Category Archives: divorce

PANDEMIC VISION 2020: Where are you on the Pandemic Tree of Life – Part II.

Like most teachers – if I give out an assignment – I should also do the work to set the example (gotta love Vygotsky). So here is my Tree of Pandemic Life Essay, a treasure chest memory of this time for the future generations. Notice – I changed the words in various places – call it artistic license.

Pandemic –

A word that stopped the world mid-orbit.
A word that we confidently touted as a historical concept.
A word that applied to 3rd world countries – certainly not this country.
A word on the peripheral vision of life – not something in my direct line of vision.

A word of eight letters – the eternal number.
A word.

Yet – here it is on my Tree of Life. I lived through this on a major scale as a baby, toddler, preschooler. Polio kept me out of the water during those early hot summers, but other than that, it didn’t touch me. However, it forged an indelible memory of standing in a line of friends and family on the small steps leading into the cafeteria of my 1955 elementary school. Mom and dad held my hand. My older brother stood off to the side with a group of his friends. A small cup of liquid to drink, and then the word disappeared into the history books.

Pandemic.

The word eased itself back into my lexicon on a whisper of a breeze in late 2019. As I looked out the window, warmed by my gas logs, the full extent of that word was still just conceptualizing itself in my mind. Was this how my parents felt after they had battled their way through WWII and were facing this word? I prayed for those far away who were dealing with it as I prayed for those dealing with locusts invasions, earthquakes, volcanoes, and other illnesses. Surely, this new virus wouldn’t touch the shores of this country. Our society has 2020 vision – science, technology, stability, cleanliness – surely, it wouldn’t float over here. Yet – it did. It picked up speed until gale force winds swept over each of us and the eye of the storm peered down upon us.
Collectively.
Individually.
Nationally.

Pandemic 2020.

The word storm buffets the doors and windows everyday now of this place I call home. No longer a word of the past, but a word brandied about in every day conversation as we “social distance” away from family and friends. The illness itself as evolved with one name into another name into another name – Covid 19. I look out the window. The dogwoods, azaleas, wisteria are blooming. Spring looks beautiful as usual, but the world is different. I look at the picture on my desk. Where am I on this Tree of Life?

Where am I on the Pandemic Tree of Life 2020?

2019 was an especially hard year for me. My 40-year marriage covenant had broken and the “one flesh” shredded. If this pandemic had come 6 months earlier, I would have chosen the little boy lying on the ground. My world and faith in myself scattered about me in pieces. But the promises of My Father, ever faithful, had the golden glue that slowly mended me into a new piece of art. One that He had seen since the beginning of the sparkles in my parents’ eyes. Since then, I have gotten up, brushed myself off, put on a new dress and started to re-climb my Tree of Life.

Pandemic 2020 caught me on a lower branch. And – while I still grip the tree trunk fairly tightly, every now and then I glance up. I see the One who is reaching down – just in case – just in case I need some help. My bare feet feel the rough bark beneath them. My toes tighten at times to keep my balance, and then I glance up again. His face is smiling down at me, and I am ever so thankful for the past two months I spent in the gym. My balance is better. My strength is better. My health is better. Best yet, my knees can bend once again to touch the ground as I kneel in prayer.

I smile up at that Face. Yeshua Mashiach is still there. Not far away. Not sitting on a throne in a far away place. Not judging my mistakes or fears. Just reaching down and smiling. Waiting to help if I need a hand to climb a little higher. Waiting for me to be willing as He sits on a branch of my Tree of Life – as if He had not better place to be in the whole world.

So where am I on the Tree of Pandemic Life 2020?

I am climbing.
I am reaching up.
I am smiling, because I trust the One who is guiding me upward.

[personal images]

VISION 2020: Pandemic Basket Blessings

When I wake up these days, I am full of thankful blessings. Thankful to open my eyes. Thankful to see my choc labs wiggling at my bedside. Thankful to hear kitty-kitty meowing from wherever she is curled up to sleep. Thankful for the first deep breath in – Yaw – followed by the first deep breath out –
Weh. Thankful for My Father who whispers: ‘Kneel”.

