Monthly Archives: December 2016

HIS TABERNACLE

“…Behold, the Tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.”~Rev 21:3-4

“…the Tabernacle of God is with men…” Tonight as I was reading my nighttime devotions, these seven words swirled around me and sang deep in my soul. Over and over the WORD etched itself. Carving a niche within to rest and light this world a little more with His love.

God’s tent is with me – – – with you – – – with each and everyone of us – – – He loves us that much. Of course, the questions always follow such revelations – how is that possible? Why? And then – I kick myself in the proverbial “butt”. Why can’t “faith” be as simple as it was when I lay under a tree to talk to my Father?

The busyness of the season pushed (and continues to push) Abba to the back of my agendas so many times over the past few days. I’ve missed prayer times – – -times to grow in the WORD – – – quiet times to plead in the war room – – – and still I have felt His Tabernacle with me – every day – every step – in every word I spoke to others while the prayers of thankfulness thrummed unspoken, deeply within me.

“Here I AM” – with me – with you – – –

Regardless of the bad choices I have made and continue to make, He chooses to be with me. Even when I reject Him, He seeks me out and waits for me to open the flaps of my tent, so that He may enter and share a meal with me. Someday, I will understand how that is possible. Someday, I will understand a love that great. Someday, the questions will be silenced.

“Still through the cloven skies they come,
With peaceful wings unfurled;
And still their heavenly music floats
O’er all the weary world:
Above its sad and lowly plains
They bend on hovering wing,
And ever o’er its Babel sounds
The blessed angels sing.”~”It Came Upon a Midnight Clear”

Tonight as I sat outside by the fire with the Hubby and daughters, my heart was listening to other music. Music, not from the neighbors’s bonfire festivities, but music that still issues its timeless reminder – over and over and over. All I have to do is open the flaps of my tent. Invite the Creator of the universe into my tent. His tabernacle is with me. Always. Forever. Forever and ever.

Hallelujah.edmund-sears-265676

ADVENT LOVE #7/CHRISTMAS: COME

We have COME to the night I love most out of the whole year. A night where Expectations…Traditions…Sacred dreams…Peace to all of good will…Family and friends…Love…all wrapped together to form the perfect present to a world so desperate and needy.

COME to a crowded town where weary travelers grab whatever shelter they can afford or find. COME to a stable filled with ordinary animals – doing ordinary things. COME to a hillside where some shepherds had their spiritual eyes and ears open enough to receive a message in the dark of night. COME and hear the cry of a newborn infant lying in a manger.

COME and see the first gift of Christmas.

Christmas stockings finished and hung from their pegs. Polar Express and cuddles from the Grands before bedtime and Santa. Hugs from the daughters – one who journeyed all day to find her place in our arms – and one who shares her life with me on a daily basis. Communion meals of family and songs of praise in my heart. Quiet devotions and listening to one song in particular.

COME.

COME. OH COME. Adore the infant face that showed us the face of His Father. COME. Bend the arthritic, broken knees and dance as Amahl did with the Night Visitors. COME – not just to the church for beautiful songs and holy rituals – but COME to the star light of the child who still is being born in HOPE, JOY, PEACE and LOVE. COME, ye nations till everyone hears and praises His holy name forever.

COME.

COME.

A BLESSED CHRIST-MASS TO ALL and to all a good night.

https://video.search.yahoo.com/search/video;_ylt=AwrBT88fT19YkwMAIgpXNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTEyYTlhc3ViBGNvbG8DYmYxBHBvcwMxBHZ0aWQDQjI1NDVfMQRzZWMDc2M-?p=You+Tube+David+Osmond+Come+All+Ye+Faithful&fr=mcafee#id=1&vid=56751e2b19c214e7371f19f6ae30cae9&action=view

ADVENT LOVE #5: Blessed Memories

“Its here, in the season of lights,…I want our kids to be able to stand on the front walk with us in the days leading up to Christmas…to drink in the long, crisp winter dusk. I want them to see their tree, in their house shining through their windows. I want them to know the kind of warmth I remember coming home to as a child, the thought of Christmas, with all those lights strung around windows and doors, we might be safe in a greater sort of way. Hopeful, even….”~Drew Perry “Home for the Holidays” p28 Our State Magazine

Step by step – each day – we build a bank of memories. Some are immediately discarded into the back files of non-importance. Others stored in closer files for handy reference. And some – marked with a heart or a star or with a golden highlighter so that it can be pulled up at anytime – in any place – to be reviewed and treasured all over again.

