“All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.”~2 Cor 4:15
The words have started to rumble about getting their say in my life. They have been passive for quite a while, biding their time, waiting to emerge, and that was okay – for a while. Somehow they know that putting one foot in front of another takes a lot of focus which oft leaves the body just plained tuckered out at times, and the mind somewhat befuddled at other times. So the words waited.
Well – – – actually – – – they started the clamoring last night.
They bugged me, but I ignored them because – well – I fell asleep. What can I say?
The body was a little weary.
Heart was a little teary.
Eyes were a little bleary.
Mind was a bunch leary.
After all – – – what could be so important that the words wanted to say, and I wasn’t sure i was up to the task of lining them all up in some kind of cohesive order?
It has been a long couple of weeks with every day more blessed than the last. Days filled with things that needed to be learned, accomplished, and enjoyed. Got to admit, I’m pretty good at getting that first two parts – it is what teachers do. Go in the class. Teach. Observe. Absorb wisdom from what I’ve missed – what I need to do next time. But lately, I’ve missed that last part.
A little word. An important word.
“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”~Jn 14:26
Enjoying that blessing of “doing” – whatever it is – just enjoying the blessing of “doing”. Somehow – seeing it in print makes it seems obvious and simple. Yet – for me – lately – just putting one foot in front of another has kept me from the blessing of what we were created to actually do – ENJOY.
Enjoy this temporary garden that He created after we screwed up.
Enjoy the wait.
Enjoy the process.
Enjoy the sweat.
Enjoy the tears.
Enjoy the planning.
Enjoy the people.
Enjoy the journey.
Enjoy His presence, His light, His laughter, His smile at watching me stumble and fall and cry and lift myself up just so He can hug me even closer.
The Holy Spirit kicked me this morning with a simple song. A song that I loved to sing with my family’s small church choir long ago. It is probably the first choir that started my love of choral music. Anyway – as I was doing this, that and the other thing on my to-do list of the day – the Moses Hogan Chorale started singing: “Let us break bread together on our knees…” and I found myself singing, crying and listening.
The Holy Spirit is like that when He gets a tight hold of my ears and heart. The voice in the choir began to sound more like my mom just as it had sung those same words in my ears year after year. The words – the lyrics – long dormant in some recess of my mind – were brought forth as if they were always at my tongue’s tip. The joy of singing in mixed formation as the harmonics overwhelmed me and went beyond the ears, flowing into the eternal consciousness that always encircles me when I participate in choral music.
“Enjoy this day that the LORD hath made. Enjoy the tribulation. Enjoy the work. Enjoy the refining and molding fire. Enjoy the process. Enjoy the sweat – the tears – the laughter – Enjoy the words that push their way forward – the blessings of all things for indeed,” the Holy Spirit whispered in my heart – “He is there – He is here – He never leaves or forsakes – He is faithful in all His promises – He is Your Father and He wants to see you smile.”
“Let us praise God together on our knees, (on our knees)
Let us praise God together on our knees. (on our knees)
When I fall on my knees with my face to the rising sun,
O Lord, have mercy if you please. (if you please)”
It started last Monday. I take that back – it probably started Sunday the 6th. I spent the day in an unintentional fast and prayer. It was just one of those days when I was busy doing meaningless stuff when I needed to be in prayer. Somehow in the mix of the mess, I just didn’t find the time or the need to eat. So when Monday arrived, my ears were totally opened to listen to one of my favorite preacher/teachers. He often seems to hit that Holy Spirit sweet spot in my soul. So much so, that I generally cry. I generally take notes – lots of them. I generally do a bunch of pondering over the verses that he covers in his talks. I generally just seek the presence of the LORD.
Monday night, His presence went beyond the message – it carried on into my dreams.
I don’t remember much of the dream except I was singing in a choir. The music was all in different colored folders that had swirls of colors all over them. and I could hardly wait to open them and begin sight singing. The choral director was someone I had sung with before and was – oh so excited – to sing with again. Best yet, we were to told to make new dresses for the upcoming concert. I wanted the blue material, but only a Christmas red and pink were left when it was my turn to chose. Funny thing, I wasn’t really disappointed and couldn’t wait to get started sewing the pattern for the new dress.
Of course, it was then I woke up. So Tuesday, I said my morning prayers as usual. The beginning of Yom Kippur would start at sundown. The day of determination for the new year. The day of Our Father weighs the heart.
My heart has been heavy for the past few months. Worries. Concerns. Friends/relatives fighting diseases. Prodigals wandering far from home. How I needed to make a decision on getting tires for the car or a new back door or a screen door – or…. Yeah – I throw even those tiny things into my prayers. Sure – enough by sundown and the beginning of Yom Kippur, He had answered that tiny prayer about tires in a most unexpected way. He also had opened my eyes and dried my tears in a way I had not expected.
