Where Newton Got it Wrong

Most people know how Sir Isaac Newton sat under an apple tree and an apple fell and hit him on the head. Anyone else would have yelled, “Ouch!” But Newton discovered the law of gravity.

Newton was a brilliant scientist and theologian and he can’t be blamed for not discovering the second principle of gravity—because he was only 22 in 1665 when the apple hit him on the head. Gravity’s pull on a person grows stronger as the person grows older and weaker. Even now—I am typing with a broken arm. Gravity. The older a person is the easier they fall because the pull of gravity increases with age. Thus the body parts “gone south” truism.

First it was the left knee. Doctors called it arthritis, but I know it was gravity. The cartilage got tired of supporting the top half and the bottom half of the knee and said, “Vacation time! I’m out of here.” It left and forgot to come back. Bone-to-bone, the two halves of the left leg couldn’t get along. Their lack of cooperation made it impossible to walk pain free and nearly impossible to walk at all. Thus a human adjustment to neutralize the power of gravity so the top and bottom half of the leg would stop bickering. A knee replacement.

And if this isn’t enough proof of gravity’s increasing power on aging bodies, the right hip joined the fray. Again, the orthopedic surgeon called it arthritis, but it’s not his fault that he never heard about the second part of Newton’s law. Newton was brilliant. He advanced to other spectacular achievements like building a reflecting telescope and discovering the theory of color. Plus, he was a professor of mathematics—and that would keep anyone busy.

Then it was the arm. My final proof that the fall of the knee and the fall of the hip were gravity-related. I’m sitting here typing with a cast on my left arm and arthritis is not involved. The culprit was gravity. I fell. As people age, they fall more easily. God is good all the time and all the time God is good. I did not land on my newly installed left knee or my newly twice-installed right hip. I landed on my good right knee—and my arm. While I am ever so thankful to God for His protection, I am still pondering His creation and installation of that natural law of gravity—especially the second part. Suddenly those moon shots look pretty good. And I am wishing that Sir Isaac Newton had carried his theory to completion so we could have learned it in school and expected it in latter life: as the body ages and grows weaker, the pull of gravity magnifies and grows stronger.

God rules. Psalm 59:13

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Proper Support

Nearly two weeks ago I fell in the kitchen and fractured my wrist.

First the x-ray machine at the hospital was broken. I got sent home with a splint and told to take some pain relief and come back the next day when the machine was fixed. As a result of the x-ray, I was instructed to keep the splint on day and night and wait for a referral to the fracture clinic.

The splint helped and within a few days I no longer needed pain relief. I went back to my normal activities, ignoring the frequent aching and bursts of sharp pain when I twisted the wrist wrong or put too much weight on it.

Finally, I got the appointment to the fracture clinic. They put a hard cast on my wrist. Wow! Suddenly the aching pain was gone. I can use my arm without bursts of pain, because now that my wrist has the proper support it doesn’t twist or turn in awkward positions. I can even get to sleep quickly without moving my arm all around the bed in experimental positions.

Proper support.

Everyone needs a good support system in life. Spouses, family members, friends, pets—all valuable members of our support team. All endeavor to keep us from twisting and turning in painful directions when life shatters us. Sadly, our support team members can fail us due to their temporary natures. All of them are subject to leaving holes in our lives when death claims them.

We have one permanent support team member who will never fail us. God is everlasting.  “God will comfort all who mourn. He will give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.” Isaiah 61:3.

Proper support.

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Talking Flowers

Flowers talk. Out loud.

Anyone who doubts that flowers talk out loud has never listened.

Close to our house is a garden that used to sing in the summer. The woman who lived there inhabited the garden caring for the flowers—planting, weeding, watering. She talked to them. She sang to them. She loved them. Most of all—she loved them.

She left.

The person who lives in the singing garden now does not care for the flowers. He does not talk to them. He does not sing to them. He does not love them. He doesn’t even notice them.

The garden has fallen silent. The flowers have lost their songs. They have lost their voices. Love gave them the joy that empowered them to sing.

Love someone—or something—today. Give them the joy that will empower them to sing.

“For love is as strong as death…Many waters cannot quench love, nor can the floods drown it.” Song of Solomon 8:6-7.

