Category Archives: Relationships

2020 VISION: The Watchman

He sits on the very top of the wall’s tower,

waiting…

wondering…

watching…

writing.

It is what he was created to do since the beginning.

Tumultuous thoughts swirl over and in him until he leans his head as far back as he can, trying to find surcease from the tightness in his shoulders, extended wings as far as they can stretch. Without conscious thought, the prayer flies from his heart, finding life in the breeze that whispers, “YAH”. Peace overflows. Light dips down and wraps around him. Deeply, he lets the whisper fill him with the everlasting water. Bowing his head, the Watcher smiles as he fills his lungs with “WEH”, and lets his voice trumpet the note that was set to play from the first WORD: Bereshit.

“Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; Unless the LORD guards the city, The Watchman stays awake in vain.” Ps 127:1

A plow made it easier to till the earth, care for the critters, provide sustenance for themselves. Human power – until the rains came. Bricks made it easier to build towers to provide safety and security for themselves, and the critters, from the elements. Higher and higher. Touch the sky higher. Human power until the earth moved, and tongues waggled in different ways. Families. Friends. Clans. Countries. Metals. Coal. Steel. Oil. Commerce. Nations upon nations dotting the world. Human power – until dissonance, anger, war and innocent apple-red blood flows without restraint.

“…unless                   the                  LORD              builds             it…”

Humans have built many houses – many towers – many walls on Terra outside of the Garden He built for us.  Some have withstood the years fairly well – others not so much. Human hands – human minds – human wisdom can only accomplish so much until the blood-red apple dangles a bit too close, and mouths water in anticipation.

“…unless              the                  LORD              guards            the                  city…”

The hedges of blessings fallen. The harbingers appear.  The warnings proclaim. The silence – – – deafening. The remnant falters, but a few manage to stand again on His Rock higher than – stand again on His given, eternal WORD – stand again behind His purifying-fire column – while the wide-awake Watchman on the very top of the walls’ tower…

waits…

waits…

waits…

artwork by Janet Searfoss “Juriel”

2020 VISION: Reaching Fingers

The Jewish High Holy Days have ended for 2020. But as always, with the Father’s little winks buried within sight of eyes wide open.

Repent -Sealed -Humbled -Gifted.

The last day – a special day – a gift given by the Father to celebrate – to remember – and then – to begin again.

Seeking within His given WORD the wisdom buried within sight of eyes wide open. The end is never the end with Him.

Forgiveness. Grace. Reaching out. Again…Again…Again…

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Gen 1:1

Even in this 70th journey around the sun, I cannot just read these words. Instead, my spirit sings them – especially when I need a special prayer. Aaron Copland’s 1947 choral work called In the Beginning has never evaporated from my mind even – almost – 50 years later. It sings me to sleep in the depths of darkness. It wraps around me when I have no words to pray. It often just erupts when I am blessed beyond measure sitting on my patio swing. It echoes what I know that I know that I know.

Davening. Reciting. Praying. Singing. Listening. Loving.

All are tied together in this first verse of His WORD to us.

I AM. Always the same. Always creating. Always loving. Always listening. Always forgiving. Always praying for us. I AM.

He stretches His fingers as far as they can reach to touch us – every day – in our darkest sins – in our joyous celebrations. Is our love so weak that we can we NOT stretch our fingers just as much to the Father who created us.

When God winks at me – when I actually caught on to seeing them – I finally gained a little wisdom…and am still gaining wisdom. It is time to write a love letter back to Him.

Time to pray. Time to recite His words back to Him. Time to pray for our country. Time to pray for our leaders. Time to pray for each other. Time to love each other. Time to listen for His prayers for us. Time to love Him. Time to reach out to Him. Again…Again…Again…

Sistine Chapel – Michelangelo

2020 VISION – Stink Bugs

Caught the first stink bug in the house. Pulled out the ol’ dryer sheets and put them around the doors. I haven’t used dryer sheets in the dryer since 2018, but I do use my left over ones to keep out those smelly little rascals. It works, but I will probably have to buy more this year.