Tonight as I tucked the Grands into sleep, I decided this was one of those memories that would be highlighted with that golden highlighter. After watching Miracle on 34th Street (original) and 2 large bowls of popcorn, we talked about the Christmas Count-down Bell that my daughter decided to continue with her children.

“Each night before Christmas,
After prayers have been said,
Take off a loop and hop into bed.
When Christmas will come,
It’s easy to tell,
For that is the night,
You come to the bell.”

We would write the poem in the bell and decorate it – sometimes wildly. Then a colorful construction paper chain finished the bell and allowed us to remember how many days we had to wait for Christmas. And somehow – the poem became ingrained in my important memory files forever.

Tonight the conversation took on a life of its own. Oldest Grand said, “I sing my prayers to God in my sleep.” Younger Grand said, “Yeah, at night, God and I talk a lot.” I said – “I don’t know if I sing, but I talk to God a lot as well. He doesn’t care when you talk to Him; He just wants to hear your voice because He LOVES you. Sometimes, I yak at Him in my dreams, but more often, I just talk to Him in the morning and at night and when some crazy person pulls in front of me because they wanted the parking space that I was getting ready to use.” The Grands laughed…I did too, but not so much when the crazy person cut me off.

“And let us pay attention to one another in the encouragement of LOVE and of good works.”~Heb 10:24

I alternately prayed for that crazy person and stomped my feet all the way into the grocery store . Then I saw one of the cashiers that I always look for when I get in line. She is bent over in so many ways that it hurts to watch. Yet, probably because we are close to being the same age and I understand pain in the joints, we always talk as she checks me out. She leans heavily on the counter as she picks things up from the cart and over the scanner. When she moves, she uses a cart just to move from the cash register to the office. Somehow, her work ethic drove that crazy person and all the other stupidness of this world completely into the discard memory pile. I pray for her tonight just as I pray from the Grands, my family – here or far away – and all the names on my war room wall – which seems to be growing at warp speed.

“You will keep in perfect peace
all who trust in you,
all whose thoughts are fixed on you!
Trust in the LORD always,
for the LORD GOD is the eternal Rock.”~Is 26:3-4

Christmas memories can be warm and fuzzy – my first bike – my first Barbie – – – they can be scary and sad – a father having a 2nd heart attack on Christmas – a Christmas break 4 years later when I kissed him goodbye for the last time – – – holy and sacred – communion in a small upper room on Christmas Eve – learning to sing the mother’s role in Amahl and the Night Visitors just in case I was needed – Candle light service in my childhood church with my mother on one side and my children and Hubby on the other…

Blessed with peace-filled LOVE. Blessed with memories. [google image]

ADVENT LOVE #3: Pen-pal Parable

Long ago, I had a pen-pal in Canada. A friend of my parents had relatives in Canada and somehow – we became pen-pals. I don’t remember much about those letters, but I sure wish I could be a timeless cherub and look over my shoulder as I wrote them or as I read the letters from Carole that came back to me.

Carole disappeared from my life around those crazy teen years in the 60’s. I’m not sure who stopped writing first, but we were both about the same age, so I guess it was a mutual decision. One thing I do know – it started my fascination with the mailbox and with using pen and paper to express my thoughts. I’ve never gotten over it.

Today, I got a Christmas card and note from a newer pen-pal. We started corresponding a few years before I retired. We don’t write often, but when a letter comes, I am just as excited as I was long ago. I always find a quiet corner (so I can hear their voice in my head) and open that letter last (save the best for last adage always works for me).

