Category Archives: Uncategorized
I have three sore fingers – one cut (which was just stupidity on my part of not paying attention and doing two things at once), one crack (that has expanded into a field of tender new skin as it heals), and one scraped knuckle from reaching into a hole to get a silly dog’s ball (who thinks it is tremendously fun to drop her ball – on purpose – down a hole and then can’t get it out).
Her mom doesn’t think it is so funny.
I laughed with one of my book-reading students as we compared how many books we were reading at one time. I finished my second book for the month of January. Does it count that I still have 3 unfinished books in various stages of completion and only a week left in the month of January? Worse – I just pulled out another book and started it tonight (luckily – it is a re-read from long ago).
Books, books and more books – never bored.
I did my devotions, physical therapy stretches, catalogued and shelved a couple big boxes of books, played the piano, sang a song or two, walked the dogs – 3 times, enjoyed the bubbles and jets of the walk-in tub, stood on the porch and circled my gratitude for being right where I am for such a time as this and cried a little. Seems like I do that a lot when I talk to my Father and His Son – especially on a day when I’m missing my parents.
Prayer life continues to expand and I have to laugh with joy through the tears.
There’s no great lesson in any of this. It was just a day in an average week in a month of a new year – an ordinary day. And yet – I love days like this. Days when the dogs bump my legs and come running to see me – tails wagging, bouncing till they fall down, smiling their tongues hanging out as they try to be the first to get bellies or butts rubbed. A day when Shadow-Spooky-Sparkle kitty hisses because she doesn’t want to wake up and leave MY chair or MY blanket when I want her to do so. The popping of the gas logs warming the house as I work a cryptogram. The refrains a Casting Crowns song ringing through my head as I read and enjoy the quiet of the evening before bed.
Just an ordinary day. A day to “Love them like Jesus”
“Just love them like Jesus, carry them to Him.
His yoke is easy, His burden is light.
You don’t need the answers to all of life’s questions.
Just know that He loves them and stay by their side.
Love them like Jesus.
Lord of all creation holds our lives in His hands.
The God of all the nations holds our lives in HIs hands.
The Rock of our salvation holds our lives in HIs hands.
He cares for them just as He cares for you
So love them like Jesus,
love them like Jesus.
You don’t need the answers to all of life’s questions.
Just know that He loves them and stay by their side.
Love them like Jesus”
The quince bushes have bloomed. The forsythia in some of the neighbors’ yards have also bloomed. Tonight – it is already in the low 20’s. Such are the season of life. Separate – blended – messy – beautiful.
Sunday it was still “spring” warm and sunny. While the lab girls chewed sticks, dug for squirmy things in the dirt to eat (yuk) and chased ball, kitty chased birds, stretched in the sun and slept on a lawn chair. Thus we spent the Sabbath. I stayed home from church to soak in some sun and do a little work outside before the predicted return of “winter” cold.
“There was once a road through the woods
Before they planted the trees.
It is underneath the coppice and heath,
And the thin anemones.
Only the keeper sees”
2020 vision oft brings work. The “keeper” had seen a new path in the woods. It just needed a little smoothing out – well – a lot smoothing out. In fact, there are still a couple places that could use a little more help, but that will come. The “keeper” can’t do it all in one day anymore.
“Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, Where the good way is, and walk in it; And you will find rest for your souls.”~Jer 16:6
Rest for the soul. Working outside always clears my vision and helps me focus on whatever is rolling around in my mind. “Power in the Holy Spirit” has been one of the focus areas for my vision quest 2020(Acts 1:8) – figuring out my new path in this life has also been a wrestling point. Seems only appropriate that Our Father would point out physical path through the woods as I work on the metaphysical one that begs attention with each passing day.
“EVERY RAVINE WILL BE FILLED, AND EVERY MOUNTAIN AND HILL WILL BE BROUGHT LOW; THE CROOKED WILL BECOME STRAIGHT, AND THE ROUGH ROADS SMOOTH”~Lk 3:5
As I filled in holes from rotting roots, moved rocks hither and yon, loped off surface roots, limbs and baby trees, I felt the power of work swirl into the deeper part of my quest and my vision cleared a little more. At one point – just as it happens on our life paths – I got off course, but a slight nudge from the Master Gardner got me back on course and a few wheelbarrow loads later, the path was – fairly – established.
The lab girls love it – especially the older one. She no longer has to go the long way around to get to the upper shed when we take our walks. I think I like it for the same reason. We don’t even have to walk along the road at all now – unless we want to do so.
Vision, a little power, and a whole lot of prayer is all it takes.
“The misty solitudes,
As though they perfectly knew
The old lost road through the woods.
But there is no road through the woods.”~Rudyard Kipling, “The Way through the Woods”
“I was lost in shame,
Could not get past my blame,
Until He called my name.