I really was lazy today and just spent the day moving a few things, brushing my choc lab girls, listening to some old music or podcasts as I worked around the house and finally – my personal favorite – reading.

I always have 3 or 4 books going at a time. One in this room – one in that – and a couple sitting by the morning chair with my devotionals. When the sun is shining in the windows or the gas logs glowing, there is no better place to be.

The one I finished to day is an old one, but it could have been written today. Because of that, I read it slower than I have in previous readings. I saw some of the deeper wisdom that I glossed over when I first read in as a teenager or later as a young teacher or later as an aging wife/mama/teacher.

“My name is Will Dowson, an American name, and I come from St. Louis…My father asked in a mild tone: “What made you think I thought you must be a foreigner, son? Don’t you think I know that tens of thousands of good Americans are traitors?” Your Sins and Mine, by Taylor Caldwell, pp124-25

There have always been stink bugs among us. Bugs who want to sneak in and smell up things. The Bible tells many stories of stink bugs – starting with Adam and Eve – only theirs slithered into their lives.

Stink bugs are stink bugs no matter their shape or size.

I don’t like getting on FB much anymore. I get on once a day – check in on friends and family. Usually write down a few prayer requests, answer some messages, play a couple of games, laugh at a few memes, but mostly – just feel sad at the divisiveness that continues to pull us apart. Come to think of it – I’ve pulled away from a lot of TV, movies and “popular” entertainment. Time has become more precious, and I’d rather be learning or worshiping than wasting my time.

I sat in my own version of the Sukkot hut today. The wisteria vines had gotten way out of control. So I spent a few hours on Friday on the step ladder, trimming vines and using other tendrils to tie the thicker vines into a tamer version of their natural state. It was fun, but the arthritis didn’t much like standing on the ladder for that long. But – it reminds me – that humbling comes in all forms to each of us, and I am thankful.

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.” Col 3:15

We are one body. One body of creation by a Father that loves all that He has done………even the stink bugs.

The next few Tuesdays leading up to the November 3, 2020, election are going to be ones of intermittent fasting and prayer for me. It is a national movement that more and more teacher/preachers are starting recognize. I listened to several today as they stood on the Rock and encourage the ones they have been given to shepherd.

GOD be merciful to me, a sinner.” Ibid, p163

It started with the Prayer March in D.C. and The Return in D.C. – the Vine and Branch together in one place on the same day. Starting on Tuesday, there will be a prayer gathering from Plymouth, MA, … a televised reclamation of the covenant that was established in 1620 by the Pilgrims. There will be a revival tent put up next week in Burlington by Cox Toyota.

It’s Time to Pray.org

“This is my Father’s world. O let me ne’er forget That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the Ruler yet.” old hymn

Choices to be made. Live with the stink bugs or not? God’s grace and timetable continues.

“We will serve the LORD our GOD and we will obey His voice.” Jos 24:24

2020 VISION: Mayim, Mayim, HaYESHUA

Why is it…the frayed lettering, the stains, the broken hoodie strings, the paint stains – the multiple washings…make that one piece of clothing the one I reach for when I want – not just something to cover the body – but a special warmth – an indefinable comfort – a bury-my-nose-in-the-collar, full of treasure chest memories in each nappy crevice – piece of clothing for a chilly fall night?

Yet – it always is the one I reach for first, and the one I wear the most.

This was the first piece of clothing I bought after our house fire in 2009. It was the only sweatshirt I had for a year. It is – of course – in the traditional Ohio State University red and gray (faded as they may be). It is the piece of clothing I slept and lived in for a week in 2019 – even though it was June.

Comfort clothes. Comfort foods. Comfort traditions.

“O LORD, I will praise You.Although You were angry with me,Your anger has turned away,and You have comforted me.Surely God is my salvation;I will trust and not be afraid.For the LORD GOD is my strength and my song,and He also has become my salvation.” Is 12:1-2

I love Fall. The nip in the air in the morning and evening. Spending time outside without having to swat at mosquitos. Catching up on gardening chores that I put off the past month because of the heat. Walking and playing with the choc fur girls. The only thing I don’t like about it as I age, is the sinus factor that seems to worsen with each passing year. However, since I deal with it for 3 seasons of the year, I’m praising Abba that I’m getting used to it, and for the meds and essential oils that He has given us to help combat the ugliest of symptoms.