“During the days of King David, a devastating plague is said to have claimed the lives of a hundred Israelites every single day. That’s when a council of Jewish rabbis prescribed the practice of reciting one hundred blessings per day to counteract the plague. According to tradition, the plague stopped immediately. I can’t promise that gratitude will cure whatever ails you (or stop the Coronavirus), but gratitude is a good place to start. And it’s where the double blessing begins.” Mark Batterson, author of the Circle Maker, Whispers

This devotion caught me this morning. I laughed. It is so obvious. When I start my day – pause throughout the day – end my day – thanking my Father, the next day radiates His peace in all I do. Even when a pandemic strikes and isolates me from my Grands and students (and cuts my gym time in half), Joy seems to pour out of me and His peace envelops me.

“Shout with joy to the LORD, all the earth!
Worship the LORD with gladness.
Come before him, singing with joy.” Ps 100:1-2

After reading Batterson’s quote, I began to fill my head with all the blessings of the day. There are way more than a hundred. I started writing them down and was at 10 before I got out of the bathroom. Then I began to wonder how many more blessings I missed. The flock of robins in my yard. The music of all the spring birds over my head. The wide array of colors in spring flowers. Tree pollen that swells my sinuses. Essential oils that make it tolerable. The taste of food. The smells of spring.

Where do I stop?

Life is a miracle basket – a basket overflowing with blessings. Basket Blessings – too many to count – Basket Blessings from a loving Father and Son who know all too well the agony and the chaos of this world. Basket Blessings that should bring us to our knees throughout the day. Basket Blessings that fill me with joy even when I dislike the dark valley that is hard to navigate with these old eyes and crackling knees.

“Acknowledge that the LORD is God!
He made us, and we are his.a
We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
go into his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him and praise his name.” Ps 100:3-4

Raise your hands in the air. Yup – do it. Right now. Start circling your hands in concentric circles and repeat this phrase: “He is turning my mourning into dancing and my sorrow into joy.”
Go on…….
Repeat.
Repeat.
Repeat.
Are your feet tapping? Is your soul dancing? Go ahead. I know you want to do so.
Dance.
Dance.
Dance.
And place your Basket Blessings on the holy ground where you check in with Our Father. He’s waiting. Waiting just for you to just acknowledge what He has given you.

A Basket of Blessings He designed just for you.

“Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.” 2 Chron 7:14

“For the LORD is good.
His unfailing love continues forever,
and his faithfulness continues to each generation.” Ps 100:5  first day in Heaven [Kerolos Safwat art]

VISION 2020: Best of Times

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” Charles Dickens, Tale of Two Cities

In 1859, Charles Dickens wrote a story. A story of civil war. Long ago – in 1969, I read that story again. A story that I had read first as a sophomore in high school but didn’t absorb. It was a country far away. A different culture. A country divided. I didn’t think much of it. When I re-read it, I had change. I had been quarantined to my home after a week spent in the hospital.  A week I don’t remember much about except one imprinted image of my daddy kneeling by my beside.  Mom told me later that they did that night after night. I had a bad case of mono that changed my journey. 

I think that is where we are now.  The world’s journey has changed.

When things weigh on my mind, i generally start reading – lots and lots and lots. Different genres. Different biases. Different forms of wisdom that circle and start to form a picture in my mind. A picture that I pray over and begin to look for confirmation from the Spirit that it is His wisdom that I am absorbing.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jer 29:11

I have read too many articles to count since last Sunday night, but a couple have stuck with me. Two of them just happened to be written by Jewish rabbis. (I think I’ve said it before – but I don’t believe in coincidences)

One compared this time-out-of-time experience – this Pandemic 2020 – as a time-out. A time-out allowed by a Father who has seen His children struggling. A Father who loves His children so much that He knows they need a Sabbath rest – times of quiet – times away from the normal – times to re-think their journey- times to see what is right in front of their face – times to open their eyes and ears to what they have been given – times to seek the path to the Tree of Life that has been there since the beginning but has been cluttered by the dirt and grime of human life.

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” Matt 6:25-26

The other article had nothing whatsoever to do with the Pandemic, but was all about the cherubs who guard the way to the Tree of Life. I’m still not sure how those two separate ideas are meshing together in my head, but something is still swirling them around together. I think I know what wisdom it is pointing out in my journey, but still waiting for the confirmation.

All-in-all, while this may SEEM to be the worst of times, this absolutely COULD BE the best of times. It depends on us. It depends on our choices. It depends on where we focus our eyes and our hearts.