I’m so glad He changed me.”
When you wake up with one praise song singing in your head most of the morning – even through a very traditional church service – until it morphs into another by evening, what else can you do?
You write about it; that’s what.
“I’ve met the author of my story,
And He’s mine, yes, He’s mine.”
After a somewhat stumbling life journey, I’ve finally figured out not to ignore the little things. A thrum that rumbles my tummy until I turn off everything around me and kneel in prayer. The knees complain, but I just tell them to shut up. A soft nudge that points my eyes to a student in my classroom. I wonder why but tell the brain to shut up and take note. A song that repeats over and over until it drives me a little crazy.
Little things that add up – when I take time to notice.
The furnace and gas logs have been off for the past couple of days. Windows and doors wide open. A fan softly humming in the window. But tonight, the clouds are moving back in, and I can smell rain in the air. Tonight, when I stood on the porch watching over the lab girls, the moon was shining just enough through the clouds that I could see its hazy shape, yet within a minute, it disappeared completely. The dark skies covered me and the tears gathered once again.
That is the way the past 6 months have been.
A hazy shape.
A little light.
Clouds returning over and over.
And yet – that tiny moment of light – as dim as it is – is always enough – enough to steady my steps and find my balance once again.
” He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by His own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you;It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you;”~Act 1:7-8a
On New Years Eve, I was still struggling with what Bible verse and word would be my focus for the year. A friend sent me a verse, and just like that – problem solved. Since then, I’ve been puzzling and praying over it. It hangs in my war room, written in my journal, and stuck in my mind. Then today, both of the local preachers that I listen to added to it. One talking about Baptism – the other focusing more on the Holy Spirit. (v,5-6)
Jesus went to be Baptized – not because He needed to do so, not because some religious tradition required it, but to model and fulfill His journey on a path that was written for Him from the very beginning of time. Only known as a carpenter up until that point in time, His baptism signaled a change. After that, a name reverberated over the river bed and calling all to Truth: Yachid – Beloved Son. A new name repeated only once again – at the transfiguration.
I’m still puzzling why this is important to my journey right now, and yet, the more I look at this verse and the verses surrounding it, the more His hope rises within me that the clouds are beginning to break. The Light that has been so hazy over the past few months seems to be brightening the skies and overpowering that darkness just as I knew it would eventually.
Valley journeys are just like that sometimes. The good news? Even though there are tribulations in this life, valleys and clouds full of darkness, I know that Yeshua Mashiach has overcome the world, and through it all, I am keeping my eyes on Him.
“I am who I am because the I AM tells me who I am
I am who I am because the I AM tells me who I am
I am who I am because the I AM tells me who I am
I am who I am because the I AM tells me who I am…”
I love those mornings I can just amble through. Nothing pressing. No schedule to hurry me out the door. Just time to breathe deep while I scratch the lab girls’ ears, and they stretch. Rub Shadow/Spooky/Sparkle kitten’s head until she jumps off whatever strange place she decided to claim as hers for the night. Best of all – if I’m out of my prayer closet on time – I stand on the porch and watch the first rays turn the top of the trees bronze as the dark clouds of night sink further into the west.
Today was one such day. After reading the paper, my morning devotions, doing a couple word puzzles and a reading a chapter in a book my daughter gave me for Christmas, I read a few poems from my other new book.
“Imagine a bowl of flowers in the morning can give a sense of quiet in a crowded day – – – like writing a poem or saying a prayer.” Ann Morrow LIndbergh
A North Carolinian friend of mind gave me a basket of small things that have to do with gardening. A poetry book. A pair of gloves. A plaster wall hanging. A small tote to carry hand tools. She already knows me well. She and her husband befriended me 3 years ago when I first moved to this neighborhood. Both educators in their 80’s, they have taught me a lot about the history of the neighborhood, the Southern viewpoint of the 60’s desegregation in education, and gardening. Many starts of wild plants from their property have started anew just up the road with me.
God sends people into our lives for a season, and sometimes – you just wish that season would have started a lot earlier or would last forever.
This is a hard week of bittersweet season endings for me. On the 9th – 49 years ago – my father went to the room prepared just for him by Yeshua Mashiach. I know he was ready even if I was not. He told me so just a few days before Christmas. 9 years of heart issues had definitely taken their toll on him and all of us. 10 years later, my fiance and I decided to get married on the 9th to give all of us a happy memory. But when the winds begin to blow and seasons end, sometimes you have two bittersweet memories instead of one.