The 7-day Jewish feast of Sukkot begins tonight. They build small huts in their back yard to commemorate 40 years of wandering. Many still chose to live in them for the entire week. A time to remember their Jewish ancestors’ humble beginnings as they wandered in the wilderness to discovered their unity as a nation and their faith in the GOD of Moses. A time when they lived in small huts, nurtured each other, and learned to depend upon the Father that led them out of slavery and into freedom by following Him in faith. On the 8th day, they celebrate one more day with singing and dancing – the day Moses was given the WORD to share with them.

Traditional dance Mayim, Mayim (Google image)

Joyfully shall you draw water, From the fountains of triumph. Joyfully shall you draw water, From the fountains of salvation Chorus: Water – water – water – water Hey, water in joy Water – water – water – water…Hey, water in joy

Mayim in Hebrew means water. Hayeshua means God’s salvation.

One of the traditional songs that they sing during this time is “Mayim, Mayim”. A song about water, triumph and salvation. This has led some Messianic Jews and Christians to believe that – perhaps – Yeshua/Jesus was born during the feast of Sukkot – or more to the point – on Simchat Torah, the day the WORD was – once again – given to His people.

It is something to ponder on a chilly night, in a comfy sweatshirt while I rock back and forth on the patio swing letting an old, old song repeat over and over as I pray for our nation, our people, our President and First Lady, and those of which I do not know:

“Ushavtem mayim b’sasonmimainei hayeshua .Ushavtem mayim b’sasonmimainei hayeshuaChorus:Mayim – Mayim – Mayim – MayimHey, mayim b’sasonMayim – Mayim – Mayim – MayimHey, mayim b’sason”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-n-a2Kxh9o

2020 VISION: Wedding Cake

‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ Matt 25:6

The one bad thing about making a Grandma Mickey cake is that I always want to make a second one just for me to eat. Problem is – I would probably just sit in front of it and try to stuff it down my throat in one gulp. When it comes out perfect, like it did this weekend, it is hard to walk away from it.

Blessedly, I always manage to talk myself out of mixing up another batch of cake.

1. I would really be sick to my stomach for a week if I did make one just for me. 2. It tastes ever so much better when I only get it a few times a year. 3. Seriously? What fun is it to eat a whole cake by yourself? 4. Eating cake is special because of the memories made laughing and spending time with those you love.

“Those who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet, and the door was shut.” Matt 25:10b

I have no idea how this one Bible verse, that ended my devotions tonight, ties in with eating mom’s cake and Yom Kippur. It is one of those unfathomable things that My Father starts doing when He has something to say. A lot of times, I just give up and go to bed because I am basically lazy and just don’t want to try to figure it out. Like tonight….I was just about to do that when the intangible became almost – touchable.

Mom’s cake is time-consuming. Three layers. Two different frostings that you have to cook. Messy ingredients that don’t come out of ordinary containers. Step-by-step processes that have to be followed down to the littlest jot and tittle. And even then – never guaranteed to turn out the way I envision it.

When the picture cleared a little in my head, I realized, these times are those messy ingredients. The Father has laid out His recipe card. His writing on it is clear – if we can read His cursive. His mixing bowl is on the island counter. He knows exactly how to blend each thing together so that this cake will turn out exactly as He has envisioned it from the beginning of time. He will take all this messy goo and make the perfect wedding cake for the Bridegroom and the Bride.

Everytime.

The fasting of Yom Kippur has begun. But there is that expectation – – that sweetness on the tip of my tongue – – that the Father has inclined His ear towards us. He has begun His preparation for the feast that is to come. He is making a wedding cake that will be the most beautiful wedding cake of all.

