For the Love of Ivan

It had been the dream for years—to own a member of the doodle family, to experience and bestow the unconditional love I knew they were capable of. Plus, I believed he would be an emotional support for me as I dealt with the myriad of mental health issues on my plate.

Finally, on my birthday in 2020, I was notified I had been selected to have my own berniedoodle, whose name was Ivan. His cost was lower than his siblings because he didn’t have the so-sought-after tri-color markings. He was pretty much a black puppy with a little bit of white on his chest and under his nose and mouth. He had a sweet expression on beautiful face, and I fell instantly in love with just his picture.

My daughter and I took the 2-day road trip to the town where he was being socialized by a wonderful family. Neither Jordan nor I is familiar with driving in mountainous regions, and this part of the southeastern United States had plenty of them. But she didn’t complain, even in my 5-speed manual, and we arrived at our destination on a Friday morning.

Ivan was exactly like his pictures – only bigger and had lost some of his puppiness. But he was still absolutely gorgeous and so sweet.

We settled back in the car with Ivan on whom the middle name of Zoltov (because he looked a little Russian and both Ivan and Zoltov sounded Russian to me) was bestowed.

Over the next year and 2 months, Ivan was exactly the puppy I’d dreamed of.

Except. . . my young granddaughters were terrified of him because of his size. As of this writing he weighs 68 pounds and is quite muscular.

My cat never warmed up to him. He loves her; she hates him.

I came to believe I was the only human who truly loved him, and a big part of that was because of how beautiful he is.

Then came the cancer scare.

I am still under testing, and it is not known if the colon cancer has returned, but at some point I will more than likely be facing some type of abdominal surgery. 10 years ago, the colon cancer surgeries left me with a massive abdominal wound which took months to heal, an ostomy, and a bedsore which also took months to heal.

What would I do this time with my husband now gone and a 68-pound dog wanting to jump on me at every opportunity? I consulted my groomer. In the past, her partner had known someone who wanted a doodle. My groomer, who is also my cousin wanted a physical picture of him and an ad to try and rehome him. She also suggested I talk to my vet.

I called the vet, not really expecting anything. But the receptionist called me back after just a few minutes and told me one of the practice’s vets might be interested in Ivan. He called me that weekend, and I gave him the details about my puppy, but he did not call me back. . .

Until yesterday morning. Around a month later.

He said he couldn’t take Ivan because he already had a doodle, but he knew someone who might be interested. Could he give them my phone number? Yes.

I exchanged phone calls, texts, and emails with Ivan’s potential new mommy throughout the day at home and at work.

At 7 o’clock Ivan’s new family arrived. He and I were on the porch, he on his leash.

He was so excited when they got out of their SUV. It was the parents and the two younger children, an 11-year-old boy and a 14-year-old girl. Ivan was all over them. They weren’t afraid of him. Ivan really liked the dad, too; and the dad seemed to like him. The mom told me they lived on a farm. The farm had goats and a small pond. Ivan would never have to be on a leash. He would be sleeping with the boy instead of in a crate. It sounded like doggy heaven.

We loaded all Ivan’s accoutrements into their vehicle and lastly Ivan. He went willingly. I blew him a kiss, and he was gone.

As expected, I was sad after they left. I turned to my old standby to make me feel better. The local pizza place delivered their specialty within 30 minutes. My intentions were to binge on the whole 13-inch pizza.

But I have been listening recently to a lot of YouTube videos and podcasts about the neuroplasticity of the brain (transformation of the mind (Romans 12:2) and how this plasticity can be used to help one with disordered eating. Even though I haven’t fully “grasped” or put one (Ephesians 4:24) the principals, I rarely binge anymore and my problems are more in the realm of overeating. I stopped with 3 of the 8 pieces and put the rest in the refrigerator.

Then I watched the first episode of “The Chosen” once again. Even though I think I’ve seen it four times now, that last scene between Jesus and Mary Magdalene still touches something deep inside, and it did even last night. It made me forget about Ivan being gone from my life. When Jesus told Mary “You are mine,” he might have been speaking to me. It was an actor portraying Jesus, and even though he does a spectacular job, I suspect when Jesus says those to me, it will touch something even deeper within me. I eagerly await that day.

Meanwhile I used the money the family gave me for Ivan’s things to go to Menard’s for a window air conditioner. The central air at my house has not worked all summer, and I’ve limped along on fans; but I thought the window conditioner might be a good use of my “Ivan money”.

A lot of people call their air conditioners AC. My air conditioner will be called IZ which sounds a little bit like icy, and I trust that’s how I will feel tonight while going to sleep in cool comfort but without a doubt will still be missing my Ivan.

CODEX a Novel by Megan Fatheree

Although I don’t personally know Megan Fatheree well, I went to youth group with her father many moons ago. It is through him and his wife that I became aware of her writing.

This is the first book of Megan’s I’ve read. Hopefully, it will not be the last because there is a secondary character in Codex whose story needs to be told. This book is so well written it would be intriguing to see how Megan’s future works evolve. Add to that the fact that I am a word nerd, and she has a couple words in there I’d not previously known. It’s always good to learn as one reads.

Codex could easily fit within a genre popular in the 1970s called the gothic romance. There is a spooky mansion, an element of the supernatural, and an abundance of dark, brooding, mysterious men. If I hadn’t read the description of the book, I would not have been able to tell with 100% certainty until the end of the story which of the two principal male characters would wind up being the hero.

Amorette is a quintessential romantic heroine. She is a young, a bit naïve, brave, enthusiastic, too-curious-for-her-own-good woman who falls in love with an older–much older–man.

The ultimate winner of Amorette’s heart is not very likeable at the beginning of the book, but he becomes more charming as the story progresses; and he is clearly a genuine good guy by the end.

