25 March 2016

Why You're Never too Old for a Good Story

I'm always looking for ways to reduce stress.  Maybe it's just me, but it's by far easier for me to collect stress than it is for me to get rid of it once I have it.

Some time ago, never mind how long precisely, I realized one thing that really raised my stress level and rush factor was how much time I spend in the car.  We're a one-car family, and on a regular basis that means I get to do extra driving to get things done.  

Since I wasn't actually interested in going out and buying a second car to solve this issue, I thought I had better come up with some other solution.  It's just not worth being stressed on a regular basis by one of my own responsible adult life decisions.

So I got out some story tapes.  Which actually are CDs, but I grew up on story tapes and even records, so that is still what I call them, no matter what the format.

I started listening to stories about my church's history--that box set took me several months' worth of errands to get through, and even a short summer road trip.  Then I got out some sermons and some other stories.

Gradually, I noticed my stress level going down.  I didn't mind an extra wait at the stop light.  Those fifteen minutes between my husband's work and my house flew by, even with morning school traffic.  I found myself encouraged and inspired instead of frantic.

It all started with the Pathways of our Pioneers CD Collection (which you can also download here for no charge).  I resonated with Mrs. Bates every time Joseph Bates left on another sea voyage--my husband was away on a commercial fishing boat at the time.  By the time Ellen White died, and I heard her say, "I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I've committed unto Him against that day," I had to sit in the bank parking lot and wipe my eyes before I could go in to make my deposit.

I got through Great Stories volume 1 (although most are great, some of these do have sad endings...just to warn you!), and a few sermons.

By Christmas time, I had exhausted my story and sermon collection, and so as any self-respecting adult with no children in the house would do, I put more sets of stories on my Christmas list.  And maybe some Ellen White audio books.

I wasn't disappointed.  Christ's Object Lessons has been such a delight--I'm into my second listening already, and someday I may invest in another audio book or two from Remnant Publications.  Great Stories volume 2 awaits me, with all kinds of good stories about people like George Washington, Henry Ford, and more.

I don't dread errand days anymore.  I'm secretly glad I finally get a chance to pick up my stories and books where I left off.  

And really, that simple decision to listen to great stuff has taken away quite a bit of my unnecessary stress...so I guess you could say it has been life changing for me in a significant way.

14 March 2016

Happy Pi Day

I woke up this morning to a reminder from my brother-in-law that today is Pi Day.  There's nothing quite like waking up and realizing that instead of an ordinary day, you get a great holiday to celebrate instead.

During alumni weekend every year at Walla Walla University, the math department holds the Randy Yaw Pi Contest to see who can recite the most digits of Pi from memory.  First prize is $314.15, second prize is $31.41, third prize is $3.14, fourth prize is $.31, fifth prize is $.03, and sixth prize (perhaps the best of all) is approximately one sixth of a penny, specially designed and carved out by one of the math professors each year.

Then when the contest is over, everyone eats pie.

My freshman year of college, a friend of mine made it through 1212 digits before she faltered.  I'm not sure what the record is now, but I think she had the record then.

I didn't ever officially enter the contest, although I had memorized 50 or so digits for fun, and I had always wanted to work out a system to set Pi to music, even though I never seemed to get around to doing so.

Sometimes the best memories are made when you're not expecting them in the least, and that's precisely what happened once when I was walking across campus on the day of the Pi contest.

Seeing two friends, I greeted them and asked, "What are you guys up to?"

"We're practicing to go sing Pi at the Pi contest."

"Really?  I've always wanted to do that!"  I could hardly contain my excitement, and I'm pretty sure I barged in on their plans without so much as an invitation.  We practiced it in parts, two of us at the octave, and one in the middle at the fifth to imitate the style of perfect parallel organum.  Then we were off to make our debut, only minutes after deciding to stop our performance at a moment in Pi where an 8 followed a 5.  You know, for a good cadence.

We got a standing ovation, and we thoroughly enjoyed our pie.

Little did I know then that one of those Pi-singing  friends would become my brother-in-law, and that he would be sending Pi music videos to the whole family on Pi day.

12 March 2016

A Faithful High Priest

Not long ago my Bible study plan had me in Mark, studying the last scenes of Jesus' life, on the same day as I was studying Hebrews 4, and the significance of having a faithful high priest.

Honestly, it's something I have taken almost for granted.  Of course Jesus, as our high priest, would be faithful.

But what if you hadn't always taken faithfulness for granted?  What would that look like?  What if all you knew was the high priest in charge during Jesus' time on earth?

You know the one.  He and his other chief priests and scribes and elders would rather spend the Sabbath hours plotting to kill a man than see someone liberated from debilitating sickness.  

He would hire someone to deliver a man to death with money from the temple treasury.  Then, when the guilty betrayer brought the same money back?  He'd get creative, trying to find a new place to keep that money, because the temple treasury couldn't accept blood money, all the while neglecting his solemn duty to bring a sinner to the mercy seat.

{I don't know if Judas was past the point of no returns just then, but what if he wasn't?  What if the high priest could have labored for his soul instead of heartlessly turning him out in the cold, saying, "See thou to that!"}

The same high priest would try for hours and hours in the middle of the night to find a false witness to testify in court, even though he should have been the one to uphold the standard of justice at all costs.  He'd make a pretense of following the rules--needing two witnesses to agree, even if falsely--before giving a verdict.

I don't know of anyone who would want to be judged in that court.  

As I considered Jesus as a faithful high priest, particularly in contrast with the unfaithful high priest who judged Jesus and begged Pilate to crucify Him, I began to realize in a new way how beautiful it is that the Bible assures us over and over that

  • Our high priest is faithful.
  • Our high priest judges righteously.
  • Our high priest makes war righteously.
  • Our high priest came to seek and to save that which was lost.
  • Our high priest offers the fountain of the waters of life freely.
  • Our high priest was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin.
  • Our high priest is touched with the feeling of our infirmities.
  • Our high priest would rather die than see us in court without a hope.
Many of the plants and trees where I live are covered with intimidating thorns.  Every time I see them and try to respectfully avoid their painful spikes, I have a fresh reminder of what Jesus suffered for my sake, what it took for Him to become my faithful high priest who could judge both righteously and mercifully.  And I love how all these things--His faithfulness and His willingness to suffer for my sake--culminate in the reminder to have confidence when I come to Him.

"Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."  Hebrews 4:16