“We just haven’t seen it yet…”

‘Lord, lord, open the door for us!’ Matt 25:11

The recipe for the wedding cake is on the counter. The beaters are mixing the ingredients. He has sealed it. The Bridegroom is coming to the door. Some have their lamps ready. Others do not.

It is my prayer tonight, that loved ones will gather close. They will hear Him coming…laughing… smiling…holding the brightly burning lamp high, we will all open the door and dance out to meet Him.

2020 VISION: Short, Sweet


“Earth to God…”

Today was the day of 2020 that will stay in my memory banks:

  • A Granddaughter celebrated her 12th birthday (Halloween cake a success).
  • Got to laugh and enjoy my daughter and her family (outside, social distance and masks observed).
  • A beautiful niece got married in OH (oh how I wish I could have been there).
  • Friend reminded me that 51 years ago tonight, I was singing at her wedding.
  • The Vine and Branch had prayer gatherings on the Mall of Washington D.C. (both full of different aspects of the Trinity).

“And crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea…”

I could write a blog about each of these things because they have all been pondered so deeply in prayer today. Then I carefully wrapped each one of them in a beautiful cloth of love to store in my treasure chest of memories. In those quiet future times of my own neediness, I will pull them out and reflect on all the wisdom and grace that touched my heart on this day.


“Hineni he’ani mimaas…Here am I that am poor in deed, rattled and afraid in awe of Him who sits in wait for the praises of Israel, standing to plead before Him for His people Israel…”Ancient Israeli prayer

As I sit in my easy chair tonight, I am praying once again. I watched the Vine portion for most of the day. I saw the Vine’s prophetic word given over our nation. I heard the shofars blow to seal to a revival call given over our nation. Felt the Holy Spirit’s fire just invade the space of time as people knelt and repented of their sins. Rejoiced when the invitation of the rabbi was given to know Yeshua Ha-Mashiach personally – – issued to one and all – – now.

Hear our Prayers, O Lord, Incline thy ear, and Grant us your peace…” Sang by Aveeda King

Tonight, I am watching the Branch’s prayer march around the mall. Immediately, I got that nudge to observe that it is a half portion of the Stations of the Cross. Ancient rituals embedded once again into a prayer walk of 2020. The fantastic thing is knowing that God is applying my prayers – right now – tonight – where needed – – because His time is not our time.


“But especially I commend earnest mental prayer to you, more particularly such as bears upon the Life and Passion of our Lord. If you contemplate Him frequently in meditation, your whole soul will be filled with Him, you will grow in His Likeness, and your actions will be moulded on His. He is the Light of the world; therefore in Him, by Him, and for Him we shall be enlightened and illuminated.” – St. Francis de Sales


Lots of human prayer thoughts in this one tonight. Vine – Branch. Jewish – Christian. America – Nations from around the world. A coat of many colors draped over the shoulders of a multi colored remnant. Anointing those who whispered: Hineni – Here am I. The I AM listening for the words of “Am I” coming back to Him as a reflection of His love and Grace as we try to re-light His Light within the world.

“Earth to God…” lyrics by John Rich

Data driven graph of Biblical cross-referencing

2020 VISION: Short, Sweet #2

“Earth to God…Come in, God…” Ibid.

Heard two new songs today. Both left me thinking. Then again – this has been a day of pondering things beyond my understanding. Always a blessed day when I struggle to understand and pull out my Bible over and over to make sure my “lens of focus” is centered on what is important.

Jonah’s story has always caused me to ponder because there are just parts of it, that don’t flow together in my head. First – here is a prophet. Suddenly – he doesn’t want to do what he’s told to do? He’s arguing with God? He runs away from God? Being thrown overboard and swallowed by a whale is probably the easiest thing to understand in the whole story. But then there is that other thing about a vine to shelter him when he already built a shelter and the worm who eats it. What’s up with that?

I’ve probably read it – read commentaries – listened to podcasts – a few times over. One thing I’m sure of – when the timing is right – I will understand it a little more.

“We need Your light, We need Your love, to heal the world, You made and save us now in our darkest hour With Your amazing grace…Earth to God” Ibid.

