A Sabbath Letter #2

Happy Sabbath!!! For some of us it has arrived but recently. For others, they are fully in the midst of its blessing. Then there remain those who have yet to receive it. Whatever time you are in, here’s another Sabbath letter that I found very encouraging.

A Sabbath “Place By Me”

It’s no secret these days that one of the highest priorities in society is some way to find refuge. Financially, people rely heavily on insurance and retirement schemes. Socially, we try to keep a safe distance from potentially infected strangers. Materially, we rely on the shelter of our homes to defend against winter cold. Militarily, we pin our faith on advanced weaponry to defend against threats. And on the street, we hope like everything that the Police are on our side and are going to be there when we need them. Refuge. We need it.

But God offers something a lot more dependable. I’ve been blessed recently with the example of Moses at Mt. Sinai. After the debacle of the Golden Calf, and after the retribution of the Levites, and after Moses’ own incredible intercession (“blot me, I pray thee, out of Thy book”), then he pled with God for something deeper. He wanted a relationship, a sure path to God’s favor. “Show me now Thy ways,” he prayed, “that I may know Thee, to the end that I may find favor in Thy sight.” It was as if he was so disheartened by Israel’s apostasy that he simply fled to the heart of God for solace. Or for spiritual refuge. Certainly he wanted something better than that calf.

And God responded well: “My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.” But Moses wanted still more. As if stirred by a sudden impulse toward intimacy, he pressed yet closer to his God: “Show me, I pray thee, Thy Glory.” He wanted the ultimate: to see God with his own eyes.

Of course, his unseen Friend could not permit that. “Thou canst not see My face; for man shall not see Me and live.” But He did offer the closest reward that humanity could stand: this was the “cleft of the rock” where He told Moses he would be covered with His hand—a most wonderful privilege which has become the theme of countless sermons and hymns down the ages.

But I’ve been deeply blessed by the way God introduced this idea. “There is a Place By Me,” He said, and actually held out the promise that Moses could enter that Place. The story goes on to describe the Place as the cleft of the rock—probably right there on the Mountain of God.

For me, however, this awesome description of a solitary man, filled with a deep yearning, possessed of the stunning possibility of physical and spiritual intimacy with his God, the Creator of All Things, the Shepherd of Israel, the Victor over Pharaoh and all his host—that picture speaks of the Way opened through the Gospel: “I Am the Way,” said the very same Person who spoke to Moses that day.

And further, I delight to think of the Sabbath as a weekly reiteration of His gracious call: “There is a Place by Me” for us, today, even this evening as the sun sets. There is Refuge in this “cleft rock”—a refuge from the cares and fears and burdens of the week. There is a Place, here, now, provided by the same One who covered Moses with His omnipotent Hand. We are covered with the same Hand; we are not at the mercy of circumstances; we are not grist for the devil’s mill; we are not “cannon fodder” for the enemy’s murderous sport.  And we are not at the mercy of Covid, or war, or politics, or anything else that threatens to shake us and distress us and drive us silly.

“There remains a Sabbath of rest for the people of God.”  Let’s slip into that cleft Rock today and rest in its unshaken Refuge.  May God bless His people tonight with this reality.

Christ’s blessing on you all.

All Aboard the Covid Train!

♪People all over the world (everybody)
Join hands (join)
Start a covid train, covid train
People all over the world (all the world, now)
Join hands (covid ride)
Start a covid train (covid ride), covid train♪
A slightly re-worked “Love Train” by the O’jays.

Yeah, this past week was probably one of the worst that Mrs B and I have experienced in several years. I had taken monday off to make the new years weekend a very long one but woke up that morning feeling achy and feverish. It got worse as the day went on and by 6pm I knew this was serious. I took one of the antigen covid tests and sure enough, I was positive. I let my boss know and my 10day home quarantine went into affect.

Mrs B called her work place and they said that since she’d been vaccinated and boostered and wasn’t showing any signs, to come into work. Idiots I tell you. Well, Tuesday she was feverish and the antigen test showed she was positive too. But of course, the *&&^%$# idiots who are her bosses said that wasn’t good enough and that she’d have to get a pcr and they only accepted results from 3 places. 2 of those places had already run out and so she was forced to go the furthest place to get the test and results wouldn’t be in before Friday.

