Posted in theology

Last week I turned 62

By Elizabeth Prata

EPrata photo. Taken in Prata, Italy, “Door with cane”

Last week I turned 62. I’m OK with the advancing age. That isn’t what this essay is about. I was rather tickled to think I’ve now entered into the official Social Security senior citizen era.

My bemusement comes from the fact that once again, the Bible is right. Life is a vapor. It really does emerge, happen, and extinguish in what feels like mere moments.

My first memory occurred 8 weeks after I turned 3. That means I have 59 years of memories. Fifty-nine years of experiences. Fifty-nine years of the good, the bad, the inconsequential. It’s a heavy load to carry that many memories, and I suspect it gets heavier as time goes on. If the Lord continues my life 10, 20, even 30 more years, that’s a lot more emotional gear attached to my heart.

Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. For you are just a vapor that appears for a little while, and then vanishes away. (James 4:14)

But more than that obvious statement about age and memories and baggage etc., which is nothing new under the sun, is the notion that it all happened in the blink of an eye. You know this, older people have been telling you ‘It goes so fast!’ all their life. You understand this as a fact, because in addition to hearing it from older relatives, the Bible advises on the brevity of life over and over.

But once you experience it, man, it gets real.

How quickly does the steam disappear over the teacup? How far out from our mouth does thee cold frozen air extend? How high does the haze from the hot pavement rise?

You, indeed, have made my days as handbreadths, and my lifetime as nothing before You. Truly each man at his best exists as but a breath. Selah (Psalm 39:5)

When I turned 30 I quit my teaching job and sailed off to the Bahamas with a blue eyed handsome man. When I was 40 I started a newspaper, using it to ‘clean up this town’. When I was 50 I returned to education as a career. At 61 I was just working as a teacher’s aide and not looking ahead too much. But I got COVID, and was out of work for 2 and a half weeks. I was deathly ill. A nurse friend wanted me to go to the hospital, but I refused. I spent 9 days with a fever of 102 or higher, and my oxygen levels dipped low. My brain felt good and fried by the end but I made it. It took me a long time to recover and I’m still not the same as I was before I had that awful flu. That event caused me to really think hard about life and death. Only two times before in all my life was I that ill.

Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow. (Psalm 144:4)

That’s been my pattern – big life changes at each decade.

I clearly remember my 30s. It truly feels like yesterday. I think of something that happened “last year” and it was in fact ten years ago. Because we are warned about the brevity of life, because we are told how fast it all goes, (even if he is gracious to give us 70 or 80 years), then what manner of life shall I live for God? How shall we live? Are we glorifying God to the best of our ability? Even to half our ability? Do we think of Him more than we think of family, work, personal needs and wants? If the chief end of man as the Westminster Catechism says, is to glorify Him and enjoy Him forever, are we enjoying Him?

For my days vanish like smoke, and my bones burn like glowing embers. (Psalm 102:3)

Putting off till tomorrow is easy to do. Then suddenly you’re 62 and realize that all the days of tomorrows have piled into years. Why will we cry in heaven and He has to wipe away tears? Will it be because we realize then how much time He gave us and how much of it we squandered?

I’ll add my voice to the chorus, young ladies, life does traverse the streams of time quickly. It might feel like a gentle meander in a raft down a lazy river, but you are truly riding a speedboat in the rapids. Use your time well, each and every day. Love your husband, raise your children, hug them!! Or if you are single, all the more to live for Him- and enjoy Him.

EPrata photo
Posted in theology

On life, death, buses, and trains

By Elizabeth Prata

A man died in his car after a collision with a train last week. His small child was airlifted from the scene to Atlanta and was listed in critical condition.

He was the father of four and 3 of his children attended our county schools.

I have a love-hate relationship with trains. 50 years ago, the town dump was just that, a dumping ground. Old fridges, lawn chairs, lamps, trash and the like were just dumped onto a landfill. My dad took the trash every weekend and always asked if me and my brother wanted to go. We always did. The dump was at the same time scary, spooky, alluring, and fun to pick around at the dump. You never knew what you might find.

The dump was fun but there was terror in going because of the train.

You had to cross the railroad tracks to get there. My father used to stop on the tracks and turn off the car and pretend we were stalled. He’d yell that the train was coming and we were all going to die. We’d scream terrified in the back seat, peering wild-eyed up the tracks to see where the train was. Then he would laugh hysterically at his joke and turn the car on and we’d go.

Yeah, I know.

The church I attend is down a main road that parallels the tracks for a good 7 miles. I get really nervous around train tracks, even to this day. There are a lot of crossings. Most of them have lights and gates. A few don’t. It was at one where there were no gates or lights that the accident happened.