Love is the universal language that makes even the mute sing.

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Get Me Out of Here

Making the 90-mile one-way drive between my home in Lovelock, Nevada, and my work place in Reno with a young hyperactive son—I often wished I could be plucked off the heavily travelled interstate and deposited safely at my job. And often during the hard times and hard places in life I’ve had that same thought. I’ve wanted to shout at God, “Get me out of here!”

Who wouldn’t like to be gifted with a large amount of money during a financial crisis rather than taking a second job and working through it? Who wouldn’t like a cancer diagnosis reversed rather than going through brutal medical treatment? Who wouldn’t like to glide effortlessly through the hard places in life rather than fighting and slogging through them? How many times do we beg God to remove obstacles rather than making us overcome them?

When my hip replacement became infected, I spent two-and-a-half months in the hospital. I wanted to shout at God, “Get me out of here!” I wanted God to take me back to the initial surgery and do it all over again with a different result. I wanted easy and painless instead of hard and painful.

One of my favorite Bible verses is: “In everything give thanks.” Another of my favorite verses is: “All things work together for good to those who love the Lord.” I quoted those to myself daily while I was in the hospital—but I still wanted out.

Now that I am out, I am thanking the Lord again for making me go through rather than taking me out. I wrote two books while I was in the hospital. “Utopia House Murder” has already been released and “Mirrored Murder” will be released within the next week. One of the characters in “Mirrored Murder” was inspired by a woman who was in my ward. That character makes the cozy mystery-romance come alive, just as the person who inspired the character made our ward come alive. Additionally, I made two lasting friends. One of them, at 90, has no family and few friends. She lives close enough to us that I can walk over to visit. The other—who is 80—pops over to Dunoon, Scotland, to visit us both.

I wanted out. I didn’t want to go through. Yet God continues to bless me for the through path my life took.

When Paul pleaded with the Lord three times to remove the thorn in his flesh, the Lord said to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

I know that. I believe that. But I also know that at some time before my life on this earth is over I am going to shout at God again…“Get me out of here!”

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Seagull Wiggles

When seagulls land on a surface they do a wing shuffle and wiggle their feathers as if they are saying, “Good for me. Another fine landing.”

God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble, but He is pleased when we appreciate ourselves and our efforts. He created us. He gave us our talents. When we appreciate ourselves—we are praising the Creator who fashioned us in the womb.

“You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Psalm 139:13 & 14.

So give yourself permission to do a little wing shuffle and seagull wiggle today. You are special and specially made. There is no one else on this incredible, diverse earth who is just like you. And that is a good reason for preening and wiggling with joy.

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Saving Mouse

Mouse came to us approximately two years ago during the pandemic. That is to say that Mouse showed up on our little back deck and sat quietly eating seed with the birds. Mouse was a polite little friend and never attempted to breach house etiquette by coming inside. Mice outside are cute. Mice inside are not.

Enter Cat. Stalking Mouse. Not our cat—we don’t have one. This large black and white cat claimed our back deck for his convenience when we first moved here four years ago—but he comes and goes and we don’t know who he owns. He’s been mostly gone the past two years and we’ve seen him around the neighborhood crossing the street and sitting on the top of rock fences in different locations. Since he doesn’t seem interested in hurting the birds that feed on our deck we’ve made him feel welcome. I even went out and pet him this morning since I hadn’t seen him in a long time.

Then we realized why the large black and white not-our-cat was back. He was stalking Mouse. The dilemma. We like our little mouse with polite manners—and our deck is a place of sanctuary. We don’t want carnage on our back porch. There’s too much of that in the world already. Cat had to go. First we opened the door and stepped out on the porch a few times knowing that Cat likes privacy—but Cat liked stalking Mouse more than privacy. Next we decided to engage nature by employing Dog. Dog ran out the door barking furiously, took one look at cat and fled back inside the house nearly knocking me down. In her defense, Cat is big—and with his back arched and fur standing up—Cat is really big and Dog was really scared.

Mouse remained in danger because Cat crouched back down next to the planter waiting for Mouse to make an appearance. What to do…we wanted Cat to leave, but we didn’t want to hurt Cat either. Our porch is a sanctuary.