We ended up having different strains of the virus and so our symptoms were completely different. I had fever, muscle and joint aches. To the point that Tuesday night and most of Wednesday I couldn’t even walk because my knees hurt too bad and my legs wouldn’t support me. Mrs B had fever and nausea which led to severe dehydration. Which is where things got really scary on Thursday.

She went catatonic several times and vomited while not responsive. I was still sick as all get out and panicking like you wouldn’t believe. We ended up calling 911 and they sent an ambulance to take her to the Emergency Room. Because I had covid, I couldn’t go with her even if I had been been physically able. So I had to wait at home, trapped, while who knows what was going on with my wife. If it wasn’t for our pastor praying with me over the phone, I probably would have cracked up completely with the stress.

Pastor sent out a prayer chain and immediately others from church began contacting us and offering their help. It made me cry. Because everything was due to the dehydration, once Mrs B got hydrated at the hospital and they ran several tests (ekg, etc) to rule out any other problem, she was released. Once again our church family stepped up like super heroes. One lady gave up going to a funeral because she and her husband had had covid at the same time and knew what we were going through. She drove Mrs B home, got her the prescriptions, bought the electrolyte drinks and food she needed and delivered it all with a smile and cheerful attitude. Then, she checked up on us the next day “just to make sure”. I haven’t done so much crying in 24hrs in over a decade, at least.

I’ve been getting better and am now semi-mobile. Mrs B is chugging a liter of pedialyte a day, plus water and eating broths and other liquidy and easy to digest foods. We’re on the mend but the drs told Mrs B her strain might take longer to recover from. So I’m guessing we’ve got at least another week of solid recovery.

Hoping to get back to blogging (thank goodness for scheduled posts!) and commenting and reading your posts regularly, but until Mrs B starts eating solids again, my attention will be pretty focused on her. Just wanted to give you all an update of what’s been going on this past week.

Hope yours was better! Blessed Sabbath to one and all.

A Sabbath Letter

The following is an email that I received last night. I don’t know that it will be of any interest to any of you. Mrs B and I both grew up keeping the Sabbath and it has been a balm and source of comfort and delight to us over the years. This email is just a reminder that others find it a delight and joy too.

If you are hurting right now, if you are tired (of your job, your life, of everything), if you are worn out, if you are confused and don’t know where to turn or what to do or if you are seeking something greater than what you have, then turn to Jesus Christ, the fulfillment and embodiment of the Sabbath. He is knocking at the door of your heart today.

Sitting here with my grandson on my lap, the words of a song came floating into my soul, a song often sung on Sabbath evenings. It’s No. 210 in Warrior Songs, written by Rose Tiedeman: “The Sabbath Steals Upon Us.” The words I especially liked were in verse two: “Dear holy day, when God, our Heavenly Father gathers so close His children to His heart….”

Isn’t it wonderful that God describes Himself as a Father?  In the godly norm, fathers are the strength and defense of the Christian home, and it often falls to their lot to gather the family together for prayer or devotion or simply to organize a little clean-up detail out in the yard. At best, the father establishes a special relationship with each of the children, such that each one has his or her own kind of love that’s unique, and each feels at home with him.

And so with our heavenly Father: now and then we feel a special need for security, and He has provided that for each of us in our own individual need. No two of us knows our Father the same way; and conversely, He knows each of us uniquely. That’s a wonderful truth to return to as often as we need it.

“The Name of Jehovah is a strong tower; the righteous runneth into it and is safe,” says the Proverb (18:10). That’s one picture, and thank God for it! But I love the idea of running to my Father’s lap and finding safety there, too. The Bible doesn’t actually say that, but it does reveal what the opposite would look like. The returned exiles heard it in Jerusalem, straight from their governor, Nehemiah, when he gave them a characteristically vigorous object lesson: “Also I shook out my lap, and said, ‘So God shake out every man from his house, and from his labor, that performeth not this promise; even thus be he shaken out, and emptied.’ And all the assembly said, ‘Amen,’ and praised Jehovah. (Nehemiah 5:13).

