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Coffee Time 6

“It’s Coffee Time” by Jane Paulson

The Fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom.

Having a cup of coffee with a dear friend and sharing our thoughts together, she wanted to know if I had any fear when traveling by plane. “Well,” I said, “It is a good thing to have your house in order, just in case all would go wrong!” We could let fear rob us even in our every day living. Let it take away our joy and cause us to deny what’s written in God’s word. Psalms 89:15 says, “If we know the Lord and walk in the light of his presence, we can be confident, for we know nothing can happen to us unless he permits it.” Psalms 46:1 says, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble, therefore we will not fear.”

After our plane landed, we drove another five hours to a coastal city, then boarded a ferry to a nearby island. If you remember the comedy “Gilligan’s Island” …that sorta was it. They’ve made several movies there, and some stars live there. There were ponds marked “Alligators.” The signs said, “Do not feed them. They’re quicker than you and can jump pretty high!” You don’t fear, you obey the rules. The island was well developed by people of means. No cars allowed… no gas stations. you get an electric golf cart to go shopping and sightseeing at 18 miles per hour! One light house, one chapel, post office and city hall. All were fairly new, except the light house, which was over 200 years old, made of cut stone. You could go inside. There were steps to take you to the top to look out to the sea. I thought of the song writer who penned:

There’s a lighthouse on the hillside (the island)

And it overlooks life’s sea

When I’m tossed it sends out light that I might see,

And the light that shines in darkness

Now will safely lead me o’er.

If it wasn’t for that lighthouse,

This ship would sail no more!

I wondered how many ships this lighthouse helped to find their way to safety. There was another feature that interested me. There are two months on the North Carolina shore when the sea turtles leave the sea by night, lumber to the sandy beach, lay their eggs in the sand, cover them and leave back to the sea. During those two months, no travel, no lights are allowed near this area where they hatch. They are considered an endangered species. Most North Carolina beaches have a volunteer program that monitors the sea turtle. I was thinking, “Not even the sea turtle has to fear.”

While vising these easter states, I found it hard to understand their southern drawl. You can tell who is born and raised there from the ones who leave our north and go to live there. While my daughter was attending a meeting at Narragansett, Rhode Island, she thought I’d enjoy the Sea Shore Mall. As I was browsing around the shops, I greeted and visited with folks, and they did the same to me… and somehow they let me know they knew I wasn’t from their area. Finally, I came across a coffee shop. When the waitress brought my coffee, I said to her, “You must have my order mixed up with someone else. I don’t use cream or sugar in my coffee.” “Well,” she said. “You’re from the ‘West’ aren’t you?” Oh – so that was why I got this extra attention. It was my speech that gave me away! Later that day as I was having my devotions I was reading Matthew 27. The maid said to Peter, “You’re on of them, aren’t you?” Peter denied it. Then another maid said, “You are one of them.” Peter denied it, but others standing nearby said, “Your speech betrays you!” And still Peter denied it. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could talk in such a manner, people would know who we believe in and what we stand for and not having to deny it like Peter did?

Matthew 5:14-16 from the Living Bible says, “You are the world’s light” – a city on a hill, glowing in the night for all to see. Don’t hide your light! Let it shine for all. Let your good deeds glow for all to see, so that they will praise your heavenly Father.

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Coffee Time 5

“It’s Coffee Time” by Jane Paulson

Psalm 119:11 “Thy word have I hid in Mine Heart.”  – King James Version.  Living Word Bible says – “Stored” up in my heart.

Writing this on a cold day makes us wonder how cold January will be.  We decided to drive out and have a cup of coffee with our friend Edith, who shared a gift with us, and so with her permission, I’d like to share it with you, “A Minnesota Winter Survival Kit.”  Take a large coffee can (39 oz.), put a quarter under the lid for emergency telephone; inside put a candle, matches, red cloth (for distress signal to tie on aerial or hang out window), newspaper (folded, it makes great insulator to wrap legs and feet), cap, scarf, gloves, hard candy (for energy), gum (for nerves while you wait), some paper toweling.  Put gloves in cap and put over lid of coffee can and tie scarf around can.  Place in a large grocery bag and take it to your car and leave it there!

Have you ever been caught in a blizzard or stalled either day or night somewhere?  If you never have to use the kit, you are more than lucky!