The secondary characters are more fleshed out than is common in a novel of this length; and, as mentioned previously, there is one I hope to see as a principal character in a future Megan Fatheree novel.

Any female over the age of 15 will be charmed by this well-crafted story. There is no sex or language, but there is quite a bit of violence; it is for that reason I would not recommend it for a younger reader.

Although the theme is not overtly Christian, and Jesus is not mentioned at all, the writer is a devout follower of Jesus; and good, evil, and redemption are well delineated throughout.

If you like investing in new authors in hopes of discovering a future best seller, as do I, pick up this book. It is available as an Ebook and paperback via your favorite bookseller. Thanks and God bless you.

PLEMD

Post-Loss Exponential Multiplication Disorder

I’m not advertising this post on Facebook or anywhere else. If you’re on my mailing list, you will, of course, read about it. Feel free to not even take a look at this one.

When I write anything–this blog, Facebook posts, and books–I try to be as transparent as possible. That is certainly true in this case; but, because depression has hit and it’s possible a meltdown is looming on the horizon you may want to ignore this.

And I have coined a new mental health acronym. (I know that’s not the correct term because PLEMD does not spell a pronounceable word, but please allow it just this once.)

PLEMD. I’ve got it big time.

Rod died over 5 years ago now. That was a not-unexpectedly huge loss.

But how many have there been in the ensuing years that were somewhat less expected?

Loss of couple friendships. (1×2=2)

Loss of a person with whom I could share anything (not just my husband but others in our circle of friends). (2x let’s say 10= 20)

Loss of any chance of ever being what the world would describe as a “normal” person. Rod’s presence lent an air of normalcy to my existence. (20×2=40)

Loss of home. (40×2=80)

And with the loss of a home the opportunity to be a hostess for family gatherings. This has happened more than once, but the last one was within the last week. (80×2 so far = 160)

It is the one that has given rise to the out-of-sort feelings today.

This is a pity-party post. If you come across it when you are reading a future more upbeat or at least hopefully teaching/enlightening post, please pass it by.

But. . .

If there is anything about this post that resonates within you, know that I am praying for the fringe people, the misfits, the marginalized, all who feel like they will never truly belong anywhere.

Because we do.

Even though we can’t see it right now, Jesus loves us. Remember JLM in Euroclydon is Jesus Loves Me in Euroclydon. While it may seem like a small thing to you, what I’m going through is a Euroclydon for me. And even though I can’t feel it, I have to believe, Jesus is holding me right now.

And that means. . . Jesus is holding you.

5 Years Ago

Mom and I like to watch the old Datelines on channel 49. Every single time, at some point, the narrator will say something like “Then nearly 5 years ago to the day. . . ” or “just over 8 years ago to the day”. If any qualifying adverb appears in a statement such as that, it pretty much nullifies what it is describing.

I am not qualifying my statement with a “nearly” or a “just over”.

Five years ago today, I sat in a chair at a beauty shop while Wendy made me as beautiful as possible so that I could do my husband proud. After doing my hair, she watched me apply my makeup and told me I had accomplished my goal.

Next, I headed over to the church to change into my new outfit bought especially for the occasion. I think the pastor was already there, but I’m not sure anyone else was. For a few quiet minutes, I had the whole place to myself, a bit of time to prepare my soul for what was to come.

The bathroom where I changed clothes was not far from the sanctuary and directly adjacent to the hallway leading to it, and when I heard the noises made by several people rearranging things, I knew it was time. As I write these words, it is 4:55 p.m. That is the time this occurred on February 11, 2016.

I asked my pastor if I could go ahead and go in, just for a minute before everyone else started to arrive.

“Of course.”

I opened the double metal doors leading to the sanctuary, the set that was nearest to me, half expecting to be blown away by the smell of chrysanthemums.

There were a few plants, and there may have been some flowers — I honestly don’t remember — but certainly not enough for the scent to permeate the air in the cavernous room.

My eyes were immediately drawn to the front.

There he was.

If he’d been there, really been there, he would have been annoyed with me. We had discussed this possibility, half-heartedly, of course, anticipating the occurrence sometime far in the nebulous future; and he always told me to just “throw him in a field somewhere.” Aside from that being illegal (I think), there was no way this would happen, and I told him so.

As was usually the case with me when we were together in public, at least for the previous 6 years anyway, I made my way toward him, the one whom God used so greatly to help heal my mind. He was my safety net. He was the one who helped me not be so afraid to socialize. The one who prayed for me daily in such a way that I could feel it. The one who not only thought I was beautiful but told me I was a blessing! He was my angel.

I took his hand. Rod was always hot, no matter the temperature; but I anticipated his hand this time being cold.

It wasn’t exceptionally so, but as I slipped my long fingers around the webspace between his massive right thumb and index finger inserting their tips into the space formed by the palm of his hand where it rested beside him, there were no similarities between any other time I’d held his hand.

Nonetheless, hold his hand I did. I talked to him. I don’t think I cried. Couldn’t mess up my makeup. Wanted to make him proud as he’d so often been throughout our 6-year marriage. To this day, he is the only person who has made me believe that is proud of me.

Then the people started coming. The woman in charge wanted me to take a place at Rod’s feet. I refused, wanting to be near his precious face. He had not been ill prior to his death–it was sudden– and he truly did look like he was simply asleep. The muscles of his face were so used to being in a smile, the person who prepared him for the viewing couldn’t completely get rid of it, and the left side of his mouth was tilted up ever so slightly.

Many people passed.

Some of his guy friends dropped things in with him. One young man came through the line early, and upon seeing the knives and hunting paraphernalia already there, went home to retrieve one of his favorite pocketknives, returned, and left it there as well.

Most said something along the lines of “If there’s anything I can do. . . “

Of course there wasn’t. Well, there was, and many of them were already doing it. Praying.

