Blessedness Amidst the Turmoil of Life

I was reading in my devotional, “Streams in the Desert” by L.B. Cowman, and found a poem that I fits those times in our lives when we are struggling to find God’s presence.  I have gone through difficult times in my life and have found God has and is always there to guide and lead me.  His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways, so it’s sometimes perplexing as to why we are experiencing the circumstances we are at the time.  Speaking for myself, I have been through darkened moments when I could not see any rhyme or reason to what was going on, but the God of all comfort was always beside me, drawing me closer to Him.  I have also learned that the next time difficulties appear, they are much easier to deal with based on what I learned about God’s love for me in previous difficulties.  Here is the poem:

Blessed is He whose faith is not offended,

When all around his way,

The power of God is working out deliverance,

For others day by day;

Though in some prison dark his own soul does fall,

Till life itself be spent,

Yet still can trust his Father’s love and purpose,

And rest therein content.

Blessed is he, who through long years of suffering,

Not now from active toil,

Still shares by prayers and praise the work of others,

And thus “divides the spoil.”

Blessed are you, oh child of God, who does suffer,

And cannot understand,

The reason for your pain, yet will gladly leave

Your life in His blest Hand.

Yes, blessed are those whose faith is “not offended”

By trials unexplained,

By mysteries unsolved, past understanding,

Until the goal is gained.

by Freda Hanbury Allen

My First Month of Retirement – Part Two – Activities

Lots of people want to know “What are you doing now that you’re retired?”  I’ve found that this question is not always the easiest to answer.  I’m doing a lot, yet compared to former days in my life, I’m not doing as much.  So I decided, more for self-reflection than anything, to tell a bit about what a 29 year teaching veteran does when he suddenly finds himself outside the classroom.

Part Two – Activities

One of the parts of retirement that I knew needed to be addressed was finding activities to participate in during the time I would ordinarily be at work.  I have to admit there’s a part of me that was feeling guilty when I had “nothing to do.”  I’ve become involved in several areas of service thus far and thought I would share about those here.

The church I am a member of, Mt. Pisgah Lutheran, has a food pantry to help out less-fortunate families.  I was contacted by the director wanting to know if I would willing to help with that outreach program.  I’m going to be assisting with the pick-up of food products from local food banks.  Tomorrow will be my first trip with that duty.  Some of the trips will involved traveling to Winston-Salem, but most will be local.  Despite the fact I’ve had some aches and pains over the past several months, I’m looking forward to helping out in this area.

Another activity I’m becoming involved with is Meals-On-Wheels.  My father is involved in this DSS outreach and that’s where I first got the idea it would be good to pursue.  I had also posted a “God Wants You To Know” on my FB page and a high school classmate said that post had reminded her of an email that she had received saying they were in desperate need of help.  I’ve attended the orientation session and will be making my first delivery on October 6th.  Ironically, I will be traveling in many of the streets of the Kenworth neighborhood that were my haunts growing up.

I’m working on Friday nights at the radio station that I’ve done high school football games with since 1985.  I go in around 9 pm and help get scores from the area and then go on the air from 10 p.m. until around 10:50 p.m.  I really enjoy working in radio and if there were local jobs available, it’s something I would love to get more directly involved with as a new vocation.

One of the things that I’ve considered doing is working at a local funeral home.  It’s something that’s always held my interest and I’m thinking I would be good at helping families during their time of bereavement.  I need to update my resume before I decide to go knocking on doors of the local establishments.  I’m not 100% sure of this decision yet, but I do keep in the back of my mind for a future possibility.

I will have to admit that I do miss teaching a lot more than I thought I would.  I have to wait six months to substitute teach and I’m thinking if nothing substantial has made itself obvious to me by that point, I’ll probably add my name to the sub list.  I’m also going to try to help my daughter with her fifth grade classroom doing some tutoring.

