Monday, December 6, 2010


Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29 (NIV)


There are certain people in your life where you can lay out all that's going on without pretense or preamble. There are no excuses and whether the news is good or bad, they listen without judgement. These people are called friends.


In a conversation with my friend last night, I whined about the upheaval of my plans for this Christmas. Mark is back in Tennessee caring for his aging mother but it was an unexpected trip…necessary, however. I have to admit I didn't respond to the news in a very nice way. In fact, I apologized the next day for my bad behavior. I didn't need to make the situation harder than it already is.


But you know those plans? This is the first year in several where we signed up for various Christmas parties in our neighborhood. Normally choir concerts interfere with the schedule, but this year it was later in the month, so we could go. Now with Mark gone for several days, I decided to go by myself.


Saturday night, as I was getting dressed, I prayed that I would be salt and light. I sat at my assigned table next to my closest neighbor, but we had never met. She watches Mark take Parker for walks, but this week I'm on Parker duty. I noticed them putting up Christmas lights the other day and said the obligatory "hi" but that was it. As we chatted over dinner I heard her amazing story--some of it very painful. I encouraged her to seek hope in her long buried faith and suggested some options.


As I drove home, I thanked God for the opportunity He provided. When we are willing, He does amazing things…one step at a time.

Monday, August 30, 2010

A Little Grace

But he gives us more grace. James 4:6 (NIV)

I can't believe it is almost the end of the month and my last post was August 1st. Needless to say, we have been on the go. The grandgirlies and my daughter arrived for a week with the fun, excitement, activity, and chatter that fills up the house. This time, however, we all traveled back to California for Dad's 88th birthday, a baby shower for my new grandgirlie-to-be, my 45th High School Reunion, and time with Dad—being his eyes as he struggles with the details of his life. I drove almost 2000 miles in two weeks.

I planned to take a few days to catch up, but that lasted all of one day. Life changed abruptly in the Blumberg household with the addition of a cute rescue dog that we named Parker. Mark hinted at adopting a dog for several months but I was not interested. I'm a cat person and never had an indoor dog. But the more I thought about it, I realized that a dog might be the one thing that would encourage Mark to get out and exercise—a directive that his doctors reiterate every time he has a check-up.

The idea of a puppy with all the training necessary did not appeal to me so we decided to adopt through a rescue organization. Someone found Parker giving birth in a field in South Tucson. She had already delivered two pups and after they picked her up, she delivered four more. We met her after the puppies were weaned and just before all the craziness of our month began. Mark was sold. I, on the other hand, had mixed feelings.

I gave her a few instructions on the way home after we picked her up from her foster mom:

No barking.
No chewing.
No getting on the furniture.
No jumping up.
No sniffing in wrong places.
No peeing on the rugs.

She just looked at me.

Parker and Mark are now joined at the hip. He takes total care of her — I'm only an adjunct if all else fails. If he heads out without her, she lays down near the door until he returns. No budging. They take several walks each day and Mark is intimately acquainted with all the rocks bordering the street as he waits for Parker to sniff them. They're fun to watch.

She is pretty good with all of my instructions—except one. She piddles on the rug with she gets excited and only does it with me. This is where the grace comes in. For all the pleasure she gives, she is not perfect. I have to get over it.

I'm so thankful that God gives more grace rather than just a one time gift. I may be cute, but I'm not perfect. I may even be able to be obedient most of the time to what I know He wants me to do. But not always. How can I be upset with her when I see the love and forgiveness lavishly bestowed on me by my Heavenly Father?

What's going in your life that requires a little grace? Take a deep breath and be generous.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

No Falling


The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand. Psalm 37:23-24
A few years ago, I took a tumble, landing on my elbow breaking off the end of it. The injury required surgery, immobilization in a cast, followed by physical therapy. I responded well and as the doctor discharged me, I asked him if there was anything else I needed to know.

"Rule number one — DO NOT fall," he said. And that was the end of his advice.

As we age, balance tends to be an issue. One misstep and a serious mishap may occur. My mom fell getting out of bed and hit her head. The injury was so severe that she never left the hospital and was gone in less than a month. Mark's mom had a similar experience last year and spent several weeks in rehab before returning to her apartment. Last week Dad called and he had fallen in his bathroom requiring a trip to the emergency room but thankfully only suffered cuts and bruises.

The consequences may be short-lived but it still throws our equilibrium off and tends to make us more cautious. Have you noticed how many older people use walkers these days? It gives them confidence on uneven surfaces.

