Monthly Archives: March 2018

BREADCRUMBS: Owl Wisdom

“Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion.”~Ep 6:18a

Finally.

Years of camping – girl scouts and beyond. 
Years of living in the country. 
Years of sitting outside, listening and watching.
Years of listening to them at night as they hooted me to sleep.

Finally – – – I saw a real life owl in the wild.

Luckily, my life hasn’t been devoid of seeing owls. I’ve seen owls many times on trips to the zoo. White owls, brown owls, gray owls and even saw one up close and personal on a writing retreat while it sat on a park ranger’s arm. But I have never seen one as God created them. 
Soaring.
Sitting.
Looking at me.

“Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.”~Ep 6:18b

Our gimpy little girl who isn’t supposed to run and yet never stops running when she is outside, actually startled it as she raced through the woods. I turned to watch what she was doing when the owl took wing to another branch. It was facing the road away from me, and then it did that awesome cool owly thing that everyone loves. It turned its head all the way around to look directly at me.

I know it was only a moment, and yet – it was one of those moments that takes your breath away and lasts for a lot longer. I can still see it. My own personal miracle and a childhood prayer answered in the best way ever. Koay yipped and off it flew out of sight.

“I waited patiently for the LORD; And He inclined to me and heard my cry.”~Ps 40:1

Lately, I’ve noticed that many times my devotions dovetail each other as if they were written by the same person. And if I’m paying really close attention, I notice that they address those really hard things that I’ve been praying in the Spirit for as well. Duh! Throwback time. Back to the times when I used to sit in choir practice and make mistakes. Hit myself in the head – DUH – literally. While they may have been written at different times by different people, they were inspired by the One who spoke the WORD into being.

“I was dancin’ in the dark when I saw your open arms. Barefoot on the cross, and now I hear you in every song. When my life was still a mess, You saw something beautiful, and I don’t deserve it, but Your Grace is perfect tonight.”~Phillipa Hanna, “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran

Answered prayers don’t come when we expect them. Often, they don’t come how we expect them. Sometimes, we don’t even know they have been answered. Then again, some may be not be answered until way after we’ve gone home. But all in all, prayers are always answered. We just don’t like all the answers because they aren’t answered OUR way.

Tonight, the kitty that answered a prayer I didn’t know I had keeps sitting on the keyboard batting my hands. For whatever reason, she wants a little extra attention tonight – and I indulge her until she hops down to chase the mousy sounds she hears in the kitchen.

I like to think Our Father God and His Son and Spirit are much the same way. Our prayers sing in Their combined heart – begging for a little extra on some nights – a little more cuddling – a little more encouragement until we hop away to chase after the next thing.

The good news – The Trinity is still there. Waiting for those prayers. Waiting for us to jump up into their laps. Purring a little louder for a little more attention. Kneading their hands with our tiny claws until they smile and sing a new song in our heart with their love.

I look at the breadcrumbs on the road before me. They are no longer abundantly covering the road. They have dwindled to few and far between. The destination that seemed so far away is just ahead. Passion Week – just days away. And I wonder at the journey I have been on for 32 days.

The journey of the owl into my life. A life-long prayer answered. A time to continue to pray with precise language – a time to look forward in prayer – a time to open my eyes to the miracles around me and rejoice. A time of breadcrumbs.

“When I’m dancin’ in the dark, I will raise my weary arms, and thank you for the cross, and the Grace that’s enough for anyone. When you found me in a mess, You saw something beautiful, and I don’t deserve it, but your Grace is perfect. I don’t feel worthy, but your Grace is perfect tonight.”~Ibid.

 

BREADCRUMBS: Chirpings

Long ago, before the printed word and technology was in every home and classroom and before there were people who say that rote memorization was not a good learning strategy – at about the time when Jesus was a little boy growing up in a small town, children in his village would walk into the classroom for the first time and find a slate coated in honey. A rabbi said these words, “How sweet are your words to my taste! Yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth.”~ Ps 119:103

Being a teacher it is so easy to see this first century classroom. I can hear the smile in the rabbi’s voice as he issued the first assignment, “Lick the slate clean and repeat after me.” As the students gleefully got to work (because there was no one around who said, “Yuk – germs!), they repeated the verse over and over until the slate was ready to be written upon. Thus, they learned their first verse of the Torah.

