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Missing milk, only cooked on one side. I’m calling it a frittata.

“frittata”

I worked all night Thursday, after working all day Thursday – not planned, but couldn’t walk away with systems down. I took Friday off. Saturday is still a recovery day.

So I cooked. Cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, green onions, a hot dog, all sautéed in butter. Four eggs, salsa from Mexican carry-out a week ago, and too much sharp cheddar. Cook on the stovetop on medium until the middle firms up, and then enjoy.

Which I am doing.

Here at Connections, we believe in the Bible.  We affirm what it says.  So when Ephesians 2:8 and 9 says “For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift — not from works, so that no one can boast.”, that’s what we believe, that’s what we live by.  We cannot earn our way into Heaven.

And that’s what Martha believed, too. But let me tell you, she had such a servant’s heart that you might think she was leaning towards getting to Heaven by her works.

She participated in the Walk for Life, one of the ways our church supports the local Pregnancy Care center.

We have pictures of her when the church went to pack food for hungry kids in Africa, about ten years ago.

She helped prepare communion, back pre-covid when we had trays instead of individual servings.  I have a voicemail from her, letting my wife and I know how that week’s preparations went.

She had her own coupon ministry, where she would get coupons out of the Sunday paper and give them to people.  Not just randomly – she knew what people liked and targeted the coupons to them.

She had a deviled egg ministry.  Whenever we had a carry-in dinner at the church, everybody knew not to take deviled eggs, because sure as anything Martha was going to!

She could receive as well as give.  One time the youth of the church were distributing pumpkin pies.  It would have been around this time of year, though I don’t remember which year, but she was appreciative.  And after she had moved into assisted living, the church swung by and sang her some Christmas carols – and again, even though she was starting to lose her faculties, she was very grateful and thankful.

It wasn’t just the physical things.  After one of our ladies was in a bad car accident, the women’s group was praying.  Martha replied “Thank you for the update.  I have been praying for her almost hourly.  I have her name on my kitchen table and when I pass it I pray for her.”

I don’t know Martha’s Bible reading habits.  I’m sure she had read the passage I opened with, and I’m sure she read the very next verse, Ephesians 2:10.  “For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.”

And that is the Martha Downing I remember, trusting in Jesus through faith, and always walking in the good works that God had prepared for her.

I flew back from Arizona overnight Tuesday into Wednesday. Then I did a deployment Thursday night into Friday.

Saturday I tested positive for Covid.

Thanks, government (meaning me)

I felt like I’d been run over by a truck – headache, muscle aches, coughing, runny nose. I don’t like working overnight, but I usually bounce back better. So I tested, and now I have a reason for feeling bad.

My second infection. First was right after Christmas a year and a half ago. Then I missed New Year. This time I’ll miss Memorial Day.

I’m seeing a trend, and I don’t like it. Any of it.

According to Romans 2:11, God is no respecter of persons.

Apparently dandelions are a part of God’s creation, because they don’t care about the temperature or the weather. Still snow on the ground this morning, and patches and pockets on the way home from church. But this dandelion don’t care.

With my Mom’s passing, there is an immediate reaction on my part to turn everything about her into something to be venerated, something holy. The numbers surrounding her final days – time of death, heart rate, breathing rate. The last recipe she gave me. Her projects that were in process.

This is the first time I have been through a great loss. The avoider part of me wants very much to get into the details – build that time-line of when she was in and out of the hospitals. I could spend years looking for missing details – while ignoring the details of my own life, my own grieving.

This is not meant to belittle her or her death. She was a wonderful woman, very strong, a creator, loving, caring. She was unique (like we all are). She liked lighthouses. She baked Christmas cookies like no other. She wasn’t perfect, but she was my only mother.

She showed me the way to Christ. I remember as a cynical teenager, I walked down our driveway and found her kneeled at the back bumper of her car, praying. I remember being awed that she was serious about this Christianity stuff. And those prayers didn’t stop.

She was greatly into crafts. Basket-weaving was a specialty – she gave classes, sold her baskets at craft shows (and donated the money to charity and missions), and knit scarves (again donating proceeds). One of her last projects is a mystery. She had gathered Halloween cards my brother and I had received from our grandparents. Unsure what was going to happen with those,but the cards were on top of the working pile.