But we're not limited to stumbles in the physical realm. We can make a pretty big mess in our emotional and spiritual lives, too, treading into areas that are dangerous to our health and well being. How many times do we use an emotional crutch in a tense situation rather than facing it head on? We lie to avoid the pain of a truthful answer. We hide when someone is counting on us but we feel inadequate. We get angry to camouflage our insecurity.

God offers us a much better way to live. In fact, He wants to hear about our fears and frustrations so He can help us navigate the mine fields of our lives. Rather than clutching out after straws, catch hold of the hand of the One who will never let you fall.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Day One

This is the day the Lord has made.
      We will rejoice and be glad in it.
Psalm 118:24 (NLT)

If I hear the phrase "from day one" one more time, I think I'm going to have to do serious damage to the TV.  Whether it is a politician, a banker, a commentator, or an oil executive, all anyone is trying to do is cover their tracks, make excuses, or defend themselves.

Today's verse is often quoted in church on Sunday morning. It has always been a happy verse for me as it directs my worship to the One who made me. But the Psalmist was NOT having a good day when he penned those words. He had suffered anguish, been in a war, his nation had been overrun, his land invaded, and his life at risk. Completely helpless, he turned to the One who could make a difference and received His blessing. God turned around a hopeless situation, delivered him, and brought victory. Yes, this is the day the Lord has made.

Day one began for me when I accepted Christ as my Savior and life changed forever. There was no defense for my sin, all the excuses were gone, and He, in forgiveness and love, washed me white as snow. As a result, no matter what the day brings, I look to Jesus for direction, protection, encouragement, joy, and peace. I may be in tears but through it all, He is with me and makes my day complete.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Social Networking

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Hebrews 13:8 (NLT)

I've always considered myself fairly technologically savvy for someone of my generation. (I found my husband on the Internet so that must say something.) And trying to be up-to-date with the younger set, I have both Twitter and Facebook accounts. Social networking is certainly the current wave but I'm not all that sure that it is the best way to communicate. When was the last time you wrote a real letter to a friend? Does it even matter? But, you can't beat the ease and convenience of checking your account for the latest updates.

One thing I particularly like is reconnecting with people from my earlier days. It is so interesting to me to see how our lives have changed over the years. Nothing stays the same. Marriage, divorce, children, grandchildren, moves across the country, jobs, faith.

I'm going to my 45th High School Reunion this summer because I found friends and started the difficult process of catching up on Facebook. I absolutely wasn't going after going to my 20th, figuring that was enough. But I'm looking forward to it.

This week I found some friends who are sisters and were kids when I was a newlywed. Now one of them has grandchildren. (I think she was 12 when she married.) The other is a speaker and writer.

With the uncertainties of our present day, worry and fear can dominate our thinking. Financial collapse, congressional distrust, social unrest—all contribute to the climate of uneasy change in our world. But, we like security. We want things to stay the same.

Most of us don't have one smidgen of control over world events, let alone the events in our own household. Our anchor must be in the One who never changes, our Lord, Jesus Christ. Remember to turn to Him in moments of doubt and fear. He is always the same.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


So they left by boat for a quiet place, where they could be alone. Mark 6:32

How do you handle those "in-between" times in your life? I'm currently in one and I'm not sure I like it. As someone who likes to be busy and accomplishing things, I've noticed that schedules tend to revolve around the school-year calendar. I remember when the kids were in school, once school ended, the lazy days of summer hit and life slowed down…or maybe it sped up depending on a vacation plan.

Now as a retiree, I've noticed that the calendar still controls my activity.There is an ebb and flow in daily activities as the seasons change. When the snowbirds head out in Spring, everything slows down; classes end, the heat hits, and people stay indoors. It feels like I'm waiting for everyone to get back in the Fall so that we can get going again.

This morning I asked my granddaughter, Kate, what she's doing these days. "Nothing, just hanging out." Of course, she has already been to camp and VBS but right now she's in-between time before she visits us next month.

So is down time good? Isaac Watts once said,
“In works of labour, or of skill,
I would be busy too;
For Satan finds some mischief still
For idle hands to do.”

Idle time can get us in serious trouble, so what did Biblical characters do with their "in-between" times?

After ministering day and night to thousands of people, Jesus needed some time apart — He was exhausted. In Mark 6:31, Jesus says to his apostles, “'Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.' He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat." How many times have you ended the school year, just hanging on by a thread because it has been so crazy-busy? Take Jesus' example and find a quiet place to rest...time to replenish all the emotional resources that have been used up and recover from the exhaustion. We need a vacation! Ahhh, summer. Even the change of pace will make a huge difference.