Not for Rod. No one who knew him could doubt he was now healthy and whole and happier than he’d ever been in the land of the living, happier than any of us could even imagine.

No, they were praying for me. His daughters. His sisters.

Those for whom this day and the day 4 days prior had created a tremendous hole in our worlds.

Rod was a Valentine’s Baby. He missed his 56th birthday by 7 days. This Sunday he would have been 61.

I didn’t know you were an angel when you were here. I do now. And even though I know you probably can’t hear this. . .

And don’t want to read it. . .

I miss you, my angel.

In Memory of

Roderick Lloyd McDougall

February 14, 1960 – February 7, 2016

Review

I just finished reading through this whole thing. That’s right — the whole ?? pages/words of this blog!

I was taken aback by how many grammatical and spelling errors were present. If you are an Aspie — and if you’re reading this you might be — see how many you can find.

More troubling was the fact there hasn’t been as much soul relinquishment and spiritual takeover as I’d hoped at the beginning.

But this is a journey. Or better, as Steven Curtis Chapman put it, a Great Adventure.

Usually my blogs are written out in a Word document before I ever even open up the blog. Not so this time. It’s truly seat of the pants writing and probably pretty boring. As a brief aside: I do not like to use the word “boring” and have tried to convince my 7-year-old granddaughter it actually means the same thing as “fun”. Neither she nor her 4-year-old sister believe this.

I implore you, reader, to read some of the previous blogs. 2 Corinthians chapter 1 tells me I have not gone through any hardships simply for the sake of going through them. These experiences are to help others.

One thing I noticed on my read-through was how many times I mentioned music. Therefore, I’ll conclude this short post with a Midnight Special live performance of my all-time favorite song. It was released in 1977, the year I took Behind the Wheel driver’s ed, and I can remember it playing in the training car. It is not a Christian song, and its message is a bit depressing, including the prominently and well but sung but disturbing line “I just don’t care”. Ignore the words if you can and just enjoy the music. And please, check out some of the previous posts (and the much more uplifting lyrically and nearly as wonderful musically songs).

God bless you always.

Clay

I am in the middle of an attempt at reading through the Bible in 90 days. Today I am in the book of Isaiah. Chapter 45 verse 9 just jumped off the page, and I felt my Father telling me to pause right there and write these words.

I am a follower of Jesus Christ. The most common word for one such as I is “Christian”. Over the centuries since He for whom we are named walked the earth, the word has lost much of its meaning. Now I sometimes just say I am a lover and follower of Jesus.

I also have Asperger’s. This is not a disease, a curse, or a disability. It is simply a difference. Because of the black and white thinking that often accompanies it (and certainly does in my case) some aspects of following Jesus are easier. It is quite easy for me to accept the Bible as the absolute Word of God. Jesus is called the Word. Both are absolute TRUTH.

Being an Aspie does come with hardships, such as fellowshipping with other believers and sometimes even understanding them. When my husband (neurotypical to the extreme) was alive, he was utterly confounded by my lack of desire to socialize between the two morning church services. I was so uncomfortable with this activity I would often go sit in the truck at the conclusion of the service and wait for him to finish speaking with everyone in the church. Now, of course, I just leave as soon as it’s over.

But for the purpose of this post, let’s talk about one of the potential positives of Asperger’s – black and white thinking.

What do you see in this picture?

How about this one?

This one?

Which is the most beautiful?

Which is the most useful?

With which do you most identify?

If you are an Aspie it is most likely the last picture.

I would. Throughout my nearly 60 years here in the land of the living, I’ve compared myself negatively to nearly everyone I’ve met, Christian and not. I’ve researched this tendency of mine to make comparisons and don’t think this is a trait of Asperger’s.

But compare I do. It’s probably one of those things God will spend the rest of my earthly life trying to correct.

So, what sets apart the last picture?

Different.

A little odd looking (at least to standard perceptions).

Maybe difficult to determine exactly what its purpose is.

However. . .

Do you think the person who created this last pot was not proud? Did he not find his creation utterly beautiful?

If the creator were not proud, surely he wouldn’t have shared it on the internet where everyone could behold its beauty and, yes, speculate on its utility.

I am God’s clay pot.

You are God’s clay pot.

His workmanship.

He is perfect and good and everything He makes is perfect and good. Yes, the perfection and goodness have been distorted and lost in a world that has rebelled against Him. But you, in the untouched form in which He created you, are perfect and good.

His masterpiece.

When you bemoan the fact that you are so “different” from everyone else, you are telling God He did it wrong. Ugghh. Not to say I haven’t done exactly that. Your thinking and mine have been distorted by the master of lies.

God created you beautiful, and He created you for a purpose. Quit arguing with God. Instead relish in your unique beauty while you seek out and perform His purpose for your life.

Extravagant Love

I originally wrote this in 2015. A few months later the BFF struggling with Alzheimer’s went to be with Jesus; a few months after that my angel Rod followed her. I hardly recognized the positive person who wrote what follows. Dear Father, help me find her again . . .

I John 3:1 (The Voice)  Consider the kind of extravagant love the Father has lavished on us—He calls us children of God! It’s true; we are His beloved children

Ephesians 5:2 (The Message)   Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.

Last night, I attended a bridal shower/Pampered Chef party.  There were probably a dozen ladies squeezed into the moderate-size dining and living rooms.  At one point, someone brought up my battle with cancer, and I told the group I am currently cancer free.  The Pampered Chef dealer, who is more friend than acquaintance, commented that had been a real trial in my life.  I agreed but told her it was pretty far down on the list of life storms I’ve encountered in the current century.  She seemed a bit taken aback by that.  How could anything be worse than a cancer that nearly took my life more than once?