My sis Trudy shared another gift with me known as “The Prayer Basket.”  This little carry-all (use the size basket with handle you are comfortable with) keeps in one place the tools you need to keep in regular touch with God and to take along to visit hospitals, nursing homes, or sick friends.  It should contain: a small Bible, a daily devotional (like the “Upper Room”), a prayer planner (a small notebook divided into seven sections, one for each day of the week).  Put in your Prayer Requests; Praise and Thanks; Hurts; Disappointments; a page where you can see growth in yourself and others; answers to prayers; His yeses, nos, and waits; a small bunch of silk flowers (if they don’t have flowers, leave them.); a pen; post cards or note cards (some you can write a line assuring them of God’s love if you can’t go and visit them).  Most everyone has a cassette or tape player, so I borrow out tapes I have of Pastor’s sermons, and tapes of gospel hymns of solos and collec them the next time I visit.

Do you see a contrast between the two gifts?  The “Survival Kit”: If you’d need to use it, you will surely use first what you have “stored” up in your heart, to comfort you, to get you through your ordeal as it could be hours before help comes.  The “Prayer Basket” where all is ready and at hand for you.  Could be useless if you didn’t use it first and then share it with anyone who could use it.

Only through daily immersion in scripture and prayer can we tap into God’s strength and get a handle on what he wants for our life–only one life, it’ll soon be past…only what’s done for Christ will last.

Coffee Time 4

“It’s Coffee Time,” by Jane Paulson

“For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11

“December” – such a special month! The Birthday of our Lord draws near – it’s the “Day of Days” of all the Year! There too will be many of us in the congregation celebrating our December birthdays. As important as our day may seem to us, somehow we don’t compare it with the one whose birthday made this season so special for everyone. There’ll be colorful wrappings and tinsel and greenery everywhere! Stores will be crowded with shoppers… and oh, so much to be done! But… when we look beyond the manger to the Cross, we will know the real reason why “Christmas” brings such joy! Also, out will come our long lists of names of family and friends we want to send special Holiday greetings to, letting them know we’re thinking of them and care enough to write them. Maybe this Christmas we could do the same for our foreign missionaries. They’ve accepted a call in their life, to leave all and to where maybe most of us wouldn’t care to go. Not only are they important to remember, but December is a good time to write them and let them know how much we care and appreciate them and their work on the field. I’m sure they get lonely… missing family and home. Here are the names and addresses of two of the families our United Methodist Church supports:

XX

Senegal, West Africa

XX

Tamil, Nadar, India

If you’d like any more information, why not call XX, Chairperson of the Mission Committee. Both X and X have a Mission Calendar you can purchase, with the names and birthdays of missionaries who are supported by the United Methodist Church and where they are serving. It’s nice to know after you card or letter gets to New York, it takes only one day to fly to the mission field. I called the Post Office, and to send a letter will cost around 60 cents. You also don’t need special envelopes or paper, just use what you have. You won’t be able to buy a Christmas present anywhere for less than a dollar. That’ll give more joy to those missionaries than when they receive our letters. I recently visited with a dear missionary friend, who has spent 50 years on the field in Taiwan and China. Now home in Minneapolis, Minnesota in her own apartment, she still loves to go to church and loves to work in the small children’s nursery. She has good health, though she will be 90 years old this coming June. I asked her what was one of her greatest joys while on the field, and she tells me, “Letters from Home.”

The mission letters that X sends in to SteepleTalk from the missionaries will give you and idea of what’s going on where some are working and also give you a real burden to pray for them.

May your Father in Heaven

Look down from above,

And brighten your Christmas

With Blessings of Love

[Ed.: Okay, I would have given anything to have listened in to that phone call to the post office.]

Coffee Time 3

“It’s Coffee Time” by Jane Paulson

Ephesians 5:20 “We are to give thanks always for all things good. For that is the will of God concerning man.”

My parents came from Amsterdam, The Netherlands.  There were 14 of us children.  We all learned to speak the Dutch language.  My Dad was a gardener in Holland, but became a big farmer in America.  There were times he had 100 milk cows (No milking machines, of course.  That’s how we kept so busy), plus lots of sheep to herd and much more.  We not only learned how to work, but also how to obey.

We never missed church.  To give thanks for our food, to read God’s word together was important.  My Father talked to each of his children as they left home and admonished them to never neglect the traditions we were taught in their home.  It was my Wedding Day, and Daddy called me into his office.  “Jane,” he said, “we’re proud of your choice but promise me you will never neglect prayer and the reading of God’s word in your home.”  Today, over 56 years later, Bill and I have kept that promise with joy and thanksgiving.