But there are moments when we are taken by surprise by those down times. A good example is the prophet Elijah. God gave him a miraculous victory over the wicked King Ahab. Yet, after it was all over, the prophet crashed and burned, ready to die. Isn't it just like the enemy to take away our joy after a great moment of triumph and keep us looking down instead of up? God knew how discouraged he was and took him away from the battle so he could sleep and eat. Elijah had given all he had and his body, soul, and spirit needed time to heal. God would send him out to work once he was back on his feet. Don't fight and argue when God takes you out of the battle so you can rest. He knows your limits. Trust Him and come away for a bit.

My challenge is to keep doing what I know is right. Taking a vacation from prayer and Bible study is the last thing I should do…talk about Satan getting in and making mischief! Rather, take advantage of the freedom from schedules to visit with friends, read a good book, take in an exhibit — all just for fun. No agenda. Find a day and spend it with Jesus. Let Him fill up your soul.

Yes, that busy season is right around the corner but in-between time, I've replenished my spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical reserves. Ready?

Monday, July 5, 2010

On Our Knees

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV)

We "do" the 4th of July. Red, white, and blue decorations dot the various tables and chests in my home. I wear special tee shirts and jewelry that I accumulated over the years I spent in politics. The flag waves in the breeze from its standard in the front of the house. Phrases from the music from the Let Freedom Sing concert keep popping up in my mind in preparation for the performance…"I believe in America, I believe in you and me…".

Traditionally, our pastor uses the Sunday around the 4th to preach a sermon that incorporates our Christian heritage as a nation and the responsibilities we have as Christians in our sphere of influence. As the time for the pastoral prayer approached, he mentioned a program promoted by the Family Research Council appropriately named "Call 2 Fall"—taken from 2 Chronicles 7:14. As he disappeared behind the pulpit, he urged everyone to drop to their knees before the Lord in repentant prayer for God to reshape our lives and renew our land.

There was some irony in the midst of this because the church sign was vandalized this weekend with a poster that said, "Pray less, think more." I'm not sure what the vandal thought would be accomplished but I do know the enemy of the believer is on double duty because his time is short.

As Pastor Mark prayed, I took a quick peek from the choir loft and it was overwhelming to see the entire congregation on their knees—twice (two services). What better endeavor for a church family than to be on their knees in humility before the One who made us? Surely, God hears us.

I don't know what is in the future for our nation but I do know the One in control. Take a few moments to get on your knees today to plead for our country.

Freedom is never free.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


He surrounds them continuously and preserves them from every harm. Deuteronomy 33:12 (NLT)
The day started out as any normal day...maybe a little different because company was coming for dinner. I was up early doing some cooking, cleaning off the patio chairs, sweeping the front mat. It was hot out and I wanted to get all my chores done before I wilted. I stepped into the shower around 10:30 AM and suddenly Mark appeared and asked me to call 911. Overcome with symptoms of a heart attack, he sat down and waited. He knows what this feels like because he's already had two.

Dripping wet, I called the operator and set in motion events that unfortunately felt familiar. Soon he was bundled off in an ambulance, covered with wires and beeping noises. I sent him off with a quick kiss and hurriedly finished dressing and followed him. As I was leaving the house, I posted a quick email to a few friends alerting them to the crisis and asking for prayer.

As I was driving to the hospital, I realized that I could hardly pray…that I was on auto-pilot and numb. I asked the Holy Spirit to pray for me since the words seemed stuck in my throat but I knew that Jesus was right there with me. The Great Physician was in control.

As I walked through the Emergency Room, it was calm and orderly not like the controlled panic of the TV show, ER. We waited patiently for six hours in his assigned cubicle for the results of the many tests to determine what was going on. Because of his history, the doctor was cautious.

Good friends sat with us, my cell phone beeped with messages of encouragement from our kids, and prayers poured out to our Father on Mark's behalf from all over the country. By the end of the day, he was feeling better, the tests were negative, and the doctor released him. Home never looked so good.

