Monthly Archives: January 2017

SLIVER OF A NEW MOON

That ol’ adage: “Time flies when you’re having fun,” is way too true.
 
Way back when the yard of life seemed to stretch forever, in the sliver of a new moon, I met a girl who worked just down the hall from me in a small, inner city school on the East side of Columbus. I met her when a energetic student ran past my 6th grade classroom and down the hall shouting “Miss WWWW-OOO-LL-FFFFFFFFF!! ” in the best wolf imitation I have ever heard – then or since.
 
Miss Wolf stuck her head out the door of her room and said somewhat quietly, “Robert, lunch is over so get yourself in here and let’s not disturb the other classes.” While Miss Wilson, who mothered all us rookie teachers, looked out of her room that was right next to Miss Wolf’s. With words much more direct and to the point, “Mr. Dixon…”her voice full of the ringing tones of an angry, powerful archangel, stopping everyone in the hallway – including a very remorseful 4th grader who dropped his head as he tried to avoid the crooked, protruding finger Miss Wilson was waggling in his direction.
 
I loved that yard of my life.

 

It is when I caught the first glimpse of a new friend. A friend who carried my secrets. A friend who had lived more in a life time than I could imagine, with struggles that made mine seem petty. A friend who taught me more than I could ever teach her. A friend who testified to the love of Christ when I was failing abysmally. A friend named Wolf.

 
“How many are your works, LORD!
In wisdom you made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.” ~Ps 104:24
 
Jewish tradition teaches that as we grow into our bodies and lives, we take the life rolling around us for granted. When we were a child, a lady bug could capture our attention. A new friend was a treasure. A shiny stone sparkling in the sun – a gift. But as we age, we forget to see or acknowledge those blessings. Thus, once a month, Jewish tradition encourages the people to remember, when the moon is just a sliver in the sky, the miracles that happen all around us – if we will just open our eyes.
 
“May the glory of the Lord endure forever;
may the Lord rejoice in his works—”~Ps 104:31
 
I opened my eyes one fall day in 1975 to find a friend, and wonder of wonder, during the sliver of a new moon of the first month of a new year, we had a great few days that went all too fast. I will take her to the airport tomorrow and wait until Abba brings our journeys to another juncture. While our yard is much shorter these days, it is still filled with so many treasures around us that it doesn’t matter when or where that juncture occurs for we know that it will be perfect in His timing.
 
“Praise the Lord, my soul.

Praise the Lord.”~Ps 104: 35b

REALLY

It’s my mom and dad’s fault. Really. Long ago, when I was this tiny thing, they would sing me this one special song. Maybe they would bounce me on their knees to make me laugh, or tuck me into bed after prayers had been said, and it would be this song – along with one more – that they would sing…“I love you – a bushel and a peck…”

Traditions start in funny ways sometimes.

When mom became a grandma she kept singing it. When I became a mom, I kept singing it. When I became a Grandma – well – you know.

Today, my Granddaughter sang me her new version as she grabbed both of my hands and danced me in circles.

“God loves you, a bushel and a peck, a bushel and a peck and a kiss on the cheek.”

How is it that God answers prayers in such an incredible way?

Needless to say, Grandma gulped a couple of times, and we danced some more. A bunch of hugs later with the Grandson chasing the car all the way up the drive, Grandma got the chance to wipe the tears from her eyes.

“Shout with joy to the LORD, all the earth!
Worship the LORD with gladness.
Come before him, singing with joy.”

Every morning as I enter my war room, I look for this Psalm. It starts my day, energizes me with thankfulness and lifts my eyes up. Lately, I’ve needed that thankfulness to look past the ugliness that seems to be multiplying faster than I’ve ever noticed. Reminding myself who carved our names in the palm of His hand is exactly what I need..

“Acknowledge that the LORD is God!
He made us, and we are His
We are His people, the sheep of His pasture.”

