Learning to Play Elder Scrolls at 69.

It’s 10:00 pm and after months of binge watching, Father Brown, Midsomer Murders, Call the Midwife, and Sherlock, I’ve had to find a new series for my mother to watch. She has short-term memory problems so I had the Father Brown series on about 10 times until it moved into her long-term memory. She finally said the words, “I remember this one.” I should probably tell a researcher on the elderly about that.

While she watches I, clean, cook, paint, do some woodwork, listen to podcasts, and play Elder Scrolls. I’m 69 years old and I just learned the joy of this kind of game. I don’t even know the right name for this kind of game. Multi-player is part of it. Maybe role-playing.

My sister from Washington State introduced me to games. She wanted to do something with me since we live far apart. We started with Portal Knights, moved on to Minecraft and then landed on Elder Scrolls Online.

We played the first two games for awhile, but my sister’s wi-fi at her trailer park is quite weak. She got a booster, but still got thrown out of the game time after time, or she would appear with a head and no body, so we had to stop playing those. She said she tried for hours to find us another game but couldn’t find one the two of us could play together. She prayed and God told her, “Elder Scrolls.” She said, “Really!? Okay.” So that’s how we began. ( She’s not crazy; we both think God talks to us.)

It quickly became clear I was very bad at this game. Elder Scrolls loves to keep players in the dark about their rules and how to play the game. Or, if you look at it another way, they have so many pages of tiny writing your eyes start aching and your brain hurting. I can’t read much on the computer anyway, and I’m glad the game doesn’t seem to bother my eyes after we eliminated the blue light. My sister tried to help me, but it was painful for both of us. Her wi-fi also hated Elder Scrolls, so we gave up.
We gave up trying to play together, but I was determined to keep playing myself. There was this one thing I loved about the game: travel and scenery.

I’ve always loved to travel and in Elder Scrolls there are all these islands you can go to. The scenery and architecture of the buildings is different in each place. My favorite part of the game is walking through the woods finding stuff I need in order to make things like weapons, clothing and food. It is lovely and soothing until a white tiger sneaks up from behind, swipes your back and calls all his friends to finish you off.

I’m a wood elf. My sister said that is the best person to be because she likes to stand back and shoot people. But that wasn’t the weapon they gave me at the beginning. They gave her a bow and arrow but gave me a staff that shoots out fire! Oh yeah, I fell in love with it. It worked very well in a fight. Then I saw a different player with a fire staff who banged hers on the ground and the ground became electric, zapping people. Wow! How could I get that!? I got it now, baby.

Honestly, I never thought I would like a game like this, but I think I know why I do. After you finish a quest, after you save some lives, after you kill the bad guys, you feel great. You feel like you have really accomplished something good. After I saved the Queen’s life, people in the different cities said, “Are you the one who saved the Queen?” “Why yes I am.”

You know, I’m glad I can take care of my 92-year-old mom. But do I feel excited, elated and proud of myself like I do in Elder Scrolls? No! That thought does give me pause. I’m not sure what to make of it. What I do know is that I have something exciting to do again and that makes me happy.

So, my mom and I are growing old together, happy as if in our right mind. And one thing is really handy about this time of our lives. In the last five years I’ve become agoraphobic and rarely leave the apartment. My mom is weak and tired and doesn’t want to go anywhere. I mean, how great is that? God works in mysterious ways. But I guess it wasn’t a mystery to him that I would love Elder Scrolls.

We Dine with Him.

FOTO:Fortepan — ID 26316

“I love the Lord because he has heard my voice…”  Psalm 116:1

This verse has been important for me. These words have brought me joy, peace and trust. They have touched me in ways I deeply need.

If you feel no one hears your voice, if you feel ignored, and if you feel unknown by all people on earth, you are wrong. God hears your voice and knows you like no other. When you feel depressed, and you know that when you share those sad feelings with others, it upsets them; know that it doesn’t upset God. He has broad shoulders and he can take it.