Enter Husband who is being stalked by a couple of physical conditions—which no doubt gives him even more empathy for Mouse. He suggested throwing a glass of water in Cat’s direction. I didn’t want to do this after petting Cat—so he did. Cat vanished over the edge of the porch to find a dry (since it isn’t raining today) fence where he can sit and preside over neighborhood affairs. Mouse is on the deck quietly sharing food with the birds.

“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak.”

Sometimes to save a mouse—one must throw water.

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From America to Scotland with Confusion

We are thrilled that some friends of ours are coming to visit us here in Dunoon, Scotland. Some things may confuse them, so I decided to dedicate my blog this week to my confusion as an American first arriving in Scotland.

Light switches are on the outside of bathrooms. This might not seem a biggie—and folks who have lived in the UK all their lives will probably say, “Well, duh,” but trust me—this is a biggie when you are desperate to get to the toilet and it is buried in a bathroom as dark as a cave and you can barely see the toilet even with the door open…and you can’t find the light switch because in your country—it lives inside the bathroom with the light.

Perhaps it’s my age, but bathrooms pay a predominate role in my everyday existence. So a few more things about Scottish bathrooms. Most of the sinks have separate hot and cold water faucets, so the temperature of the water can’t be adjusted like most U.S. sinks which have one lever that adjusts the temperature. Public restrooms in northern Scotland are scarce making long distance traveling a nightmare.

Bathroom stalls go from the floor to ceiling, so there is no way to climb out over the top, or crawl out under the bottom if the door gets jammed. Furthermore, the metal hardware on the doors has often been painted over so thickly that locks stick—so I never lock a bathroom I don’t know.

WC means public bathroom. Usually it also means very old which translates into weird plumbing like water tanks up on the wall with pull chains—and stall doors that once closed may be difficult to open.

Other confusing things. Gaelic writing shares road signs with English writing which crams so much lettering on sign faces that it is virtually impossible to read them. There are missing or faded road signs everywhere—cities, villages, the country—which make navigating difficult. And roundabouts—those dreaded roundabouts. With the impossibility of sifting through the Gaelic quickly enough to read the English and figure out where to turn…I have roundabouted the roundabouts repeatedly—much to the confusion of other drivers who already know where they want to go.

Restaurants serve small portions and don’t give free refills on beverages. And if a person orders lasagna, for example—that’s what they get—lasagna. Just lasagna. No breadsticks or salad—everything except the main course is an added order and an added charge. And what is served with macaroni and cheese? “Chips” which Americans know as fries. Starch on top of starch. My mother wouldn’t believe me if I told her that. She insisted every meal must have meat, starch, and veggie. We seldom had desserts.

Speaking of meals, in Scotland, “tea” means hot tea and it also means the evening meal. So it’s confusing if someone invites you to tea. You don’t know if you’re going to be eating or drinking. Also, all desserts are “puddings,” and yet, there is no actual dessert that is pudding.

Cooking is equally confusing. Forget cups, ounces, teaspoons, and tablespoons as units of measure. Things here are grams, kilograms, and liters. And you don’t set your oven on 350F, a normal cooking temperature for many things in the U.S., because everything is centigrade. I have to look up weights, measures, and temperatures on the computer every time I use my American cookbook.

After ten years in Scotland I finally found dill pickles. They aren’t really dill pickles and they’re called gherkins.

But this is where God has planted me, so this is where I need to bloom. The scenery is stunning. The people are friendly and fabulous. And isn’t that what’s most important anywhere?

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And Then I See…

My emotions get trampled along with the troops and helpless victims in Russia’s war against the Ukraine, and my burdened heart slows my steps. I shake my head in despair and mutter, “Evil. There is no hope in the world.” And then I see a flower.

Rising prices, rising taxes, shrinking finances—I shake my head in despair. And then the little birds in the tree outside my window sing their spring songs of love, joy, and praise and my heart rises higher than food and gas prices, higher than taxes. No one can tax a bird song.

Aches and pains tempt me to stay inside reclining in a chair and let the calories I’ve consumed for the day settle comfortably wherever they want. But I push myself up from the chair to take the dog on a walk and then I see the first spring green on a tree and my heart fills with joy that no physical pain can steal.