Tonight as I closed the windows, I noticed the evening star. It’s brightness draws me outside to the back deck. The dogs follow sniffing and enjoying a little more of the day’s warmth. Eventually, we meander to the hot tub where I can stretch my achy joints in warmth and look up in comfort and prayer. The dogs bring their beloved ball.

“For the LORD is good.
His unfailing love continues forever,
and His faithfulness continues to each generation.”~Ps 100

Truly, it has been a blessedday. I don’t understand all that shakes the world in these times, and I don’t have to know. I just need to stretch out under the stars and remember that “…the LORD is good…” The Shepherd still watches. The Father knows what I don’t. “…His faithfulness continues to each generation.”

“God loves me, a bushel and a peck…” My Granddaughter informed me she is producing a karaoke concert in February, and I’m invited. Whoot!Whoot! I can’t imagine missing it for all the tea in China. Life as a Grandma just ain’t bad. Really. [google images]

PROMISES REMEMBERED

“The seed breaks to give us the wheat. The soil breaks to give us the crop. The sky breaks to give us the rain. The wheat breaks to give us the bread. And the bread breaks to give us the feast. There was once even an alabaster jar that broke to give Him all the glory…Never be afraid of being a broken thing.”~The Farmer, Ann Voskamp’s husband in The Broken Way, p25

Our families are broken.

Our country is broken.

Our world is broken.

I am broken.

This world and all its people have been broken since two humans stood beneath two trees in a Garden.

One thing I love about being retired is I can be a total learner again. Journals, paper and four books litter the table and floors around my chair in the living room. Two books sit on my desk with stashes of writing in various stages for decoration. Note cards have suddenly returned to my life, Not as something to be graded as when I taught research skills to grumpy junior high students, but note cards full of things that are still roughened gems waiting to be polished by my grasping mind that runs a little slower these days.

“B’RESHEET BARA ELOHIM…”~Gen 1:1

The Jewish words circled back around for the second day in a row in my devotions today. “In the beginning, God created…”

Three simple words. A plural noun. A singular verb. A mystery.calling out. Three words that began the story of a beloved group people – one broken man – one broken family – one broken people traveling in a broken world.

Broken people who walked away from that perfect Garden with a promise – found a path – strayed off the path – over and over – time after time – and yet – – – YHVH, LORD, loves them – calls to them – became them. He was. He is. He will be. Promises of infinite Love and Grace made in the past, remembered in the present, fulfilled in the future.

YHVH. Broken. Mashiach.

As I walked around the house, running the roomba, dusting the bookshelves, the Hebrew words continued to turn in my mind. And and when, after several days of clouds, the sun broke through, I was not surprised. God has been winking at us from the beginning. Trying to catch our attention. Trying to remind us of the very first promise He made. Sending the Annointed One when we needed Him most and is sending Him again when we need Him even more.

Promises made. Promises remembered. Promises fulfilled.

I AM.

More than we can imagine. More dreams. More hope. More treasure. More Love. More blessings. More Grace. More possibilities than could ever be learn in a lifetime. We may be broken now, but not forever.

“For a seed to come fully into its own, it must become wholly undone. The shell must break open, its insides must come out, and everything must change. If you didn’t understand what life looks like, you might mistake it for complete destruction.”~Ann Voskamp, The Broken Way, p.26. [google images]

 

INAUGURATION 2017

Old habits die hard.

Patriotic habits die even harder.

Teacher habits die hardest of all.

Today is a red, white and blue kind of day. Put on my flag earrings. Looked for my mom’s flag pin – even though I knew it wasn’t there. Debated on pulling out her red, white and blue sweater vest, but opted for my warmer red vest instead. Tossed scarves around on the floor until I found my flag one and away I went to pick up the Grand.

Inauguration Days have always been on my radar. The first one I really remember is President Kennedy’s. Probably because there was about the same amount of tension in the country then as there has been this past year. Not only Republican vs Democrat, but catholic vs protestant and cold war vs hot war.