He doesn’t only take it, he feels it, welcomes it and enters into those feelings. “Come to me, all who are tired and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 

In Isaiah, Jesus is called a, “wonderful counselor.” I can attest to that, after I learned to bring my troubles to him instead of family members. If I was angry at someone, I ranted about it to God. If I was sad, I shared my sorrow. If I was happy, I thanked him over and over. If I felt in despair, sometimes all I could say was, “God, help me.” Through this time with God, I have found him to be the strong shoulder I needed to lean on.

 “Look, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice, I will come in to him and we will dine together.”  Revelation 3:20

Dining together is an intimate occasion. There is usually communication of a personal nature. Notice we have an invitation to hear his voice also. We listen to each other.

And how has God spoken to me? In different ways. A Bible verse might come into my mind. A story of a person in the Bible might flash into my mind to help me see I wasn’t alone in having troubles. And sometimes, I hear words in my mind that encourage and strengthen me. Usually, they are words I would never have thought on my own, so I know it is him. Sometimes, I feel his loving presence.

It is a tremendous thing to realize you carry the Triune God in your spirit. The Father. The Son. The Holy Spirit. They live inside you, if you ask them to come in. They know how much you need them and are happy to join with you in walking this life. “The Lord delights (takes pleasure) in his people.”  Psalm 149:4

I Don’t Know What Title to Give this Post.

In my last post, I quoted from a book by Eugene H. Peterson. I usually quote from books and authors that have helped me. I know that when I read posts like that, I sometimes buy the book. But now I feel I should not have encouraged anyone to buy one of his books.

After reading good things about Pastor Peterson and his translation of the Bible called, “The Message,” I bought three paperbacks written by him. I started reading two of them, but was put off by his attitude towards non-Christians. He wrote of them, not in terms of love and pity, but with unkind judgement.

I did not finish those two books, but started “Life at It’s Best.” I thought I might have judged him too harshly myself and decided to give him another try. I did like the opening chapters, as I said previously, but when I came to chapter 14, I came upon that same unloving attitude.

He tells a story of his life when he was in the hospital to have surgery on his nose. The surgery was over and he lay in bed in pain. A new patient entered the room who was to have a tonsillectomy. He was in his early twenties, nice looking and friendly. I will now quote from the book leaving some sentences out for brevity:

“He came over to me, put out his hand and said, ‘Hi, my name is Kelly. What happened to you?’ I was in no mood for friendly conversation, did not return the handshake, grunted my name and said that I had had my nose broken. He got the message that I did not want o talk, pulled the curtain between our beds and let me alone…

Later in the evening the young man asked Peterson, “Well, what do you do?” Peterson writes, “I’m a pastor.” ‘Oh,’ he said and turned away; I was no longer an interesting subject.

In the morning he woke me, ‘Peterson, Peterson wake up.’ I groggily came awake and asked what he wanted. ‘I want you to pray for me; I’m scared.’ And so, before he was taken to surgery, I went to his bedside and prayed for him.

When he was brought back a couple of hours later, a nurse came and said, ‘Kelly, I am going to give you an injection that should take care of any pain you might have.’

In twenty minutes or so he began to groan, ‘I hurt. I can’t stand it. I’m going to die.’

I rang for the nurse and when she came said, ‘Nurse, I don’t think that shot did any good; why don’t you give him another one.’ She didn’t acknowledge my credentials for making such a suggestion, told me curtly that she would oversee the medical care of the patient, turned on her heel and left. Meanwhile, Kelly continued to vent his agony.

…he began to hallucinate, and having lost touch with reality began to shout, ‘Peterson, pray for me, can’t you see I’m dying? Peterson, pray for me.’ His shouts brought nurses, doctors and orderlies running…’”

His story ends there but it is how he would not shake hands with the young man and be interested in him that bothered me at the very beginning. You may say, “Well, he was in pain.” Yes, but Jesus was in pain on the cross and he spoke with love and mercy to the man hanging beside him. He saw there a man he loved and was dying to save.

