Monday, July 16, 2018

Press in Peeps - Press in to God

Life is confusing.  I don't know how atheists get through the day. Without God, I know I couldn't do it. In a strange way, they have more faith in nothingness sometimes than I do in God.  Just thinking about life without God makes me feel as though I'm free falling off a cliff.

Work has been frustrating and hurtful.  I've struggled with terrible back and neck pain. (Praise God it is getting so much better.) My mother's funds have been frozen by the Bank of America in a bizarre situation. The resulting chaos has impacted the entire family.  Differing political opinions have strained friendships.

Like many of us, I hate to turn on the news. Children in cages, abused animals, murders, maiming - I turn it off. I worry about the division n this country,  Is this era worse than the unrest in the 1960's?  Thinking about the student deaths at Kent State and the assassinations of JFK, Bobby Kennedy, and Dr. King - I have to say no.  However, the divisiveness feels terrible just the same.

As Solomon said in Ecclesiastes, there is nothing new under the sun. These present worries and unrest are nothing new. Ancient Israel experience what we do and much more.  When Moses was blessing the 12 tribes before his death, he related a Godly truth and blessing.

The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.  Deuteronomy 33:27

That's my reminder for today...for myself and anyone reading this.  God IS our refuge and we can fall back on the everlasting arms.

The key to peace is time spent with God in his Word, in prayer, and in contemplation.  I guarantee that we will never find it in squabbling, smarty pants FaceBook posts from either side, on CNN, MSNBC, or on Fox.

Press in peeps.  Press in to God.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain

So tragic about the suicides Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade, isn't it? I pray for their loved ones and work associates. Both were at the top of their games professionally, but apparently at their lowest ebb spiritually and emotionally. Anthony and Kate had the money and resources to find help, yet were seemingly unable to ask for assistance.

The Centers for Disease Control and Atlanta report that suicides are up in almost every state. Suicide among first responders (particularly in EMS) continues to increase and the same among military service members. Chances are statistically that you know someone who is having suicidal thoughts.

My friends Trish Buchanan and Sean Riley are both working to improve awareness of suicide prevention and resources to assist first responders in need of help. 

Trish created a CT charity, Believe 308, which provides funding and advocacy  for mental health issues after the suicide of her husband, East Hartford CT Police Officer Paul Buchanan.

After his addiction, Sean Riley created Safe Call Now, an advocacy and referral network for first responders who suffer from a variety of mental health issues or addictions and need a confidential place to find healing.

What can we ordinary folks do?  In an increasingly polarized America where we are connected yet separated by social media, we can reach out to others personally with a smile, some kind words, a hug or an invitation for coffee. 

I do believe that the isolation we create while furiously texting or emailing and not even looking at the person right next to us, is a contributor to an increasingly soul-less society.  We can invite others to our church or a club or just chat with a neighbor. Isolation can be a killer.

We can advocate with legislators for mental health care resources to be improved. We can also educate ourselves about local resources which already exist.  

Here are two excellent national resources:

For First Responders:  
Safe Call Now 
206 459 3020

For Everyone:
National Suicide Prevention Hotline
800 273 8255

Perhaps the very best thing we can do is pray without ceasing.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Jeremiah 29:11NIV

Monday, January 1, 2018

Crypto Jews, Conversos, and a Prophecy at Magnolia Bakery

It was the last day on our New York City adventure.  The weather had been frigid the entire time we were there. After a couple of days, you adjust, make sure that your head and face are warmly wrapped and proceed forth.  We were out in the dry cold and we were out in the snow.

Sadly, I have passed on my addiction to Magnolia cupcakes to Piper, my niece.  We came upon the West Side location here:

In a typically New York slice-of-life, we ran into a wonderful Australian tourist who explained why the electoral college system ended up producing many US Presidents from Virginia.  He modestly claimed he was a student of the US Presidency.  Mr Land-Down-Under also shared that his week in New York was the very first time he'd seen snow in his life.

Then things come into perspective.  I am never one to complain about snow.  I love snow.  How nice, though, for this man to experience it.  While New Yorkers grumble...a visitor has the happy experience of his life.  Isn't life like that?  It is all in how you frame it.

A slender fifty-ish woman named Kim was appalled at all the empty plates and cups left behind by customers. She started picking them up.  To be clear, Kim was a customer, not a waitress. You could almost see her immaculate apartment down the block.

We had a shared interest in genealogy.  Kim explained the issues associated with researching a Jewish background.  I learned about "conversos," that is, Jews who converted due to societal pressures. Crypto-Jews are those who may have outwardly converted but continue as Jews in secret.  I'd never heard that phrase.

Anyone who professes Christianity as I do, yet does not understand the Jewishness of Jesus Christ is missing a great deal of his message.  Due to a friend who is an Orthodox Jew, I've picked up a lot of info about Jewish thought. If you don't get Jesus as a rabbi, you aren't really understanding him at all.