“If you abide in Me…”

According to rabbinical writings from that time, the sound of those voices repeating verses over and over and over were like the chirpings of little birds. Once upon a time, rote memorization was the underpinnings of all education all over the world. Books were rare and way too valuable for ordinary folk. Students learned by stories and rote memorization. In the Jewish community, by the time the Jewish children were ready for the next level of schooling, most of them knew the entire Torah by heart.

I’m sure there were those who struggled just like some struggle in today’s classroom. However, what we fail to remember is that the chirpings didn’t stop at the school. Every morning, every meal, every bedtime was filled with more recitation of verses and better yet – discussion – debate – exchange of thoughts – prayers filled with those same words until the verses became alive – vibrant with love between the family members – lustrous with the Breath of the Father’s Spirit – shaded with every jot and tittle of the language.

“And My words abide in you…”~Jn 15:7a

Cool thing to note – most scholars agree that boys and girls – around the age of 4 or 5 – would begin their schooling together. The cooler thing is that school didn’t stop at the doorway of the classroom. All the children in the family would participate in the discussions with their parents, so – for the most part – Our Father’s words took up residence within each family member who comprised this group of people called Jews.

They didn’t have to go look up a reference to string verses together. They didn’t have to google a phrase to find a verse. They didn’t have to look at their notes from school or find an expert. The words were part of everything in their everyday life. Trip over a stone and say a blessing of thanks because it wasn’t a rock. Get an extra few coins praise G-d for His goodness. Prayer rising without thought – never ceasing – because the WORD lives in each individual.

“How sweet are Your words to my taste!”

Tonight, as the thunderstorm and hail pelt our little house, I look at the little gathering of early violets and spring flowers and touch creation with my heart. Life becomes so much sweeter as we chirp. Spring is here – well – kinda – in name anyway. The peepers have started to peep in NC – I think they are probably hiding deep in the mud tonight. The birds were chirping earlier today as they hopped about and hopefully found shelter somewhere now.

And I – well – I think I need a little more of those 1st century chirpings in my life so that the WORD abides in me.

“Sweeter than honey to my mouth.”~Ps 119:103   

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BREADCRUMBS: Crumbly Day

This was a crumbly day. Bits and pieces smashed together. Not bad. Not good. Just a day when the pieces just didn’t seem to leave me with any sort of cohesive picture or feeling of what was accomplished.

Shadow-Spooky-Sparkle caught her 5th mouse (I wonder when I will quit counting them?) which I almost stepped on as I was racing about trying to get morning chores done before church. Worshiped and tried to absorb another great message. Drove the long way home to pick up some fresh foods – – sidetracked by some colorful flowers, seed packets and children who love to talk. Walked the dogs. Dug weeds in the gardens. Re-filled the garden tub with dirt and planted lettuce (threat of snow/ice for Wednesday – sigh). Watched a couple of movies. Messed with new printer – which I managed to get working all by myself. ……. I think.

And yet – – 
at the end of the day – – 
I feel like the crumbles are just lying in my hand waiting to be blown away by any stray wind that passes. So tonight, like on other nights when I have this disjointed uneasiness, I turned back to the WORD. It is the only way I know to change the lens in my eyes.

“May God be merciful and bless us.
May his face smile with favor on us.” v.1

Earlier, I ran across Psalm 67 in one of my on-line devotions. It is one of the shorter Psalms, and one I have read often. Jewish traditions says that this Psalm was originally given by Our Father to only two people – Moses and David. It is also said that it was given to them both in the shape of the menorah during a vision.

“May your ways be known throughout the earth,
your saving power among people everywhere.
May the nations praise you, O GOD.
Yes, may all the nations praise you.”v.2-3

I’m not sure why this drew me back this evening. Maybe it was because it was given in a vision. Maybe it is because this Psalm is so full of joy. Maybe it is because this Psalm doesn’t crumble in your hands at the end of the day. It’s strength rings with Truth.

“Let the whole world sing for joy,
because you govern the nations with justice
and guide the people of the whole world.”v.4

Jewish traditions say that King David engraved the Psalm 67 image from his vision onto his battle shield. The first three verses made up the right branches of the Menorah. The 4th verse embodied the trunk. The last 3 verses filled in the last 3 branches. It is said to be the reason he was successful in battle.

