My Rudder Finger

On April 13, 2020, I missed a pass thrown by one of my grandchildren when it bounced off of the top of the middle finger on my left hand. I suppose the good news is that at 67 I can still play football. The bad news is, it hurt like crazy, and being a former athlete, I was sure I had jammed it.

We were still sheltering in place due to COVID19, so there was no way I was going to an emergency room for a jammed finger. I iced it, and did all of the other things one does for a jammed finger.

Several weeks passed, and while the pain had subsided, the redness and slight swelling in the first joint of that finger remained. In addition, the joint was in a perpetually bent position. I could straighten it using my other hand to push it up, but it wouldn’t stay up, and I had no control over it.

I finally put on my mask, and May 29th headed to my orthopedist hand specialist. Good news – not broken; bad news – torn tendons. I have to keep it in a splint 24/7 for EIGHT weeks, and then splinted at night for another four weeks. The splint is water-resistant, but NOT water proof.

It wasn’t until my finger was in a splint that I realized it was the rudder of my left hand! I’m serious, everything I do, including keying this blog is done with the aid of my middle finger!

The first week was a nightmare as I couldn’t wash my own hair, I couldn’t use my computer to write/blog/etc, and I couldn’t do dishes (well, actually that was a plus). I even had to learn how to apply makeup differently because I hadn’t realized how much I used that middle finger doing so!

One night shortly after I got the splint, I watched the movie, Soul Surfer. It’s based on the true story of Bethany Hamilton the young surfer who was attacked by a shark that bit off her left arm right below the shoulder. Watching her not only learn to live without her left arm, but also to go on to be a professional surfer made me realize I could do more than I was doing.

I’ve since learned to wash my own hair, and I can bathe myself thoroughly enough to be adequately clean.

The rudder on a boat, keeps it balanced and moving in the right direction. Sometimes in-spite of a damaged rudder, a boat can still operate howbeit not at 100%.

That’s how I feel about my rudder finger. Even as I key these words into this blog, my left hand has had to learn to hit certain keys with a finger other than my middle finger. It isn’t easy, but it’s surely not impossible to function with a damaged rudder.

The broader message is that this goes beyond fingers and rudders on boats. Life sometimes throws us a curve we weren’t expecting, and we feel like a rudder-less boat. That is the very moment we need to realize we have the capability to compensate for the loss, whatever it is, and utilize resources we may not even have realized we had.

If I can learn to wash the underarm of my right arm with my right hand instead of my left hand as usual, then by golly I think I can figure out most things. And if I can, so can y’all.

See you next time…

 

 

A Penny for Your Thoughts

This is Penny, our three legged Dachshund. Her right front leg isn’t tucked under her, it’s completely missing.

She’s a rescue, so we’re not sure what her story is, but the humane society in Atlanta thinks she was hit by a car somewhere in South Georgia. The surgery to remove the leg was performed prior to her arriving in Atlanta.

I’m writing about her because she doesn’t let her missing leg slow her down one bit. Obviously, her thoughts are: “Okay, so my leg is missing, I’m still standing and I will survive.” Yeah, she knows those two songs by Elton John and Gloria Gaynor because her humans are musicians.

We can learn a lot from Penny’s thoughts. We are many times beaten down by life, and this pandemic has added to our already crazy world. Things are really bad for many people. The unimaginable has happened to some. My heart is breaking for all the sadness and pain I see every day.

In all of this darkness, the Light is still there. It hasn’t gone out, and God still has our backs.

I’ve had several friends to contract and recover from COVID-19. I have many friends and family members who are first responders, and who are exposed daily to the vile disease. Through their faith, they continue to put one foot in front of the other and go on, in spite of COVID-19.

Penny woke up one day and no longer had a right front leg. She didn’t shrivel up and die as a result, but she created a new normal for herself. She runs as fast as any dog I know, and she digs so much (you’d have to see it to believe it) with that one paw, that we had to shore up our fence to keep her in the yard! There isn’t anything that “normal” dogs do, that she won’t try, and in some way determines to make it work for her.