Jonah is the portion of the Torah that is read during these 10 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, so it was good to go back to it and try one more time. One truth I did walk away with today, was this. As I repent and say, “I’m sorry” and turn from my wicked ways, it doesn’t change what I did. It is forgiven, but the physical realities of the act remain. There are always consequences to our actions even when we are forgiven. What forgiveness and grace do – – is renew His Spirit within me and energize the potential of who He designed me to be into action.

“Although this is a stiff-necked people, forgive our iniquity and sin, and take us as Your inheritance.” Ex 34:9b

So tonight as I listened to people pray for our military, police, leaders – – as I watched some of my favorite singers – – then smiled as familiar names and faces that were from my childhood came on stage – – I am thankful for being born for such a time as this.

Repentance isn’t fun. Turning from my wicked ways isn’t easy. However – watching The Return 2020 helps me realize that if we unite as a people and seek His face – ANYTHING is possible. After all – – – we have His covenant to sustain us, and He never changes.

“Earth to God…Come in, God,” lyrics by John Rich

“But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into His image with intensifying glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Cor 3:16-18

“Repentance” by Yoram Raanan

2020 VISION: Short, Sweet #3

Tonight, I had nothing. Went early this morning to wish a happy 12th birthday to youngest granddaughter and un-birthday to her brother. Nothing better than starting the day with multiple hugs and excitement.

After teaching a couple classes today and cataloging a few books, I made my way home. I cruised through all my devotionals. Watched one of my favorite Israeli Messianic pastors. Noticed when my choc lab girls meander back to their beds. But that was ok because kitty still rested on my lap till she spooked herself and ran from one side of the house to the other… a couple of times.

“Though an army encamps around me, my heart will not fear; though a war breaks out against me, I will keep my trust.” Ps 27:3

I finally decided that this is the kind of evening when faith needs to kick in. After all – He had told me to write every night for 14 days, so I needed to trust Him that He would supply what needed to be said. I opened the lap top and began to let my fingers do some internal listening. Not easy for an A type personality teacher who is used to controlling and directing things around her down to the minute. But tonight, as I look back at the day, I finally figured out that has been the point since I rolled out of bed – literally.

Keeping that trust – keeping it in Him. That, for me, is easier said than done on some days.

As usual – I rebelled during part of the day when I saw it dwindling to next to nothing of my plan. Familiar anger rose up. Tears not far behind. And then – I remembered…these are the 10 days of the year that Our Father declared to be given to repentance and introspection by His WORD in Leviticus.

“One thing I have asked of the LORD; this is what I desire: to dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and seek Him in His temple.” Ps 27:4

I opened the fingers of my fist, and let my heart praise the One who knows me best. He was laughing – kinda like He is doing right now. He knows when I let go of me, I start to figure out what wisdom He has been trying to point me to – all day long.

Sometimes, I just don’t listen too well.

So there you go. As a teacher, I should know that He is trying to teach/reach me everyday with something new and wonderful as I grow in His Grace. It is never ending and miraculous WHEN I realize the lesson of the day because most days – I tend to be a little clueless and wrapped up in my own thoughts instead of HIS thoughts.

“Still I am certain to seethe goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait patiently for the LORD; be strong and courageous. Wait patiently for the LORD!” Ps 27:13-14

Blessed is the day when I trust and wait patiently for Him who created me.

“The Way Maker” by Maria Magdalena Oosthuizen

#theReturn#HeisWorthy#RestoringHope#PrayerMarch2020

2020 VISION: Short, Sweet #4

“…I have prayed for you.” Lk 22:32

How awesome is that to think about? Yes – Rabbi Yeshua was talking to Peter, but in the original language, He used the inclusive form of you. In other words, “I have prayed for y’all”.

Right now – whatever you are doing – just think about that. Yeshua Ha-Mashiach is praying for you in Heaven and before He created you. I remember the first time that verse really hit my mind like a sledge hammer. I was overwhelmed it. GOD was praying for me…me…a sinner who had broken His heart too many times to count. He was praying for…each one of us.