According to Rabbinical wisdom, our eyes are often drawn to the deeper wisdom of G-d by the placement of the verses within the whole. Sometimes this is by repetitive phrases. Sometimes it is by the choice of words. Sometimes the simple placement of “jot and tittle”. In this case, it is the placement of the verse placed on the central beam of the Menorah. The strength of the Menorah as it upholds all the branches.

“May the nations praise you, O God.
Yes, may all the nations praise you.
Then the earth will yield its harvests,
and God, our God, will richly bless us.”v.5-6

Tonight, the grumbly stomach calmed down as I saw that the day really wasn’t as crumbly as I originally thought. It never was. Like King David I just needed to tap back into trunk of the WORD. Singing for joy in the strength of what has been given and knowing that Our Father is truly governing and guiding me – all of us – every step of the way – even on crumbly, disjointed, unsettling days.

“Yes, God will bless us,
and people all over the world will fear him.” Ps 67:1-7 

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BREADCRUMBS: Humbled

Seriously! Teach for 30+ years, and I still get finger-shaking-nervous to read in a front of 1-3 years (1st to 3rd grade) at the Montessori school. It was like every 1st day of school all over again. I laughed for being humbled is never easy for me, and I know God is enjoying reminding me. For all things change – the more they stay the same.

That being said, I still have a “can-do” set of objectives in my head when I sit in a teacher’s chair. I can still spot the mischievous ones within a couple minutes and know their names by the 5 minute mark. I can still see the ones who really want to speak and just don’t know how. I can still get pretty much all of them to laugh, smile, and get excited about a book – a stuffed goat – a piece of plain white paper and a pencil.

Not bad for an old woman.

“But the conclusion is that you should all be in harmony; suffer with those who are suffering, love one another, be merciful and humble…”

Harmony…
Suffering/mourning…
Loving…
Mercy…
Humble…

Torah readings. Sermons. Letters. Over and over…from the beginning…these words have been repeated throughout the OT/NT. It doesn’t seem like a very hard list to live by – – – and yet – – – generation after generation still falter in their steps – stumble over the idols – weep over their broken dreams – and struggle with the choice –

to stand or not to stand.

“And you should not repay a person evil for evil, neither insults for insults; but to the contrary of these things, give blessings, for you are called to this, that you would inherit blessing.”~1 Pt 3:8-9

It is a beautiful evening outside even if it is a little chilly – okay – a lot chilly. Even snow bears don’t want to be out there (after all, if there is no snow to roll in what fun is it?). When I look at the stars tonight and see the universe that Stephen Hawkins wrote and taught about so often, I don’t think of it like he did. I tend to be overwhelmed at the vastness and awe-filled fear as I think of the linear time line of this small world. I think of all the generations that have come before me. 
Those who looked up.
Those who have faltered.
Those who have stumbled.
Those who have wept.
Those who have looked up with dust-filled mouths, skinned up knees and bloodied hands.

When I look up I remember the Genesis. I remember the WORD. I remember the songs and the prophets. I remember the covenants, and in faith – I reach for His staff, fallen by my side. Standing when the WORD offers its firmness under my feet. Thinking when His WORD clears the clutter and shines a light for the first step – for what is faith without action? That is the cool thing about thinking and praying; it always leads to new actions. Maybe salty actions that shake those traveling beside me, but humble actions inspired by the One who walked towards Jerusalem so long ago – who waits outside the door and knocks…

Harmony…
Suffering/mourning…
Loving…
Mercy…
Humble…

“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive, 
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, 
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Amen.”~Peace Prayer of St. Francis 

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BREADCRUMBS: Go

Jesus said, “Go!”
My preacher’s sermon last night said, “Go!”
Today’s devotions said, “Go!”
The last thing I felt like doing today was – you guessed it – 
GO!

Occasionally when you have severe sinus problems, the world has a tendency to spin a little when you open your eyes. Then the choice is 1) spend the rest of the day either in the doctor’s office; 2) use some homeopathic techniques; 3) wait it out, move slowly and take sitting-up naps off and on all day and 4) don’t put in your mono-vision contacts for the day – after all the brain has enough things to sort through without adding something else into the mix.

Have no fear. If the world is seriously spinning, I get someone to trot me off to the doctor’s office pretty quick. Today, however, was definitely a #2, #3, and #4 kinda day. Boring. Sedentary. And definitely – not a “Go” type of day.