“O God…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

I’m certainly not looking forward to giving up my gym time. After all, who doesn’t like an hour of water play? (Notice – I didn’t mention the dreaded half hour of machine workouts.) I am definitely not looking forward to weeks without teaching, and all those hugs I get from my students. I’m unquestionably not looking forward to giving up my lunches with friends or picking up my Grands from school.

However – there are folders upon folders of writings and poetry that I have promised myself to finish. There are my lab girls who love having me take them outside a million times a day. There is a garden of lettuce (that I just planted today) that will need tending. There are letters to write to residents in nursing homes. There are care packages to send out. There is a path to look for to the Tree of Life.

As for me, on this unusual St. Patrick’s Day, I am thankful. Thankful for a Father who loves me enough to allow me to live in times like these. I am thankful for family and friends who continue to check in with me. I am thankful for the healthcare professionals who are on the front line of this “time-out-of-time”. I am thankful for the leaders who have been appointed to lead in these times.

“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

Most of all, I am thankful for the Father who sent His Son to walk beside me every step of this Pandemic 2020, and I am keeping my eyes on Him in the worst of times – in the best of times.

[Pastor Doug Bouquist photography/google image]

VISION 2020: Email Wisdom: Corona virus 2020

Got this poem from my daughter this morning and thought it was worthy e-mail wisdom to pass along.

As we enter into a time of fasting and national day of prayer, it is good to consider these things. Meditating on Ps 91 today:

“This I declare about the LORD:He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;He is my God, and I trust him.For He will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease.He will cover you with His feathers.He will shelter you with His wings.His faithful promises are your armor and protection.” v.2-4

[Akiane Kramarik artwork/google images]

Part II:  “The first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb, when it comes, find us doing sensible and human things — praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts — not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs.”
— C.S. Lewis

Part III:  With all the schools in OH closing (NC not far behind – and now officially closed down), don’t forget to ask teenagers or college kids to help out if you need babysitters in the coming weeks. Teenagers/college students – don’t expect to get rich. Households are a little short of money. Send cards to senior citizens in nursing homes.  Have the kids make artwork and cards for senior citizens – or nurses – or doctors who are serving on the front lines.  Just remember – GOD’s got this. All we have to manage is the details, and YOU’ve got that.

Pray for the medical personnel and those in leadership positions.

Pray for revival. Nothing better than revival to beat the evil one and his minions.

is 41 10

 

 

VISION 2020: Faith Filled Feet

This morning I woke up with chorus of The Battle Hymn of the Republic marching through my mind. Nothing to get your faith feet under you for a new day with a robust, wonderful chorus of: “Glory, glory, hallelujah…”

But tonight is a little harder. The old choc lab girl is in pain. Her head is down, and she has been whimpering since she she came in after our last walk. She has many tumors, and the vet warned me last fall that it might not be long before the pain would worsen. I upped her CBD chews and laid on the floor with her until she fell asleep. I cried, but I’m still praying that tomorrow she will wake me up by being her old bouncy self. (Her nickname has always been “Bouncer” since she shows her excitement by bouncing.) I really don’t want to think about losing another part of my life right now.

“I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps;
They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps,
His day is marching on.” v.2

Long ago, most of my early March days and nights were filled by participating in or watching our hometowns’ local talent show. Sponsored by the American Legion, it was filled with all the family and community elders that guided my life as a child; patriotic and sing-a-long songs that everyone in the audience knew; and friends and cousins every where – running up and down the darkened school’s hallways as we passed the time waiting for our parents to finish up.

“I have read His fiery gospel writ in rows of burnished steel!
“As ye deal with my condemners, so with you My grace shall deal!
Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with his heel, “
Since God is marching on.” v3

No matter where we were in the building, we could always hear the finale begin. We would stop whatever game we had going and head for the auditorium – after all – parents weren’t so understanding in those days if we weren’t ready when they were. Some gathered their stuff and headed out to the cars. Others made their way to the back to finish up a conversation or two. I usually sat down to watch and listen.

Usually, my mother or Godmother would start it by singing a favorite patriotic song. Mom’s was always “God Bless America”. Then dad (who was the director for many years) would get the rest of the singers going with “It’s a Grand Ol’ Flag”, “America the Beautiful”, and finally – “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”. It always changed from year-to-year, but that was the basic formula.

As opening night approached, Dad would sit down beside me, and we watched together. I loved those times. He would ask me what I thought and would tilt his head towards me as he listened.
His arm draped around the back of my shoulders, and one eye the stage or clock, so that he could talk to everyone before they left for the night.