However, the ultimate, most wonderful thing that happens at the end of one season is that another one begins. And – while it may not be our favorite season, it is a season that He has given, and we find that we are exactly where we are supposed to be to bless others with what we have learned. All I have to do is wait for the light, rain, warmth, rooting or seedling, and a new garden will begin to flourish all around me. When my friend gave me the blessing of a garden on that cold December day, the Father’s wings enfolded me as He showed me a new garden gate opening just for me.
“Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the awe of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.”~Ex 20:20
Did you notice the notation of the verse in Exodus?
His promises never fail. Gardens are His thing. And I? I am His child. That 2020 Vision just continues to improve, and if I’m lucky, I will have more mornings of standing on the porch watching the first rays of His light cross the horizon and beginning my day with His Light, Grace and Love.
Epiphany – 12th Day of Christmas – The arrival of the wisemen – put away decorations – an idea that takes hold in the mind.
Everyone seems to have their own ideas on what Epiphany is – that is – IF they even remember that there is such a thing.
“On the twelfth day my true love gave to me
Twelve drummers drumming…”
The 12 disciples – the Apostles Creed – the 12 tribes of Judah – the prayer of Yeshua…
The wisemen raised in a tradition started by Daniel during Babylon sojourn (or so I’ve read). They read their histories. They read the stars. They trusted something beyond belief and rode into the unknown following only a star to a baby and his family.
Long before any could put all the pieces together, God was already doing so. Aligning stars. Using Daniel’s captivity to unfurl another mystery. Protecting His newly given Son. Drumming history into the words of a song that people would sing far in the future.
People reason. Ideas take shape and wallah – there is a plan to act on – an answer to the problem. “We are so smart,” we think. We march forward only to find a river in front of us. A storm on the horizon. A mountain that won’t move. A fig tree without a bloom. An empty garden. Silence around us. What now?
“I heard and my heart pounded,
my lips quivered at the sound;
decay crept into my bones,
and my legs trembled.”v.16
I am eclectic. No other way to put it. I bounce between genres of music, literature and religion. Any day you could find me bouncing between Lauren Diagle – Beverly Sills – Streisand – Julie Andrews – Ella Fitzgerald and singing – singing – singing. Did I mention? There has been a miracle over Christmas – my voice is back. Still pretty weak, but back. The squeaks are rare. The doctors wrong. So like any physical therapy – I keep exercising it – pushing it – testing it’s limits.
While I am still mostly reading non-fiction – Bible, poetry, history, and devotionals. I’ve started adding some fiction. That also started over Christmas. I read several Christmas novels – Charles Dickens, Lloyd C. Douglas, Truman Capote, T. Davis Bunn – not to mention – the wonderful Christmas stories I read as a child that still sit on my shelf. I cried. I giggled. I gleaned some wisdom. I promised myself to read and re-read some of my favorite fiction authors in 2020.
“Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,”v.17
Sundays find me going to my traditional early service at a local Methodist church. Especially this year of trying to step onto the dry riverbed with towering walls of water all around me. I am savoring the comfort of rituals learned at my parents’ knees – the old hymns – the majestic chords of classical choral music – the organ that thrums deep within me. Then I come home to feed on the non-traditional services – Ravi Zacharias, Brian Biggers, Rabbi Johnathan Cahn, Priscilla Shirer, Max Lucado. I mark up my Bibles. I look up verses and re-read them again. Note cards get filled. Walk the lab girls. Hug my teddy bear. Sing. Play the piano. Talk to My Father.
“Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
He makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
He enables me to tread on the heights.” Hab 3:18-19
Not sure I like changes. I have a friend whose focus word is “trust” for 2020. Last year, that was my word. It changed my life because that is what Our Father does. He changes us – from the inside to the outside. My 2020 vision seems to be clearing a little. His “power” (which is my focus word this year) – his powerful presence continues to overwhelm me – clearing my path when I see no path – opening my throat when the notes are lost in tears – reminding me of a tiny book written by a prophet 3000 years before I was born.
Just a matter of trusting the power of the Spirit in 2020 and remembering always: GOD IS – GOD ACTS – GOD CHANGES!!
What an Epiphany!
My 2020 vision is already crystal clear. I am positively not going to make it to the bewitching hour of 12 A.M.
Mama Mick used to say – “No sense letting a holiday go to waste. Celebrate even if you are by yourself.” So there you go. My wise mama, who would always babysit for me but never go out with me on New Years Eve, shared her wisdom once again. And – thus – no matter where I was, what I was doing, I would find a way to call her as the ball began to drop.Back in the day, when I was singing on New Years Eve or involved elsewhere, this became a little complicated – especially since cell phones were a few decades in the future. But I can still hear her voice as she answered the phone, “Happy New Year, Brynie.”
No caller ID needed. She knew – I knew. A tradition that continued until she no longer remembered to stay awake to answer, and I cried. Still want to pick up the phone and call her tonight.