My Obsession with the Number 23

A good number of people have asked why I seem to be so obsessed with the number twenty-three.  I’ll devote a few paragraphs here to give you the condensed version of why the prime number has become a big part of my life.  I don’t expect anyone to claim any significance the way I have, but will ask for a few minutes of your time to give you some background.

For twenty-five of my twenty-nine years in the public school classroom, math was one of the subjects I taught.  To be honest, I never really was that good in math, but my struggle to understand concepts I believe helped me to reach those that were going through similar struggles.  It was the “I’ve been where you are and know how you feel” mentality.  So it suffices to say numbers have always been an important part of my life.

About eight years ago, I was going through a particularly difficult time in my life and to be honest, not a whole lot of anything made any sense.  Separation and eventual divorce, recovery from addiction, and general upheaval has a way of doing that to you.  A fellow teacher, noting that I was really struggling, suggested I take up the hobby of numerology.  While I wasn’t a person that put a whole lot of store in what the numerologists seemed to be implying, it did peak my interest.  Somewhere along the way, I discovered the number twenty-three kept showing up over and over in my life.  That was the seed it took for me to study the number even further.

During my “investigation” I found out that both of my parents were twenty-three years old when I was born.  I was conceived in 1958 and those digits sum to twenty-three as well.  My son is twenty-three years younger than I am and my daughter was born on my sister’s twenty-third birthday.  Needless to say, the beginning of life is important to all and the presence of those numbers at my life’s beginning was too obvious to ignore.  * Note – I can say with some certainty that I was conceived on October 9, 1958, but I don’t want to raise your skepticism too early.

I also took a look at my birthdate in its numerical form:  7/6/1959.  If you sum the first four digits, you get twenty-three.  If you sum the last two digits, you get 14.  Since I am a person of the Christian faith, I began to look at the 23-14 combinations I could find in the Bible.  The first reading that seemed to have significance was Numbers 23:14.  It was there I found the name of the church I attend, Mt. Pisgah.

The next significant passage came from 2 Samuel 23:14, which contains the name “David” and “Bethlehem”.  David is the name I was given at birth and Bethlehem is the name of the town where Mt. Pisgah is located.  The most puzzling verse is Matthew 23:14.  In most translations of the Bible it’s not listed.  The Gospel of Matthew goes from 23:13 to 23:15.

So what did I take from all this you might ask? In a time during my life when not a whole lot was making any sense, I turned to God to find meaning.  I was fortunate enough to be raised in a home where church was an important element.  But it wasn’t until this difficult time in life when any of it began to take hold.  The different scriptures gave me assurance and bolstered my faith to the fact that God knew exactly what was going on in my life.  He had been there at the beginning and I had no reason to question He was still with me now.

So each time I see the number twenty-three, it’s like a “wink from God” that says amidst the chaos of my life, He is ever present…. He always has been and He always will be.  Now do I sometimes carry it a bit too far?  Perhaps so, but it’s something that I’ve held onto during the darkest valleys of life and I’m not about to let go.  I know some may think it’s pure nonsense and insignificant, but then it was God talking to me through a language He knew that I would understand and pay attention to.

And that my friends is the short version.  There are a lot of other situations that the number has kept showing up.  I just have to smile and know that there is One that knows me and will always have my best interest in mind.

David Lee

The First Month of Retirement – Part One – Trips

Lots of people want to know “What are you doing now that you’re retired?”  I’ve found that this question is not always the easiest to answer.  I’m doing a lot, yet compared to former days in my life, I’m not doing as much.  So I decided, more for self-reflection than anything, to tell a bit about what a 29 year teaching veteran does when he suddenly finds himself outside the classroom.

Part One – Trips and Such

During the summer months I felt like I still wasn’t really retired, since I normally got the summers off for vacation anyway.  But I did receive my first retirement check, so I’m thinking that still means I’m retired.  I went to Boone for several days just to get away for awhile.  There’s something about the mountains that gives one a fresh perspective on things.  Following those days in Boone, I went to The Cove at the Billy Graham Training Center in Asheville for a seminar presented by Tony Evans.  I had listened to a lot of his sermons and it was enlightening to hear what he had to say about how God’s grace can work through each of our lives.

