Tuesday, April 26, 2022

The outer fringe


An article released this month by the Natural History Museum in the UK, reported scientists have discovered the most distant object ever seen from earth. This possible galaxy is 13.3 billion years away. Additionally, this galaxy may be giving birth to stars at the rate of one hundred stars every year.

I was reading Job about the same time I read the article and had come to his response to his so called “friends” in chapter 26. He makes many declarations about God. Among them, “He spreads out the northern skies over empty space; he suspends the earth over nothing . . .. He covers the face of the full moon, spreading his clouds over it. He marks out the horizon on the face of the waters . . .. The pillars of the heavens quake, aghast at his rebuke . . . “

And then Job writes, “And these are but the outer fringe of his works . . . “

I’ve been thinking about “the outer fringe of his works” in relation to the new space discovery. When I visit the coastal shore as the tide is receding, small ebbs of water follow the tide out. These tiny laps of foam are hardly anything compared to the vastness of the Atlantic Ocean beyond which holds 187 quintillion gallons of water—quintillion with fifteen zeroes after it—a billion billions. Now, that’s a number that boggles the brain. It is almost incomprehensible. That is the best analogy I can devise to illustrate this new space discovery compared to the vastness of all God has done and is doing. And yet the analogy breaks down because the ocean still has a limit, and God is limitless.

All that we see and know is only “the outer fringe.”

When we are confronted with seemingly irresolvable problems, whether in the world beyond or in our personal lives, it’s good to reflect on God’s greatness. God and his works are vast and even more incomprehensible than a number with fifteen zeroes after it. And yet, he knows, he sees, even to numbering the hairs on our head (Matthew 10:30). In fact, we are so valuable to him, He calls us His children. “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God . . .” (John 1:12).

In these uncertain times, I find great comfort in this.

I hope you do, too.

Beverly Varnado is the author of several small town romances from Anaiah Press including her latest, A Season for Everything. All are available at Amazon. A memoir, Faith in the Fashion District,  from Crosslink Publishing  is also available as well as her other books, Give My Love to the Chestnut Trees and Home to Currahee. She also has an Etsy Shop, Beverly Varnado Art. 

To explore the web version of One Ringing Bell, please visit bev-oneringingbell.blogspot.com

Beverly Varnado copyright 2022

 

Friday, April 22, 2022

Grace and negative dysphotopsia

I have now joined the ranks of many my age in having my first cataract surgery. The surgery itself was without incident but I have developed a condition called negative dysphotopsia. It is a black arc in my peripheral vision. No one knows for sure what causes it—could have something to do with the new lens or the optic nerve. Hopefully, it will resolve in time, but it may be months before it does so. For those of you considering cataract surgery, this complication is rare. From what I can tell, the numbers are from one to fifteen percent of patients deal with it. I also have had flashing lights in that eye which is common but that has changed to pulsing which is irritated by fluorescent light even with sunglasses. Again, this should disappear after a time.

Knowing what I know now, would I still have the surgery? Oh, yes. My eyesight was failing at an alarming rate. Most people describe the transition after surgery as everything being brighter. For me, it’s as if the world was lit by a warm led before and very blurry, and then someone changed the bulb to a cool led, which brought with it great clarity. The doctor said the eye lens begins to yellow around age forty and it is replaced with a clear lens which would be in keeping of my perception of the color temperature change. It turns out the world is a much cooler place than I realized.

One article I read indicated that negative dysphotopsia led to great patient discomfort. Well, yeah. It’s something to get used to, for sure. It’s like having a border that never goes away around the eye. And yes, I know it could have been something much worse like a retina tear. 

Ragamuffin Gospel author, Brennan Manning wrote, “The conversion from mistrust to trust is a confident quest seeking the spiritual meaning of human existence. Grace abounds and walks around the edges of our everyday experience.”

When I read these words, I sensed God saying that grace is walking around the edges of my vision—that in the periphery, God’s divine influence is being exerted.

Maybe, you too have a borderland that seems disturbed, but keep in mind, God is at work. Grace is at work. 

So, we trust. I am thankful for my doctor and all the medical technology, because again, my eyesight was in a downward spiral. And now, at least out of one eye, I have a picture of the leaves on the trees again . . . and they already have a frame around them.

“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

Beverly Varnado is the author of several small town romances from Anaiah Press including her latest, A Season for Everything. All are available at Amazon. A memoir, Faith in the Fashion District,  from Crosslink Publishing  is also available as well as her other books, Give My Love to the Chestnut Trees and Home to Currahee. She also has an Etsy Shop, Beverly Varnado Art. 

To explore the web version of One Ringing Bell, please visit bev-oneringingbell.blogspot.com

Beverly Varnado copyright 2022

 

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Where to build our nests

I’ve been getting ready for our Easter meal and toward that end, I’m making nests.

I decided to do a repeat of last year and pull out my mother’s Desert Rose china for Easter, but this year instead of using the white chocolate rabbits on the plates, I’m making nests of chow mein noodles, marshmallows, and butter.

Last Year's Table

While shaping these, I kept thinking of a quote in my book, Give My Love to the Chestnut, which was set on Saint Simons Island and included references to the vast marshes surrounding the island. The poet Sydney Lanier wrote, “As the marsh hen builds her nest on the watery sod, I will build me a nest on the greatness of God.”