I did convince the brain to “Go” and read devotions. It was not impressed in the morning, but by the afternoon, the brain had re-gained enough of its equilibrium to enjoy the irony of the lessons and help me focus my prayers a little more tightly.

“One sometimes has to go against his or her nature to dig into the dark trenches of life. One has to be willing to lose everything in order to gain what GOD has shaped them for, because there’s a cost to the things that matter most in life and it in that sacrifice that we find our true treasure.” When Calls the Heart, Season 1, Ep 2.

You know God is seriously winking hard at you when He sends His message again through a TV show – just to make sure you heard Him the first couple of times.

David was still just a youngster when God said, “Go!” He took the things that he trusted and the wisdom gained as a shepherd, carrying food from his father and went – lots of not-so-hidden metaphors there. Went against the advice of his older brothers. Went against the laughter trying to shift the sand under his feet. Went into “the dark trench” of a giant’s shadow.

That’s what faith can do. More times than I can list in a short blog – 
God said to Abraham – “Go!”
God said to Moses – “Go!”
God said to Esther – “Go!”
God said to Mary – “Go!”
God said to Jesus – “Go!” 
Jesus told the disciples – “Go!”
Jesus tells us – “Go!”

“Go!” is different for each of us.

Today, I know there was a reason, I woke up with the world spinning. I also know that there is a reason that God is saying “Go!” So I will do a couple more homeopathic stretches of my sinuses. Drink some more water and probably sleep in my recliner just to do my best on this side.

Later, as I prepare to whisper my good-night prayers, I will pray His words back to Him and focus on “Go!” I need to wink back at Him just as broadly to let Him know that I got His not-so-subtle message. 
No more procrastinating. 
No more excuses. 
Time to face the dark ttrenches.
Time to find my treasure in Him. 
Time to “Go!”

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”~Mk 16:15

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BREADCRUMBS: Blessed Day

Whoop!Whoop! Shadow-Spooky-Sparkle caught a full-sized mouse last night. She left it smack-dab in the middle of the hallway and was curled into a ball at the foot of our bed just waiting to be proud when we woke up. 

Annnnnnddddddd…we were. Nature when left alone works very well, and SSS got tuna for breakfast. Who knew we needed a cat? I think you know how I would answer that one.

Today was a totally God blessed day from start to finish. I spent a lot of time being “churched” today. This is a saying I picked up when I was in our small gospel choir in Saxapahaw. The ladies and the choir leaders would use it when they were feeling the Spirit moving among us as we prayed at the start of choir – sang in the Spirit – and at the end of choir when we prayed in the Spirit again.

“O Lord, you are a great and awesome God! You always fulfill your covenant and keep your promises of unfailing love to those who love you and obey your commands.”~Dan 9:4

While it was still sort of windy outside, the Spirit inside was so much stronger. He reminded me to circle Daniel 9 in prayer again- – – ALAT – As Long Asit Takes (which is an acronym that Mark Batterson used in “The Circle Maker”). With my Gemini nature, I have to work really hard not to flit hither and yon. So I wrote it down in my prayer journal and circled it. Hopefully, I will stick at it ALAT in the days to come.

“But the Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him. We have not obeyed the LORD our God, for we have not followed the instructions he gave us through his servants the prophets.”~Dan 9:9-10

Other than that, didn’t really do much. Read devotions. Spent time catching up with some of my favorite TV ministers. Worked on our front deck for a few hours – stain/painting. (Do you realize arthritis really doesn’t like that chore – especially those individual picket thingies that seemed to have multiplied today?). Played with the dogs and kitty as we walked around the yard. Read some more. Cooked a chicken, potatoes and gravy. (yum) Carried on some conversations with friends that make me smile. And just finished up watching: “Let There Be Light”.

“Yet we have refused to seek mercy from the LORD our God by turning from our sins and recognizing his truth.”~Dan 9:13b

Great movie. Reminded me how much I loved Dionne Warwick back in the day, so I ordered some CD’s. Perfect ending to a perfect day. Kitty curled in my side. Puppies looking at me ready to walk outside one last time and then get a toothbrush treat which they love. Hubby snoring. Me? Yawning big time and ready for saying goodnight to God before I close my eyes for the night.

Breadcrumbs have been dropping hinting at new things, but for today, I was given peace, blessings, and many, many God-winks. And for that, I am oh-so thankful. I needed a day like today. Who knew? I guess you know the answer to that one again.

