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The Spur

My daughter and I recently started new jobs on the same day. So lately the dinner table conversation at our house has centred around our new experiences. Last night I had something funny to report. To teach me how to repair bent frames, my co-worker manipulated an old pair and put them on. The glasses she picked were very old ? the lenses covered a large portion of her face - and there was much laughter as the others in the office complimented her on her fashion statement. When I finished telling the story, my daughter grinned and said, "You mean they were really old, like Dad's?" I nodded my head in spite of my husband's protests. He just can't seem to understand why we don't think his glasses are the latest thing in chic.

Styles and fashions change quickly these days. What's "in" today may not be a month from now. The change from year to year is often drastic. Looking at photographs taken several years ago will make us burst into laughter. "Look at that hair!" "Look at that jacket!" "Did I really wear that shirt?!" Changes in fashion can be fun, though costly if you are intent on keeping up. Change in general, though, seems to be something we don't like. We prefer that things stay the same, especially those things in our lives that keep us grounded and feeling secure. We are quick to establish routines and work . . .

My husband and I watched a film recently that had a lot to do with discovery. A man with a brilliant brain, insatiable curiosity and more than a little ambition set himself and others on a path that led to the development of aviation. Their achievements were astounding. It seemed their motto was, "the sky is no limit." We have comfortable air travel and satellite T.V. today because they believed it.

As we watched the program I couldn't help but wonder what made the minds of those men work the way they did. What would make a man think of flying in the first place? What would make a man think that by putting an orbiting satellite into space we could have instant pictures on a screen in our living rooms?

I asked myself a similar question one day in the jungles of Papua New Guinea. I was with a group of women living in a stone-age culture. We had gone deep into the Sago swamps to harvest their main source of food. The first step was to chop down a Sago palm. Then the women lined . . .

My husband and I recently had coffee with some old friends. They are old in the sense that we have known them for a long time, but they are also old in age. They admitted they are starting to slow down, just a little. Then they laughed about how time flies by so quickly. ?We seem to mark it by our involvement at church,? they admitted. ?What? It's time for Bible study already? What? It's Sunday again?? They spoke with enthusiasm and energy about that involvement and about their relationship to their God.

Their comments struck me as something worth noting, since I had just returned from spending a week visiting a retirement home, among people who seemed to be marking time by their stomachs. ?Isn't it time for lunch yet? When will they announce Supper? They should be announcing supper soon.? (They reminded me a little of Merry and Pipin in the Lord of the Rings ? 'surely he knows about elevensies?!?). Though I recognized that the capacity of the folks in that retirement home to be productive is now limited by age and infirmities, it saddened me that there was nothing more significant in their lives than what and when they would eat that day.

Sadly, though many of us are limited by neither old age nor infirmity, we sometimes . . .

We received a phone call last week that sounded intriguing. The man was very pleasant as he told me a technician would come into our home and test our water for us, free of charge. Like many people, I am concerned about what we are drinking, especially since we know it's crucial to drink plenty of water. So I said yes and booked the appointment.

When I told my husband, he grinned at me and told me he'd just been talking to some friends who'd received the same call the week before. The water test apparently revealed that they were drinking a liquid that was the next best thing to arsenic. So they bought a filtration system worth thousands of dollars.

I don't know how true that company's assessments are. I don't know how effective their filtration system is. I do know we don't have thousands of dollars. So I cancelled the appointment.

As I hung up I couldn't help but feel a little depressed. It seems we live in a toxic environment. Our water is suspect, our air is . . .

I imagine it's a very scary thing for athletes who have to perform in front of a crowd. But ask any one of them and they?ll tell you it's great to play in their home-town. The fans can make the difference between a win and a loss. Nobody wants to disappoint the home-town crowd. Their cheers energize the athletes and help them to give their best. One high school athlete, for instance, quickly gives his home-town fans an assist for the performance that helped send him to the Sydney Olympics. ?It was certainly a big gush of wind at my back,? he said. ?I think I harnessed it.?

As I spoke at a women's retreat recently and had my own personal cheering section, I understood what that ?gush of wind at my back? feels like. It made a big difference to know many in the audience were supportive. There was one elderly lady there, whom I had never met, but almost from the moment I started to speak she leaned forward in her seat. It wasn't long before she was nodding her head and smiling. Her whole demeanor seemed to shout, ?Yes! You go, girl!? My eyes frequently returned to her and I was able to harness her encouragement and speak with confidence.

In the book of Hebrews, the apostle Paul talks . . .

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