Lord, Why Possums?

If you don’t have a blog, you may not realize that coming up with topics to write about can be a real challenge. Sometimes I get on a roll and think of two or three pretty decent topics in a row. And sometimes I just have to make do with whatever comes to mind.

I’m not sure yet which category this post will fall into. That’s because I don’t know yet what I’m going to say about possums.

In truth, I never used to pay much attention to possums. But thanks to the research I did related to my numerous mission trips to Australia, I learned that what we call possums (actually opossums) are the only American marsupial animal. Marsupials are animals that give birth to underdeveloped young that finish developing in their mother’s pouch.

Kangaroos, possums (different from the American variety), koalas, and wombats are among the marsupials found in Australia. They’re a really big deal there.

So much so that I saved this button I picked up in Sydney during the early 1990s, put a magnet on the back, and stuck it on the fridge.

rednoseday

It was part of the yearly “Red Nose Day” promotion to raise awareness in the fight against SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Not only did a number of people wear clip-on red noses, you would see them on the front of cars and buses. Even on buildings!

Interestingly, I noticed in Walgreen’s some months ago that they had red noses for sale promoting awareness of some other type of health problem.

Back to possums, though. American opossums, that is.

Several times during the years we’ve been living here, we’ve heard noises under the house. Noises that could only have come from one or more living creatures. We invested in a trap–the kind that captures its prey without hurting the animal–and caught several raccoons. Nasty things.

But not as nasty as the opossums we caught. No way we’d get overly close to the cage with one of them in it. Thank goodness we could open the door without our fingers being near where those sharp little teeth were. We always drove our catches further out in the country to let them loose.

Flash forward to this past Saturday, when Kathleen and I were walking our miniature dachshund, Happy, in the neighborhood. The street we live on is an extended circle (half a mile around) and our part is just a short block from a four-lane road that is normally quite busy.  We had barely walked past our home when Happy jumped down in the drainage ditch and started barking.

Low and behold, she’d spotted an opossum in the opening to a drainage pipe going beneath the adjacent parking area. We yanked Happy away from the ditch. Regardless of the fact that she was up-to-date on her rabies shots, we didn’t even want to think about what those sharp little teeth could have done to Happy’s pretty snout.

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On the second time around the circle. we saw that the possum had come out of the opening and was moving very slowly along the driveway over the the drainage pipe. I took a picture or two, but then we moved on. We didn’t see it anymore.

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Lord, why did You make opossums? They’re ugly and nasty. And why did You put them in our neighborhood?

What? Oh. Your question is why we human beings chose to build houses in the possums’ natural habitat.

Good question, Lord. Does it count for anything that we aren’t the ones who established this community?

I have no doubt that God has a reason for every species of living creatures, no matter how repulsive some of them are. He probably even has a reason for mosquitoes. Maybe just to keep us human beings humble?

If you have a comment, I’d love to hear it.

NOTE: Various people have complained about not being able to find or leave comments. Go all the way to the bottom of this post, beneath my “Best regards, Roger.” On the very bottom line of that last section just above the previous post you’ll see “Leave a Comment” if yours will be the first or “X Comments,” where  X denotes the number of existing comments.

~*~

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I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

Love Me, Love My Dog

This has been a great Thanksgiving weekend, with my ninety-year-old mother-in-law, Anna, and the older of my two stepdaughters, Maureen, here for a visit.

But the star of the visit–as usual–is our miniature dachshund, Happy. After having had a dog of that breed many years ago, I knew that’s what we would want when we first considered getting a puppy about five years ago. And I knew “Happy” would be an appropriate name, even before we drove an hour into the countryside to meet the breeder and see the puppy we would ultimately decide to buy.

We didn’t get to take her home that day because she wasn’t quite old enough–she was born on Christmas day–but several weeks later we made that trek into the country once again to pick up our new little darling. We had used the waiting period to have our existing fence completed on the final side–expensive, but a wise decision.

Happy loves everyone–almost. We like to walk her in the neighborhood when weather permits, and she’s become better known to the little kids, the adults, and the variety of neighboring dogs and cats than Kathleen and I are. No wonder. She’s the center of attention.

She seems to have trouble understanding why the cats won’t pay her any attention, though. What’s so funny is that–if a cat acts like it’s going to attack her–Happy will yelp painfully and scramble away without ever being touched. Anticipatory pain? Who knows?

Back to Thanksgiving. Maureen grew up with dogs in the house, but Kathleen didn’t, and her mother has never had a dog. So we knew her visiting us and being around Happy would be a new experience. I made a prediction. Two, actually. Anna would fall in love with Happy. Maybe that’s not happened quite to the extent I’d expected, but she’s become tolerant of (and apparently not unhappy about) having Happy jump up and get in her lap.