God is in the world. The Spirit is blowing – sometimes pretty hard. The Son stands beside us with grace in His hand. Who could ask for more? So my wish for all of you is to “have a blessed day” for yourselves some time this week.

“O Lord, hear. O Lord, forgive. O Lord, listen and act! For your own sake, do not delay, O my God, for your people and your city bear your name.”~Dan 9:19

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BREADCRUMBS: Just As I Am

Yesterday was one of those running-around days. Devotions finished. Got some groceries to fill empty fridge. Picked up Grands Laughed all the way to their home. Piano lessons that lasted all of 5 minutes individually. Touched base with eldest daughter and SIL before I left. 
A little piece of heaven wrapped into one day.

Today was completely different. Dreary. Chilly. Sit in the chair and wish I could get outside without getting wet. Dogs whining because they don’t like it much either when they are cooped up. Devotions done. Run the Romba . Dust. Work on some editing that I needed to finish with Shadow-Spooky-Sparkle curled into my side and cry a little.

Yup. Cry a little.

When I am working on things at the computer. I generally have the radio or the TV running as well. When I am by myself it is often just music. If Hubby is home, it could be a show that he wants to watch, and I put on headphones and listen to music. Or it could be the news which I only half listen to anyway, but I like waiting for the weather – which I somehow miss, and so I have to wait for it to cycle around again. Or – – – could be a DVD that I’ve almost got memorized, but still enjoy hearing and dancing across the TV screen whenever I steal a glance to look at it.

Anywhooo (as my mom would say), I cry easily in my old age. Okay – I admit it – and my kids would tesitfy – I cry easily – period. When the kids appear on my door steps. When they leave my doorsteps. 
When I hold a Grand for the first time. 
Devotions.
A sickbed.
A separated family.
At weddings. 
At funerals. 
A classroom – occasionally. 
It is just as I am.
Just as He created me to be.

So today as I worked, I had the time to look at yesterday’s service for Rev. Billy Graham in the rotunda of the Capitol in DC. It was everything I thought it would be, until Michael W. Smith began the piano introduction for “Just as I Am”. Then I cried.

“Just as I am, without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bid’st me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God, I come! I come!”

Until that piano introduction started, the service fit the bill as any political gathering paying tribute to a man who had lived his life in the spotlight of the American World. But once the piano introduction began, I half expected – no – I wanted an alter call to be given.

Salt.
Light. 
Just as I

This song triggered that ol’ memory treasure chest to open. Sitting in a tent with my parents. A tall man pushing a strand of hair out of my eyes. Watching a TV broadcast of many crusades with my parents. Lying on a broken down couch, late at night, wondering if God could love me
– just as I am 
– just as I am? 
Hearing the deep voice of George Beverly Shea as well as that other singular voice answering my unspokens over the music. 
“Yes, you. 
No matter what you’ve done. 
No matter what has been done to you. 
Yes, even you. 
Come.”

“Just as I am, and waiting not
To rid my soul of one dark blot;
To Thee whose blood can cleanse each spot,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!”

“Come.”

The word circles through my mind and through the tears, I wonder once again. I wondered how that august audience might have responded to an alter call? I wonder what a difference in our world that singular act might have made? 
One alter call – 
one last time – 
in honor of a man who offered it every time he spoke and that song was sung?

And then again – in all my wondering – Our Father whacks me on the head, and I remember. That call is always offered.  Every second of every minute of every hour of every day in every circumstance of our walk. A call that enters the ears that hear. A simple song that knocks on heart doors as a Son waits for the door to open.

“Just as I am, though tossed about
With many a conflict, many a doubt;
Fightings within, and fears without,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!”

I couldn’t have sung this song at that funeral. What am I thinking? I am way too emotional to sing at any funeral. The emotion in Michael W. Smith’s voice during his performance tells me he might had a hard time as well. Perhaps they had a set time for how long the song could be since he never got to the last verse. That last verse that always speaks the WORD so clearly – so simply –
at the heart of the Rev. Graham’s message – 
at the heart of Christ’s message:

“Just as I am, Thy love unknown
Has broken every barrier down;
Now, to be Thine, yea, Thine alone,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!”~William Batchelder Bradbury

Just as I am.

“God is faithful, for by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Yeshua The Messiah Our Lord.”~1 Cor 1:9