To be shaken out of God’s lap would be a disaster, wouldn’t it? No matter what happened with my grandson, I wouldn’t be inclined to shake him off and onto the floor! (Well, hardly ever….) And we need not ever fear this from our Father who is in Heaven. He is a God of love, and He cares for His children beyond anything an earthly father (or grandfather) could demonstrate.

It occurs to me that perhaps we all need this, right now, in the midst of political and cultural upheavals the like of which we’ve never seen before. Sometimes we could almost get frantic, wondering what’s coming next. But as someone shared in our Friday meeting this morning at Fairwood, there are two constants that we need never lose sight of: God is Good. And God is Sovereign. Now let’s add a couple more: God ordained the Sabbath, with all its blessings. And God’s lap is always open for His children! Putting all these together, we have a wonderful prospect: there’s a good God, who sovereignly ordained a Day of Rest and saw to it that the Seventh Day would be restored as that Day, and finally He has provided Himself a place of refuge. In fact, He is that place of refuge.

So this evening, or whenever you read this, how about turning off the news, turning our back on the ‘cares of this life,’ turning off our overactive imaginations, and just climb up into that unshaken and unshakable LAP, reveling in that Refuge. His arms are open to us. Why wait?

I love my Father, don’t you?

Amen, and Amen—

Iron Rest

Last month, when I first discovered silicone iron rests, my first thought was: “If I was an iron, I would want to rest, too!” and decided to regale you with the reasons why it is important for people to rest from labor.

  1. The silicone iron rest saves the ironing board cover from becoming brittle.

Have you ever felt like you are walking on eggshells around someone? That person is how I would describe a brittle person- one more push and they break.

If you are feeling brittle, how do you combat this? I bet you know the answer: Rest! Sometimes we simply need to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. At my workplace, we have a break every 2 hours. We simply function better when we have some time to ourselves to eat, nap, talk, listen, or, if we are religious, pray and meditate on God’s word.

2. Now you can set down your iron without having to worry about burning yourself or your ironing board.

Working, studying, or just plain living will cause stress and various worries to build up. Rest helps us give us time to unburden ourselves and realize that it’s better to stop worrying. One of my favorite sayings, despite the difficulty, is: “Therefore, stop worrying about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

3. No more irons falling over.

Don’t keel over in fatigue!

From October 25th of last year to January 7th of this year, I was working nights. My workplace decided to only have people who normally work during the day as night workers during fourth quarter to avoid having seasonal workers as much as possible. Most of my co-workers wound up doing things like wearing Christmas sweaters with a pocket for an energy drink. One of my co-workers brought a BIG bag of candy to work every day and most of my co-workers were on some sort of sugar high after “lunch” at 2:30am every day.

You know what’s a better solution than caffeine or sugar to staying awake during work? Rest! Have to admit, it’s easier to sleep at night than during the day time, but rest is still important!

Don’t leave your iron running in the house without using an iron rest!

4. It withstands temperatures up to 428°F, so you can iron comfortably and have a safe place to rest your iron while you rearrange your clothes.

Do you feel the heat? Is life sending you into a hot mess? Take some time to cushion yourself from constantly feeling the heat by inserting rest between you and the cares of reality.

“Safe” is the key word here. Rest is not comfortable, unless we are in a place where we can truly relax. One of my co-workers takes all of her breaks inside her car because she doesn’t feel like she can relax in the same building as where she works. Others create their own bubble of safety away by putting headphones on with their favorite music or podcast and reading or watching videos on their phones. Having a safe place either physically removed from a stressful location or mentally removed from a stressful location is important for proper rest.

Do you re-arrange your thoughts like you do clothes? Let’s press the “reset” button on life every once in awhile and take time to find a place to change up what we are thinking about! What joy have you discovered? Maybe rest is a time to stop and change how you view life? An attitude of gratitude shouldn’t be something we just do at Thanksgiving. 😉

5. And because the iron rest isn’t fixed, you can place wherever fits best for you. It’s versatile protection where you want it.

When should I rest? Where should I rest?