No one in our house was happy after that election and yet.. Mom shrugged her shoulders and said she knew some “good Catholics” (you have to understand, she had this teensy bias thing passed on to her  from her parents since her father had been kicked out of the Catholic church for marrying a protestant which by-the-way – made it very hard for me to date a neighboring Catholic boy in high school). Dad said Kennedy was a war hero, so how bad could he be? They didn’t like the change, but they didn’t fear it either. They had faith in God and faith in the American process.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”~Is 41:10

Hope.

When Moshe spoke to the Israelites – hope grew.

When the angel spoke to Mary – hope blossomed.

When John sat on an isolated island – hope resurrected.

Hope.

After kinda listening to the inauguration and catching the Grand as he launches himself in mid-air to my arms, chattering with the Grand, hugging on the Grand and reading Pete the Cat with the Grand, I at least got to hear – somewhat – the transfer of power. Nothing new under the sun, but I listened.

Protests and destruction.

Presidents and statuaries.

Parades and pomp.

I did my teacher thing when I got home as if I was still finishing up my speech unit for the umpteenth time. When one starts a speech unit in November, it usually winds up around the end of January because of all the holydays. I love technology on days like this. Come home and – on demand – watch President Trump’s speech as I hold his printed transcript in my hand – just like I did for President Obama 8 years ago…and President Bush…and President Clinton (although – I had to wait a little longer in those days to get the video and the transcript).

Repetition. Allusions. Quotes. Alliteration. Compare and Contrast.

President Trump is not the greatest orator. Compared to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr – he is not even in the same ball park, but he brought his vision of hope to the people he will serve. Easy to say the words – not so easy to do – but then – even Christ had trouble with the last part of His “to-do” list.

But tonight, I have hope. Hope in the prayers that have circled our country from the beginning, and in God’s timelessness continue to petition Him for our country. Hope in the prayers that are circling a man I didn’t vote for in November, but am praying for daily now. Hope in the man who used the Bible given to him in 1955 by his mother and President Lincoln’s Bible as he repeated his oath of office. Hope from the blessing of the WORD that My Father nudged rather forcefully into my consciousness tonight as I prayed for our leaders, for the service of the families of leaders that now get to rest, for the service of those who stand the thin line between hate and love, for those who seek peace, for those who are lost and for those who are found.

Hope and not fear.

Joy and not tears.

Love and not hate.

“He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.”~Dan 2:21  [google images]

The Dwelling 2016

A year ago, Hubby moved us into a house we didn’t technically own yet – had carpet that was beyond description – holes in the wall, missing fixtures, no working appliances, black water that trickled out of one facet, and – virtually – no heat.

“By wisdom a house is built, And by understanding it is established; And by knowledge the rooms are filled With all precious and pleasant riches.”~Prov 24:3-4

I’m not sure this move had much wisdom or precious and pleasant riches in it when I first saw it, but God’s blessing colored those first impressions, and I smiled. Found it in late December, changed our plans to build and got a contract to buy before New Year’s Eve. Luckily, the day we moved, the first new toilet was put in place, carpet removed. the water lines flushed and one bed erected. Everything else remained in boxes in the garage or stored in trailers on some land we owned about 3 miles away. 2016 was shaping up to be an interesting year.

“The LORD also declares to you that the LORD will make a house for you.”~2 Sam 7:11

This I know for sure – the LORD has always made a house for me even before I recognized it. There is a history to our spur-of-the-moment decisions that come at the end of certain sporadic years in our journey together. As high school sweethearts, we broke up for 10 years and got back together in December. Three years later — in late December – we changed our wedding date from May to January 9. Six years later – we found the perfect place to build a home – on New Year’s Eve. 25 years later – in January – we moved from OH to NC. And there we were again – 3 years later – in another December/January quandary of moving craziness.

(Personally – I am adding this prayer to my war room door – “Can our next major move in life, to a home you have waiting for us – PLEASE – be in spring or maybe fall?”)