Peterson next makes a conclusion about the young man in the story. He seems to wash his hands of him. I will quote what he wrote here:

“The parabolic force of the incident is this; when the man was scared, he wanted me to pray for him, and when the man was crazy, he wanted me to pray for him. But in between, during the hours of normalcy, he didn’t want anything to do with a pastor. What Kelly betrayed in extremis is all many people know of religion; a religion to help them with their fears, but which is forgotten when the fears are taken care of; a religion made of moments of craziness but which is remote and shadowy in the clear light of the sun and in their routines of every day. The most religious places in the world …are not churches but battlefields and mental hospitals…”

Peterson goes on to say how much better Christians are:

“Nevertheless, we Christians don’t go to either place to nurture our faith. We don’t deliberately put ourselves in places of fearful danger to evoke heartfelt prayer and we don’t put ourselves in psychiatric wards so we can be around those who clearly see visions.”

He goes on to say Christians have stability etc. Really? All Christians? Well, stability would be lovely to have, but I’ve met many Christians who are not stable and I am mentally ill so stability in my feelings is not normal for me. I have to pray and work hard on having stability.

Also, yes people pray when they are in danger. God uses that all the time. For the first time in their lives, some people may face death; and it makes them stop and think about eternity and God. That is a wonderful thing, a blessing from God! He will gladly take us just as we are, in that very moment when we are frightened. The criminal who died with Jesus probably had heard all about him and what he taught. He saw how Jesus treated the soldiers who crucified him. He saw how he took care of his mother. He heard the shouts of people who hated Jesus and said, “He said he is the Son of God.” So, he turned and looked on Jesus and said, “Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus promised him he would be with him in Paradise.

Jesus looks on those who are lost with the greatest pity and love. God does everything he can to save them. We should look on each person in the world as a person with a spirit and soul that Jesus longs to save.

As I said, I don’t know what title to give this post. I’m sorry I sort of recommended Peterson and his books. I rarely agree completely with every Christian book I read; but I’ve never felt like I had to apologize for encouraging people to read something. I do this time; I’m sorry.

Endurance in Suffering, Loneliness and Boredom.

Photo by Andy Armstrong.

I was reading, “Life at its Best,” by Eugene H. Peterson. He is the man who wrote the translation of the Bible called, “The Message.” Chapter 12 is entitled, “Hope,” and is about persevering in the Christian life. I found it to be helpful and full of encouragement.

I have written before how the Lord said to me, “You lack endurance.” This was at a time when I thought my life was empty, lonely and useless. God told me what I needed was endurance. I said, “Endurance! Who cares about endurance? Just get me out of here.” By that, I meant this world. But he said, “I could do that. But what if I told you that you would be helping people if you stayed?” I reluctantly said, “Well, alright.”

At the time, I had no idea how much my mother, daughters and grandchildren would need me in the future. God has shown me again and again how I could help them and I’ve very grateful to him for not taking me to heaven, as I had asked.

I started reading about endurance and tried to learn it and asked God to give it to me. My life became wonderful, peaceful and hopeful. He showed me that he is enough to fill my life. I didn’t need anyone or anything else.

I thought I would share a bit of what I read this morning with all of you. I don’t always agree with everything Peterson writes, but he is just a man and I don’t expect to agree with every Christian. So, here are some excerpts from chapter 12:

“Perseverance means we keep going. We do not quit when we find we are not yet mature and there is still a long journey ahead of us.” 

“Endurance is not a desperate hanging on but a traveling from strength to strength.”

“God sticks to his relationships. He establishes a relationship and stays with it. The central reality for Christians is the personal, unalterable, persevering commitment that God makes to us. Perseverance is not the result of our determination; it is the result of God’s faithfulness to us.”

“Christian discipleship is a process of paying more and more attention to God’s righteousness and less and less attention to our own, finding the meaning of our lives not by probing our moods and motives and morals, but by believing in God’s will and purposes; making a map of faithfulness of God, not charting the rise and fall of our enthusiasms. It is out of such a reality that we acquire perseverance.”

“That is what the writer of the New Testament letter to the Hebrew Christians did when writing about the people of the Old Testament. God stuck by them through thick and thin in such a way they were able to persevere. All made their share of mistakes, sins and rebellion, but God stuck with them so consistently and surely that they learned how to stick with God.”

“Out of the litany comes the call: ‘Let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.'”

Give God a Chance.

David singing for King Saul.

Psalm 34.  (In my own words.)

