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Facing the Unknown

I've faced many "unknowns," and I'm sure you have too. When my husband and I moved from rural Pennsylvania to Alexandria, Virginia, we wondered what life in a city would be like. When I was pregnant with our first child, I wondered what childbirth would be like.


Then there was the experience of facing a classroom of high school students for the first time. Caring for a sick child for the first time. And the list goes on.


Scary experiences, all of them. We wondered who we'd meet, how we'd be received and how we'd handle a new environment. But even though we left our family of birth behind, even though we never taught school before, even though we knew the experience held surprises—we were not alone. God walked with us.


Before the end of this year Bill and I will face a monumental change—moving from our home of 34 years to an apartment. It's exciting. But it's scary. Here's how I'm facing this major change:


--I'm confident we'll make new friends. We'll meet new people. Some will become good friends. And we'll enjoy having old friends come to visit. When we lived in Virginia, we toured Washington D. C. with friends who visited. It was great fun.


--I 'm confident God will help us make changes. New homes require new ways of doing things: We'll use an elevator (I was once trapped in one for more than an hour, so this is a bit scary.) New neighbors may not chat the way old neighbors do. But with God's help, we can navigate this new environment.


--I'm confident God will help us deal with any unpleasant changes that pop up. As my husband and I experienced scary physical changes, I wrote an "emergency plan" to avoid panicking. For instance, when my husband's blood pressure drops alarmingly low, I feed him broth and pretzels. I then read a page from an inspirational book that includes scripture and pray a written prayer, asking for God's help and peace. I know those steps are only common sense, but when I'm in a dither, common sense may fly out the window, so I like to have something on paper. God gives grace for every situation.


--I'm confident God will bless our move. I expect to love living in an apartment. I will miss watching the wildlife in my backyard, but our apartment will be on a fourth floor, so I'll be able to look out over our town. Even in challenging situations, it's possible to find blessing. For instance, deaths in a family may restore relationships that had soured. I've seen that happen. I've noticed parents who care for a handicapped child open their hearts to love in a deeper way. God certainly works in mysterious ways.


--I'm confident God works all things—ALL things—together for our good. "If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31) So I'll look to Him each day, asking for grace to proceed.


At my age and stage, unknowns loom large. So I've written this blog to remind myself that no matter what, God holds me, guides me and comforts me all along life's journey. And He does the same for you.


According to an old song by Frank Sinatra, love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage. (If you were alive in the 1950's, you're hearing that song in your head.)

Well, the same thing applies to love and knowledge. The apostle Paul sang this song: "And this is my prayer: that your love may abound in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ" (Philippians 1:9-10 NIV).


Loving God is the same as loving my husband. I've thought of him a lot since the day we met. I give him the bigger piece of peach pie. I tell him what I think, tell him my needs, tell him I love him. I love God by telling him the same things.


Loving God is the same as loving my family. Nothing makes me happier than spending time together. Bill and I sometimes visit a grandchild at college or one getting established in an apartment. The picture shows our family at the wedding of our oldest grandchild, Rachel, now Mrs. Andrew Prinzo.


My love for God grows as I spend time with Him. So I sit before him each morning, usually at 6 a.m., to pray and read my Bible.


I recently heard of a young woman who gave a kidney to a family member waiting for a transplant. Family members sacrifice for each other. If we love God, we sacrifice time and energy to serve Him. I've taught children and adults; I've organized VBS and Sunday school and for ten years served on a church staff.


I can't say I "love" strangers walking down the street because I don't know them. And that's why I need knowledge. I need to know God in order to love Him well.


So how do I "abound in knowledge"? Well, it's the same as knowing how to teach business education, which I once did. I studied accounting and learned how to take shorthand (who remembers that?) and how to use office machines. Then I passed on that knowledge to high school students.


I study to learn about God. I read my Bible, listen to pastors and teachers and read inspirational books. And then I pass on what I learn by writing and speaking and by living out biblical principles.


Maybe we won't develop into scholars or Bible teachers, but God accepts us for who we are. We need not pass a test or join a club to impress God. Bill and I were not hired for the first jobs we applied for as teachers. They said that as a couple we might have differences that students would sense if our paths crossed in the cafeteria and school officials couldn't have that. God, however, never turns down an applicant to grow or serve as a Christian.


If you read on in scripture, Paul tells us why to grow in love and knowledge: "so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:10-11).


We all want fruitful lives. We want to grow and show the fruit of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, etc. (Galatians 5:22-23). And our love for God and our knowledge of Him waters that fruit.


Think about: What inspirational book might you read to grow in love and knowledge? Whom do you admire for their love of God? Whom might you ask to be a spiritual mentor? Or if you're a mature Christian, whom might you mentor to inspire someone else to grow in the love and knowledge of God?


Love and knowledge. Yep. They go together! And in spite of the bumps, they make the ride through life so enjoyable.

Read It and Heed It

Read It and Heed It

For years I taught shorthand students to write as fast as a person talks—60, 90, 120 or even more words per minute. With handwriting, we write only 30-some words per minute. I trained students to "take dictation" from executives.


Schools no longer offer shorthand, so I asked a friend what executives do without that support. She said they write their own letters and give them to assistants to "clean up."


Anyway, to the untrained eye, the shorthand scribbles on a page don't make sense. And sometimes they don't make sense to the writer either. You must be able to read what you write so that you can "transcribe," type onto paper, what you've written. If you can't read your writing, taking shorthand notes is useless.


That reminds me that reading the Bible is also useless unless we do what it says. What good is it to read about prayer, if we fail to pray? What good is it to read about honesty if we fail to report all our income at tax time? What good is it to read about generosity if we fail to graciously give to others what we can? We need to read it and heed it.


"All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16 NIV).


Notice "all scripture" is profitable. That includes both Old and New Testaments. We learn much about the character of God in both parts of scripture. And we also learn the consequences of staying true to God's principles from biblical saints.


Some like Daniel have stood strong. Even when forbidden to pray to anyone other than King Darius, Daniel continued to pray to God—by his window. Because he refused to honor the edict of the king, he was thrown into the lion's den. However, Daniel trusted God, and God rescued Daniel.


Others like Ananias and Sapphari have gone astray. They claimed to give the apostles all the money for the sale of a field when in truth they held back some for themselves. The couple died because of their lie.


At times we may identify with the prophet Jonah who ran from God. Then scripture rebukes us and, like Jonah, helps us get back on track.


I like the way THE MESSAGE puts 2 Timothy 3:16: "The whole Bible was given to us by inspiration from God . . . . It straightens us out and helps us do what is right."


The Old Testament points to a Messiah, and the New Testament identifies that Messiah as Jesus. Jesus' Sermon on the Mount teaches us how to live in harmony with others. Read it and heed it.


Now just as I said shorthand students had to be able to translate their notes, we must be able to understand scripture. So listen to sermons. Attend Bible studies. Talk to a Christian friend. Consult helps such as Bible dictionaries. Sure, it's sometimes challenging, but God offers ways, especially in our age of online resources, for us to find insight on challenging passages.


I once mentioned to a grandson that I had taught shorthand and was surprised when he asked, "Nana, what is shorthand?" As I listen to game shows that include Bible questions, I realize some people could ask "what is scripture?" May it not be us. May we read it and heed it.