Mr. Bookstooge and I take one day out of every week to rest from work. We walk, talk, listen, and read together. It’s our weekly date with God. ❤

In Biblical days, they were to have a “year of Jubilee”. I read that it was supposed to happen about every 49 years using our modern calendar. Slaves were to be freed, debts were to be forgiven, land was to be given back to their original owners, and the land was also given time to rest.

Can you imagine having one year off, not working every 49 years? What about taking one day off every week? What about taking more breaks when working? Whenever you decide to take a rest, it is a gift (and, as the cartoon ‘Family Circus’ once wrote: “That’s why we call it the present!”).

We should rest wherever we feel is a safe and good place. Whether it’s home, church (although a lot of churches are closed right now), the janitor’s closet, or even the restroom, the key point is that you feel safe and can stop and truly rest.

6. I love a super hot iron when quilting and I can leave my iron on this pad for hours and no melting, no staining my iron pad brown and no leaky iron. I am so glad I finally found a solution to my iron problems.

How long should I rest? Rest for as long as you need or as long as you can, depending upon a number of factors. I don’t want you to go to work and say “Mrs. Bookstooge told me I need to rest so I’m calling out for the rest of the day”. Rest is no excuse to shirk responsibility, but there is a point where you might need to change your work schedule to add more rest into your life. 🙂

Again, do you feel like you are being affected by life- stained brown by the manure thrown at you? Maybe you need a bit of rest to get between you and life!

Hasta la vista, Iron!

You might think “I am like the Terminator and I have no need for rest!”, but I would beg to differ. Even the hardest iron needs a rest. 😉

Been That Kind of Week

Thankfully, the fever part isn’t real. But here’s what this week has been like. Monday my co-worker came down with a wicked bad head cold, bad enough that he called out of work on Tuesday. I came down with it Tuesday night. I wasn’t smart enough to call out of work for a day, so while I didn’t have it as bad, it is lingering longer. Made work miserable and I pretty much just came home and sacked out each evening.

Been having some issues with my car starting, had to jump it once the previous week, but it was doing ok. So Wednesday morning, it just won’t start. Mrs B gives me a jump and still nothing. Thankfully, she was able to give me a ride to work. But with being so run down, I can’t deal with it Wednesday night. Thursday we have it towed over to a place and Friday they replaced the battery and starter. It was a LOT more money than I was thinking it was going to be.

Then throw in some drizzly days next to a sunny day in the mid 70’s and well, you’re just asking for sickness.

So that’s about how I’ve felt all week. Then add in the fact that Mrs B is going to be switching to the night shift for the next 2 months (because the Corporate Barstards want less workers in the store during the day so more customers can go in and shop) and you’ve pretty much got a donkey excrement soup of the week as far as I’m concerned.

Next week HAS to be better. Thank God it’s Sabbath right now.

Why I’m Working on the Blog

When I’ve posted about the fact that I am Working on the Blog, I didn’t think of some of the smaller reasons that have recently come to my attention. The following is one of the unexpected benefits of doing this fiddly kind of work.

I keep my reviews in a program on my computer called Calibre. It’s an ebook manager but has the capability of being a database for reviews. Instead of just using a spreadsheet, I use calibre so I can include covers, etc. Anyway, today I woke up rather early and decided to get another month from 2007 out of the way, so I began creating reviews. When I do this, I also double check what is on my blog against what I have in my calibre database just to make sure I’ve got the complete picture. 99% of the time they agree. It’s that bleeding 1% you have to worry about 😉

Sure enough, today was a 1%’er of a time. I was putting up the review for Down the Long Hills by Louis L’Amour and was copy/pasting my review and when I checked in calibre, my review there stated “no original review, here’s a blurb”. My guess is that I had a record of reading the book from my time at Devilreads but that the review got lost in the transition to Booklikes and when I tried to search my blog for Down the Long Hills, since it was in a monthly post and not it’s own, it didn’t show up. You wouldn’t believe how many books I’ve read, that are in my monthly posts, that won’t come up in a search. It is one of the reason I’m doing this. This time I was able to update my calibre library with an actual snippet. That is always a good thing.

All of this to pretty much say that today’s been a good day so far and it’s only 5am. It’s either going to turn out to be a great day or a really baaaaad day 😀

Happy Sabbath all.