Bill and I did farm several years before joining the Business World.  I remember once, taking lunch out to the threshing crew.  As I was pouring the coffee and handling out the lunch, one farmer sort of walked away to his bundle rack and team, tipped his had and gave “thanks” for the coffee and food.  That made my day!  It still keeps reminding me daily.  “One person can make a difference.  One person can change some one’s life.”  We saw this farmer a few weeks ago.  He was asked to pray at a large gathering we were attending.  I knew by listening to his prayer he is still serving Jesus.  Does this mean when we pray we always get what we want?  That we never have any ups or downs?  NO.  Somhow we do get through a lot of life’s difficulties better because we know who cares, and His promise to us is, “He’ll never leave us nor forsake us.”  To give Him thanks for everything could not be better said than in the little Dutch Prayer I love to teach our grandchildren and great grandchildren.

“Heere – Zeegen, Desza, Spiza, Amen.”

Coffee Time 2

“It’s Coffee Time” by Jane Paulson

Matthew 10:39 He that findeth his life shall lose it; and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.

The ancient term for the word “muse” means “to think.” “Amusing” means to “not think.”

I was going to have a cup of coffee with my friend who said, “Can I make you a cup of Roosevelt Coffee?” Now – I had to really “muse” (think). During World War II, we received rations for coffee, sugar, etc. You knew you had to really “ration” to make it from one month to the next.

After your first pot of coffee, you saved the grounds, put fresh water in the coffee pot and added half the amount you used before, and expected the grounds to make up the difference, and you hardly knew you had used the grounds twice. So by “musing” (thinking), I refreshed my memory what she meant by Roosevelt Coffee.

At one time, I had to do a lot of “musing” to try and figure out what Matthew 10:39 meant. The night I gave my heart to the Lord – the Lord opened my thinking and then I knew what that verse meant. I will forever thank him! It is summed up in I Timothy 2:4 which says, “Jesus would that all people be saved and “grasp” the knowledge of the Truth.” After I grasped the Truth, that is Jesus himself, it was a joy to “muse” how simple his plan is for our lives, if we’ll only allow him to lead us to the truth.

Coffee Time 1

“It’s Coffee Time” by Jane Paulson

Acts 17:16-22 And Paul sat daily in the Market Place, arguing with the Jews and devout Persons, that some may be won for Christ.”

Isn’t it strange how terminology changes? A few years ago, hardly anyone in America knew what the term “Born Again” meant. Even if the term has been misused, most everyone now seems to be familiar with it.

There is another word even Christians seem to feel uneasy about. That word is “Saved“. “Saved” is first of all a good Bible word. Remember when the Jailer asked Paul, “What must I do to be saved?” Acts 16:13 and he replied, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved and thy house.” Romans 10:13 syas, “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Have you ever noticed if you inquire into many people’s spiritual status, they are afraid of the word “Saved“. They’ll reply, “I joined a church, I made a commitment or I did that or …”

Perhaps many do not like the word because of what it implies.

To say, “I was saved” implies that one was lost. To say one is lost goes against human pride, accomplishments and good works for salvation.

To acknowledge that one has been “saved“, infers that one has had a need which he or she could not meet alone.

However, this is why “Save” is such a good word. It implies exactly what salvation is. Salvation is possible only when a man realized and admits to himself that he is lost in his sin. He is under the condemnation of God in his natural state and needs the outside help of Jesus Christ to save him, completely apart from his own efforts.

Better than any term, “Saved” explains what happens when a man is born again.

John 3:3 Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Except a man be born again, he can not see the Kingdom of God.”

Introducing Grandma Jane

In late summer, 1999, my mom and I took Grandma Jane for what ended up being her last visit to the Minnesota State Fair. At 81, Grandma had more energy than most teenagers. Having grown up on a farm in southwestern Minnesota, she hauled us through the animal barns, commenting knowledgeably on the size of the new calves and giggling at the bleating sheep. She was also always interested in the size of the tomatoes and corn in competition; we could spend hours combing through every nook and cranny of the horticulture building debating the effect of the weather on the year’s crops.