So tonight, as I sit in a completely re-done house, I look around and am content. The somewhat, squeaky wood floors and gas logs wraps around me just as my childhood home on Riverside Dr, used to do. A new kitchen, two new bathrooms, a brand new heating/AC system, and two silly labs asleep at my feet remind me of how much Our Father can accomplish in our lives when we are listening and willing to step out in faith.

A house that the Grands called “the spooky, stinky, ugly house” is the place they love to visit and spend the night. Clean, patched walls are covered with treasured memorabilia from our 36 years of traveling together and revered, separate pasts. A true war room closet door filled with the WORD, praises and prayers that Abba has lovingly blessed over the past few months. And 2 sleepy chocolate dogs that curl into me at the end of day have made that house a home.

This is as close to heaven as it gets. A neighborhood full of people we know by name and visit with often in the course of a week. Laughter from children who still play outside – not to mention the “boys” who love riding their noisy “toys” along with the kids. I guess this is just my way of saying, “Thanks, Father”. 2016 was one crazy year, and I’m just waiting with anticipation to see what 2017 will bring our way.

“In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.”~Jn 14:2

ROOTS 2017

Tonight –

I am tired –

Tired of the hate memes –

Tired of the raised fists –

Tired of distorted ‘truths’ –

Tired of the political nonsense –

Tired of rampant disrespect –

Tired of the anger side-winding close to those I love –

Tired of disease decimating my friends, family, community –

Tired –
Tired –
Tired –
and then –
I went searching into the WORD. It is what I do when the twisting snake of this world raises its head once again in my tent, and my tears refuse to stop.

“But if a man will say, “I love God”, and he hates his brother, he is lying; for he who does not love his brother who is visible, how is it possible for him to love God who is invisible? And we have received this commandment from him: “Everyone who loves God shall love his brother also”.~1 Jn 4:20-21

Those two trees that stood in a perfect garden so long ago, still stand within the garden tent of myself tonight. I stand under their lofty limbs, looking up, shaking my head, wondering: ‘How do I ever choose?”

Like the “reality” game shows, do I listen to the snake of the clamoring crowd – cheering me forward to their choices? I swivel my head back and forth – back and forth – back and forth. Do I trust the loudest voice to guide me? Do I pick the fruit based on the color, the taste, the aroma that is perceived to be perfect in this world full of knowledge, training and acceptance?

Or – – –
Tired as I am – – –
Do I fall on my knees, scrape through the hard, rocky surface of my tent, fingers torn and bruised, as I struggle to loosen the surface enough to uncover and bury my nose in the roots of He who Loves and creates all tents? Tents all over the world – in all worlds. Tents that He wants to enter to bless and enhance the essence that resides there.

Roots.
Deep.
Strong.
Nurturing.
Grounded.
Roots.

My eyes are still heavy tonight. My tent buffeted and torn from the winds of this world. I sit upon the roots a little longer. Letting my fingers trace their woody paths. Soaking in their fortitude and nourishing ridges. Limbs curling around me to dry my tears. Unbidden, the prayers begin to circle: “Dear God, do whatever is best for this world, whatever is best for this world.”

Over and over. Over and over. Over and over.

“Be watchful, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.”~1 Cor 16:13-14  

[google image]10436363-the-silhouette-of-a-girl-with-root-stock-vector-tree-roots-silhouette

BITTERSWEET

“Because it is the nature of love to create, a marriage itself is something which has to be created, so that, together we become a new creature. “
 
A little shrimp.
A little cheese and chips.
A little crown and pepsi.
A little grilled mushrooms with cheese to share with a neighbor and his daughter who stopped by to wish us a “Happy, happy” and hugs.
A little sparkling wine – at almost the same time we said our vows – to toast the start to the 37th year of life in our journey together.
 