Anyway, Judith’s card was a simple reminder of what this whole week before Christmas should be about. Not rushing to the store. Not worrying about lists. Not last minute decorations that aren’t working. Simple stories. Stories like the ones Rabbi Yeshua would use. Judith sent me a Christmas parable that I hadn’t seen for a long time. It is well worth sharing on this 3rd night of LOVE.

“Christmas Eve as the great evergreens were hauled into the convent sanctuary, a little bird which had found shelter in one of the trees was brought into chapel with it. Windows and doors were thrown open – but in his frantic attempts to escape, he dashed himself against the walls and ceiling.

As a sister watched in anguish, she thought – ‘If I could just become a little bird myself, I could show him how to get out. He would not be afraid to follow another bird.’

When at last he blundered his way out, it occurred to her: ‘Mankind was lost, bewildered and trapped. God, himself, cared enough to become a human being to rescue us.’

That is the meaning of the Incarnation.”

Pen pals are a blessing in many ways. Today my pen-pal was a unexpected Christ-mass Blessing. As we enter the last few days of this blessed season, may unexpected Christ-mass Blessings circle round you and your family.

[google images]

ADVENT LOVE #2: LIGHTS OF LOVE

“Every time we open our mouths and speak, we are eiter saying let there be light or let there be darkness.”~Glennon Doyle Melton.

God said, “Light Be!”

He created us in His image. We get to choose…light or darkness…

I love Christmas lights. It is fun to take the girls out at night and walk a short distance with colorful lights twinkling all around. Reminds me of my childhood – decorated door with red twinkling bells – Christmas display contests tucked beneath the boughs of a tall pine tree – and all the times my son called them “miracles”.

The littlest Grand was excited when I picked him up from kindergarten. He’d made a present for his sister and couldn’t wait to put it under the tree. He was sure she would want to tear the paper off right away. As we drove, we giggled and stopped – as usual – to look at the goat farm on the way. They weren’t doing much today but two were close to the fence, so we stayed for awhile. Lucky for us – no cars were following us – so it was easy-peasy.

For the past couple of years, I’ve noticed out of the corner of my eye, a little nativity set up on the same road. I’ve never seen it at night, but when we stopped today to look at it, there are a few cords, and I think that I may have to return sometime during the early evening hours to see what it looks like at night.

“…and behold, that star which they had seen in The East went before them, until it came and stood over where The Boy was.”~Matt 2:9

The Grand and I were impressed. Simple. Run down shack that had obviously seen much better times. The Grand spotted the star high above us that I hadn’t even noticed until he pointed it out. A sheep nestled close to the manger, but there was no baby yet. We were glad since our winter coats were not enough to block the chill in the air.

The nativity.
A baby in a manager.
A star over it all.

Abba opened the darkness then – He opens the darkness now – not with a fire-ball – but a single star’s light. Nothing spectacular shouting, “Here is my son” but instead a candle in the vastness – – – bright enough to open eyes of those who seek – – – dim enough to ignore. But – if they choose to follow the Light – the Light of Grace grows and grows and grows and grows – – – in HOPE, PEACE, JOY and LOVE – – – until it is so bright that the darkness fades away.

“The people who sat in the darkness have seen The Great Light, and those who were sitting in the region and in the shadow of death, to them The Light has dawned.”~Matt 4:16

Advent Love #1: The Journey

“God always takes the initiative- – -He blessed first, served first, comforted first, and most of all, LOVED first. An then it’s up to us.”~Max Lucado, p175, Because of Bethlehem
 
This is the week, I really tend to start centering in on the humanity of the Holy family and the journey they actually took I mean – really? Walking and/or riding a donkey for 60 – 100 miles (depending on the probable routes of the times) in the last week of pregnancy has to be the ultimate ‘I-don’t-wanna-do-this-ever’ for new parents. And yet – somewhere deep within me – I know they didn’t even question it.
 