We continued on in our discussion as Piper came back to the table with her cupcakes. Piper's father is Jewish and a Cohen (priestly caste) on his maternal side.  Turns out Kim is also mixed, although she worships at a nearby synagogue.

Looking intently at Piper, she said, "You and I, we are the same.  By cultural law, by the law of Judaism, we should not exist. (She was referring to the fact that Orthodox Judaism teaches that Jews should only marry other Jews.) This means that our souls have struggled for existence.

That means that you and I, Piper, have a destiny, a high calling on our lives.  You should understand this."

This is what happens in New York City, these small hours, these little wonders, these twists and turns of fate (to quote Rob Thomas), random conversations and commiserations which leave you with something you remember for the rest of your life.  And that's why I love New York.  These small hours still remain.

Small Wonders - Rob Thomas

Thursday, December 21, 2017

You DO Have Time to Cook a Healthy, Delicious Meal at Home - Chicken and Martian Heads

We've become a lazy fast food nation of folks who don't gather around the dinner table  I think we are much the poorer for it, not only in dollars but in the human cost, as well.

Not cooking out is a mindset. Once I saw the ridiculous amount we spent on eating out, I was determined to avoid it as much as possible.  By pre-planning, I know for sure that I can cook a cheaper more healthy meal faster than buying take out.

Basil Chicken, Martian Heads, and Baked Potatoes

Last night, I left chicken breast tenderloins out to thaw. They were marked down for $2.73 from $4.55.  I also cut up two containers of on-sale Brussels sprouts, or Martian Heads, as we call them at Chez Bremer. This took about 5 minutes.

This morning, I put the brussies to the boil with some "Caldo de Pollo," basically chicken bullion crystals from the Hispanic foods section. I will butter the sprouts with salt, pepper, and fresh ground nutmeg.  

Whole nutmeg can be found in the same International section of the store.  They can be grated with a cheese grater.  The taste/aroma is nutmeg on steroids...simply amazing. Like ground nutmeg to the tenth power.

I took a shower while they boiled.  I turned the brussies off early, just before they'rd finished cooking. I just left them on the burner in the pot with the lid.  Four large baking potatoes were scrubbed and put in the cold oven.  

Finally, I mixed one can of sale cream soup (reduced salt), a small amount of pesto from Big Lots, a slosh of white wine, and some garlic together.  I sprayed a baking dish with off-brand Pam, poured in half the cream soup mix, added the chicken (which was still half frozen) and put the rest of the soup mix on top. The dish was covered with tin foil and refrigerated.  All of this took perhaps 7 minutes, if that long.

When I got home from work, I turned on the oven to 400 degrees to start the potatoes first.  About 20 minutes later, I turned the temp down to 350 and popped in the chicken.  The chicken took about 25 minutes. Ten minutes before dinner, I re-heated the martian heads.

We had a delicious chicken dinner. The extra baked potatoes made up two lunches for Bruce, with a little chicken and some delicious sauce on top.  All for 15 minutes prep time.  Anyone can do this.

For all the reasons to "not eat out" check out this great NYC food blog:

Not Eating out in NY

Pic courtesy of My Recipes.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

What Derek Harbin Told Me to Do

Derek Harbin is my pastor.  Today he told me to do something in church and this is me, doing it.

Before we were dismissed from services today, Derek said, "You know how we experienced 9/11 and wondered why moderate Muslims didn't speak out? Now it is our turn to speak out against the racism which is tearing us apart."

In the aftermath of the inexcusable racism in Charlottesville, VA which culminated in the deaths of three people, it is imperative that all those who really love Jesus speak out against the white "supremacists."  

Please look at the picture above, re-posted from the Huffington Post.  We see a dignified young black cop standing duty. Behind him is a man in a dress with a red pointed cap on. Uh, who exactly is supposed to be supreme to whom?  All I see is a patriot in uniform with a confederacy of dunces behind him. 

KKK members, neo-Nazi's, and other affiliated groups who claim Christ and carry or use the sacred symbol of the cross to advance their racist ideology are apostate.

They have missed Jesus' entire message, which teaches that in Christ there are no superficial divisions.  

Galatians 3:28New International Version (NIV)

28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free,nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Jesus was a radical.  He touched a bleeding woman who was considered "unclean" under religious law and healed her. He ate with sinners. Jesus let a hooker wash his feet with tears. Women were among his loyal followers. He reached out to the ultimate foreigners, the Samaritans, and taught about himself. He helped the disabled and reached out to lepers willingly.  

Many conservatives don't want to hear this, but if Jesus had been in Charlotttesville yesterday, he would never have been walking with Jason Kessler's (organizer of this bloodbath) "Unite the Right" activists.  By the way, Mr. Kessler blames the police for what happened, rather than any of his group.

Let's all be as brave as Heather Heyer, the young paralegal who was deliberately run over by neo-Nazi James Fields, along with 18 other victims. Heather gave up her life doing the right thing.