“To marry is the biggest risk in human relations that a person can take…If we commit ourselves to one person for life this is not, as many people think, a rejection of freedom;…”
 
This is one of my bittersweet days. Initially, I thought I went out of my way to plan it that way – yet – the more I learn about Our Father – the more I realized that it wasn’t me at all – I’ve never been that wise. It was just one of those times, I actually had my spiritual ears set to high volume because in those days I was just learning to listen and was more often than not – deaf to His ways. Thus, one of the saddest days in my earth journey became one of the happiest days as well.
 
Bittersweet.
 
“…rather it demands the courage to move into all the risks of freedom, and the risk of love which is permanent; into that love which is not possession, but participation.”
 
35 years doesn’t seem to cover much time when you are on this side of the 36. Back then – when the longest relationship I had ever had was 4 years with breaks here and there – I wasn’t sure I could make a commitment like my parents had.
 
You see. . .10 years prior to January 9, 1981, my parents celebrated their 35th anniversary on January 8, 1971. It was a Friday night, and I had just called home for my weekly check-in. It wasn’t their real anniversary which was in June, but a God-wink blessing brought the celebration to them anyway.
A little champagne.
A little shrimp.
A little crown and coke.
A little toast with family and friends.
Dad died Saturday morning while I watched a Barbra Streisand movie in the dollar theatre at OSU.
 
“It takes a lifetime to learn another person…When love is not possession, but participation, then it is part of that co-creation which is our human calling, and which implies such risk that it is often rejected.”~Madeleine L’Engle, “The Irrational Season”
 
A sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.
A common phone in a rooming house.
A tear-filled voice of my mother – then my aunt.
A friend who lifted me through each step of the journey home and hugs through the days that followed.
 
“Guard your heart with all diligence, for out of it is the wellspring of life.”~Prov 4:23
 
Bittersweet.
 
As it turns out, God had a plan – and go to find out – it was designed just for me. Crazy, huh? Parental Grandparents who got married on January 8, 1905 was a blip in that plan. The death of a daddy’s girl’s father, a much larger blip in the scheme of things. A whisper of vows at a friend’s Christmas re-marriage – another small blip.
 
All-in-all – Bittersweet.
 
It has been a good day. A day to renew my heart at the break of dawn and the sparkle of star light on a frosty night.
A day to look back.
A day to look forward.
A day to celebrate.
A day of love.
A day to whisper a prayer of thanksgiving.
 
A Bittersweet day of a tender heart.
 
“And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.”~Ez 36:26

SNOWBOUND THOUGHTS

“We are fragile creatures, and it is from this weakness, not despite it, that we discover the possibility of true joy.”~Archbishop Desmond Tutu, “Book of Joy”, p11

Snowbound. Icy 15 degrees. Sun reflecting off pristine snow.

Our neighborhood was darn near silent yesterday until about 10 A.M. First one 4-wheeler appeared. By the time, it had made the circle there were 3 and eventually 4. An avalanche of kids and sleds followed. Bundled into huge shapes of warmth and squealing laughter that eeked through our windows and scared the birds away from the feeders kept me focused on the windows with a smile on my face.

I’m sure the roadway will be treacherous when I eventually decide I really have to run away from home. But for right now – I’m content to crochet, read, bake, read some more, watch a couple of movies, bake and enjoy the visual purity of the world around me. After all – by Friday it will be 65 again, and my world will return to normal.

“Joy subsumes happiness.”~ D.T., p32

Extremes in weather always prove we are pretty fragile creatures. We find ways to cope. Lots of clothes. Less clothes. Boats to float. Sleds to slide. Air conditioning. Heating. We find ways to cope and flourish. I have a friend who even flourished in the South Pole and would love to go back. (I have always thought he was always touched by a strange angel at birth – after all – he liked the Beatles over the Dave Clark Five.)

It continues to amaze me that God choose to send part of Himself into such a fragile container. He who was timeless became temporal. He who was eternal became finite. He who created became crucified.