You have to figure that Mary and Joseph came from families that were immersed in scripture study. Visited by an angel – covered by the Holy Spirit – visited by another angel – Mary and Joseph knew scripture. They knew the prophecies – they knew that their son, Yeshua, would be born in Bethlehem – even before a Roman emperor told them that they would have to journey there to be counted.
 
“But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.”~Micah 5:2
 
They may not have liked it, but they knew Abba was faithful in His promises. They knew they were on a journey like no other, and they walked that long distance in faith. Just as they had traveled the last 9 months – of fear – of derision – of lectures – of shunning…. The long distance into the wilderness – the heat of day and the cold of night – the Braxton-Hicks Contractions…the pain…discomfort – snakes and robbers perhaps hidden ahead – or – on good days – staying with relatives, friends or even – perhaps – an inn – resting on the Sabbath – money to travel – maybe? – but – in reality? – no place to call their own…no place to lay their heads… no place to lay their child…the Messiah…
 
Sometimes over the years, I’ve wondered if they thought that God would open a miraculous door, and they would find a place “fit for a king” waiting for them when they got to Bethlehem. I’m pretty sure that Abba didn’t fill in a lot of details for them any more than He does us when He pushes us out the door on our own journeys. As I study the scriptures, El is great at pointing the way, but expects us to travel on faith most of the time. I guess you can tell, that is not always my favorite way of embarking on a journey. I’m still working on that particular aspect of my character.
 
However, as I read over the last couple of paragraphs again, the proverbial light bulb went on in my sometimes functioning mind. Bam!! It made sense. His parents had to travel their own mirror journey of what Christ’s path would reflect. How could they “train up a child the way he should go…” if they didn’t understand what hardships might lie ahead in His earthly, humanoid journey.
 
“Therefore we shall love God because he first LOVED us.”~1 John 4:19
 
Today, hubby put on his shorts and took his own journeys. He ran the four-wheeler, the scooter, the motorcycle and walked the dogs. I worked on Christmas stocking #3, cleaned the garage, delivered a pine decoration to a neighbor and lit the final Advent candle.
 
We are blessed. Prayers circle. LOVE arrives as a baby. Merry Christ-mass. Seek the infant.
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Advent JOY #7: Seed

The joy of having an old “new” house is that there are always things that need a little tweaking. The floor in my office/writing/music/memory room is due for a tweak. This wouldn’t be a bad thing except it is crowded with “stuff” that probably only has meaning to me, and half of that “stuff” needed to be moved.

Errrrr….

Not exactly what I wanted to do on the morning of finishing a Christmas stocking, preparing food and pine centerpiece for daughter’s Christmas party, painting a few more ornaments as gifts, and wrapping a few presents. BUT – there I was – moving things from one room to another and biting my nails in between – literally. Tweaks are like that. When they squeak, we must tweak……and that is when the seeds fell on the floor.

“All suffering, all pain, all emptiness, all disappointment is seed; sow it in God and he will, finally, bring a crop of JOY from it.”~Eugene Peterson

A couple summers back, I read an easy way to save seeds for an efficient, easier planting in the next spring. So – I followed the instructions and when they were dried and ready – put them away for the spring. The problem was – I lost track of them. Two years later, the squeak of the tweak brought forth an unexpected JOY.

“Those who plant in tears
will harvest with shouts of joy.
They weep as they go to plant their seed,
but they sing as they return with the harvest.”~Ps 126:5-6

Obviously, I can’t run out and plant seed today – even in NC, it is not that warm. So I picked them up and put them on the bed in the extra bedroom until the squeak of the tweak is fixed….hmmmm….maybe I better move them, so I remember where they are this time….