One of the last performances he directed, he decided to drop the American flag behind the Chorus as they sang the last two verses of that last song without the usual chorus in between them. He had the small combo band that volunteered to play every year, drop out with only the drum playing a cadence.

And just like that – the atmosphere of that high school auditorium changed. The low hum of noise stopped. Kids rummaging around in the back grew silent. Dad sat a little straighter, focused entirely on seeing what was transpiring on stage.

Somehow – it almost felt as if I could hear the faithful feet of those who had marched so full of faith – for God – for country – as they sang this song long ago.

The gospel in the midst of the dark valley of war.

“He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment seat;
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him; be jubilant, my feet!
Our God is marching on.
In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me;
As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free!
While God is marching on.” v.4-5

It was one of those rare times that I remember feeling Our Father’s presence outside of church. As the band rejoined the singers for the final chorus, I heard the kids in the back begin to sing along. Dad stood up, and I stood with him. I don’t remember noticing anyone else, but tears were definitely in my eyes and in those of my father. When the song ended, everyone was quiet as if holding their breath.

Jewish wisdom says that when we breathe in, we say the word “Yah” and when we breathe out, we say the word “Weh”. When feet march to His beat, we breathe a little deeper. We notice more than usual. We fill ourselves with that faith-filled, life-giving sustenance that only He can give.

I think tonight, I just might let my faith-filled feet march me back to sleep beside my puppy for awhile and sing myself to sleep with a little “Glory, glory, hallelujah…”

“for I AM GOD, and there is none lie me,
declaring the end from the beginning
and from ancient times things not yet done,
saying, ‘My counsel shall stand,
and I will accomplish all my purpose.’ Is 46:9b-10 

 [personal images]

VISION 2020: Leap Day Faith

After leaping into physical therapy before Christmas, I leaped into a gym routine. It has been one month of going to the gym 3 or 4 times a week. In that time, I’ve figure out 4 times is probably a bit much for this 68 year old – at least for now. I’ve also figured out that when there is a salt water pool and hot tub, spending two hours at the gym is not such a bad thing.

Ride 3 miles on the bike –
Contort the body on a huge rubber ball –
Increase reps to 15 on three different machines –
All the while –
Remembering to breathe and use those dreaded core muscles.

“I do not like them. Sam I am. I do not like green eggs and ham”…or working out.

Did I say I was tired yet? Well – I usually am, but I make another leap and switch to pool.
Pool stretches, bouncing, walking, swimming, leaping…
And then –
The thing that one thing that always keeps me leaping…

The hot tub for 15 minutes. Soothing, bubbling warmth with plenty of PTL’s for getting through another session.

“My heart leaps for joy,
and with my song I praise him.” Ps 28:7

My choc lab girls don’t exactly leap for joy with me spending more time away from them, but they sure leap for joy when we get the ball and take our walks. No matter how tired I may be after I get home, we all enjoy a walk in the woods and a few balls dropped in deep, dark holes. It is then I usually take a leap of faith and hope that the snakes aren’t awake yet and hiding in that hole.

As the girls leap into the leaves and roll around, I find myself talking to My Father, reciting Bible verses that pop in my mind, or singing some favorite hymns. His presences seems to make the skies a little brighter, the birds’ song a little sweeter and the squirrels a little funnier as they leap over my head and keep us company. My earthly father used to say he felt closer to GOD fishing than in church. I can understand that a little more these days.

The “Leap of Faith” phrase isn’t found in the Bible. However, the stories that the WORD contains is full of illustrations of the people who did.
Abraham walking his son up a hill.
Noah building a boat in a desert.
Esther asking for an audience with her husband king.
Ruth leaving her home for the love of her mother.
David facing a giant with 5 small stones.
A young woman and man believing an angel’s messages that they would be parents of the Mashiach.

I have found that Leaps of Faith happen when we least expect it – or often – want it. Sometimes you just need to go to the gym of faith.
Build up the muscles.
Increase the stamina.
Work on breathing through those last couple of stretches/miles.
Focus on the WORD.
Seek His presence.
It is then that you will Leap for Joy in that Leap of Faith, just as all the our ancestors have down down through time. Read the Book. It is full of their stories and their Leaps of Faith.

“Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven, for their fathers did the same thing to the prophets.” Lk 6:23 narnia (2) [google image]

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]