Epiphany has passed. I’m waiting for a warmer day to venture into the garage and start putting away the inside Christmas decorations. I am way too fragile these days, I guess. Hubby laughs at me as he stands in front of the toasty gas logs before he goes out to join the 4-wheeler club. The dogs do, too. They bury their nose in the snow and send it flying while they tuck their butts close and run at each other in mock battle. Laughter wells up inside of me as well. Life is joyous.

“Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.”~Dalai Lama, p.37

The manifestations of pain in our world seems to grow larger every day. I started out this paragraph listing all the painful incidents that circle through my prayer time day after day – night after night. Then I erased it all. “Pain is inevitable…” You already know that. You hear the news. You read the posts, memes, comments. “…suffering is optional.”

When we stand before the two trees of the Garden, we always have a choice. To eat the fruit or to talk with Our Father first. I choose to talk with My Father who understands our frailness because He became fragile. I choose to walk back to the Garden where there is joy that subsumes happiness.” With all my intellectual capabilities employed, I walk away from the ugly, tempting fruit. Instead….

I choose joy.

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be obvious to everyone. The Lord is near.” Phil 4:4

GOLDEN CALVES 2017

“Alas, institutions often become idolatrous in their efforts to protect and preserve themselves. Institutions do not like being vulnerable.”~Madeleine L’Engle “Penguins & Golden Calves

Just an interesting thought on this 3rd day of January 2017. Pondering all the institutions that surround us in our daily walk and potential institutions as AI looms closer. Google that silently waits, listens, records (?) for the voice to call out a search command. Political parties that continually seek ways to destroy other political parties. Business, church, banking, technology, sameness…the list is endless. L’Engle compared it to the religious institution that killed a man named Rabbi Yeshua who threatened the status quo.

Institutions are comforting. Humans like them because they tend make everyday life easier. After all – paving new roads is, generally, hard work. But – Institutions are driven by people – some seeking to help – some seeking power. Man-made institutions. Even God-made institutions – headed up by people – changed – because that’s just what humans do. We build towers. We raise our fists continuously challenging the One who Loves us best – His Son by His side – Grace in His left hand – Blessings in His right – Lighting a path to walk beyond the institutions – Eternal Hope – World without end – Amen and amen.

Always interesting to ponder things you discover in daily devotions.

Jehoshaphat’s prayer: “For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”~2 Chron 20:12

#sinissinissin #Godismoving

PHONE HOME

New Year’s Eve 2016

Way back when, before cell phones ruled the world, I would – no matter where I was – find a way to be like E.T. I would phone home. Party years. Baby years. Senior years. Phoning home with shrimp in one hand and trail bologna in the other. Phone home. I would love to be able to phone home one more time this New Year’s Eve.

“I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.” ~Is 45:3

So – – – since I can’t phone home, I’ve been reading, crocheting, watching fun movies and preparing for the New Year. God’s promises change lives. It changed the total direction of my life on a New Year’s Eve long ago.

There was no social media to record the event in time. No prompting that pops up in the feed line to kick start the memory banks. And yet – the memory tends to surface every New Year’s Eve, and I find myself looking up with a smile on my face.

In the middle of a crowded party. In the middle of a song. In the middle of a movie. In the middle of my recliner – all by myself. It doesn’t matter. This verse, drifting in and out of my life at the most critical times, encircles me once again, and I want to phone home.

“Treasures stored in darkness…” Air kiss my father one last time before I go to sing; his voice in my ear saying, “Be safe. Bring down the house”. My mother’s voice toasting me across the phone line; her glass clinking the phone as did mine. “Riches stored in secret places…”

E.T. had the right idea. The neat thing – I don’t have to have a phone to call home. The treasures and the riches are stored right there waiting for me. All I have to do is remember to allow the Light to shine in the darkness. No matter what the New Year of 2017 holds for all of us, God has promised and summons us by name.

Blessings!Be! in 2017.happy-new-year-2017