I will praise the Lord always. I will enjoy his company. Let those who are in trouble hear me and also rejoice!

I looked for the Lord and he answered me. He saved me from my fears. Angels of God surround those who revere him.

Try on the Lord, like a coat in a store, and see if he fits. Taste him, and you will see that he is good. You will be blessed by him. Fear God, for those who are in awe of him will lack no good thing.

If you love life, do not lie; turn away from evil and do good. Seek peace. God’s eyes are on us. His ears hear us. He is close to those whose hearts are broken. He saves those who are crushed in spirit.

In this world, we will have trouble, but God delivers us. Evil will kill the wicked, but in the last judgement, God’s people will not be condemned!

Can You be a Christian and not Love God?

The last few weeks I have either heard or read Christians say, “We don’t obey God because we want to be saved, are afraid of him or want something from him. We obey God because we love him.”

This always gives me pause because of the number of years I have not felt love for God. I first gave my life to him because he showed me through a dream that I was lost. I saw Jesus returning and wasn’t ready. That dream terrified me.

My grandmother gave me a book about God and I loved it. Then I went to an evangelistic meeting. I enjoyed that also, but when they asked if anyone wanted to come forward to give their lives to Christ, I didn’t do it until the last night. That was the night the preacher talked about Jesus and his death on the cross for us. I felt love and gratitude and walked up to the stage to give myself to Jesus.

So, I guess I could say I came to God through fear and then love. But the love feeling didn’t last. Because of my church’s teachings, I started feeling very afraid to sin and believed God would turn away from me if I sinned. I don’t remember any teachings about how we will sin and how God will always be there for us.

So, I was afraid. I became legalistic too and looked down on those who weren’t as “good” as I was. I’m not sure how you can have both feelings, but I guess I went back and forth between them. When I did sin or make a mistake, I couldn’t pray for days because I felt so guilty.

I then learned about, “righteousness through faith,” from a new preacher in my church. This was wonderful news to me and I embraced it. I felt at peace with God for quite a few years.

But then some traumatic things happened in our family. I couldn’t understand why God would allow such pain. I felt repulsed by the way he ran the world and let people suffer. Not just my family, but everyone in the world. I was filled with anger towards him. I walked away from him.

Four years later, when I came back to him, I had read books on why God allows suffering. These books had helped me a lot and I could understand why things were the way they were. But love? No, I didn’t feel love for God and for the most part, I didn’t really believe he loved me.

This went on for years, and the thing is that even though I didn’t feel love for God, I wanted to be a good person and I knew God was the only way to be that. I felt as Jesus said, I hungered and thirsted for righteousness. I cared about justice, mercy, forgiveness, love, compassion, generosity and patience.

I loved what God stood for, but it was so hard for me to equate that with a person in heaven. Maybe because men had hurt me all my life, I couldn’t think of God in a loving way.

So then, if I took to heart what these Christians say about obeying God because I felt love for him, I would have given up in despair. But I learned from Joyce Meyer not to rely on my feelings. They are fickle and unreliable.

One of my sisters feels no love at all for God. She was angry with him for many years. But God wouldn’t let her go. He called her, he bugged her, he chased her until she reluctantly gave in to him. She worships him every day. She is learning about him every day. She is growing every day. There is a huge change in her, although she cannot see it, I do.

In fact, the way God has dealt with my sister has made me love him. Not many people love her. One reason is she always says the truth of what she thinks or believes. She doesn’t let people get away with bullshitting her. She is direct and pulls no punches, but that is one of the reasons I love her so much. She is straight with me; I don’t have to guess where she stands.

I’ve told her I think the thing God loves most about her is her honesty. She doesn’t want to hurt people with honesty, that is just her personality and most people don’t like it. But God does. I know he does, and oh how that makes me love him.

I only started having consistent “feelings” of love for God the last few years. I became a Christian at 19 and I am now 69. It has been a long wait for me. I had moments of that loving feeling, but they didn’t last. Now, it feels like my heart will burst with love and the joy of knowing God. It was worth the wait; I’m so happy.