“So then, this is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name…” Ibid.

I love teaching language. I love teaching about books. BUT – I love teaching about GOD even more. After keeping my tongue under control (mostly) in the public schools, it is sooooo fun to be able to talk about the One who created me to be a teacher and to share all the wonders of the subjects that lie behind the physical facts (as we know them).

Because of the Prayer March happening in Washington D.C. on Saturday, we talked about prayer in the library. We read about prayer. We colored papers about prayer. We wrote and talked about the words in the “LORD’s Prayer” as we filled in the blanks. Some of them knew about the prayer gathering happening on Saturday. A couple of them knew someone who was going there. Some needed to know definitions. Some didn’t really know this prayer.But all of them knew Jesus and Our Father.

“Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread.” Ibid.

What did surprise me is how many did not know the words to His prayer that He taught us. I remember learning this prayer before I could put myself to bed. I remember saying this prayer everyday in school after our teacher read us a Bible story. I remember saying this prayer as I said my earthly goodbyes to my mommy and daddy. I remember saying this prayer on my knees with my children and husband every night before we tucked them in to bed.

Now that was Heaven on earth.

“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” Matt 6:9-15

Like usual, after a full day of teaching, I am already yawning. The choc lab girls have meandered back to their comfy beds. Shadow-Spooky-Sparkle kitty has curled up in a tight ball in her favorite chair. So I smile as I yawn again.

Life leads us into a different faith journey every day. Some I love – and some – – – I never want to live through again. Then I as I yawn again, I wonder – how many times have I said His prayer over these 70 years?

Can’t begin to guess.

Having a prayer that comes immediately to your lips when the world betrays you, is a blessing beyond measure. I wonder how many of the children of this world will have that comfort in the years to come. I wonder how many know that Jesus is praying for them. I wonder – how many of you know that His words are a promise and He never breaks His promises…

“I have prayed for y’all”.

“Awesome Wonder” by Greg Olsen

2020 VISION: Short, Sweet #5

“There probably won’t be a next year for most of us,” said my father. The farmers were looking steadily at him now, and not at Lester Hartwick. “We’ve got just one court of appeals now,” my father said, “and I don’t suppose most of you have given it any thought.” Ibid.

I should have changed the title for this one, but as usual, my plans are not His plans. I had a whole list of things written down the first day. Positive, up-lifting things that might catch someone’s attention and encourage them during these High Holy Days of 2020. I think I have – – maybe – – used one of them.

The Father never fails to surprise me – – ever.

“Oh, I suppose you’ve prayed…in church. But have you ever prayed: ‘God have mercy on me, a sinner,’ like the publican in the Bible?” Ibid.

In January I started re-reading one of my favorite authors. I hadn’t pulled her books off the shelf for years except to move them here or there – but I have moved them with me ever since college – all 40+ of them. I started with my favorite one. Then the next favorite. And the next. I haven’t been reading much fiction. Most of my reading time has been focused in other directions lately…and yet…for whatever reason…her books came off the shelf.

“Because every man in the world is a sinner against every other man, and against God. It isn’t only all the wars we’ve had in this century. We’ve forgotten God.” Ibid.

Today, the morning sun lit the pages up. I said, “No”. He said, “Yes”. I re-read the chapter and sighed. This is not sweet. It is not up-lifting. It is what it has been for the past 60 years since she wrote this book in 1959.

If you can find her books, I would highly recommend them. Some are about the banking system. Some about the political system Some historical in nature. Some fantastical dreams. All thought-provoking. Her name is Taylor Caldwell. The book (my 2nd favorite): Your Sins and Mine.

And as if to prove His point one last time – – – I had written several verses down to wrap this up. They were not the right ones. This was His choice.

“My righteousness draws near, My salvation is on the way, and My arms will bring justice to the nations. The islands will look for Me and wait in hope for My arm. Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look at the earth below; for the heavens will vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment, and its people will die like gnats. But My salvation will last forever, and My righteousness will never fail.”-Is 51:5-6

Artwork by Yoram Raanan “Bridging Heaven and Earth”