in that group. There is definitely merit in a photo prompt and weekly deadline!

Now, as for nominating others…
I’ve no idea who likes to do awards and who doesn’t, so I’m going to take a cue from some other bloggers, and nominate all of you, dear readers. 🙂 If you’d like to accept this award, please do.

Sigh! So many things come to mind for questions one could ask. However, I’ve chosen…

The Questions:
1. What was your favourite recess game, back when you were in grade school?

2. List three of your favourite HUMONGOUS words.
3. What are your three favourite house-plants?

4. When you feel like abandoning your blog, what inspires you to stick with it?
5. The “weird” one: If some small island were looking for a new dictator, would you be a good choice?

I think I have fulfilled all the requirements for the award; now I look forward to seeing your post, if you’re participating, and reading your responses to these questions.
And for anyone, take a moment to consider the questions and leave your answers in a comment below.

Bargains, Birds, Blogging

Good morning everyone!

I love the idea of a Monday morning, lots of things to do and a whole week ahead. I always start out with high hopes—and it would be great if I’d have a plan for my week as well. Sadly, time management is a skill I’ve never acquired, but I’ll plod through the week and do my best. I have so many posts I’d like to write and hope to do lots of digging this week as well, both literal and figurative. (Flowerbeds + family tree roots.)

BIRDS

I glance at the calendar and wonder how it can it be that we’re approaching the middle of May already. Looking outside, opening the window, I’m seeing and hearing a lot of different birds in the woods beside us. At noon we saw mourning doves picking their way along under our feeder.

My swallows have come back and are hoping for nests, but those pernicious, malicious English sparrows have claimed at least one of our bird-houses. I sat outside for half an hour this morning where I could watch the goings-on and decide what action to take. I saw the swallows come several time to check out the East-side nest, but the sparrows loitering in the shrubs at the edge of the yard came and drove them away.

Okay for you, guys! I took down the nest and hung it in the shrubs where they hang out. maybe that will keep them occupied and away from the house at least. When the wrens get back, they can fight over it; wrens, for all their midget size, are feisty birds and quite capable of taking over a nest if they want it.

BARGAINS

I stopped in at my daughter’s for a bit Saturday evening and she told me they’d been garage sale-ing. Here in Canada the GARAGE SALE signs start going up soon after our spring birds arrive, and sellers usually pack it in by the end of June. I used to enjoy this sport quite a bit, until my house got too full for any more stuff. But having a garage sale yourself is fun, too.
dear old grandma
clutching a neighbour’s pickle dish
her sale next week

Sometimes you get amazing bargains on something you really need. One day I bought a book for $1 and it helped me so much with a personal problem I was going through. And some folks start special collections from their garage and yard sale finds. I recently visited another blogger via the READER and read an older post she wrote about How A Garage Sale Changed My Life.

Do you plan to do any Garage Sale-ing this spring? Let me know in the comments what your special collections are.

BLOGGING

Speaking of blogs — and blog awards — I see in this morning’s notifications that I’ve been awarded the MYSTERY BLOGGER AWARD by Sue over at Crooked Creek.

According to the creator, Okoto Enigma:
The “Mystery Blogger Award” is an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging; and they do it with so much love and passion.

Of course the deal is answer some questions about yourself and then to pass the award — and the questions — on to at least ten other bloggers, as with the old fashioned “chain letters.” (Minus the post card and dire consequences if you fail to comply.)

The problem is often to find ten other bloggers who will accept the award and pass it on. Some like doing blog awards and some can’t be bothered. I think I’ll use my one-thing-at-a time approach to this project. Stay tuned.

And with my current involvement in Family tree research, my cousin Linda has asked if I want to do some posting our our Vance-Turner Connect blog again. We started this in Sept 2013, hoping a few other cousins would have some family stories to share, but the idea didn’t pan out.  Still, it’s a good place to record family history. Click here if you’re curious about it.

I hope you all have a great week.