Tonight, as I watched the Grands run from one floor to another – their Christmas JOY rattling the windows – while the camaraderie of the parents who were gathered around mounds of finger food permeated the downstairs with even more Christmas JOY – I had to smile. Seeds planted long ago are dropping fruit for a seed plantings of their own. We left before the Christmas play, the caroling, Santa’s visit, a Polar Express-marathon-sleepover – a communion service of it’s own in the making…

The JOY of the LORD is your strength.”~Neh 8:10

So – a day that started out in frustrating busy work that I didn’t want to do became a day that burst forth into an unexpected, beautiful rare bloom of brilliant colors. Colors that I keep revisiting in the quiet of our “new” old home where the squeak of the tweak is still clamoring for attention. Maybe tomorrow, I will move some more stuff so that the fixer-upper person will be able to complete their task without breaking anything. The seeds – not safe in the extra bedroom to my way of thinking – are now tucked securely into a book shelf nook, so I can find them easily two months hence.

Who knows what seeds Abba plans to plant in the next week of Advent? He planted a seed of LIGHT just for us in Bethlehem 2000+ years ago. I just hope that I continue to notice those seeds He plants close to me and am wise enough to nurture them in prayer, tending the garden well so that He may harvest the crop with His blessings in His perfect timing. After all – Christ is coming again soon, and I can hardly sit still.  My JOY is bubbling to the surface.

Now to the LORD sing praises
All you within this place,
And with true love and brotherhood
Each other now embrace;
This holy tide of Christmas
All others doth deface.
O tidings of comfort and JOY, comfort and JOY;
O tidings of comfort and JOY.

[google images

Advent Joy #3:Believe

“I can see the Truth, the light of Your love this Christmas”

I got to pick up the eldest Grand today. Her smile and little jump she gave when she saw my car in line to pick her up was all I needed to bless my day. But wait – there’s more. She jumped in the car, and we talked all the way home. It was worth every mile I traveled to pick her up. Best of all – Grandson was waiting for us at home, jumping up and down, beyond excited to show me the word search that he had done – 14 words – all by himself of the countries of the world. Not bad for kindergartner.

“I can feel the JOY in the Light of Your love…it’s Christmas…”

We spent the next hour reading Grand #1’s newest story on the battle between the cheetahs and the sharks, looking at art work that goes with said story, learning how to manage the on-line pony farm, traipsing out to the chicken coop to look at the new fancy chickens, and examining packages under the tree. It is definitely Christmas in more ways than just a “holiday”.

“Till the whole world hears,
Till the whole world hears,
Till the whole world hears Your name,
I will believe.”~Dianne Michelle, “Believe”

I love this Christmas song. It is only two years old in the age of our earth years and yet, I feel like I have known the melody all my life. It sings in my soul throughout the year since I never take this album out of my car, and it is downloaded on my computer. (Yes – I am old school – I still buy CD’s – after all – the “Cloud” could collapse, right?) I listen to it in the spring rains, the heat of summer, the colors of fall and the wonder of now. Even tonight, as I am writing this tiny little blot, the tears of worship fall, and I hope, I am part of spreading his name just a little further.

“Till the whole world hears…”

What strong lyrics sung about a baby’s name 2000+ years ago – and yet — we are living in the time when that is no longer considered a pipe dream. Words speed around the world in a matter of minutes. Stories – fake and real – go viral in days. Cultures buried deep in forests or high upon mountain tops are beginning to hear that name.

A name given by a Father – – – hinted at in visions of prophets – – – heralded by glorious angels – – – whispered by a tired mother and father as they swaddled Him in human cloth – – – screamed by a crowd who forgot His name five days later- – – echoed down through the ages by sages who remembered.

Yeshua. Jesus.

“Till the whole world hears Your name,
I will
Believe.”

“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”~Matt 1:21

 

Advent Joy #1: Rejoice

Light shines on the righteous
and joy on the upright in heart. — Psalm 97:11

Christmas cards – check. Christmas decorations – check. Watching endless Christmas movies – check. Christmas shortbread cookies and listening to Christmas carols – check and check. 1st Christmas stocking almost complete – check. Fighting off a cold – ugh!!