This Holy week leading up to Easter is a time to think on the greatness of God, for it is God’s great purpose to save the world that culminates in Jesus’ resurrection on Easter morning. Revelation says Jesus was “slain from the foundation of the world.” From the beginning God had this plan.

Even this past week, I was reading in Genesis, and these words leaped out at me—when Jacob was blessing his sons, he came to Judah and said, “The scepter will not depart form Judah nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet until he to whom it belongs shall come and obedience of the nations shall be his”(Genesis 49:10). This, of course, refers to Jesus and it would take pages to note the additional Biblical references pointing to the Savior long before he made his appearance on earth.

So, when we speak of building our nests on the greatness of God, I believe it means we have to establish our foundations on the truth that God is everything. David once prayed, “Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all . . . “(I Chronicles 29:11).

This thought is echoed by Sydney Lanier who went on to say, “Like to the greatness of God is the greatness within the range of the marshes, the liberal marshes of Glynn.” Those vast marshes only hint at how big and how magnificent our God is.

It is humbling and should make us drop to our knees in praise and adoration.

Yes, I am building my little chow mein nests, but I am also thinking of my spiritual nest and being made into someone who can be used by this One who has sacrificed His only Son for me.

During this Holy week, I pray for each of us time to reflect on the greatness of God, and where we are building our nests,

May each of you have a blessed Easter.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

Here’s a link for those little nests. 

Beverly Varnado is the author of several small town romances from Anaiah Press including her latest, A Season for Everything. All are available at Amazon. A memoir, Faith in the Fashion District,  from Crosslink Publishing  is also available as well as her other books, Give My Love to the Chestnut Trees and Home to Currahee. She also has an Etsy Shop, Beverly Varnado Art. 

To explore the web version of One Ringing Bell, please visit bev-oneringingbell.blogspot.com

Beverly Varnado copyright 2022

 

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Inspiration from the 1950 census

As some of you may have seen, the National Archives has just posted records from the 1950 census. Census record information is held in secret for seventy-two years before it is released, so every 10 years, we get a window into another era.

As a writer, this sort of thing is fascinating. I sifted through the forms online looking for records for members of my own family. I didn’t find my parents or maternal grandparents, but I did find a few aunts, uncles, cousins, and great aunts and uncles. Then while investigating an incomplete notation, I came upon the names of my paternal grandparents, Silas and Sadie. I imagined them standing on the porch of a house on highway 59 on that Tuesday in May as the census worker, Kathleen Jackson, asked them questions.“What is your occupation?”

My grandfather responded, “Farmer.”

“Hours worked?”

 “Sixty.”

Ten hours a day, six days a week. And that was probably an underestimate. He was in his fifties at that point. It would be reasonable to assume that my grandmother matched his workload at least equally. When my dad was asked to describe my grandfather, he simply said, “Hard worker.” The agrarian culture demanded so much. My grandmother died when I was five, so I have only one clear memory of her. My grandfather lived a few years longer but also passed when I was a child. These notations about them on a seventy-year-old form help me feel as if I know them a little better.

One thing is for sure though, at that point in history in my grandparents’ world of not having a telephone, indoor plumbing, much less a television, they could not foresee their granddaughter would in seventy years be examining these records on a computer one could hold in their hand. Or that this device would also serve as a camera, telephone, music player, calendar, and so much more. It would have been unimaginable for them.

This brings me to the spiritual point for this week’s post.

In a much, much greater way, it is hard for us to understand what God has prepared for us in our eternal future. We’ve read. We’ve studied. Still, it is difficult for us to grasp. Jesus tried to bring heaven’s glory to us in a way we could understand by using words like house and rooms. (The King James uses the word "mansions." I like that a lot). 

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:1-3).

John also tried to describe heaven’s glory. A couple of my favorite descriptions in the closing chapter of Revelation are the crystal river of life flowing from the throne and that there will be no need for lamps because the Lord God will give us light.  

It is hard for the finite mind to comprehend what the infinite has for us. Still, we try. When the brokenness of this life threatens to overwhelm, it’s good to remember that heaven is a real, unimaginably beautiful place. It keeps us looking forward and looking up.

Listed in those 1950 census records are people like my grandparents who are now enjoying their reward in heaven. Seeing their names again serves as a reminder to be faithful, even as they were.

The words of an old gospel song say, “When the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.” Yes, when the census is taken in heaven one day, I definitely want to be there.

So, here’s the LINK for the National Archives and the 1950 census. Hope you find inspiration in looking up your people, too.  (Make sure you click on population schedules to see the actual forms).

Beverly Varnado is the author of several small town romances from Anaiah Press including her latest, A Season for Everything. All are available at Amazon. A memoir, Faith in the Fashion District,  from Crosslink Publishing  is also available as well as her other books, Give My Love to the Chestnut Trees and Home to Currahee. She also has an Etsy Shop, Beverly Varnado Art. 

To explore the web version of One Ringing Bell, please visit bev-oneringingbell.blogspot.com

Beverly Varnado copyright 2022

 

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