Every day of that week continued to be blessed including Friday which brought another surprise in the mail and a couple found in a Bible totally up to three unexpected gifts. I love how My Father knew that I needed a show of His Light-giving miracles this holy week. I love how He inspires people who are anonymous to me – but not to Him – to accomplish His work on earth for the people who love and honor Him. I love how the Jewish High Holy Days are holy for ALL His people. Yeshua celebrated the High Holy Days while He was on earth — after all — He went even though He knew His enemies were looking to destroy Him. I think they are still important to Him. They were the first covenants He made with His first people. Then after His time here was done, He made the gate available for the rest of us and someday – that same gate will open to the second garden He has designed just for us.
“After this, Jesus went around in Galilee. He did not want[a] to go about in Judea because the Jewish leaders there were looking for a way to kill him. 2 But when the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles was near, 3 Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave Galilee and go to Judea, so that your disciples there may see the works you do. 4 No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.” 5 For even his own brothers did not believe in him.”~Jn 7:1-5
So tonight, as Sukkot/Feast of Tabernacles begins, I am thankful for the harvest of salad greens, tomatoes and flowers that I have had all summer. Thankful for a summer of life-altering change. Thankful for walks in the rain with the lab girls. Thankful for kitty curled in my lap. Thankful for a Father that hears the smallest whisper thrown into a quickly uttered, frustrated prayer. Thankful for friends who hear God speak to their hearts and put a gift in the mail. Thankful to Elohim Chasdi who dries my tears and carries me when I can’t take another step forward. And while I won’t live in a sukkah this year, I will certainly do a lot of prayers sitting on my patio swing in thankful praise and adoration.
The harvest of thankfulness has begun to a Father who meets all our needs – in all our journeys as we wander through the desert between two gardens.
“Therefore Jesus told them, “My time is not yet here; for you any time will do. 7 The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that its works are evil. 8 You go to the festival. I am not[b] going up to this festival, because my time has not yet fully come.” 9 After he had said this, he stayed in Galilee.
10 However, after his brothers had left for the festival, he went also, not publicly, but in secret. 11 Now at the festival the Jewish leaders were watching for Jesus and asking, “Where is he?”
12 Among the crowds there was widespread whispering about him. Some said, “He is a good man.”
Others replied, “No, he deceives the people.” 13 But no one would say anything publicly about him for fear of the leaders.”~Jn 7:6-13
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Sooooo – the weekend started out like this on Friday morning: there was a snake languishing and being quite chill beside my bedroom door. With my eyes adjusting to the new light of day, and my bare feet just inches away from his head —- what can I say? Some weekends are just like that. A little snake. A lab girl with two sores on her ears and a limp when she walks. A kitty that jumps on my stomach on a lazy Saturday morning to wake me up. My daughter’s old dog crossing the rainbow bridge. Curtains to hang. Furniture to move – a few times – and then a few times more. And, thankfully, many times when I get to go outside, sit on the swing, close my eyes and sing – – back and forth – – back and forth – –
“Sing God a simple song
Writing hasn’t been a high priority the past couple weeks. Lesson planning. Glancing at e-mails. Cruising through FB. Sharing a bit of e-mail wisdom and then – read and read some more. Books piled on every table/desk. Stumbling my way through books on how to deal with chaotic storms that threaten to engulf a seemingly “normal” life. Reading and re-reading passages of prophecy or Biblical history. On-line reading on Jewish/Christian traditions. Head buried in oh so many, many books until the arthritic neck begins to ache more than I wish, and I reach for my essential oils once again..
Since it has been a few years since I read in-depth on Jewish traditions, I’ve been listening to podcasts and re-educating myself about the awe of the Jewish High Holy Days. Did you know that some Jewish theorists believe that time is a spiral? I’m still working on that in my head, but I do find it fascinating when I sit on my swing and swinging – back and forth – back and forth. Where is my spiraling tree swing when I need it?
Thinking about the 6th Day of Creation.
Thinking about how that is celebrated in Rosh Hashanah.
Thinking about the trumpet blowing: past – present – future.
Thinking about looking back at what was.
Thinking about the only Biblical recorded celebration of Rosh Hashanah in Nemiah.
Thinking about acknowledging my role in the past year(s)’s journey – good and bad.
Thinking about Yom Kippur.
Thinking about judgement and filling my lamp with oil.