I wrote this for those who have no feelings for God and think they should. I’m sure God understands feelings and knows they can’t be counted on. I think he wants us to worship him because we admire what he stands for: truth, faithfulness, justice, kindness, forgiveness, mercy, long-suffering, tolerance, and most of all love.

But honestly, I believe God will take us any way he can get us. He loves us that much.

Don’t Be A Mule.

Juancito, which the author calls the best mule of Argentina, on an excursion on the Mitre Peninsula, in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. In the background is the remains of the SV Duchess of Albany, shipwrecked in 1893. Photograph taken in February 2006.

How wonderful it is that God forgives our sins! If I keep silent about my sins, your hand of conviction will be heavy on me and each day I become weaker. But when I confess my sins, you forgive me the moment I ask.

All of us need to pray while we still can, while there is still time. God is our hiding place; when trouble comes, he will deliver us.

God says to us, “I will teach and counsel you. My eyes, which are filled with love, are on you. Don’t be like a horse or mule that must be controlled with bit and bridle! Come willingly!

Those who don’t know God also suffer hard times and trouble. But they miss out on God’s unfailing love and comfort, which surrounds those who believe in him.

Rejoice that you know the Lord! Sing to him!

Psalm 32 (In my own words.)

God Woke Me to Pray.

Drawing by William T. Walters, Baltimore, 1863 – 1864

Last week, I had a dream. I didn’t know at first if it was from God until I spoke with my husband when he came home from work. It then became evident the dream was from our Savior.

I dreamed I was in bed and woke up to get a drink of water. I walked in the living room and saw a glass floating in the air. I thought, “This is the work of Satan.”

I wasn’t afraid. I walked over to the glass and felt it and saw there was nothing holding it up. I then felt a cloud of evil around me. I said aloud, “In the name of Jesus Christ, go away Satan!” I felt half the cloud leave. I was surprised there was any evil left, so I said it again, “In the name of Jesus Christ, go away, Satan!” Then all the evil left the room. This was when I woke up.

My first thought was, “Something terrible is going to happen to someone in the family.” So, I prayed for God to be with us. I also wondered if the dream was from God, because I wasn’t really sure. It was a clear, strong dream, which is the way he has given me dreams in the past; but still, I didn’t understand the dream completely so I wasn’t sure.

When my husband came home, I told him the dream. He didn’t know what it meant either except maybe Satan was going to try to harm someone.

Then he said, “You won’t believe what happened to me today! We were driving to work, (he is in a carpool) and all of a sudden, a herd of deer ran out across the highway. I barely stopped in time. Then I flashed my lights so the people coming from the other direction would slow down, and they did. And then as we were nearing the city, I was going 60 miles an hour; we turned a corner and there was a dead dear laying across the lane I was in. I quickly shoulder-checked and there was no one next to me so I darted over and missed hitting the deer!” They were both very close-calls, and I was driving the sports car, not the SUV.”

Then he finished talking saying, “Two times in one morning!” I looked at him and immediately understood the dream. The Lord had me pray two times, not once, for Satan to be driven away from the family. My husband looked at me, and I could see he understood too.

We are so thankful to God for saving my husband and co-workers from two potentially terrible accidents. Who knows what may have happened to them. Only God. But he made a way of escape for them and I can’t thank him enough.

This morning, I was reading Psalm 30, which reminded me of what happened.

I will exalt you, Lord,
    for you lifted me out of the depths
    and did not let my enemies gloat over me.
 Lord my God, I called to you for help,
    and you healed me.
 You, Lord, brought me up from the realm of the dead;
    you spared me from going down to the pit. Verses 1-3

You turned my wailing into dancing;
    you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
 that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
    Lord my God, I will praise you forever. Verses 11, 12

We are all in a spiritual battle for our spirit, soul and body. Paul describes this in Ephesians.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. “  Ephesians 6:12

Jesus prayed to his Father about his followers, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.” John 17:15

I pray this quite often, and this time there was an urgent need for that kind of prayer, and God woke me to do it. Believe me when I say, I am the least of the followers of Jesus; and as my husband always says, “Don’t forget the Lord used an ass.” Lol. But I wanted to tell people, tell the world, what God did for us that day. I praise his holy name.