I know, right? Talk about a downer to the start off my day. i was not a happy camper this morning. Pull out the oils, tissue box, favorite blanket and read the WORD. Somehow – even colds aren’t so bad when I force myself to stick to my devotional time.

And tonight I am rejoicing for I have banished said cold to the nether reaches of the universe. The nose has dimmed to a pale, sucked-on, candy cane pink. The scratchy throat a mere irritant in the memory banks. Cough non-existent and so I say: REJOICE, REJOICE…!

“And Mary said: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit REJOICES in God my savior.”~Lk 1:46-47

I love reading translations of Bible verse that lean heavily on Rabbinic interpretations. Today, I was reading about Psalm 97:11. The original Hebrew is translated: “Light is planted FOR the righteous…”

I love those little prepositions. When used in conjunction with the right verb the whole power of the verse shifts in a slightly, yet substantial, direction. Suddenly, I can envision a seed of light being planted every time I manage to make time to talk with a neighbor…When a child learns something new because I took time to show them why or how…when the WORD become buried in a picture of words for others to find…when the Hubby smiles before he closes his eyes to sleep…when my pups look at me with all this love and trust in their eyes…when Christmas becomes more than a season…I REJOICE and REJOICE and REJOICE

“There remains one way – – The Way – – untried, untested, unexplored fully……the way of Him Who was born a Babe in Bethlehem.” ~Peter Marshall, (p15)

Long ago a seed of Light was planted for us. A seed of Light that started a whole new garden. Just think, if we keep adding to that garden, imagine what that garden could look like when Christ returns for His bride. It would really be time to REJOICE then. Perhaps today – perhaps tomorrow…[google images]

Advent Peace #7: Sanctified Imagination

Early this summer I was browsing one of our local shops and found a couple familiar books. No one is surprised, right? I can walk down the street and find a familiar book somewhere. The Hubby is very adept at avoiding walking down streets with me because He hates seeing me bring new books into the house. As often as we move, he knows that it is one more heavy box he won’t want to carry.
 
What I haven’t told him is that I have gotten pretty good at passing books on to others. I have it on good authority that it is better to give than to receive. Besides – I totally have no room to store any more books at this point in my life – EXCEPT – I am keeping the two I found last summer. “Let’s Keep Christmas: a sermon by Peter Marshall” is one of them.
 
“The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone.”~Jn 1:4
 
Over the years, I’ve read many things by Peter Marshall and his wife, Catherine. One of the techniques he used was called “sanctified imagination”. Besides drawing on his own experiences, he would take a story from scripture and draw a picture with his words so that the listener felt it come alive within them. It was a way to help his parishioners bury the WORD in their hearts.
 
“The old message: ‘For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Chist the Lord’ is still the heart of Christmas. It can be nothing else.” ~Peter Marshall ‘Christmas Sermon’ p1
 
I was thinking about this as I re-read this book for the third time this Advent. I think ‘sanctified imagination’ is why Christmas is so strongly buried within me. From the special times when my daddy read the second chapter of Luke before I went to sleep on Christmas Eve – to all the Sunday school re-enactments – to all the Christmas carolings – to all the majestic re-tellings of Handel’s Messiah – to a Christmas Eve service by my childhood preacher who used his own version of “sanctified imagination” – the Christmas Story lives within me.
 
For those of us who have seen the manger, have seen the angels, have seen the wisemen, have seen the star – the WORD lives. It is what makes Christmas such a special season of the year – even if some of us are past enjoying the cold and snow. It is the light of the WORD within us – not just at Christmas – but everyday of the year.
 
In 1955, this tiny book was a gift to someone. A small blessing is written in cursive (thank goodness I learned cursive back in the ol’ days) that I am passing on to all of you. A timeless blessing and reminder that… Perhaps today… Perhaps tomorrow… but definitely – He is alive and is returning soon…
 

“May the Christmas blessings of Peace, Good will, and Happiness be yours today and throughout the coming years.” Monroe and Mickie, 1955