On Friday of this week, I’ll be heading out for an east coast tour with Christian Tours.  We’ll be traveling to Baltimore, Washington D.C., New York, Philadelphia, and Boston and will watch a major league baseball game in each city.  I don’t follow sports as much as I used to, but looking at the current MLB standings, it would appear that quite a few important games will be included in the package.  Perhaps the biggest highlight will be going on a city tour of each of the places we’ll be visiting, including the White House, Ground Zero, and Independence Hall.  I’ve only been to D.C. of those stops on the tour, so I’m excited about what I’ll be able to see and experience.

I never have been one to do a lot of traveling and I’ve never been on a chartered bus trip or cruise, so I’m anticipating what the trip will be like.  For the most part I’m content with staying relatively close to home and I’m O.K. with that.  Perhaps this trip will give me a new perspective on traveling.

Part Two (forthcoming soon) – Other activities

It’s all about Faith!

In this journey of life, there are those times during which my faith in God has been strong.  I can see what God has already done for me and know full well I am still under the shelter of His wings.  Yet there come those times when things appear to be at their darkest that my faith seems to be waning and seemingly on the way to collapse.

It’s during these times that I am reminded of some of the Biblical characters that appear to me to be ultimately strong in their faith.  It’s true that they too went through perilous times in their lives when they questioned God’s promises.

David, the mighty giant slayer, who went to face the nine-foot-tall Philistine, would later run in fear from the armies of Saul.  He even requested the sword he had taken and used in his conquest of Goliath because he was in so much fear.

Abraham, who is seen as one of the most faithful of all, doubted God’s promise that he would be the father of many nations.  This was even after he had experienced a deeply close encounter with his Heavenly Father.

In both cases, God continued to use the lives of those He has entrusted.  He continued to work through them even though their faith had become weak.

So in my journey of life, I know there are going to be times when my faith isn’t as strong as I think it should be given my journey’s twists and turns.  It’s even during those times that God can use these events as tests of faith and to build me more into the person He would have me to be in His name.

Habakkuk 2:4 “Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; But the just shall live by his faith.

Notes and Musings for Friday, August 13, 2010

Notes and Musings for Friday, August 13, 2010

1.) The heat and humidity on certain days seems to get the best of me. I’m lethargic and don’t really feel like doing much of anything. To compound the problem, it seems that I have an even harder time getting to sleep after the hottest of days.

2.) Teacher workdays for the 2010-2011 school year begin this upcoming week. For the first time in thirty years, I won’t be going back to work. Thus far retirement has not been much different from any other school year. I’m thinking come that first teacher workday and then again the first student day, all that will change. I do have glimpses of the retired life, but as of right now it really hasn’t sunk in quite yet.

3.) Tomorrow I will be working with the children of inmates at the Alexander County Max. Security prison. I will be doing the story and I’ve picked the “Fourth Man in the Fire” as my text. We do a session in the a.m. and then another in the p.m. I’m looking forward to being a “teacher” again.

4.) I’m going to take my 1960 Buick to the Soldiers’ Reunion Car Show on Sunday afternoon. It will be the first time I’ve put her on display. I’m also planning on taking her to the Brookford Car Show on the 28th. I may be taking the Chevy Pick-Up as well, but at this time am not sure.

5.) Question of the Day: Why is it that I buy so many books, but so very rarely read their entire contents?

David Lee

How Responsible am I for Other Peoples’ Feelings?

So I was talking to someone this morning and she was all upset because something she had said had angered someone else. This person was so upset with what the other person had said that she had resigned from an organization. Now I know you are going to want to know, “What exactly did she say?” But my point in telling this story is to relate how I feel when it comes to handling other people’s emotions.