We're not sure what yesterday was all about but Mark has been spared. We praise God for His mercy and goodness. We're so grateful for family and friends that love us and carry us on their shoulders during such times. We live to tell His story and glorify Him.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Open Trenches

A house is built by wisdom and becomes strong through good sense. Proverbs 24:3 (NLT)

I was a builder in one of my past lives. Our move to Arizona gave me one last opportunity to start from the ground up and personalize our home to our needs as retirees. Now four years later, construction has begun on the empty lot across the street. I knew something was up last month when I noticed the surveyors stakes outlining the perimeter of the house. Because we returned from Tennessee late in the evening, it was not until the next morning that I saw the full extent of their progress: the porta-potty and dumpster dropped at the front of the lot, piles of dirt strategically placed, and open trenches everywhere with rough plumbing pipes sticking up.

That was last Thursday. But there were no construction workers and all was quiet for the next four days. One of the jobs of the project manager is to keep the everything moving and on time, so down days are never a good sign. As I thought about it, I decided they must be waiting for an inspection of the rough plumbing. And sure enough, early this morning, I heard the beeps and bells of tractors as they pushed that dirt and covered the trenches. Step one passed, time to move on to the next.

"What if the builder never waited for those inspections or followed the building plans?" I wondered.

How foolish that would be! Talk about buyer beware since most of us don't have any idea how to properly build a house.

The same goes with how to live our lives. Without the guide book (the Bible) and the Master Project Manager (the Holy Spirit), how would we know what is our next step?

Wisdom and knowledge come through life experiences, both good and difficult. I wished I learned as much from those times on the mountain peaks as I learn from crawling through the valley. But, usually, that isn't the case. Whenever I get in a mess, suffer the consequences, accept responsibility and forgiveness, that is the time when I pray and ask that this experience would not be wasted—that I would learn from it and be able to help someone else.

There is nothing like good sense to meet the challenges of life, often achieved as God inspects the open trenches of our heart to make sure all is well. If there is a problem, He nudges us to make changes and then covers them over with His love. We learn that His plans are best.

I will be glad when the house is completed, the noise, dust, and trucks are gone, and the new neighbors have settled in. I started praying for these folks. Ol' Eagle Eye will be watching for the next few months to make sure all is well.

Just like our Heavenly Father watches out for us.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Simple Faith

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV)

On our return trip from Tennessee, Southwest decided to take the milk route—Nashville to Los Angeles to Tucson. It had been a busy week and I planned to finish up my Bible study, When Godly People Do Ungodly Things (by Beth Moore) on the way home, so I had my study guide and Bible on my lap.

As the plane filled, I hoped that we could keep the seat empty between us but after a few minutes as the plane began to fill, a young man asked to join our row. I scooted over to the middle seat and gave him the window. He was surprised at his good fortune and glanced down at my books as he sat down and commented, "Heavy reading."

"Uh huh," I replied. I hoped it would discourage this guy so I could finish up and get to my novel.

He pulled out his laptop and typed away. After a few minutes, he said, "Are you taking a test on this?"

"No, I'm part of a group of ladies and we will all share what we have learned." I didn't want to encourage any further questions.

I gathered he was reading over my shoulder when he made another comment about the book of Romans that I had open.

"OK, Lord, I guess you want me to talk to this guy."

I put down my Bible, sent up a quick prayer, and started talking to him. I discovered that he had been very active in a church in the East that had disbanded. His fiancee had chosen a life in a religious community and broken off the engagement. He was heartbroken and very disillusioned about the church and his faith. A job change moved him across the country and now he was trying to pick up the pieces of his abandoned faith.

He is a very well read man. In addition to a vast Bible knowledge, he liked to read early Christian fathers. He encouraged me to read these guys but I told him that I had enough to do to read the Bible and understand it.

But, as we talked, I detected some doubt yet dogmatism. He really threw me a curve when he said, "Grace is highly overrated."

We had a lengthy discussion about salvation, grace, and faith. He made it all so complicated and more than once, I told him that, for me, it was a simple faith. It was all about grace but he just couldn't accept it.

I thought of the rich young ruler and his encounter with Jesus. Although he kept all the rules, giving up his wealth was one big stumbling block for him and he walked away very sad. My young friend allows the past to trip him up, resulting in confusion and doubt.

We had a break in the conversation and I finally finished my lesson. The study ended with the story of the prodigal son. How appropriate! That boy was welcomed as if he had never left home with all the rights and privileges of a son. His dad never even asked him where he had been—he just threw a great big party.

As we neared LAX, I encouraged him to find a church where the Word is preached. He is lonely. What better place to find friends? I pray that he will listen to the still small voice of the Holy Spirit and accept the grace, love, and forgiveness from the Father.

It really is just that simple.