How do you do the right thing?  Don't laugh at jokes with racial overtones.  Moreover, state your repugnance for such things. That's not hard.

Don't publicize Internet garbage attacking Muslims or any other type of prejudice.  Quit reading Facebook posts from those who continually spread fear of groups different from yours.

Do what my husband, Bruce, did in one of his Navy moments of which I am the most proud.  Another Navy Chief (and I use this term loosely) was a racist, a quiet one, but a racist. Bruce saw that a very worthy African American sailor was not gaining the recognition that he deserved. 

He arranged with the Chief of the Boat to write up this young man's accomplishments.  Brian Robertson ended up being the Commander of Pacific Forces Afloat Sailor of the Year, advanced to Chief Petty Officer, and became an officer. Tim, the other "chief" never spoke to Bruce again.  It was no loss.

We helped raise three inner-city kids through an odd set of circumstances. At the least, we were two white folks who treated them well. Lest I appear to be bragging, let me assure you that they gave us more than we ever gave them.

Do all your friends look just like you?  You might want to think about that.

Because of all the disrespect which my neighbors of color have experienced, I am careful to show extra respect by holding the door open, calling them Sir or Ma'am, etc.

Do you think that racism isn't such a big deal?  Let me tell you the story of my precious friends Billie (the wife) and Leslie (the husband) Walker and what racism did to them.

Les and Billie were both stationed with the Air Force at a remote location in Japan. They didn't have access there to a large military hospital like Walter Reed or Portsmouth Naval. Les had experienced a cough and tightness in his chest for months, especially while playing basketball.  There was only one physician for him to see.

Apparently, this physician didn't approve of interracial marriage. He never did a chest x-ray in all the times Les sought medical help and eventually accused Les of malingering to avoid work.

The racist physician went on vacation and the new doctor found that Les had bronchial aviolar carcinoma, which he eventually died from.  How much better would things have gone if he had a non-racist physician who treated the disease in its earlier stage?
Les did a tremendous amount of good during his illness.  He preached on the streets of Waikiki, he witnessed about Jesus to his doctors and nurses. He loved his friends and his family.

The last thing he ever said "to" me was when he was dying. Bruce slipped in to see him at the same military hospital in Hawaii where I was in surgery to take out my appendix.  Les said he'd pray for me. Humbling to say the least.

Racism is like a cancer.  It can be subtle or overt.  Subtle racism is when you cross over to the other side of the road when you see three black youths because they make you nervous. Something to try instead:  stay where you are and say "Hey how are you today?" You'll be surprised at the results.  

We saw what overt racism looks like in Charlottesville yesterday. It looks like death.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Murmuring and Complaining

My friend Debra recently wrote an excellent blog post regarding the dangers to our brains of constantly complaining. 

Two bloggers whom I otherwise love to read spend a great deal of time complaining about various ailments, problems with their homes that they feel helpless to fix, rudeness in today's society, fixed incomes, etc. Lovely pictures are taken and shared, their gifts and talents are amazing, but for the constant complaining.

A close relative (who will not see this) is a constant complainer. Folks who drive with bicycles on the back of their vehicles are "a-holes." S/he didn't like the conversation over dinner at a nice restaurant, so complained about that. Any one who doesn't follow this relative's lifestyle is subject to ire, even to the point of talking to the car radio or TV screen.

Another gloom and doom relative complained that s/he "had" (as in "was forced) to go on a luxury vacation in another country completely paid for by someone else. For months, I listened to the complaints and stress about it to the extent that s/he broke out into shingles the night before leaving.

Now s/he wistfully states that s/he would love to go back to this lovely country, but doesn't really have the extra money to do so!

Because I grew up in a rather negative atmosphere, I picked up early on the habit of murmuring and complaining. I constantly work to ensure that I don't spend a lot of time complaining.

Okay so let's sum up, Five Reasons We Should Not Complain:

1. Ingratitude - This holds you back from receiving all God has for you.
2. Complaining shrinks brain size in the same way Alzheimer's does.
3. Complaining is ungodly and He hates it.  He called the Israelites a "stiff-necked people."  Their whining and moaning kept them wandering in the desert for forty years.
4. Complaining is demoralizing for all who have to listen to you.
5. I believe that when you repeat complaints instead of praise you block God's blessing.
Thanks to Pinterest and for these great images.

To Learn More:

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Had a Bad Day

So I love this song from Daniel Powter and I love the video even more.  Here are some of the lyrics:

'Cause you had a bad day
You're taking one down
You sing a sad song just to turn it around
You say you don't know
You tell me don't lie
You work at a smile, and you go for a ride

Had a Bad Day

So listen to it by clicking above me it is worth it.

So I went for a ride.  Right in the middle of a major metropolitan area of 1 million people, the tidal estuary shown above was a moment of peace, beauty, and tranquility.  And boy did I need it!

For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made...Romans 1:20