My other prediction, made largely in fun, was that Anna would become so used to Happy that she’d go home and get a dog. A big dog so she could see it more easily and be in less danger of tripping over it. Kathleen thought this prediction to be highly unlikely to happen, and Anna agrees.

I’m not giving up, though. As of the time I’m writing this, she still has three days left during which to become that fond of dogs.

In the meantime, though, I’m just thankful she loves us enough to love–or at least accept–Happy.

Comments are welcome. Please share.

NOTE: Various people have complained about not being able to find or leave comments. Go all the way to the bottom of this post, beneath my “Best regards, Roger.” On the very bottom line of that last section just above the previous post you’ll see “Leave a Comment” if yours will be the first or “X Comments,” where  X denotes the number of existing comments.

~*~

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I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

“Count Your Many Blessings…”

When I began thinking about writing a Thanksgiving post, a number of approaches came to mind. Most of them passed right on out again. The one that stuck was the familiar hymn that says in part, “Count your many blessings. Name them one by one.”

That made me think about how impossible it is to be truly and completely grateful. Most of us aren’t apt to be thankful for the little things we have so many of. It would take many many hours just to express thanks for the hundreds of people in my life, past and present. Friends at church and in the neighborhood. People I’ve met on Facebook, Twitter, and at writing conferences. And that’s just one category of blessings. How could I even list all of the types of blessings I enjoy?

I left out an important part of that hymn. Lnes that say, “Count your many blessings. See what God has done.”

Yes, I believe firmly that “all good things come from above.” So, if God is the source of all blessings, who should I thank but Him?

I love to praise God. To acknowledge how wonderful He is. But I also love to thank Him–for my friends, my wife, my home, and so much more. So much more, in fact, that I couldn’t begin to count all of my blessings.

That’s the point of the hymn, isn’t it? With the innumerable blessings each of us enjoys on a daily basis, why should any of us have room in our hearts for complaining?

When someone is about to burst in anger or to say something rash, he or she may count to ten. Or twenty. It tends to calm them down slightly. And to put things in better perspective.

The next time you’re tempted to complain about something, why don’t you try counting ten or more of the first blessings that come to mind? It just might help you to develop a more positive attitude. It helps me at times.

How thankful are you? How about leaving a comment?

NOTE: Various people have complained about not being able to find or leave comments. Go all the way to the bottom of this post, beneath my “Best regards, Roger.” On the very bottom line of that last section just above the previous post you’ll see “Leave a Comment” if yours will be the first or “X Comments,” where  X denotes the number of existing comments.

~*~

Links you might be interested in:

I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

My Dynamic Mother-in-Law

I’ve been blessed with two wonderful mothers-in-law over the years. The first is now deceased and enjoying the blessings of heaven. She was a wonderful woman, and my divorce from her daughter didn’t make me stop loving her.

And now there’s Anna, who has been my mother-in-law for the past thirteen years. She’s ninety now and in reasonably good health. She lost her husband, J.A.–he had only first and middle initials–at the beginning of this year after going downhill almost from the beginning of my marriage to Kathleen,

She loved and supported him in ways Kathleen and I wouldn’t have had the patience to do, even if we had lived closer. But JA’s demise enabled her to do much of her grieving during his final days, especially after he entered hospice. So his funeral was a celebration of his life, complete with military honors.

Many widows at Anna’s age would’ve grieved themselves into the grave. Or at least thrown their hands up in the air at having to fend for themselves.

But not Anna.

She didn’t waste time moving on with her own life. Yes, she gets some help from her two sons–one lives close enough to be more help than the other–but she still lives by herself at Bellevue Woods, a retirement community owned and operated by Bellevue Baptist Church. “Retirement,” not “Assisted Living.” She doesn’t need that.

Although she rarely drives, she does drive to the Methodist church she faithfully attends. She also stays busy in community activities.

When one of Kathleen’s brothers gave his mom a laptop for her ninetieth birthday, she willingly started learning the basics. She still gets excited when she sees a response  to an email she has sent.

She accompanied one of her sons on a road trip from Memphis to Texas to visit family members she hadn’t seen in a while. How wonderful that she was willing to do that once–and to accept the fact that riding that long in a car is not something she’ll do again.

Even more important to Kathleen and me, she will be flying to Richmond (arriving tomorrow) to visit us for Thanksgiving this year. Although Anna must change planes in Atlanta–that’s an ordeal even for younger, more mobile people–Kathleen has arranged for wheelchair transport between terminals.

