Monthly Archives: February 2020

VISION 2020: The Chisel

Wasn’t it just Christmas?

Didn’t we just leap into a new decade?

I look at the calendar. The blank pages of the calendar have been chiseled with notations.
Gym.
Friends.
Doctors.
Grands.
Library times.
Snow days.
Goals completed/not completed.

It is all there and yet –
– it has flown by on such swift, silent winds that I –
failed to take note of how many of those carvings etched out this or that in the past few weeks.

“…do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” Matt 10:19-10

With words tumbling around in my mind, I check in with My Father tonight in prayer. It is the birthday of two special Grands who made me a grandma for the first time 20 years ago. It is a day of working with students and reading books. It is a day of walking dogs. It is a day of wonder at the complete joy that seems to surround me amid all the chiseling that has been shaping me and leaving pieces on the ground around me. It is not joy as the world knows nor probably can comprehend, but it is His joy. Joy of being exactly where I am supposed to be at this time in space and eternity.

Years ago when I was teaching in OH, we had to use door stops to keep our doors open. Mine kept disappearing, so when I got a new one, one of my ornerier 8th grader (with a few of his cohorts adding to it) decorated it. I think he was tired of hearing me complain about never having a door stop when I needed it – either that or the door slamming shut in his ears. I know it was on of my ornerier students because on one side, it says “Kaufman’s Quick Lube”, on the other side – in big clear letters – “The Chisel”. When I asked him why those two things, he laughed mumbled something about the one side, but then turned serious as he pointed to the other side, “Because that’s what you do with all of us.” He nodded his head as he went back to his seat. The room was quiet as I turned away and dabbed at my eyes.

I have never forgotten that moment. Little did I realize, at that moment, the chiseling that was going on in my own life. Needless to say, I took the door stop with me when I retired.

Today I pulled out that chisel to hold my door open. The warmth flooded inside. Dogs and cat wandered in and out at will. Curtains swayed. Birds sang. Squirrels chattered (and ate bird food)…bugs slept on (thankfully). However, the end of the week is coming and will bring another northerly wind, so the door stop will return to my bookshelf.

“As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.” Lk 9:51

It seems like I was just reading the Gospel of Luke for the 24 days before Christmas. Now I am opening that epistle and looking at it with the eyes of the Passion. Time passes and Ash Wednesday is – so it seems – suddenly upon us. As ways, Rabbi Yeshua blended the linear and eternal lines into one – especially in Luke’s account,
The teachings became more intense.
The miracles full of the visible and invisible battles of the world. The Transfiguration testimony and blessing.

Prophecies pointed and passionate.

Yeshua Mashiach is my chisel. Although He has been my chisel all my life, His tools have been carving more deeply these days – in ways I couldn’t have imagined a few months back. His words, love and grace purposely defining a new shape. Cutting away the marred pieces to reveal the faith that He saw hidden away.

As Lent begins, it is time to honor in prayer and sacrifice, the time of Rabbi Yeshua’s earthly chisel coming to an end. He purposely and lovingly turned His feet towards Jerusalem, all-the-while knowing what was ahead. The good new is He also knew His eternal chiseling would continue to carve and illuminate whenever anyone asked Him to walk through their door.

“Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” Lk 9:57

[personal images]

VISION 2020: Quiet Time

Lately, I have noticed that noise filters through almost every minute of my existence. From the moment I open my eyes to pulling the covers up over my head at night, there is some kind of sound drifting into my ears. The constant pulsations of TV, radio, social media, podcasts, music, furnaces, dishwashers – even the once silent rooms of any library of our society are humming with sound.
 
Not sure why this aspect of life has started to bother me, but it has. I’ve also found, that old habits are hard to break.
 
“Quiet is the think tank of the soul.” Gordon Hempton, acoustic ecologist
 
As I considered this quote over the last few days, I thought about all the “Quiet Times” of my life. What made them so special that even decades later, the clarity of the experience is overwhelming? The emotions – the images – the thoughts are imprinted deeply and I would not trade them for all the noise that surrounds me on a daily basis.
 
I miss my “Quiet Time”.
 
“Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the LORD told him. And as Elijah stood there, the LORD passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper.” 1 Kg 19:11-12
 
Old habits are hard to break. When did noise have to start as soon as I wake up? Why do I think I need it to fall asleep? Why does a quieter version in the form of soft music fill my small library at school?
 
Today, I shut the music down in my library. I wanted to remember what it was like to work in silence. Long ago when I was a page for my hometown library, the nosiest thing I remember was the sound of a fan on a muggy, hot summer afternoon. The rustling of newspapers by the senior citizens who came in every day to read them. Students slumped at the round tables scattered throughout the narrow room, turning the pages of their notebooks or books (or passing notes back and forth),
 
When the head librarian whispered, everyone heard her, stopped what they were doing and paid attention.
 
That was the AWE of the “Quiet Time” being broken.
 
I think that is what has bothered me. It is harder to hear as we age. Noises side-track us, and we miss the small voice or certain pitches amid all the other sounds. The loud raucous noises in this physical world have gotten to the point that the windstorms of sound blast our ears; the earthquakes vibrate under our feet, and we stumble into pits of endless, repetitive auditory nonsense until the fire threatens to eradicate our hearing altogether.
 
The Whisper.
 
Sadly – we often miss His whisper. That gentle, soft voice that comes in the “Quiet Times” of our lives. The times when we shut the noise of the world away and open the door where harmony awaits.
 
Tonight, I shut off the TV, the music, the man-made chaos and went outside to check in with My Father. The peeper frogs were singing in the rain, and an animal was scuttling somewhere in the woods. It was not silent, but it was His creations that were making noise – and somehow – it was still a “Quiet Time”.
 
A “Quiet Time” in His presence amid all He had created. And it was good, because He waiting for me – just like He said He would – just like He always does. The dogs sat by my side in the rain, as we talked. Even the old girl, who hates getting wet, nudged the side of my leg as she wiped her head on my leggings.
 
I think I’m going to try to extend these “Quiet Times” into even more of my day … and night.

“The LORD is near …” Ps 145:18

“Make sure of that one fact, that my everlasting Father takes care of the hairs of my head; that my heavenly Father watches over me with a love that never falters and with a patience that is never exhausted.”~Rev Dr John Cummings, 1807-1881

friends-zoom                [Greg Olsen artwork]

VISION 2020: I CAN II

Today, I got new bookshelves in our little school library. Like most things in our library, these shelves were donated. The joy started bubbling over as I realized that they were exactly the answer to one of those unspoken prayers in my life. One of those things, I never really prayed over, but thought about often. Needless to say, my arthritic back was a little sore when I came home from school tonight. You can’t move close to a thousand books without experiencing a twinge or two.

In these “elder” years of my life, “I CAN do all things through Christ that strengthens me” always springs to mind when I see something I need to accomplish – especially when it is physical. Who am I kidding? It springs to mind whether it is physical, emotional or spiritual, and I am glad it does. It is His promise and I need those desperately.

But there was something more. The power of this answered prayer continued to nag at me with each stack of books I moved. I continued to chew on it as I worked. I ground my teeth a little as I sat in my chair icing my back. And finally – after being called into serious prayer in the Spirit for family, it hit me. Our Father cares about even those silly little everyday things that absorb our attention in daily life. The things we don’t really pray about – but somehow mean something to us – enough that it pulls at the depths of our heart and touches the Spirit that lives within us.

I CAN do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

I looked down at my feet tonight as I stood outside and realized how strong that rock is under my feet. The Aaronic prayer of Numbers circles through my head. Not the verse as much as the song that I sang over and over throughout my early life. His peace reigns. The Amen chorus ringing its 4-part harmony even after all these years.

My heart has been heavy for the past week. Several prayer requests from family and friends light up my heart throughout the days and whisper in my sleep. The Spirit nudges me to pray – not in the comfort of my chair or bed – but on my knees – to fast – to listen – to seek His heart within my own; to open my eyes to the glory that is about to be made manifest to those who have been called.

“We know that in all things GOD works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” Rm 8;28

The world whips around us at amazing speed. Technology filling our heads with topics, music, pundits, knowledge pulling us far from the inner core that allows us to withstand the storms of life. Tumultuous quakings, shakings, of the soul that mimics the physical rebellion of the earth itself.