We can all learn from Penny’s thoughts. Regardless of what’s going on around us, we can determine to make our lives the best they can be, and NOT become a victim to our circumstances. You may say, “well, she’s a dog and doesn’t think as we do.” That’s debatable, to me, but I won’t go down that road right now. Suffice to say, all the dogs I’ve had the pleasure of being a human for, have known how to think. I’m convinced she knows her leg is gone, but she doesn’t care. She survives in spite of that darkness in her life.

I’d rather approach the darknesses in my life the way Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did in the Bible. Their story is in Daniel chapter 3. They’re about to be thrown into a fiery furnace by King Nebuchadnezzar, because the refuse to bow down to his golden statue. I love their response to him in verses 16-18 of that chapter.  The following is from the New Living Translation of the Bible:

“Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, ‘O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.'”

So, no matter what goes on in my life, God is there and is able to save me. But even if He chooses NOT to save me on this earth, I serve Him anyway, because He’ll never leave me and will always walk with me, even through the darkest times of my life.

See you next time…

It’s the Little Things

If you had asked me six months ago if I’d get excited about finding a HUGE bottle of hand sanitizer under my sink, I’d have said, “you’re crazy! A little thing like that causing me to be excited?”.

But lo and behold, that is exactly where I found myself recently – doing the happy dance over a HUGE bottle of hand sanitizer. Amazing what a pandemic will do to you, and to your values.

I pondered that for a moment, and realized that’s my silver lining in all this – getting excited over the little things in life.

Hand sanitizer, TOILET PAPER, anti-bacterial wipes, restaurant delivery services, grocery delivery services, curb-side pickup, face masks – just to name a few. There have been numerous happy dances at our house.

Seriously, though, it IS the little things in life that mean the most. A phone call, not a text, but an actual phone call with a family member or friend. A card sent or received. The smile of your 92-year-old mom, as you and other family members window sing “Happy Birthday” to her. The smile of a child waving to you on a Zoom meeting.

We mustn’t take the little things for granted. We have seen how quickly life can change, and most of us realize we will never go back to what life was like before COVID19 became part of our vocabulary.

While we can’t go back, we can create our “new normal”. We can and will be happy. We can and will enjoy life. We can and will laugh again. How? Our Heavenly Father will lead us and guide us into our new chapters.

Make the most of what you have. Enjoy the little things in life.

See you next time…

 

And Our Journey Continues….

I pray all of you and yours are safe since our last visit.

This is just a short note to share a few thoughts.

This will be the first time in most of our lives that we’ve been unable to attend our church during Holy Week. The week is still Holy, God is still God, and Jesus is still risen.

Let us come to Him with open hearts to receive the blessings He so generously bestows upon us.

Prayers for peace, love, and comfort during these strange times we find ourselves.

See you next time…

 

Our Journey Home

Good morning.

I had planned on blogging my faith journey for the next little while, but that was before life as we know it changed so drastically.

My devotion this morning was Ezra 8:21-30. Some of the Israelites were returning to Jerusalem after being captive in Babylon for 70 years.

For some reason, this resonated with me this morning, and it seemed to speak to me of our current condition. In verse 21, Ezra calls on the people to humble themselves before God. Then he prays for a safe journey for all of them.

I realize we are not traveling 900 miles like they were, but we are sure in uncharted waters. We are certainly not “living life as usual”. We could become very stressed, worried, scared; and many of us may be, in some degree or other, in those emotional places.

The ONLY CONSTANT in our lives is God. Can I get an amen?

So, back to the Scripture of this morning, let’s humble ourselves before God. Let’s pray for wisdom to fight and defeat this enemy called COVID-19. Let’s pray for the Peace that only God can give during this time. Let’s pray for our leaders, and for one another.

“May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face; and the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.”

See you next time…

Where I’ve Been to Where I Am

The first stage of my journey with God began on  February 22, 1953, if what I’ve been told my entire life is true: “We took you to church when you were two weeks old.” Needless to say, I don’t remember that sermon. However, being in church from practically “day one”, has made a profound mark in my life, and definitely helped shape me into who I am today.