What’s extra-special about this trip is it’s the first time she’s been free to visit us in the thirteen years Kathleen and I have been married. Not for lack of a desire to come, though. But because JA’s needs tied her closely to home.

I haven’t seen Anna in two or three years, but Kathleen is probably more accustomed to the fact that her mother has aged and slowed down. But that doesn’t change who she is or how I feel about her. Kathleen normally talks to her mom by phone once a week–I hope we can teach her to use Skype while she’s here!–and she always, ALWAYS has Kathleen tell me she loves me.

What more could I ask for in a dynamic mother-in-law?

What about you? Do you have a favorite relative or in-law? How about sharing a little about him or her?

NOTE: Various people have complained about not being able to find or leave comments. Go all the way to the bottom of this post, beneath my “Best regards, Roger.” On the very bottom line of that last section just above the previous post you’ll see “Leave a Comment” if yours will be the first or “X Comments,” where  X denotes the number of existing comments.

~*~

Links you might be interested in:

I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

Relating to Royalty

Unlike many of you, I was never a fan of Princess Diana. Not that I disliked her. I had no reason to.

But neither did I have any reason to care about her. Royalty didn’t impress me. I was sorry about her death, but no more so than I would be about anyone else I didn’t know personally.

Sometime prior to Diana’s death, my father took me to a special event at his alma mater, the College of William & Mary. Prince Charles was the featured speaker, and–much to my surprise–I found him interesting. Especially his openness about his problems with Diana.

But my interest in Prince Charles had nothing to do with his royalty. If he had not been one of the world’s most well known people, I wouldn’t have found him nearly as interesting.

Several of my favorite older movies have to do with royalty, though.

The first was King Ralph, in which the whole royal family was accidentally electrocuted and the search for a legitimate heir led to an American (played by John Goodman) who was anything but royal in words and actions. The second was Johnny English, starring the actor best known as Mr. Bean. It involved defending the English throne from being taken over by a nasty, villainous Frenchman.

You might think it strange that those two movies would appeal to me, given my general disinterest in royalty. I enjoyed their humor. No more, no less. What an Englishman would have thought, I couldn’t say.

Blind singer/song writer/pianist extraordinaire Ken Medema released a concert album about thirty years ago. Since I no longer have my copy, I know I’m misquoting something he said during the concert (not as himself, as I recall, but expressing what he imagined had been the feelings of someone else). As best I can recall, he said something about royalty before adding–I’m sure I have this part right–“These are democratic times.”

Even though I’ve probably taken those words out of context, they’ve always stuck with me for a reason that may surprise or even shock you.

The Bible is filled with kings, some good, some bad. Jesus is referred to as a King. The King of Kings, in fact. Because the Jewish people were used to kings and royalty, those who believed He was the Messiah had no trouble thinking of him as The King. It was something they could relate to.

But “these are democratic times”–okay, so the United States is a republic and not a democracy–and I cannot relate as fully to the idea of Heaven being a Kingdom, God being on a throne, and biblical references to Jesus’ royalty. If I’d lived in New Testament times, I would have easily recognized their significance. I wouldn’t even have had to think about it.

Don’t get me wrong. I have complete faith that Jesus is Who He claimed to be. He’s my Lord and Savior, and my constant desire is to live a more Christlike life. I’m very much looking forward to eternity in Heaven, even if it’s a kingdom I can’t fully relate to because of my limited ability to appreciate royalty.

How thankful I am that God doesn’t hold my inability to relate to His royalty against me. In fact, I believe He understands. And sympathizes.

What about you? How do you feel about royalty? Does your comprehension (or lack of it) make the Bible easier or more difficult to relate to? How about leaving a comment?

NOTE: Various people have complained about not being able to find or leave comments. Go all the way to the bottom of this post, beneath my “Best regards, Roger.” On the very bottom line of that last section just above the previous post you’ll see “Leave a Comment” if yours will be the first or “X Comments,” where  X denotes the number of existing comments.

~*~

Links you might be interested in:

I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

“Is she…?”

My wife and I walk together at the mall when weather doesn’t permit us to walk in our neighborhood. We enjoy the opportunity to be together and talk without the fear of her interrupting my writing or my interrupting her counting while she’s knitting or crocheting. Walking at the mall is a wonderful couple thing.

Although we don’t always have something special to talk about, each of us feels confident the other person is ready to listen and to respond appropriately. Dare I say that things we share at the mall are more easily remembered?

One of the things we do during our walks is observe other people. Since I dislike most makeup–I especially detest what I refer to as “the raccoon look,” which tends to keep me and everyone else from seeing whether a woman or girl has pretty eyes–we’re apt to point out what I consider overly made up females.

