Thursday, December 22, 2016

Wisdom from the Psalms

I've been reading the Psalms a lot lately. There is so much wisdom found in each one. Here is Psalm 1 (NIV):

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.
 Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
    nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.

  This is my paraphrased version of Psalm 1, written directly to me.

Katherine, a woman finds blessings in turning aside from the things that delight the wicked, and instead finds delight in the law of the Lord, reading and thinking about that law all day long, and even into the night. She blossoms like the tree near a stream - one that gets plenty of water. You see fruit on this tree. Such a woman remains young-looking. Everything she touches turns to gold - it prospers. Her plans come to fruition as she goes about her work.

She is different from the wicked people around her. They seem so insubstantial. Their lives don't stand up well to the tests of life. The judgement overwhelms them. They stick out like sinners in a congregation of saints, for God knows just who is a saint, and who is a sinner and the way of the sinner does not prosper.

(God calls His children saints. He sees them washed as white as snow through the redeeming sacrifice of His Son, Jesus, not through any merit of their own.)

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Thank God For Air

This morning I woke to 5 or 6 inches of fluffy new snow. Outside my window lay a Christmas scene lacking only the horse and the sleigh rumbling past on the way to grandmother's house.  The fluffy snow brought to mind a similar snowfall in the first year of our marriage. Paul was serving two churches in Wisconsin, a neighboring state, one in town and one in the country. The country church had a wonderful hill for sledding, and that Sunday we were on our way  to the youth group sledding party

I grew up in Nebraska, a state 400 miles south of there. We had plenty of snow in the winter, but Nebraska is a flat state, so we had few hills. As kids, we did often play "King of the Hill" at recess, but that meant claiming the top of the mound of snow that the plows had amassed at the far corner of the parking lot. Those were the winter "hills" of my youth.

That Sunday, long ago, newly-wed, not yet parents, not much older than the youth group we were leading, eager for a new adventure, we arrived at the church. Several of the kids had brought toboggans, long sleds, wooden in those years, with a curved front that helped the riders glide through the snow. A toboggan often held multiple riders, 3-4 generally on the ones they brought. I had never ridden on one before. No one that I knew in flat Nebraska ever owned such a thing.

Hearing that, Paul and the kids insisted on giving me the honor of riding in the front, since that was the most exhilarating place to experience the full effect of the race down the hill. The snow on the hill glistened, pristine for the first run of the day. I can still remember my excitement as three burly youths ran behind the sled starting us on our way. Paul was behind me, a comfortable and warm bulwark against the cold and the bumps.

There are unwritten rules for getting the most out of careening down a hill on fluffy snow on a toboggan. Number one of which is, "Never open your mouth, no matter how much you want to scream with delight at the rush." Halfway down the hill my mouth and nose were completely packed with snow. If you have ever had the breath knocked out of you, you can get the idea of what it feels like to have the breath locked into you. Totally panicked, unable to give any indication to my merry co-sliders, I held on tightly to Paul's arms wondering if I would pass out and fall helplessly into the snow. Mercifully, the hill leveled and the ride was finally over. Paul, realizing my dilemma, helped dig a little of the now melting snow out of my mouth, and I could breathe again.

Rather than sympathy, my ordeal was met with merriment. Alas, it seems it was a rite of passage. Most everyone had a story to tell of their first ride, usually in the place of "honor", at the front of the toboggan, and, no, they had not forgotten to tell me the rules.

"The Spirit of God has made me, And the breath of the Almighty gives me life." Job 33:4

Today I thank God for air.


Thursday, December 15, 2016

Christmas 2016


 "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." 2 Timothy 4:7

 For those who have not heard, we are experiencing our first holiday season without Paul. His health had been slowly failing these past few years, and in May we began having hospice services here at home. For the next few months he was able to walk short distances with his walker, but in September his mobility became very limited and I could no longer care for him at home. He entered a hospice facility in early September. Seventeen days later, on September 28, 2016, he entered his eternal home.

"I have fought the good fight"....he suffered patiently and without complaint. "I have finished the race".... words of comfort for his family. "I have kept the faith".... we do not grieve like those who have no hope.

He died 6 weeks before our 51st wedding anniversary. He was determined to make number 50, and he did. When he first became ill we had no grandchildren, and he prayed that he could live long enough to see a grandchild or two. God answered that prayer mightily. He lived to see 25 grandchildren (the youngest, Paul, was born on our 50th wedding anniversary) and one great granddaughter.

He was a well-loved pastor, friend, brother, father and husband.

We miss him terribly.


Friday, May 27, 2016

To Everything There is A Season

 I always liked the folk song, To Everything There Is a Season. It was often abbreviated to "Turn! Turn! Turn!" Written by Pete Seeger in the late 1950s, the verses seemed wistful and mysterious when I was young.  A season for everything. I wanted to experience them all, I thought. Life promised to be one big adventure after another.

I'm not young any longer, and life has been an adventure. The lyrics for that song were taken from King Solomon's list of "Times" in Ecclesiastes 3:1-9. What I once eagerly anticipated is now quite likely already residing in my memory bank.

There were times to plant and harvest, times to kill and heal, times to destroy and rebuild; to cry; to laugh; to grieve; to dance; to scatter stones, and to gather them up; to hug; not to hug, find, lose, keep, throw away, tear, and repair. Times to be quiet and times to speak up; to love; to hate; times for war and for peace. And still the cycle returns. A time to plant, and a time to reap; to find;  to lose.

Last week we put my husband, Paul, on hospice. His strength is slowly melting away. He no longer walks, but is still able to sit in his recliner and watch the Twins win an occasional baseball game. He doesn't see much of the game anymore. His eyesight is nearly gone. In fact he has little tying him to this world and often wonders aloud why he is still here. He looks forward to being welcomed into His Savior's arms. But that is part of God's rhythm. The seasons of life belong to Him.

Last Sunday, baby Paul, (grandchild number 25 born on our 50th wedding anniversary) was baptized. Newly born Paul Klemp has his whole life ahead of him.

 Now in declining health, the elderly Paul Klemp, with much of his life already lived, awaits his turn to die.

 A time to dance; a time to grieve.