Now I will be the first to admit I say and do things that I shouldn’t. Sometimes I realize it at the time I’m doing it, then again sometimes it takes me a while to think about what I said or did. There are also those instances in which we have said or done something that was not meant to be offensive, but someone may have taken it that way.

When I realize that I’ve said or done something wrong, I need to make amends to those people as soon as possible. We need to be humble enough to admit we’ve erred and ask for forgiveness. That person may forgive us then and there, perhaps after a period of time, and in some cases not at all. At that point, I’ve done what I have to do and can do nothing more.

What someone chooses to do with my apology is completely up to him/her. Whether that person chooses to forgive or not is completely his/her choice, not mine. I need to detach myself from the fact that the person in question harbors resentment and unforgiveness. That is their choice, not mine.

My friend this morning was “playing the tape” of what she had said over and over in her mind. She never intended for the comment to be taken the wrong way and it wasn’t intended to hurt anyone, but someone took offense. I told my friend that she needed to quit beating up on herself,,, she had done what she should have done and should not belabor the point.

I am not responsible for anyone’s feelings but my own. The fastest way for me too lose my serenity is to try to get someone to feel a certain way about something. They have the right to feel however they like, whether it’s pouting, staying angry, or self pity. I can’t hold myself responsible for what they choose to do with my apology.

David Lee

Honesty… The Best Policy

One of those things that we’re taught growing up is that we always need to tell the truth – always need to be honest with others. As you grow older and life throws its challenges your way, this is a way of living that becomes even more important. What sometimes seems to be common sense can alleviate a lot of the pain that life can hold.

I feel sometimes like I’ve got to be a “people pleaser.” By this I mean that I want you to like me and will most of the times say what I think it is you’d like to hear. But I’ve found it’s of utmost importance to feel in your heart that what you’re saying is what is true and real. We serve no great purpose by staying on the fringes of what we feel is the truth.

Wanting to be liked and accepted is something all humans share. But we can’t base our lives on saying and doing things that others will approve of at the cost of our own integrity. There are tactful ways to tell someone what your truth is in a situation, but many times we can find ourselves sugarcoating or selectively omitting what really needs to be said or done.

Today I will direct my thinking to carefully weigh what I say or do to make sure it represents what I feel is the truth. I will make every effort to say what needs to be said and keep it mind it may not be what someone wants to hear. The bottom line is that that practice is what’s best for everyone involved.

David Lee

“Being impeccable with your word is the correct use of your energy; it means to use your energy in the direction of truth and love for yourself. If you make an agreement with yourself to be impeccable with your word, just with that intention, the truth will manifest itself through you…” – The Four Agreements by Don Ruiz

I Cannot Know… – by David Lee

I cannot always tell what the future holds,
My mind has a limited view.

I know that God keeps me near His heart
In all I say and do.

He has brought me down a twisted road
And has His eyes upon me, though my insights be numbered few.

I pray this day to do His will and walk the path He would have me take;
My God is the great composer and His light will be ever so great.

When Mama was a Little Girl – by James Buckham

The following is the second of poems I found in newspaper clippings found in my great grandparents’ Bible:

When Mama was a Little Girl – by James Buckham

When mama was a little girl,
The children were so good – dear me!
They always did what they were told,
And kept as clean as clean could be.

You never saw them running off
Where they were ordered not to play,
Nor heard them use a naughty word,
As we bad children do to-day.

They went to church and Sunday-school
With willing feet and faces bright,
And helped their parents, oh! so much,
And dropped to sleep like birds at night.

They never quarreled over toys,
Nor scratched, nor pushed, my mama says,
Nor twisted pussy’s squirming tail,
Nor had such fretful, teasing ways.

Oh, dear! I sit and wonder why
Those gone-by children did no wrong.
How human nature must have changed
In not so very, very long!

I really wonder if mama
Remembers all she used to do
When she was young? – for grandmama
Seems just as used to spanking too!