Archive for January 2016

Asking the Impossible?   1 comment

I’ve been trying to be more specific when praying.  In general I tend to be too general, and that makes it harder to see if anything got answered.

I also know that I tend to be too focused on my needs and those of the people I’m around.  I know I need to be looking for the Big Picture and be praying for the issues that affect the nation and the world.  I’m sure I’m not the only one who doesn’t pray hard enough for the huge stuff, but I’m working on that.

I do know that asking for specific things, while doing my best to wait with open hands for whatever comes, has been a refreshing new direction.  Assuming that God is involved and active and living that way is a good change.  I have seen some wonky and weird little things come to pass during this process that I did not expect.

Seeing specific prayers get answered also leads to bigger questions, and I will be working through those in a future post.

For now, the story.

My son attends university and is pursuing an entomology degree.  He’s amazing with bugs and many other little critters like them.  He wants to do research and look for new bugs.  We’d like to see him do this also.

But first, since he is in the sciences, he is required to take a hearty dose of math and science courses, including calculus, statistics and multiple sections of chemistry that come with extensive labs and are worth large amounts of credit hours.  I was an English major and never took a course worth more than three credit hours.  But these chemistry courses are both incredibly difficult and a huge chunk of any semester a student takes.

So hard as they are, what would be even more difficult would be having to retake them.  Five more credit hours.  Difficult and beyond tedious.

Last fall our son was in his second semester of chemistry and midway through made an alarming grade on a midterm.  He conferred with the professor, and found that yes, in order to pass the class, his remaining exams would have to be good, not just average.  This was an understandably daunting goal to achieve in the midst of other course work and outside responsibilities, and with difficulty finding a tutor who was regularly available.

However, as per my policy of praying specifically for things, because of “him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,” I regularly prayed that our son would pass the class.  I prayed that if it were truly not best for him to pass, and if he really did not comprehend enough of the material to move on, that he would be able to retake the course without too much hassle and really benefit from the time spent.  But–all things being equal I spent more of the time on this topic praying that he would pass.

I felt fairly confident that he did understand the majority of the material, and I decided to pray that the format of the remaining tests, particularly the final on which he obviously needed to do well since it’s a large part of the course grade, would be different in a way that was better for him.

It’s really kind of a stupid prayer, because we knew that the odds were not good that he would pass, and he told me there was no point to keep praying.  And why on earth would the professor change the test format?

When I arrived to collect him for Christmas break, however, one of the first things out of his mouth was, “There’s a chance I may pass chemistry.”

A few days later, I heard him make a funny noise in the other room that was not him about to be sick (my initial reaction), but a huge sigh of relief when he did more than pass the class he had been so concerned about.

Further details were that the chemistry department had jointly decided this year, for the first time, to replace tests compiled by each individual instructor with an industry standard test for all students in all sections of the course.  This would presumably make final grades among the different sections of the course more fair for all students.  The test was put together by the American Chemical Society (I think) and if they don’t know what they’re doing as far as a chemistry exam, who does?

Regardless, my son did much better on the final than he had expected to, and this is a part of the reason why he passed the class, when it had looked impossible.

Why does God answer prayers like this?

I don’t know why, but He did.


Posted January 16, 2016 by swanatbagend in prayer

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My Bathroom Scale Isn’t Helping   Leave a comment

In more ways than the one you undoubtedly thought I meant.

Yes, it is not inspiring to mount the scale and find that you have gained a pound after eating a dinner consisting of one small chicken breast stuffed with garlic and spinach, half a baked acorn squash, and a romaine salad.

But our bathroom scale takes it further than the basic insult of finding out you’ve gained weight despite eating healthily.

If you stand on the new digital scale (I saved the old one, guessing that at some point the computer chip will fail), it gives you a message if you stand on it too long.  I’m not sure how long, but it isn’t more than three or four seconds.

It throws a pile of numbers at you about your goal for weight loss, and then at the very top, there are two little words.

They are “Get off.”

I laughed out loud the first time I read them.  I have laughed again, because this keeps happening.

When I’m standing there, other words spring immediately to my mind because they should precede what my scale keeps telling me: “I beg your pardon, Madam, but–”

Only my scale isn’t as well-mannered as Zazu.


Posted January 14, 2016 by swanatbagend in diet, humor

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Keep Celebrating   Leave a comment

There are still several hours to go of Christmas.  Don’t give it up just yet.

Today is Twelfth Night, and in the liturgical church calendar it’s the last day of Christmastide.

We still have all our decorations up except for the wooden block nativity which ended up scattered all over the den floor, so I put it away.  But other than that, we are enjoying the tree the kids decorated and all the trimmings.

That’s only partly because we haven’t had time to take them down between travel and being sick.

It’s because I always have the Christmas decorations up at least until January the 6th.

Do you feel like that is way too long to look at red and green?

If so, take into consideration the possibility that you are putting up the red and green too early.

Maybe you’re actually missing Advent (whose color is purple which I love).  As you probably already know, Advent means waiting, and that is what the approximately four weeks before Christmas Day are for.  Waiting for Christmas, but beyond that, preparation.  Stilling the heart and listening.

What ends up happening to me is that the four weeks of Advent are so full of Christmas parties, events, cooking, shopping, and preparation for the Christmas day feast, and any travel that is involved, that it can be difficult to find time to eat and bathe, much less wait.

So, how very valuable the wonderful reality that one of the most delightful feasts of the year is actually twelve days long.  We need those days.  We need them to rest and to celebrate and to honor Christmas in our hearts so that we can try to keep it all the year.

In our ordinary lives where waiting is so often drab, it’s also wonderful that we can enjoy a special set-apart time for doing just that.  Waiting.  God knows we must often wait for many things.  How glorious that we are given Advent, looking toward the lovely twelve days of Christmas, and all that is yet to come as well, where waiting is part of his gift to us.

Posted January 7, 2016 by swanatbagend in holidays

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