“God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.” Ps 46:1-3

I often go out at night and stand on my front porch. It is not big. It does not need to be. It is comfortable and fits me perfectly. It has heard joyous songs. It has felt tears fall on its planks. It has provided shelter from the weather swirling beyond its confines. It is where I often feel closest to the Father and His Son. Whether the snow is falling or the humidity so thick that breathing is hard, whether skies are cloudy or the moon shining brightly upon the neighborhood, I feel His presence keenly. I savor whatever it is that calls me out to stand on its decking almost every night, and am humbled by the power of His glory that I can barely comprehend.

I CAN.

Valentines Day was today at our school. Tomorrow is a work day – which I really need to get the library back in shape. On my desk were little blessings, but as always, the best ones were from the kids as they peeked in the library, laughing at the mess, asking when they could come again, sneaking out of line to give me so many hugs, and giggling as they saw the candy tattoo on my tongue at lunch.

I CAN do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I CAN pray for those I can’t hug. I CAN move a bunch of books. I CAN love as HE loves. I CAN walk on water. I CAN do all things through Christ, and I’m so blessed that He is my rock and salvation. 

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VISION 2020: I CAN

I CAN ride a stationary bike for 15 min without the knee complaining of serious pain. (Yeah – I know it isn’t a lot, but it is a start, right?)

I CAN do my various gym machines that contort my body i various ways to strengthen the back and core muscles within a half an hour. (3 reps of 15 – not bad for this old lady after only a few months, right?)

I CAN do my stretches and bouncing runs in the salt water pool then stretch a little more in the hot tub as the muscles relax and the arthritis begins to use her inside voice rather than the loud, obnoxious outside voice. (That’s good as well, right?)

I CAN walk and play with my lab girls everyday and rejoice as we walk the paths around our neighborhood several times a day. (Am not mentioning how many times I have to go find the ball they lose, ok?)

All in all – – –

“I CAN do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”~Phil 4:13

Been doing Physical therapy since November and have finally graduated to working on my own. I am blessed that my insurance covered not only the physical therapy, but now also covers the gym and any classes that I want to take.

When I am feeling at my lowest, I remember to praise My Father and His Son for their grace and love. I have been blessed more than I deserved, and I don’t thank Them enough. But I am getting better at it – step-by-step – inch-by-inch.

I am re-reading a Priscilla Shirer book, FerVent. I read it 3 years ago when she wrote it in conjunction with the movie, War Room. Like the movie, it reminds the reader how important prayer is to navigating this chaotic thing we call life. “…prayer is the divinely ordained mechanism that leads you into the heart and the power and the victory of Christ.”~ p14

Prayer
Releases
All
Your
Eternal
Resources ~ p23

2 months into 2020 and my War Room closet door is filling up with slips of paper, note cards, pictures and curiosities that pulled at me. I am not very good at writing down my prayers and all the answers (but I do get some recorded…I think). I am pretty good at writing down each promise that the Holy Spirit has highlighted in my brain during my daily devotions or Bible Time (until I spill water on them or lose them as I carry them around). I’m much better at writing down the names of people I know (and even some I don’t know), so that I can remember to pray for them when I am in my closet — and — even when I leave the physical closet, the Holy Spirit remains and reminds me – time after time – to continue in prayer throughout the day.

I have come a long way since the first time I read FerVent. I hadn’t realized how much I had internalized until I started re-reading it again. Looking back, re-reading and praying over the wisdom presented, always reminds me why I need to continue to read and re-read the WORD. It’s wisdom is a never ending font of Living Water and pulls the chaos out of my narrow vision of my adventure at that moment and inserts His peace instead.

Our life journey is not easy.
Chaos’s call is hard to resist at times.
Fears. Worries. Darkness. Temptations. Hurt. Divisions. Hatred.
Many things pull at us.
Spending time in a prayer closet is certainly not what the world thinks is important.

But it is – – – and I CAN – – – and – – – YOU CAN!

Fervent prayer is that key which release all Our Father’s promises into our life. Fervent prayer opens the door as we ask Jesus to join us in our closet. Fervent prayer allows us to rest in His eternal presence for as long as we let Him hold our arms up in Praise and Thanksgiving.

“Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still,” ~Ex:14:13-14.  Forgiven [artwork/Greg Olsen]