I gave the matter considerable thought during the 15-minute drive home.  Why was that particular battle so far down on my list of “really bad things”?

Number one on my really-bad-things list is, of course, loved ones away from the Lord.  I’ve taken Jeremiah 31:16-17 as my Rhema Word, my personal promise from God, concerning my children and step-children.  Those verses say that “my eyes” will see my children return from the enemy’s land.  Note it doesn’t say my spiritual eyes.  Although I know my Father is well aware of these words in His Bible, I try to remind Him about them frequently.

Number two was the suicide of my father.

Number three was my divorce from the father of my children.

Number four is mental illness experienced by me and several loved ones.

Cancer is number five. 

And that’s only talking about what’s happened in the past 15 years.  There were some things from much farther back in my life which would go higher on the list.

Why?

How dare I treat cancer—a terrible disease with which so many have struggled, are struggling, or even have succumbed to—as a lesser evil than some of the other items listed above.

Love.

It’s the only explanation I can come up with.

Item #1 on the really-bad-things list occurs when someone rejects God’s love.

Item #2 occurs when a spouse is rejected by his/her mate.  The spouse’s love is rejected by the mate.  The mate’s love, for whatever reason, has died.

Item #3 occurs when a person chooses to reject the love of God and the love of everyone else in his/her life.

Item #4 occurs when a mind, either through disease or abuse, becomes incapable of rational thought and will sometimes reject the love of God and other people.  Item #3 is the most serious extreme of this.

Cancer, though?  Most people who are victims of this are innocent victims having done nothing to bring about the situation.  They haven’t necessarily rejected love. 

In my own experience with cancer, I was surrounded by love.  First the love of my Heavenly Father whose mighty hands guided the human hands of my caretakers, the love of Jesus who sat one night in a rocking chair next to my hospital bed to keep me company, and the Holy Spirit whose Presence I could sense even in the lowest of lows physically.

Then there was the love of people. 

My husband was so angry at the devil for bringing this upon me that many of his friends were more worried and prayed more fervently about his emotional state than my physical one.  And, although he admittedly hates to read, he would often read to me out of the Bible, was quick to do so whenever I asked.  He is a concrete truck driver, my illness occurred in July and August, the busiest time of year for that business, but he would always rush home from work, shower, drive another 30 minutes to get to the hospital, and spend the evening with me.  His love, in part, is what drug me, sometimes kicking and screaming, back into the land of the living.

My mother.  If anything, she was even more stubborn than my husband in refusing to let me loose my sometimes fragile hold on earthly life.  Her love was the perfect mother’s love.

My children.  My son, as a man, is not real comfortable with expressing his emotions.  But he visited enough during my sickness there was no doubt that he loved me.  My daughter rode in the ambulance with me en route to my second hospital stay.  She worried about me.  She researched everything she could find on the internet about my form of cancer and learned that at the time I had a 5-year mortality rate of 60%.  Next July will be my 5-year-mark, and I have remained cancer free.

My sisters.  Before my first surgery, I charged both of them with the task of assuming motherhood for my children should anything go wrong.  They both tearfully but willingly accepted the assignment, promising to love and pray for my kids as though they were their own.

My best friends.  One of them was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s.  She would repeat to me over and over during this time that “a merry heart doeth good like a medicine.”  Amazing.  The other BFF was at my house the day after my first release from the hospital bearing a beautiful gift, a large piece of art which read, “Faith is not believing that God can answer prayer; it is knowing that He WILL.”  It has a prominent position in my house on the wall above the archway between my living room and kitchen, a constant reminder of what my soul frequently forgets.

My doctors.  Although I wouldn’t go so far as to say any of them “loved” me, the care they felt for me was tangible.  They were concerned not just with my physical health but with my emotional well being.

My pastor and his wife.  Pastor Larry visited me several times throughout all three of my hospitalizations.  He was there for every surgical procedure.  Wendy and the children came with him once during my second hospital stay.  He visited me during my homebound convalescence.  He prayed with me.  Those times were times when the supernatural peace of God flooded my being.  No matter the aches and downright pain I was feeling in so many places on my body; no matter the fact that a stranger had taken up residence in my head; there could be no discounting that overwhelming sense of well-being and—dare I say it—joy! that permeated my soul after those prayers.

Even my husband’s boss.  Dan loves Rod; there’s no doubt about that.  He also loves my sister, Jessie, who manages the office of his concrete plant.  He barely knew me.   But one day he visited me in the hospital when no one else was there.  Taking a seat in the chair next to the bed, he told me he was very worried about Jessie.  He told me flat out he didn’t know if I would live or die.  He was the only person ever brave enough to tell me that; he knew I didn’t fear death.  Indeed, I feared more the unknown entity of the stranger in my head than going to live with Jesus.  Dan reminded me I needed to consider how Jessie, and others, would handle the situation if the outcome of my illness was not the one they were praying for.  Toward that end he left me a packet of short scriptures on cards and a cute little stand to place them on.  I kept the same scripture right in front of me on the hospital tray throughout the remainder of that hospital stay.

So . . . love.

That’s the difference between items 1-4 and item #5.  Although love was undoubtedly present in each of those situations, it was soooo hard to find.  Remember that in your sharing love with God and the people He has placed in your life.  Don’t be stingy with your love.  It’s not like you can ever use it all up.

Be extravagant.

  1.  What do you think it means to love extravagantly.  How does such a thing feel?
  2. Have you ever been the recipient of this type of love?
  3. What will you do today to show this love to
    1. A family member?
    1. A friend?
    1. A stranger?