Nestled in one back corner of the giant octagonal building was the domain of another Minnesota octogenarian, Lillian Colton. Ms. Colton was the premier “crop artist” at the fair. She created amazingly accurate renditions of famous faces with only glue and seeds, years of experience having taught her how to choose exactly the right shade of seed from among the selection provided only by Minnesota-grown crops. On that particular afternoon, the master artist herself was on hand, giving lessons on index cards with small handfuls of seeds and pots of glue. A dozen children were seated at low tables, smearing paste and spilling dried beans on the floor in their efforts to create their own State Fair crop art masterpieces.

“Come on then, Merry,” Grandma commanded. It was clear she was itching to try out the craft. I hung back for a moment, uncertain about taking a seat at the table that was perhaps meant for a child. But Grandma Jane had already seated herself, pulled out a second chair, and turned to look expectantly at me. With a grin, I joined her and a pair of kindergarteners at the low table and reached for the glue. After about ten sticky minutes, during which I seem to remember having made my best approximation of a turkey out of dried beans and lentils, Ms. Colton called on all the “kids” to share their pictures with the gathering crowd. Each child took a turn standing up on a chair, telling the audience of proud parents about their young hopes and dreams, and shining for a moment in the spotlight. Anyone who thought that we, the lone adults at the tables, might quietly shy away from this display clearly didn’t know my Grandma Jane. When the attention fell upon our table, Grandma hauled herself up, presented her picture for display, and introduced herself to the crowd.

“My name is Jane Paulson,” she bellowed. “And when I grow up, I want to be a writer.”

That sentence said just about everything you need to know about Grandma Jane. Though she’d put in more than eight decades of time on this earth, had been married sixty years, worked a variety of jobs, survived breast cancer, raised five children and spoiled thirteen grandchildren, she was not yet done. There was still a future to hope for, and her latest dream was to write.

Of course, the process of English composition presented certain problems for Grandma Jane. Her parents, John and Adriana Tims arrived in Lake Wilson, Minnesota, from the Netherlands in 1910. There is nothing in the family history to suggest that they were especially happy together, and plenty of rumors and gossip to suggest that they weren’t, but they still managed to have fourteen surviving children. Adriana Gertrude Tims was number seven, and a kindly neighbor turned her lovely but unwieldy name into the more child-friendly “Jane.” Young Jane grew up speaking Dutch at home, and she only learned English once she started her formal education in the local one-room schoolhouse. She would always struggle with some aspects of the English language, but rather than being embarrassed by her occasionally freewheeling grammar, she’d shout with laughter at her own mistakes. Her opportunities to speak her native tongue dwindled over the years as she lost her parents and older siblings, but she was proud of her roots and endeavored – with very limited success – to teach some Dutch words and prayers to her grandchildren.

In spite of all the reasons why you might not expect Jane to flourish as an author of English prose, she had her own style of success at it. Over the course of five years, from 1995 until 2000, when she and her husband (our Grandpa Bill) died in an car accident, she published an almost monthly column in her church newsletter called “It’s Coffee Time.”

Coffee time meant a lot of things to Grandma Jane and to those of us who loved her. At Grandma and Grandpa’s place it could mean time for devotions; starting off the day with a bit of wisdom from the Bible was just as vital to her as a morning cup of her favorite beverage. Next was a mid-morning break, around 10:30 or 11:00, where coffee was accompanied by a little something to tide us over until the mid-day meal. Lunch was followed immediately by dessert (it was necessary to close out the meal properly) but a few hours later, she’d declare it coffee time again. It was a chance to relax in each other’s company; for the space of time it took to drink a cup – or a pot – of coffee, we would be able to enjoy the simple pleasure of being together. I remember that the day we spent at the fair we held to her usual schedule of breakfast followed by coffee and “a little treat” at midmorning, but come afternoon she was once again looking for a nice place to sit down with a steaming cup and a cookie.

Over the course of her tenure as a columnist, her work became increasingly skilled, though without ever losing its homespun charm. No one could tell Grandma Jane that 80 was too old to learn something new. Each month after the newsletter came out, she clipped her column, made the appropriate number of copies, and mailed it off to her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren with a little note of encouragement. I remember “It’s Coffee Time” sometimes coming in the mail with a shoebox of cookies (padded with hot cocoa packets to prevent them from breaking in transit), or a stamped envelope to make it easier to reply. I received my last letter from her the day after she died, reminding me that even though she would not be writing new columns anymore, she had the incredible foresight to set down on paper the wisdom of her years and experiences, so that she would always be able to spur us on. Here, my sister and I share her columns with you in the hope that her words – her plainspoken, creatively capitalized, and richly insightful writing – can spur you on as well.