As I approached the scene on my way to church that night, I saw that the train had stopped, and the train guy in reflective jacket had descended the steps and was running alongside the train. His face looked terrified… Anyway, I wondered what he was running toward, because the train doesn’t stop there and the train guy doesn’t usually exit the train, usually. I looked ahead and spotted the vehicle in the ditch. I winced, the car was pretty wrecked. Ambulances hadn’t gotten there yet. I said a prayer as I passed.

I was saddened by this tragedy, pretty deeply. I thought about it all week. I prayed for the family. I wondered of the man was saved.

Then another tragedy struck. Not in our immediate area like the train accident, but in Indiana. A mother/church-goer/children’s minister, had her life turned inside out in a flash. She struck and killed three small children as they crossed the road to their bus. A fourth child was gravely injured. The three children were siblings, twin boys and a girl, from the same family.

“I haven’t seen first responders and troopers cry in a long time” said Indiana State Police Sergeant Tony Slocum. It was a heart-rending scene. It is one I cannot contemplate too long if I am not going to cry.

A mother somewhere in Indiana lost her three children in a flash. The last thing those children saw was a truck grill bearing down on them. It is awful thought. Investigators do not yet know why the wreck happened. The driver had stopped and had his flashing lights on and the arm out. He doesn’t seem to have contributed to the accident. The mother alone has been charged, three counts of reckless homicide and failing to stop at a school bus.

There is a lot to absorb regarding this incident, if one wants to mull it over. I don’t blame you if you don’t. We all know that our lives could be changed in a moment, but we don’t really think about it. When it happens, it often happens fast, like the father who was killed by the train. One moment you’re trundling along and the next you’ve arrived at your eternal destination.

The man’s wife was suddenly widowed, and her children fatherless, all in a moment. The mother who ran over the three kids at the bus stop, will never be the same, she has felonies on her record and never mind the insane grief and guilt she will bear forever.

I got to thinking about all that is done under the sun. What God must think of us, going about our business…lost sheep who have all gone astray

This may seem trite but it is true and applicable to how things are on this earth.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

2a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
3a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
(Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)

And this

For who knows what is good for man while he lives the few days of his vain life, which he passes like a shadow? For who can tell man what will be after him under the sun? (Ecclesiastes 6:12)

My Lord and My God ordains all. He knows what goes on under the sun. He allows sin to permeate a life, its effects to take a life, innocents to be killed, wives to become widows, mothers to become childless, children to become motherless.

It is a world full of sorrow and pain, heartache and tragedy. This isn’t such a positive essay, and I am sorry if you were looking for that today. But in this world, unexpected events happen which defy our comprehension but still hurt our heart. Trusting God is the only answer.

Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight, which he has made crooked? (Ecclesiastes 7:13)

Barnes’ Notes on the Bible

The work of God – The scheme of Divine Providence, the course of events which God orders and controls (compare Ecclesiastes 3:11). It comprises both events which are “straight,” i. e., in accordance with our expectation, and events which are “crooked,” i. e., which by their seeming inequality baffle our comprehension.

God sent His Son so that even when baffling things happen, we can turn to Him for comfort. We know that He knows. He is working things out to the good for those who love Him. He has reasons and ways and plans that we don’t understand, but we have the Light of understanding that He does, and that’s enough.

Once again, Jesus spoke to the people and said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12).

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Posted in encouragement, Uncategorized

The Practical Grace of Alana L.

Alana L. is a Christian, a wife, a mom, an entrepreneur, and a Youtuber. She has been making videos about her life as a mom in Christ for five years, which are published nearly every day. In her first couple of videos, Alana articulates the Gospel and her beliefs. The remaining videos are simply how these beliefs play out during a regular old day, a kind of practical grace.

One video I liked of hers was just over 1 minute long. It showed an empty glass on the floor next to a rocking chair. Her husband had left it there after getting up from eating his sandwich. You know how the Mexican standoff begins, you sinfully say to yourself, ‘Well if he couldn’t bring the glass to the sink, I won’t.’ Or passive-aggressively waving the glass around while asking “Are you done with this glass? I’ll put it in the sink for you.‘ Or just ignore the glass and leave it for him to pick up eventually, when he gets the hint. [They never get the hint]. Or…how to handle this issue lovingly, and what thoughts Jesus would want us to have as Alana muses (while taking the glass to the sink). Practical grace.

Sunny Shell at Abandoned to Christ has some thoughts on motherhood, fatherhood, and family-hood titled The Hands That Rock The Cradle, Heals or Hurts The World

Please read her piece for an encouraging thought for the day. Then enjoy Alana L.’s take on living it out. She covers submission, wife-hood, spanking, discipline, homeschooling, working from home, raising boys, cleaning, marital irritations, lovemaking and attractiveness, bitterness, and more. All the things. Her videos run from 1 minute to 20 minutes. Enjoy.

Alana Lagares Youtube Channel