Angels Among Us?

gardenTaken from sermon streached on July 26, 2020:
In Genesis 1:31 “31 Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good!
And evening passed and morning came, marking the sixth day,
On the 6th day, the world was very good. So, what happened? Is it possible that angels were somehow involved?
’What are angels? Why did God create them? When did God create them? Why did God create the devil? Are they relevant to us at all today?
What are angels? Angels are beings who have greater power and ability than humans.
Why did God create them?
He created them to assist him in a variety of ways—as messengers, warriors, and protectors; and as ministers to Christians.
When did God create them? Angels existed prior to the creation of the earth because God tells Job in chapter 38:1-7 “Then the Lord answered Job from the whirlwind:

     2 “Who is this that questions my wisdom
with such ignorant words?
    3 Brace yourself like a man,
because I have some questions for you,
and you must answer them.
     4 “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?
Tell me, if you know so much.
    5 Who determined its dimensions
and stretched out the surveying line?
    6 What supports its foundations,
and who laid its cornerstone
    7 as the morning stars sang together
and all the angels shouted for joy?”

create satanThis is a question I’ve pondered for years. Several preachers have told me that they didn’t know the answer; and I respected them for their honesty. Recently, maybe within the past year, it has come to my attention that angels, like humans, were created with free will. There is the answer.
Lucifer believed he was God and no longer wished to serve the real God. For this transgression, he and his followers were cast down to earth where they immediately began to wreak havoc on the beautiful world God had created. The devil, and the other fallen angels who followed him, were created, like those who still serve God—before the creation of the world.
The first thing satan did, of course, was get man to sin. He succeeded in getting Adam and Eve cast out of the beautiful and perfect garden God had created for them.
Just after that, satan learned that God (Genesis 3:15) was going to use one of the woman’s children to strike his head (kill him). So, he set to work trying to eliminate this possibility, first by getting Cain to kill Abel thereby eliminating both of these children as contenders. Of course, Adam and Eve went on to have more children, including Seth.
By Genesis 6, there were many people on the earth. In those days people lived for hundreds of years and kept having children well into their hundreds. Imagine how many children that might have produced. These children would have included the descendants of Seth from whom the Savior would come.
According to Genesis 6:1-4, the angels who had followed satan in his desertion and had been cast to the earth chose the fair women of earth to be their wives; thereby polluting human DNA with that of angels. The offspring of the human and angels were giants who became the “heroes and warriors of the ancient past.” These were called Nephilim and later Rephaim and Anakim.
God saw that between the natural proclivity of humans to sin and the additional scourge of the presence of both the fallen angels and the Nephilim, Rephaim, and Anakim, the world he created had been completely corrupted and needed to be destroyed. Yet, there was a man in the lineage of Seth who had found grace in God’s eyes. This is the same grace God bestows on us through faith in Jesus. Noah was not a perfect man any more than we are perfect.
It is speculated, and this is not stated in the Bible, that neither Noah nor his wife nor their 3 sons had Nephilim in their bloodlines. Considering the way the patriarchs who would come later would choose their wives, this would make sense.
God saved these 8 people from the destruction of the rest of the world including the humans, angels, and Nephilim who all drowned in the flood.
One purpose of the flood usually overlooked was that it preserved the fully human bloodline from whom the Messiah would come. The fact that God put Noah’s story in the Bible immediately after the story of the Nephilim backs this up. How many of those killed in the flood were tainted with Nephilim DNA? It is not possible to know, but it could have been a majority. Those who were not were undeniably still affected in the negative by the acts of the godlike creatures because Genesis 6:5-6 says    “The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. So the Lord was sorry he had ever made them and put them on the earth. It broke his heart.”
Do you not think God’s heart is broken today by what he sees going on in the world. Two of the greatest evils, abortion and the children kidnapped and/or sold into the sex slave industry, alone have to be so much worse than anything that was going on in the pre-flood era. But. . . to my knowledge there are no half-human/half-angel hybrids living among us.
So where do the Nephilim and Anakim mentioned after the flood in the Bible come from? Remember, Goliath whom David slew, was such a giant. Were those who existed before the flood tall enough to survive it?
That is doubtful because even mountains were covered by the flood.

flood
Although this is not stated in the Bible, consider this: What if one of Noah’s daughters-in-law carried the Nephilim blood line? Her children would also carry the Nephilim DNA. The Bible does say in Genesis 9:25 “25 Then he (Noah) cursed Canaan, the son of Ham:

“May Canaan be cursed!
May he be the lowest of servants to his relatives.””

This curse was pronounced by Noah just after Ham had discovered him drunk and naked in his tent. So why not just curse Ham? That would cover Ham and all his sons, of who Canaan was the 4th.
Is it possible that Canaan displayed some characteristics of the Nephilim? Canaan, the son of Ham, settled in the land that would become Israel. Before it was known as Israel, though, it was known as the Promised land, and before that it was known as Canaan. Remember, in the time of Moses, the spies sent to explore this land reported that “the people living there are powerful, and their towns are large and fortified. We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak!” (or Anakim). Where did these Anakim come from if they were all killed in the flood?
In between the time of Noah and the time of Moses, we have the time of the patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Remember, each of them (or their parents) were very careful to choose wives for them who were not Canaanite.
Jesus was to come from the seed of the woman. Woman is called “woman” because she was taken out of “man”. Nephilim were not “men”; therefore, they were not women. The Seed promised by God could not come from them. The patriarchs themselves may not have known why they were to stay away from the Canaanite women, but God made sure that they did.
What is the relevance of angels in today’s world?
nephilimThe fallen angels are no longer capable of breeding with humans, and presumably Goliath was the last of their offspring. Clearly, though, they are still hard at work in the spiritual realm sewing seeds of evil throughout the world in whatever way is deemed most effective.
The messengers of God are also still active in the spiritual realm and sometimes are even visible to us (Hebrews 13:2).  But remember, although angels and fallen angels have more power than we do, God is much more powerful than any of them.
One of the jobs of the angels is to serve Christians, or followers of the Way. Jesus is the Way and every word in the Bible (God’s love letter to us), including the verses concerning Nephilim and Rephaim/Anakim points us to Him. He is the reason we are here today, and it is in Him that we live and move and breathe. Glory be to God the Father, Jesus the Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

jesus is the way

Another Hole

This is a blog of the type that I hate to write. Yet, I always feel compelled to do so whenever there is occasion to.