Same for women who are dressed in ways we deem inappropriate. Either too much–top or bottom–is showing or these people are simply too big overall to dress in their choice of styles. We especially notice older woman who’re wearing a style made for much younger women.

Of course, we would never dream of expressing our opinions to anyone else, and we readily concede to one another (and I concede to you) that these are only our opinions. People are perfectly free to dress and make themselves up as they please. They’re not doing it for us, and God has not made either of us active members of the Fashion Police. In reality, we’re apt to chastise ourselves for being so critical.

But one of our most interesting mall observation activities has to do with pregnant women. Or women who at least look pregnant.

One of us will glance conspicuously towards a particular woman. “What about her? Is she…?”

Then the other person looks at the subject in question, and we start analyzing the clues. If she appears to be within the normal child-bearing age range and of a normal size except for her abdominal protrusion, we’re apt to concur that she is pregnant.

Some woman are just too obviously pregnant not to be.

But therein lies the problem. Some of the most obviously pregnant looking women still probably aren’t. They are simply fat in an unfortunate-looking way.

Like the makeup and clothes we criticize between ourselves, we can’t do anything about those women. So we laugh and tease one another. “You go ask her.”

Have you ever asked a woman–hopefully a real friend–about her pregnancy, only to learn she’s not? Was it disastrous or did she take it well? How about sharing a comment.

NOTE: Various people have complained about not being able to find or leave comments. Go all the way to the bottom of this post, beneath my “Best regards, Roger.” On the very bottom line of that last section just above the previous post you’ll see “Leave a Comment” if yours will be the first or “X Comments,” where  X denotes the number of existing comments.

~*~

Links you might be interested in:

I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

What I Don’t Understand about the Bible

I recently had lunch with a good friend. Although we see one another at church frequently, rarely do we get to sit down together and actually talk. I imagine most of you can relate to that regarding someone.

As we discussed a variety of topics–marriage, work, finances, cars–we just naturally started talking about church and the various opinions people–even other Christians–have about the Bible.

I explained that my well-educated pastor father had been pretty liberal by our church’s standards, even though at one point years ago he had served for a while as its interim pastor. I hasten to add that of the number of people there who still speak to me lovingly of “Pastor Ben,” no one has ever complained to me about his theology. My parents believed strongly in the Baptist concept of “priesthood of the Believer”; every Christian  should be free to interpret the Bible in whatever way God leads.

So, for example, if I choose to go along with my parents’ beliefs that the seven days of Creation were seven periods of time rather than literal twenty-four hour days, I can do that without fear of criticism.

We also discussed things like the impossibility of ever having a completely accurate translation of the Bible, because that would necessitate an indisputably accurate translation of each word within both the current and the overall context. And we agreed that–although God inspired every word in the Bible–that doesn’t mean He dictated it to the person who wrote it down. If that had happened, why wouldn’t the whole Bible be written in one single, unmistakable style? The very fact that it had so many authors over such a long period of time and yet still tells one unified story goes far beyond amazing.

My friend told me about some of the Bible-related things he’s interested in researching, and I think that’s great. He’s a highly intelligent man, and he won’t chase a rabbit that scrambles away in the least from what the Bible clearly says.

But I couldn’t keep from thinking about a Friday night Bible study I used to attend. We went through whatever passage we were studying that night verse by verse, word by word, almost letter by letter. Our leader was very good, but the process was tedious. It was during those Friday nights that I reached a significant conclusion.

I don’t understand everything about the Bible and I never will. (Neither will anyone else.) But I believe it with all my heart. At the same time, I already understand how to live the Christian life God wants me to live. My failures as a Christian aren’t the result of my failure to understand more, but my failure to apply what I already understand to my daily life.

More power to those who feel called to study and to learn.

Me, I’ll just keep praying for God to help me become more loving and more self-sacrificing. And less critical and less sure of myself. If God wants me to understand a particular part of the Bible I’m currently fuzzy about, I believe He’ll lead me to it. And He’ll help me to see how understanding it will help me to live a more Christlike life.

What about you? Are you a Bible reader? Are you a Bible student? Do you think there’s such a thing as too much learning when it comes to the Bible? How about leaving a comment?

NOTE: Various people have complained about not being able to find or leave comments. Go all the way to the bottom of this post, beneath my “Best regards, Roger.” On the very bottom line of that last section just above the previous post you’ll see “Leave a Comment” if yours will be the first or “X Comments,” where  X denotes the number of existing comments.

~*~

Links you might be interested in:

I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger