The Best Part About the Eclipse

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The Eclipse Does Not Make Your Eyeballs Fall Out

“You can’t watch the solar eclipse,” the seven-year-old told me. “It can make you blind.”

“It can be safe if you do it right, and dangerous if you don’t do it right,” I replied. “You can become blind if you don’t do it right.”

“I  know,” he said. “Your eyeballs will fall out.”

“No, your eyeballs won’t fall out. You will still have your eyes, but they just won’t be able to see,” I told him.

“Ohhhhhhh, I thought your eyeballs really fall out!.”

Well. His mom knows he is one of those kids who will move the glasses so he can see better, and she doesn’t want that to happen. She told him (truthfully) that not following the rules can make you blind.

I’m pretty sure he was more afraid of his eyeballs falling out than losing his sight. What seven-year-old has a concept of what it means to lose one’s sight, especially if he doesn’t know any blind person?

I was alive for the last solar eclipse, but I’m not sure that I had a chance to see it. Maybe it didn’t come across my path, or maybe I had worked night shift and was sleeping the day away.

Who knows? It wasn’t such a big deal. One reason is that we didn’t have the social media we have now.

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What a Solar Eclipse Is

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon moves between the sun and Earth, blocking the sunlight and casting a shadow onto Earth. According to NASA, there are four main types of solar eclipses: partial, annular, total and hybrid. This one is set to be a total eclipse, although our home is located in the 90-100% area.

As the world turns, this will likely be my last total solar eclipse. I figure I might as well watch it happen, if for no other reason than to be able to say that I witnessed the 2017 solar eclipse. Another reason is that Dave picked up enough sunglasses for the gang quite a few weeks ago – before I hardly knew there was going to be an eclipse. Yes, these glasses fit the requirements for safe watching. I’ve checked and double-checked.

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What Will Happen

What is a solar eclipse? It’s a little bit of day turning into night for a few moments. The moon will move between the sun and the earth. This move will block the light from the sun and cast a shadow onto the earth.

From what I’ve read, once the moon is in front of the sun, our normal day will appear as darkness. Dave told me that he’s read that we will be able to “see crescents on the ground through the leaves on the trees”, and the normal hot temperatures of August will cool.

“It will be quite the event,” my cousin Dwight Yoder who works for NASA tells me. “However, the full eclipse will only last ~ 3 minutes and an hour or two from start to finish.”

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Our Creator, Not Politicians, Orchestrates Every Eclipse

You know what excites me most about this? Politicians could never have agreed on where or when to have this occur. Countries would have fought for where the path would be. Kings and Presidents would have placed themselves strategically so they would have front-row seats.

A Holy Creator still holds the keys to the universe. There isn’t anything kings, presidents, countries, or politicians can do about this. No amount of bickering, complaining, maligning, or money can finagle where and how this will occur. Isn’t that awesome?!

Use the Eclipse to Help Your Kids Build Their Faith

Here’s an opportunity! Use the eclipse to instill faith, and not fear, in your kids. Teach them what to do and what not to do. Most especially, use this event to breathe your enthusiasm of our awesome God into their lives. Make this event monumental in their journey of faith.

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How Beauty Comes from Pain

The fragrance from crumpled petals.

It wasn’t my church, and it wasn’t my people, but a friend told me what happened that Sunday after church. Half a century later, I still remember. I remember the beauty that came from the fragrance of crumpled petals. Beauty from pain!

The older lady stopped to speak to a group of girls standing outside church one Sunday morning. A woman of graciousness and character, she moved with assuredness and certainness. Grace knew who she was and to Whom she belonged.

Some things had happened in their church and folks were still reeling from the aftershock of pain. Relationships were strained and restoration seemed bleak.

Did Grace perhaps sense the discouragement of these teenage girls as she stopped to speak to them? Over a few minutes’ span, she chatted with them about day-to-day things. Nobody mentioned the pain or what had happened. Yet the elephant was there in the room. The one thing that brought pain; the pain that nobody knew what to do with, the pain about which nobody knew how to pray anymore. Could beauty possibly come from such pain?

Better, Not Bitter

Finally, Grace spoke to the experience they all were avoiding. “I want you girls to know I am praying that God can use the things that have happened to make you better and not bitter.” That was all.  She turned and walked away.

The girls knew the hurt Grace had experienced over the years: torn family relationships, children who walked away from God, and the pain of strained relationships. One would think, from watching Grace, that life had been easy for her. She was always sweet, kind, and gentle. Her face belied the nights she had stayed awake to pray for her wayward child, the days she had cried for answers when no answers came, and the years her prayers had gone unanswered. Yet, she stayed the course and she kept praying.

Instead of becoming bitter, she allowed her pain to make her a better person. Grace allowed pain to make her kind and compassionate. She cared about others. The pain she experienced made her better. God used that pain – because she allowed Him – to make her more gentle, more caring, and more easily able to notice the pain of others. She allowed the crushing of the petals to exude fragrance and rest.

When Grace told these girls her desire for better instead of bitter, they knew what she meant. They had watched her walk through valleys of sorrow; they had watched the pain of brokenness change her hair from black to gray in a few short months. They had seen the wrinkles increase on her face, but they had also seen the beauty shining through that pain. Was it because she spent time with Jesus? Having seen and felt her spirit, these girls wanted to become like her.

Crushing Brings Beauty and Fragrance

It is the crushing of the rose petals that brings out the fragrance.  The sweetness of her spirit remained after she walked away.

Grace isn’t here anymore. When she went to Heaven to be with Jesus, some of her prayers had been answered. Some of them were still there, at the Throne of God, like incense before her Lord. When I think I Grace, I remember the fragrance of her spirit.

She didn’t allow the pain in her life to push her away from God. Instead, she allowed that pain to push her toward Him.

I want to become like Grace because she embodied character traits of Jesus. I want the pain in my life to push me toward God instead of away. I want to allow Him to use the pain to make me better and not bitter.

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The Potter’s Wheel and Broken Pieces

I want to allow Him to put me back on the potter’s wheel and remake me, patching up the broken, rough edges. Over and over, God uses our brokenness to shape us into His character so we can become like Him. When we’re broken into pieces, He doesn’t throw those pieces away. When our dreams are gone or are so shattered there is no mending or repairing, He takes those broken pieces and gives renewed hope and vision. He gives us new dreams.

If we ask Him and allow Him, He scoops us up and puts us back on the Potter’s wheel. In the turning and molding, He shapes us into what He wants us to become.

No pain is too great that He cannot use it.

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Life is an opportunity to let Him shape us into becoming like Jesus. This is not easy and sometimes it is downright hard. When we’re emptied and broken, when we’re wounded and crushed, He never quits. He continues to mold us and make us worthy because He does not throw the clay away. Grace modeled this for those girls.

Let Brokenness Become a Fragrance

If you’re struggling with brokenness today, listen to this song. Ask God to make of you a vessel of honor. Ask Him to produce fragrance from the crushing so that you, too, can become molded into His image. Your sweetness will be a fragrance to those around you.

The SONG “Emptied and Broken”

The Words by Gene Reasoner

Emptied and broken, I came back to Him

A vessel unworthy and so scarred with sin.

But He did not despair, He started over again

And I bless the day He didn’t throw the clay away.

Chorus:

Over and over, He molds me and makes me

Into His likeness, He fashions the clay.

A vessel of honor I am today,

All because Jesus didn’t throw the clay away.

 

He is the Potter and I am the clay

Molded in His  image, He wants me to stay.

But when I stumble and I fall, and my vessel breaks,

He just picks up the pieces, He doesn’t throw the clay away.

The Song

To listen to this song, click on this link.

Pinterest How BEAUTY comes from pain

 

 

 

 

A Wedding Bible Tradition

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Apologizing Second Instead of First

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Apologizing is easier if the other party goes first.

When I walked into the kitchen that morning, it was apparent that I’d need a knife to cut through the air. Two boys seated at two different tables. Each boy had his own bowl, spoon, and cereal on the table and a gallon of milk. Two gallons, one almost empty, were sitting there in the summer heat. Obviously, these two boys were not going to eat at the same table and they were most certainly not going to share the milk jug or its contents. They weren’t talking and their looks told me they expected me to slice through the problem quickly. Both boys obviously thought I should choose his side. Neither boy had any intention of apologizing.

Scattered across the kitchen counters was the dishwasher ingredients – newly washed, but not put away. The drawer of the cupboard housing the set mouse traps stood ajar – another obvious sign that there had been a disagreement about who got to check the mouse trap first.

I checked my smile and feigned sleepiness.

“Well, it looks like we’ve got a lot to get done before we get to eat breakfast this morning. Let’s just put the milk back in the fridge and move everything on the dining room table to the kitchen, since we never eat breakfast in the dining room.”

Grudgingly, they complied, still not talking to each other. Their glares kept passing through me from one boy to the other. Apologizing was still not on their agenda.

While they restored the dishwasher contents to the proper kitchen cabinet, I discovered the problem. Both boys wanted to check the mouse trap drawer. [Here is where I confess that country living guarantees mice from time to time in one’s kitchen]. Both boys wanted to empty the dishwasher. Neither boy wanted to put the items away. Both boys knew there would be no breakfast until this morning job was done. Neither boy was going to give in, so they hoped I’d acquiesce this one time and allow them to go ahead and eat without completing the job.

“You know we don’t do that in this house,” I told them. “You know we eat after the dishwasher is emptied. Plus, food goes down a whole lot better if everybody is happy when they eat.” [Here is where I confess that I knew holding off breakfast would guarantee an interest in getting things between the two of them fixed sooner rather than later.]

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Not Giving In

The problem was that this time, neither boy was going to give in. Neither boy thought he was in the wrong, so neither boy saw any need of apologizing. They called a stalemate and each had claimed a spot for breakfast: one in the kitchen and one in the dining room.

That was when I walked in. It was all I could do not to smile at the looks on their faces and the obvious staking of turf between the two of them. It was a little early in the morning for me to talk out reconciliation, but after my coffee, I was ready to think clearly. [Here is where I confess that my chatter while making my coffee helped slice through some of the thick, cold air, so I took my good ole’ time fixing my coffee and chattered away because I felt the ice begin to thaw and saw the benefits right before my eyes.]

I suppose that by needing to work together to clean up the mess their discord had made, they were a little more amicable than before. I also suppose that hunger called forth willingness to find a way to settle their discord.

Finally, the older (by one year) brother spoke, “Okay, George, I’ll say I’m sorry to you if you will say you’re sorry to me first.”

“Oh, no, no, no, no, no,” I replied. “That is not the way to say you’re sorry. If you’re going to make him do something before you say you’re sorry, then you’re not sorry. If he has to do something first before you apologize, then you’re really not sorry. You just want to eat.”

In time, they worked it out. [Here’s where I admit that kids are usually quicker to forgive and go on than adults are.] We sat down together and only needed one gallon of milk between the two of them. Everybody ended up being happy – and sorry. Everybody apologized. I can’t even remember who spoke first, but they worked it out.

That evening I told Dave about the incident. We laughed with each other about these foster boys we’d come to love in just a few short weeks.

“That never works in marriage or a job,” Dave mused. “They need to learn how to deal with conflict the right way now.”

Truth.

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Apologizing First

Whether it’s marriage, family, or work-related conflicts, calling a stalemate until the other party apologizes is not really working things out. When an apology isn’t sincere, the other party will know even though he might not show it.

Do you ever feel that you always have to be the first one to apologize?  Me, too.

Does that matter?

That slogan, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry” is so untrue. Love really means you’re more than willing to say you’re sorry.

It takes a bigger and stronger person to apologize first. Doesn’t it?

Be the bigger person. Be the stronger person. Be the leader. It will put you ahead, every time.

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