To bring this back around, I’m interested in what that project was. But I’m not going to research what it could have been. Not going to look at her browsing history to find the how-to. I took pictures of the cards, shared them with my brother. And I know it was motivated by love.

The numbers don’t matter – she passed from congestive heart failure. The hospice nurse told me that she was following a textbook path towards her death. If there were minor variations along the way, so be it.

And I really felt the need to enshrine that recipe. From her hospital bed, in a video call, she told me about a sweet potato / apple / maple syrup recipe. Now understand she had never made it – this wasn’t a family favorite. She didn’t have the recipe, and told I could find it on Google. (potentially this one) But I was ready to decree that we absolutely needed to have this every Thanksgiving, because – Mom.

But I’m reminded of Jesus’ words, recorded in Matthew and Luke: “Let the dead bury the dead”. She made a big difference, in many lives. But she’s gone. David’s “But now that he is dead, why should I go on fasting? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.” in talking about his infant son applies. And “we grieve, but not as the world grieves”.

My Dad said “life goes on”. Not flippantly or irreverently, but truthfully. Do not forget, but do not live there.

Cherry bonbons

Two black cylindrical things

Two nifty things recently, both black and round in two dimensions.

The Amplifi Alien has been serving wifi throughout the house for a month, and doing a wonderful job of it. Phones, streaming devices, wireless printer – everything just works. This is the way it’s supposed to be. Is it a terrible thing that I can’t do network segmentation on it? Nope, no more sad that I can’t extend my hammer. Purchased to do one thing, and it does that thing well.

The other cool thing is a little bluetooth speaker from Anker. Twenty bucks for twenty hours of audio (at lower volumes), that is surprisingly loud, clear, and bassy. It isn’t green – it’s reflecting in the glory of the “signal-is-good” Alien.

Both recommended, for different purposes, of course.

Jim Knowles died earlier this month. He wasn’t a large man, but he was a big man.

He was big on his family.

He was big on his wife, Nancy.

And he was big on Jesus. A licensed minister, a holder of a Masters degree in Religion, and he had more than twenty years of service as a minister in a couple different churches. I don’t have pictures, but I have memories of him. He’s sitting in his rocker, early in the morning and late at night, Bible on his lap or right next to him.

He wasn’t an ivory-tower saint – he lived in the world, knew how it worked, and understood people. And loved them.

One thing I don’t understand, though, is how to reconcile the fact that the Bible says that there will not be marriage in Heaven, in contrast to the eternal love Jim had for Nancy.

God will work it all out. Jim trusted Him, eternally, and God is still working out His plans through Jim and his legacy.

Every one of us are unique.  We are created in the image of God, but we are not identical.  We all have something that we’re born with, maybe something that has happened to us, that makes us different than anyone else.  My wife Bettie has something that’s different, and only shows up when her hands get cold.

She has a thing called Raynaud’s Syndrome.  How it works is that some of her blood vessels like to go overboard – they clamp off the blood supply to part of her fingers if she gets too cold.

Fortunately, there’s an easy cure for this – just warm up, and everything is fine again.  The blood vessels open up, blood starts flowing, color returns, and everybody’s happy.

If she doesn’t get warmed up, I imagine there could be some significant consequences – we all need the blood to flow to keep on living.

And then I realized this is true for us spiritually.  If we don’t have the blood of Christ, we don’t have life.  1 Peter 1, verse 18 and into 19, says

For you know that you were redeemed from your empty way of life inherited from your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ

And that is what we’re celebrating now, the life-giving body and blood of our sinless Redeemer and Lord, available to all who answer the call.  Let’s pray.

Father God, You know us.  You see us in all of our imperfection, and You love us anyway.  You love us so much that You sent Your perfect, spotless Son to die in our place.  We are called to remember that, and to celebrate it.  We thank You so much for that priceless gift, the blood that washes away our sins.  We thank You for the gift of eternal life, and the calling to follow Jesus Christ down that narrow road.  In His name I pray, amen.

Communion meditation April 11, 2021

At Meijer yesterday, I wasn’t impressed at how well my fellow shoppers followed instructions – they got both sides 100% wrong.

They redeemed themselves by keeping the pattern up once it was started.

Good job. Silver star for you.

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