Life – –
Joy – –
My thoughts tracing the tradition of the Jews…the tradition of the mass…the tradition of humans trying to find their way between the two gardens and back to the Father. A Father who walked with them in the first garden and waits to walk with them in the last one. A little snake that I almost stepped on in the dark. Things that I love. Things that make me cry. An old dog that now plays with her best friend in heaven. Things that make me laugh out loud. Things that I want to accomplish. Thinks that I have been thinking this weekend as I swing – back and forth – back and forth.
“Lauda, Lauda, Laudē
Lauda, Lauda di da di day…
All of my days.”~Bernstein’s Mass: Simple Song.
“The entire people assembled as one man in the square before the Water Gate, and they asked Ezra the scribe to bring the scroll of the Teaching of Moses with which the LORD had charged Israel. On the first day of the seventh month, Ezra the priest brought the Teaching before the congregation, men and women and all who could listen with understanding. He read from it, facing the square before the Water Gate, from the first light until midday, to the men and the women and those who could understand; the ears of all the people were given to the scroll of the Teaching. Ezra the scribe stood upon a wooden tower made for the purpose, and beside him stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah at his right, and at his left Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah, Meshullam. Ezra opened the scroll in the sight of all the people, for he was above all the people; as he opened it, all the people stood up. Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God, and all the people answered, “Amen, Amen,” with hands upraised. Then they bowed their heads and prostrated themselves before the LORD with their faces to the ground. Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites explained the Teaching to the people, while the people stood in their places. They read from the scroll of the Teaching of God, translating it and giving the sense; so they understood the reading.”~Neh 8:1-8
Mama Mick used to say, “When the sh** hits the fan, get off your lazy butt and move.”
I used to just think this was one of her hilarious ways to get people to laugh. She loved to make people laugh – – especially the boys I brought home on a date. Truth be told, they all kept in touch with her long after we broke up. Mostly, because she could tell a joke and make them feel like they were part of her inner circle as they laughed and laughed at her jokes. While I blushed and blushed and cringed at the jokes she would tell (riske doesn’t begin to describe her jokes).
But – the twist on the adage in the first paragraph was a little different. As I have gotten older, I’ve seen the wisdom behind the picture she painted with her words.
“My mama done tol’ me, when I was in pigtails,
My mama done tol’ me,”🎵
So in June, I got off my lazy butt (moved the fan because who wants a stinky fan anyway?) and did a bunch of things that I’ve just thought about over the past few years including losing weight… oh – boy I get to buy clothes before school starts… because all my shorts and tops are hangin’ where they ain’t supposed to hang.
“A Whooee, A Whooee…”🎵
✔️– Been indulging my artistic side. Writing on some old things that have been sitting on the shelf for more years than I want to think. Written some new poetry. Did some doodling. Created clay sculptures with the Grands. Plucked garden flowers and arranged them where I could look at them often. Pulled out the markers and decorated my new journal.
“Now the rain’s a-fallin’,
hear the train’s a-callin,
✔️– Been working the body. Hulled almost another dump truck load of mulch. (The only reason it isn’t done is……“It’s too darn hot, it’s too darn hot…🎵) Planted a new tree in our rocky, hard, clay dirt (Can you tell I’m whinin’ while I am praying over and watching carefully this new tree since it is late, late, late in Southern season to be plantin’ a tree). Walked the dogs 4-5 times a day and spent lots of time chasing ball (me included when I throw it in the woods) – losing ball (especially in the woods) – arguing over who gets the ball – and panting like crazy with big goofy smiles on all our faces when we come inside. In this heat, none of us stay outside long – not even the cat who generally hates coming in before it is time to eat.
(My mama done tol’ me)
A-whooee-ah-whooee ol’ clickety-clack’s a-echoin’ back th’ blues in the night.”🎵
✔️– Painted my bedroom with the help of daughter and family. Then – best of all, created a window seat in this “new” bedroom, hung lace curtains, added a small bookshelf full of my favorite authors/poets, and turned to my dogs and solitary cat said – “It is good”.
The window seat is so small and cozy that I started to wonder if I would really use it or just look at it. Then I looked outside. One of those mysterious summer showers that often seem to come out of nowhere was just starting. I found myself sitting. Sitting in the window seat. Curled up with my teddy bear – my Sefer (Book of Life) by my side, watching the rain and wondering at the “great and mighty things” that He shows me day after day after day.
“Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.”~Jer 33:3🙏
I may sing the “blues in the night” at times. Tissue boxes empty as the cat pats my face with her paw. The girls curl at my feet or behind my chair, so I can reach down and pet them when they cry with me. But in the morning — aaaahhh yes — in the morning, the dawn rises – Our Father wakes me up and I hear Him whisper:
For this is the day that I have made just for you.