P Dave

 

On February 7, 2016, the day my husband passed away, I met Reverend Zoila Marty who became my boss, friend, and mentor until she was called away to pastor another church in July of 2017. I didn’t see how anyone could possibly replace her.

Enter Pastor Dave.

Has a more humble man ever existed? I suspect his intelligence was near genius level, but if he was aware of it, he never said so. Aside from his love for Jesus and people, he, as a former firefighter and EMT loved anything associated with those things. In January I slipped a late Christmas present of a fire truck 2020 calendar onto his pulpit in Chestnut before he arrived. He never knew (I guess he does now!) where it came from.

With mannerisms and preaching style completely different from his predecessor’s and a calm yet vibrant faith in Jesus, he came to feel like something of an older brother to me.

One memory that easily comes to mind, perhaps because it was recent, is one of the last times it was my turn to streach before the world changed. Some of my words, or maybe something between my words, struck a raw nerve in a congregant at one of the churches; and she had no qualms about addressing it with me in a more than somewhat confrontational manner. Pastor Dave was standing by, and when he saw the outstretched finger poked toward my chest, he was instantly by my side.

The next time I came into the office, there were notes he had placed all over my desk.

Let it go.let it go

                   Let it go.

             Let it go.

 

I thought I’d entered the transcript of the original Frozen soundtrack.

 

Do those not sound like the actions of an older brother to you?

During the past six weeks, Pastor Dave and I took turns coming into the office so as to avoid cross contaminating one another. But, for some reason, the week before last, he wanted to spend time working together on our most recent newsletter/calendar. Did he know it would be the last time I would benefit from his wisdom?

We spent about 30 minutes talking, touching on many different topics important to both of us. Before he left, he prayed with me.

In hindsight I am grateful I had those 30 minutes with him.

His death was not supposed to happen less than a week later.

Death is never supposed to happen.

God’s original plan was for us to live forever in close communion with Him.

Therefore, the death of any living being, but especially any human being, creates a hole in the fabric of the world that should not be there and will never be restored in this,Holes what the Bible calls the land of the living and what a couple pastors I’ve known have referenced as “the nasty here and now”.

Our loved ones leave.

One by one.

The older we get, the more of them leave. It never gets easier. The holes in our world become more numerous, the remaining fabric more tenuous, creating greater opportunity for stumbling as we walk around in the relative darkness of the land of the living.

That’s why we need—I need—more than ever all the facets of I AM but right now most definitely The Light. (John 8:12)

I Don’t Wanna Face the Day

Today is a writing day.

A day when I can’t not write.

Because writing is part of my identity, when one of those days “strikes”, I am elated, feeling powerful and like great things will be accomplished.

Today is a writing day.

I feel neither elated nor powerful. Hopefully, great things will be accomplished despite me.

I awoke about an hour ago with a familiar song running through my head.

Others I know will wake with songs of worship on their brain the minute their brain starts functioning in the morning. I know this is true because I read about them doing so on FB nearly every day.

And it’s not just music. I am reading a story by Kimberly Rae Jordan where the heroine, an artist, awakes every morning with colors running through her mind.

What has been on my brain upon waking many mornings for the past month (and even some mornings before that, if I’m being completely honest)?

Jump back to the year 2000 and a band called Great White and a song called “Face the Day” one line of which is “I don’t wanna face the day,” being sung and/or screamed by Jack Russell. At some point in the fogginess of morning brain, the song morphs into Bon Jovi’s “She’s a Little Runaway” with the lyrics also being melodically screamed by Jon.

Ugghhhh! Triple ugghhhh!

I don’t wanna face the day with either not facing the day or running away running through my mind, especially on auto replay, the way my autistic mind tends to think things.

This is not an upbeat post, at least not the current part of it. So, if you are already feeling down, just jump ahead to the message part (beginning with CHILDREN’S MESSAGE) of this post. However, as always, one thing I endeavor to make characteristic of all my posts is transparency. That means – the good . . . . The Bad. . . and THE UGLY!

Yesterday was a difficult day.

Just the latest in many difficult days. You have had them, too, probably many of them. I’m sorry, and I pray that the days of not normal (I know, Jolie, normal is not a thing!) will end.

Many say they will not.

Many say the fact that “normal” will not return is a good thing.

I want to believe that. But “right now I just can’t” to quote Bart Millard.

The devil has been working overtime lately. Not just with COVID 19 and its seemingly infinite number of ramifications, but individually, personally, in each of the lives of those whom God loves.

Who are those whom God loves?

You.

And everyone else on the planet.

But mainly – you!

God loves you, God loves them, and the devil uses us to hurt each other.

I hate that the devil uses people as tools with which to render the most painful attacks.

I have been in defense mode against these attacks for the past 4 weeks. Right now, as I sit here typing this, my whole body feels like a tightly wound coil, or maybe a rubber band, and if I can’t have a good belly scream like I had a few days back, a break is inevitable.

I hate the thought that ran through my brain more than once yesterday of wishing my work here would hurry up and be finished so God could take me away from what at its worst feels like a nightmare. Yesterday was a nightmare. And Sunday. (Yes, I know Sunday was Resurrection Sunday, and right up until we sat down to eat the lunch I’d spent a good part of the morning preparing, it was a good day.) And many other days in the past month. (At this point in my first draft I’m hoping God will encourage me to remove some of these most dark sentences before posting this.) [At this point, in my final read-through after posting but before publishing, He has not done so.]

Not facing the day, running away from the day, or desiring to be removed from the day are not solutions; and thinking about any of those things does not improve the day.

A friend of mine has been sharing the many names of God nearly daily on Facebook for the past couple of weeks. So right now, I’m going to look for the one that has to do with God being the restorer of my sanity. If I can’t find it, I just may FB message him to find out what that is. (As of the final read-through of this, he has not responded to my FB query. The closest thing I can think of that fits this is Psalm 3:3 which reads “But you, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head”. I looked it up in the OJB version to see if there was another word there that might be a name of God, but it also used “lifter of my head.” So maybe it’s not a name, but it is a descriptor of God.)

Both of my pastors, during the recently passed season of Ash Wednesday Lent and Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Resurrection Sunday have spoken on the “I AMs” of Jesus. The Sunday before “normal” went away, it was my turn to streach at the little church here in town and its two sister churches. The I AM assigned to me was “the Way”. Here is the message God helped me come up with. I need this today more than anyone else who is reading this. I thank God we receive Water and Bread for our thirsty/hungry souls. His Word promises that that is so, not that it will be so, but that it is.

To my dismay, I discovered I’d saved the sermon on my work computer (not currently accessible to me) and not on my home computer. I have the hard copy of the sermon, though, and I’m knowing God is wanting me to rewrite its words herein so as to re-benefit from them. On a review of this before posting, I have rewritten all the words; and they were nourishment to my soul. The person who writes this sentence is not the same person who wrote those preceding. I no longer wish to escape and am ready to face the rest of the day.

CHILDREN’S MESSAGE

You have probably learned enough about math to understand a few things about it. You can probably count to 10, maybe higher than that. Maybe you can read those same numbers.

Math is in everything. There are 7 days in a week. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday; and then we start all over again with Sunday.

There is another important list that has 7 things in it. God created everything. He created the days of the week in the very first part of the Bible. And, although Genesis doesn’t specifically mention it, the rest of the Bible certainly does, so we know that He created music and the mathematics behind it.

Music is also based on the number 7. A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H. . . Wait a minute. There’s no H in music! No, after G, it starts all over again with A.

In the Bible, there are many times something is done 7 times.

Moses was the leader of God’s special people. Other people were jealous of them because they were so precious to God. They treated them badly.

God used Moses to lead his chosen people away from the mean people to a special land prepared just for them. But all the people who were freed messed up and didn’t even get to go into the special land. Even Moses messed up! Only two men, named Joshua and Caleb, were allowed to go into and live in the land God promised.

Joshua was Moses’ best friend. After Moses and all the freed people had died, Joshua was finally given permission by God to go into the Promised Land.

But there were already people living there who had heard the wonderful and terrifying things God had done to people who were unkind to His chosen people, and they were afraid of them and took steps to keep God’s people out.

The first town Joshua and God’s people came to in the Promised Land was a town called Jericho. Jericho had a tall and thick fence built around it that God’s people would not be able to break through. God told Joshua to have the people do a strange thing. They were to march around the fence one time each day for six days. The musicians were to play their trumpets. On day number seven, they were to march around it 7 times! At the end of the 7th time around on the 7th day, the musicians were to give one loud blast on their trumpets and everybody else was to shout! That would make the tall wall fall down without anyone even touching it!

Surely this did not make any sense to Joshua or any of the other people.

But they had already seen God do things for them and their parents that did not make sense, and they trusted Him, so they did exactly what he said.

On the 7th day, after the loud trumpet blast followed by the loud shout of everyone who had been marching, those walls did fall! The Israelite people, God’s chosen people, were able to get into the town.

You are God’s chosen people!

Do you ever feel like there are tall walls in front of you that you can’t get through? Ask God to help you, listen for His voice, and trust Him to help you to do the right thing.

SERMON

Heavenly Father, speak Life into everyone who reads these words. If there are any words that are not from your heart, let eyes not see them. In Jesus’ name.

Numbers

What are some things you notice about this picture?

That the first list could be some of the numbers of the days of the week or some of the numbers of the musical alphabet as referenced in the Children’s Teaching?

What in the world is that last “number” in the 2nd list? When it is written numerically it contains 23,249,425 digits and is arrived at by multiplying 77,232,917 twos and then subtracting one. It is the highest number of its kind currently known to man. Its kind is the category of prime numbers.

Or, did you notice something much more basic? Something missing?

The number 1 is both a prime number and the first number when one is listing the 7 musical notes of any scale. In music it is written as Roman numeral I.

But let’s look at the second list which is also missing the number 1.

First, though, let’s back up and talking about the number right before #1, or zero.

Do you ever wonder why zero is able to be added and added to, subtracted and subtracted from, and multiplied, but not divided? Really, it can’t be multiplied either, or at least there is no reason to. One divided by zero logically should equal zero, but it does not. Neither does any other number. Why not?

chocolatesHere is a simple explanation for this phenomenon: Try dividing 12 chocolates among zero people. How many chocolates does each person receive?

Does that question even make sense?

We can’t share among zero people and we can’t divide by zero.

Merriam Webster defines zero as “the absence of a measurable quantity”.

Does this not sound like how things were before God created everything?

Zero.

Nothing.

Null.

The number one is the opposite of zero. It is the number from which all other numbers arise. It is the only number by which every other number, including the number 1 itself, can be divided and result in a whole number.

What caused the number 1 to exist?

Because of God and His creative voice, everything that exists exists, including the number 1. Number 1 would not exist or even need to without God. Nor would the other six numbers of music and days of the week, or the seemingly infinite but probably finite list of prime numbers. None would exist.

Now, think about God’s greatest creation.