On October 4, 1959, at Log Cabin Baptist Church, Macon, GA,  I made my public profession of faith.  For those of you unfamiliar with that term, “public profession of faith” means that I made the conscious decision to be a follower of Jesus.  I accepted Christ’s gift of salvation, and made Him the Lord of my life. I walked down the aisle of my church during the invitational hymn and made this decision public to the entire congregation.  I was six years old at the time.

You may feel that six is too young.  Even though I didn’t understand everything (and still don’t) that was involved in my decision, I understood enough to know that God loved me and sent His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for my sins.  I loved God enough to accept His Gift.  From this humble beginning, my faith began to grow and mature.

In those days in my community of faith, every question had a nice little pat answer, and there was a REASON FOR EVERYTHING that happened.  There were NO gray areas at all in life – things were black or white, wrong or right.  Oh, yes, and all of the rules applied to everyone, with no exceptions.  I was taught that people who didn’t believe exactly the way our community of faith taught, were wrong and couldn’t possibly be pleasing God.  As I grew older, I never questioned any of these teachings, and I allowed myself to be programmed to believe this way, too.  I felt that God was lucky to have ME on His team.  I felt that if all Christians would be like me, the world would truly be a WONDERFUL place – somewhat like the Garden of Eden before the fall.

By the time I reached high school, I was a full-fledged, dyed-in-the-wool Christian publican (that is not RE-publican).  I was holier-than-thou, and I had absolutely NO tolerance for anyone who dared to disagree with MY religious beliefs.  I had allowed myself to become consumed with other peoples’ ideas and conceptions of God.  I was more concerned with what those people thought about me than what I thought about myself, what I thought about God, or what God thought about me.  What I possessed at this point was nothing more than “second hand” faith.

Over a period of time, I began to question some of the ideas that I had been taught.  I began to realize that my beliefs were somewhat inconsistent.  While the following aren’t ALL the inconsistencies that I found, or all the questions that I had, they will give you an idea of what I mean.

First of all:  If God accepts us, as I had been taught and as the hymn implies “Just as I AM”; then why were some people shunned by the church because of the length of their hair or the clothes they wore? (Remember, I grew up in the sixties.)

Secondly:  In Sunday school I was taught the song “…red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world”; yet the church leaders were scared silly that a Black person might attend one of our services.  That actually happened in the my home church when I was in my twenties – a Black lady walked in, sat down, and one of the deacons asked her to leave.  How Christian was that?

Thirdly:  I was confused when, during my teen years, some Christians tried to do away with the “Good News for Modern Man” version of the Bible.  Seems they were upset, because among other reasons, Luke Chapter 2 of that version said that Mary was “pregnant” instead of “with-child”. Guess what?  Mary WAS pregnant…with our Lord.

As a result of my questioning, I came face to face with reality–I DIDN’T HAVE A FAITH OF MY OWN.  The faith I had was “borrowed” from other Christians and didn’t fit me at all.  It was as if I were playing dress-up in my mother’s old clothes.  I was no longer satisfied with my “second hand” faith.  I realized that I’d never gotten to know who I really was, nor who my God really is.

I was no longer holier-than-thou, but was scared and unsure of myself and of my faith.  I had no testimony anymore. I wasn’t sure if I believed what I believed because I REALLY BELIEVED IT or just because someone TOLD me to believe it.

So began the second stage of my Christian journey…. the stage that got me to where I am now.  I read the Bible for the first time from cover to cover–and NO I didn’t understand it all (still don’t), but I did get a few insights.  For the first time, the Word of God came alive to me.  I realized that some of the verses I had previously been taught to justify certain beliefs had been taken out of context.  I found out that you can prove/disprove anything you want to, and find some verse somewhere to back you up.

I say all this to not only give you some insight into who I am, but to also let you know it’s okay to question what you’ve been taught. Even  what you’ve been taught at church. God wants us to question and wants us to dig into the Scriptures to find out Who He is and who we are in Him.

The next few posts will be a continuation of my journey in an attempt to help you begin your journey, or stay the course on the journey you’ve already begun.

See you next time…