Loved ones—sick, weak, or dying to this world. So sad. So helpless. So hopeless. And then I remember the empty tomb and the fact that Jesus lives—and because He lives—hope returns. Because He lives, we will live again after this life in a place where there is no pain, no sorrow, no suffering, no illness, no death, no parting. I smile.

It’s a cold and dreary day. Grey inside. Grey outside. Grey everywhere. And then I see a flower.

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are noble, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—mediate on these things. Philippians 4:8

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Labels

I hate labels. Every person God created is unique, special, and priceless. Not every person has the same talents, gifts, or outward appearance—but each person is born with the fire of God burning in their souls.

Labels separate and divide. “Black Lives Matter.” “White Lives Matter.” All lives matter. All life matters.

Labels are destructive, not instructive. Allowing people to choose their pronouns makes about as much sense as referring to Mount Everest as a “hill” so people in other countries won’t be offended that their mountains are not the tallest in the world. Or deciding that it’s okay to run through a campfire with bare feet because you have designated the burning embers “water.” Labels do not change reality.

This fallen world will never be perfect. We are all travelers passing through. Some spend less time here than others—but no one stays. Nor do humanly-mandated labels. You can slap a label on a can of green beans and call them “Peaches,” but they will still be green beans. I could print posters labeling me as a professional singer—but no one would hire me. I can’t carry a tune—not even in a dump truck.

If a person convicted of violent crimes escapes from prison and the police are forced to use the pronoun “they” to keep from using he, or she—and that same person is loose in your neighborhood and has already killed someone and the police warn you to watch for they and call them immediately if you see they—what the heck are you looking for?

God is a God of order and common sense. Humans can attempt to delete God from their lives by labeling Him out—but it won’t change His creation. Humans can’t move Mount Everest even if they call it a hill. A baby in a mother’s womb is a person, a separate entity from its mother with its own DNA—not tissue or a blob. Abortion doesn’t make a woman unpregnant; it makes her the mother of a dead child even when abortion is labeled “choice.”

Politicians can rant attempting to sway voters with oration; movie companies can throw paint on evil and ugly attempting to transform it into good, and media outlets can choose their own agendas…but Mount Everest won’t fall down—and someday—all humans will fall regardless of the labels they have chosen for their lives.

There are only two labels in this world that make a difference: good and evil. Everything good is from God. Everything bad is from satan. The only eternal labels that exist are accepting God or rejecting God.

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28.

As for being a “hill” or a “Mount Everest” in this life; “You shall love your neighbor as yourself, but if you show partiality, you commit sin.” James 2:9.

Labels belong on food.

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Perfect R Not Us

Some folks believe they are perfect. Perhaps they are, but probably not. Perfection is a stress-inducing condition from which I can cheerfully proclaim I do not suffer.

I can’t imagine the burden of needing to always be right—or to have other people think that you are—or of never making a mistake (or thinking you never do). Some of the most miserable folks I know are perfectionists. Stress is a killer. It starts on the face by killing the smile and turning it upside down.

Some of my mistakes have been notable: spending an extra $100 from my bank account because I read the teller’s receipt wrong and thought the money was there (so did the bank—so the Lord saved me on that one); turning our wedding cake into body shield armor by cooking an artificial sweetener for the frosting instead of powdered sugar; showing up at the wrong place at the wrong time because I always get lost—the list is long. Most recently, it was the first of the two books I wrote while I was stuck in the hospital with an infection in a hip replacement. I decided that the title “Utopia House Murder” had more punch than my first choice, “Murder at Utopia House.” I sent the change to the cover illustrator, but not to my editor. Oops! The book came out on Amazon as “Murder at Utopia House,” but the cover was “Utopia House Murder.” Fortunately, most mistakes can be rectified and the title now matches in both places. Whew!

Utopia House Murder is—like most of the other books I have written—a Christian cozy mystery-romance-suspense, but at the same time—it is unlike any of the other books I have written. Sadly, I can’t differentiate between the two here because that would be impossible without dropping a spoiler. And for a writer—spoilers are unforgiveable mistakes.

We, as humans, make mistakes. “As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the LORD is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him.” Psalm 18:30.

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