Another of Merriam Webster’s definitions for the word zero is “an insignificant person or thing”. That is so sad. Yet, there are people who feel like exactly that. There are many reasons why this is so, and they are all equally sad. None of them were a part of God’s original plan for us. Thankfully, God never called any human being a zero.

If a person could be given a number of relevance, could the #1 be it? Not for the usual reason, as a means of comparing oneself to others. That is NOT Part of God’s plan for us.

From a mathematical perspective, what is the number one divisible by? Hint: this was already addressed earlier, but in case you don’t want to look back or don’t remember from your elementary math class – one is only divisible by one, or itself. There is no thing that can divide a human being, only that human being. Even the word I looks a little like Arabic number 1 and exactly like Roman numeral I. Only the person himself or herself (#1) can divide him or herself by rejecting the grace God offers. So, a human being is a perfect example of prime number 1.

What does all this mathematical mumbo jumbo have to do with Jesus being the Way?

Listen to some of these definitions of “way” and some Bible verses that can be found lining up nearly perfectly with each definition:

  1. A thoroughfare for travel or transportation from place to place.
    1. An opening for passage.
    2. The course traveled from one place to another

Isaiah 35:8 “a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness”

  1. A course leading in a direction or toward an objective Hebrews 10:20 (Jesus)“by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain , that is, his body”
  2. Manner or method of doing or happening 1 Corinthians 11:1 “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”
  3. Characteristic, regular or habitual manner or mode of being, behaving, or happening John 14:6 “Jesus answered ‘I AM the way. . .’”
  4. The length of a course (distance) Acts 20:24 “My only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me”
  5. Movement or progress along a course Acts 20:24
  6. State of affairs. When Jesus said “I AM the way” “I AM” speaks of Jesus being IT, all there is, the paramount and many of its synonyms including: supreme, first and foremost, preeminent, utmost, number-one, and prime.

Let’s look again at that last word of the synonyms of paramount: What phrases can you think of that include this word?

Prime rib: A cut of steak so decadent it practically melts in your mouth

Prime rate: An interest rate formally announced by a bank to be the lowest available at a particular time to its most creditworthy customers.

Prime numbers: We’ve already covered that one pretty well.

Prime location: When buying a house there is a saying among realtors “location, location location” the best of which would be the prime location.

So, it would appear that, no matter its application, prime is a good thing.

In the case of Jesus, the extreme reaches of His primeness cannot be fully understood and certainly not explained. Jesus, THE WAY, is the absolute best. The THOROUGHFARE was not available to mankind as a COURSE to God until the hour of Jesus’ death when the veil was rent in the Holy of Holies making the WAY to the throne of God open to all. Jesus’ sacrifice delivered this way to us. Taking it a step further, His resurrection gave us a glimpse of where following Him would lead us. This is a glorious RACE indeed where everyone who runs and finishes it receives the gift of everlasting life with He Who is the Way and made the race possible.

Knowing that Jesus is the very best of the very best, the primest of the prime, why would anyone not want to run the race by following the manner and method Jesus taught us?

Did you notice there were 7 definitions to the word way? These were Merriam Webster’s definitions, not anything from the Word of God, but it is interesting

Music has 7 numbers. According to vocalprocess.co.uk “When we organize our thoughts into words and form vowels and consonants that is mostly the cognitive side of the brain (left) but for singing we also need melodic shape and that requires the creative side of the brain (right). In fact, singing is good for us because it uses both hemispheres of the brain.”

The Bible teaches time after time us to sing, including in 1 Chronicles 16:23 which is, in itself, a part of a song sung by David.

David sang a lot. Many of the Psalms were written by him, and he is called, regardless of his many foibles, a man after God’s own heart.

However, consider other words you might have sung, even as far back as your youth. Chances are good they included songs that were not praising God. What if they were songs of praise to self, other people or things of God’s creation – or worse, the devil himself? According to Ezekiel 28:13 NKJVV satan was a musician, maybe even a worship leader before his fall. Music is a good thing, just like everything else in God’s creation; and just like everything else it can be illegitimized by the enemy of our souls. (The words within this set of parentheses were not part of the original message, but think about the songs I referenced in the first part of this post. Had I not sung them at some point in my life, they would not now be so firmly entrenched in my neural pathways.)

If, as indicated by the article previously quoted, sung words are more powerful than spoken, we should be more cognitive of those words we sing than those we speak. Perhaps that is also why God so greatly encourages “singing” words of worship to him.

Now, hear these words from Zephaniah 3:17 “The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”

Wow!

Now on to the days of the week: “On the 7th day, God rested” (Genesis 2:20)

This established the pattern for us

Have you ever noticed this pattern? Does it seem like Sunday afternoon is the ideal time for a nap? Do you try to eliminate every unnecessary chore possible on that day?

This was a way of life necessary for us humans established by The Way way back in the beginning.

What is it about the number 7?

The number 7 is used 735 times in the Bible (54 times in the book of Revelation alone). Revelation is the last book in the Bible, thereby completing the Word of God in written form. Seven is the number of completion, or a work being finished. Remember, the meaning of complete is remarkably close to that of perfect.

Many sermons are based upon these last two lists. For that reason, only the lists, and a brief explanation of the first will be shared today.

7 churches

These are the 7 churches listed in the early part of the book of Revelation. They were real churches in existence at the time of the early church of the Way. There are many different theories on what relevance they have to today’s church, but that they have relevance cannot be denied because God chose to put their stories in His Written Word.

The last list of 7?

  1. Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do Luke 23:34
  2. Today you will be with me in paradise Luke 23:43
  3. Woman, behold your son. John 19:26
  4. My God, my God, why have you forsaken men? Matthew27:46
  5. I thirst John 19:28
  6. It is finished. John 19:30
  7. Into your hands I commit my spirit Luke 23:46
  8. Into your hands I commit my spirit (Luke 23:46)