And surely – goodness and mercy shall follow you all day long – every step – and with every breath – – – -with you – – – –
You are my child – created in my image – beloved of the King.”
Can’t get much better than that. After all my Mama Mick done tol’ me long ago:
“A Whooee da whooee, A Whooee da whooee”
“I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?”
There are nights when after a full day of walking through his life, that the world seems darker than dark. Angry slurs spew back and forth – separating, dividing, tearing at loose bands that once wove and united one to another.
And the age old question rises once again.
The Book of Life is full of similar stories. People united then torn apart by complaining, whining, power, self-interest. They have a beautiful garden, but want what they want when they want it. They watch the leader walk up a mountain and when he is a little late, they make their own leader out of gold. They get freedom, but don’t like walking. They get manna but want meat. They see the Son of God but He doesn’t fit the description in their heads. They have forgotten the song.
When the Jewish people would journey to Jerusalem for a festival, they would sing Psalms and recite the Torah. It was a way to teach the youngsters, but it was also a way to remind themselves of why they needed to do this journey in life. They called the journey “aliyah”. Today, when a person moves to Israel, it is also called “aliyah”.
“My help comes from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth…”
Tomorrow, our little school is making a journey to a farm. They will take a hayride, pick out a pumpkin, get some pictures taken, spend time with the animals, and listen to some stories and songs. Since Jesus made aliyahs when He walked this earth, I will be reading a story about the Jewish festival Sukkot – the harvest festival. I had to smile when I saw that our principal paired me with the music teacher. After all, it is fitting that the story and songs will go together on an aliyah.
God is like that. When things are darker than dark, He throws a little light into it. A fire cloud that leads us forward and protects our hearts from the chaos. It is just a matter of faith. A matter of looking up to the hills and remembering to ask the question.
Where does our help come from?
It cometh from the LORD who hath made heaven and earth.
“He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD is your keeper;
the LORD is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The LORD will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
The LORD will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.” ~ Ps 121 A song of ascent.
“RATIONS 100 DAYS is presented in the conviction learned by long experience and ancient teaching that man does not live by bread along…”~Introduction to Rations 100 Days
A month ago, I finally got to take a trip to my birth state. It was a whirl-wind trip of 3 days, 1000 miles and a great mixture of freeway and rural driving. Family, friends, familiar places greeted my return, and I laughed more than I had in a month – – – especially while I was with my big brother.
He pulled out a box of pictures, notebooks, trinkets, WWII memorabilia, postcards, rattled off story after story. He even placed in my hands the black pen set that sat on my homework desk long, long ago. It’s funny what things trigger an emotional reaction. I certainly wouldn’t have thought a black, plastic pen that Dad received as a Scout Master would make me tear up. But there you go. Life is crazy.
“I’m an honest to goodness marine.” B.A. Ferris’s postcard sent on June 16, 1945
It wasn’t until this week that I got to the bottom of that box and found a tiny book that belonged to my dad, RATIONS 100 DAYS. Printed in 1942, it was passed out by the USO to all inductees. Later, as my father boarded a ship to China, he received a small New Testament Bible. Neither have any written notes in them, and yet, you can tell they were both opened more than once. Sitting on the book shelf behind my desk, I see them reunited everyday.
“Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it…”~Ps 127:1a
As most of you know, our country was different back then. It was by no means perfect. Then again, there has never been a perfect person – save One – so it is not surprising that there has never been a perfect country. But there was something – something powerful that was moving across our land. Navajo code talkers (an extension of WWI efforts by Cherokee/Choctaw native Americans) – racial/gender barriers breaking down as men and women of different races joined together against a common foe – ration books – scrap metal drives – America’s Prayer Minute…
Yup – you read that right. In the back of this little book is a reminder page. A page that reminds the soldier to pray every night. “The time for America’s Prayer Minute is six o’clock every evening, to be observed for the duration of the war. Wherever you are at six o’clock will you not join with many others across this nation in a moment of concerted prayer?” Somehow, I don’t think this book would be handed out to soldiers anymore.
I’ve been praying for our country a lot lately – more than ever. And yet – not enough. I think this tiny book is an answer to an unspoken prayer. We are 92 days out from the election. The book is 100 days, so I won’t entirely get done with the book by the election of 2016. However, God is not limited by earthly time. He opened my hands, dropped a tiny book into them, and wiped the mud from my eyes. His timing – not man’s – is always perfect. So tomorrow, I will be back writing and “…at six o’clock every evening…for the duration of the war…. (for surely we are in a spiritual war)” I will be observing America’s Prayer Minute focused on the prayer verse that was included with this 1942 reminder.
“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”~Heb 4:16