“Baby Face, you’ve got the cutest little baby face
There’s not another one could take your place,”
So – since I am already yawning, watching my favorite movie for New Years Eve, “It’s a Wonderful Life”, munching away on Mama Mick’s traditional shrimp, chips, cheese (brie instead of swiss) and some OH trail bologna, all I needed to do was add a little mead wine from a local meadery, and my 2020 celebration began a little early..
My poor heart is jumpin you sure have started somethin’…”
Much is being made about the new decade – the roaring 20’s – which just kinda adds to the ambience of this New Years Eve celebration. I was raised on the music of the 20’s
“Someone to Watch Over Me.”
“Rhapsody in Blue”
“My Blue Heaven”
I have a feeling, there are a few other Loudonville “kids” who grew up watching their parents sing these songs out there, just like me.
The Roaring 20’s were just that. The Charleston. The new-fangled radio. Movies. Cars. WWI was officially over – the war to end all wars kicked it off with a roar. But a word of caution…the 20’s didn’t end that way.
“Therefore I live for today. Certain of finding at sunrise – Guidance and Strength for the way, Power for each moment of weakness, Hope for each moment of pain, Comfort for every sorrow, Sunshine and joy after rain!”~Anon.
We never know what the new walk around the sun will bring. It is often a mixture of opposites – of darkness and light. Last year, God gave me the Bible verse that set the tone for 2019.
“Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.”– Rev 21:5
I had one idea of how that would work out. Our Father had am entirely different idea. Valley faith walks grow a whole lot faster than they do in the bright sunlight of a meadow – especially since I have this tendency to lay down, close my eyes and just enjoy the beautiful day around me while I take a little nap.
This year, I’ve been reading and re-reading about Hanukkah. Listening to podcasts, watching videos, then reading the Bible. After listening to one Rabbi speak on it tonight, I pulled out the Catholic Bible so I could read Maccabees. Did you know the only place Hanukkah is mentioned in the protestant Bible is in John 10? Jesus celebrates it. He is the only one mentioned celebrating it anywhere in the Bible. I am fascinated for way too many reasons to list here, but it is leading me on a new adventure, and I love these kind of adventures. While I haven’t found my verse of the year – yet – I know He will supply it in His own time.
In the meantime, I found this tonight, and it’s just too beautiful not to share on this last night of the decade/the last night of the year.There may be dark times ahead – there may be armies so vast that I am completely dumbfounded and overwhelmed – but I have read the end of His book. My eyes are on Him, so how can I not be optimistic about 2020?
I would say my 2020 vision is working better than I deserve.
“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. 3 No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. 4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.” Rev 22:1-5
It is the 5th day of Christmas. It is the last day of Hanukkah. It is two days until New Years Eve. My windows and doors are still open. There will probably be a fan in my window tonight – – – and at 10 o’clock at night – – it is still in the sixties!
“Hey buds below … up is where to grow
Up with which below can’t compare with.
Hurry – it’s lovely up here …”
I have been outside everyday since Christmas singing this song. Can’t help it when daffodils are popping up in a couple gardens, and green shoots are everywhere. Took all I had in me, not to clear away the leaf barriers that will protect the roots/shoots when winter remembers her blustery self and breathes on us some of that stuff that makes us remember why we like spring.
“Life down a hole takes an awful toll,
What with not a soul there to share with,
Hurry – it’s lovely up here!”
Cleaned a new path in the woods. Dug a couple trenches for drainage and to hold wooden borders. (Our one lab girl would dig to China the gardens didn’t have something to keep her out of them). Cleaned dead things out of the gardens.Hauled 4 wheelbarrows of mulch to remove more of the temptation for said lab girl. Straightened patio steps – a little. (I’m not too good at that, but helped it a little). Created new artwork and watched “Eloise” with the Grands as we munched on popcorn, washed down with root beer floats.
“And what a gift package of showers, sun and love
You’ll be met above everywhere with…Hurry – it’s lovely up here!”
To say I am tired and the arthritis aggravated is probably an understatement, but that is why I have my prayer closets, comfy bed, physical therapy exercises and an inversion board, right?
“Thou dost keep them in perfect peace, whose minds are stayed on Thee, because they trusts in Thee. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting Rock.”~Is 26:3-4
I have to admit, the last two weeks leading into Christmas were filled with little anxiety. The last six months – from the 24th to the 24th – have been the hardest challenge in my faith walk. Evenso – blessing after blessing cushioned each step. New promises appeared daily to dry each tear. Friends – far and near rallied round with prayers and thoughtful words. And each night, His wings covered me with His peace. I shouldn’t have been surprised that Christmas was no different – in fact – it was one of the ones I will stash away with other special holy times in my life.
Times spent in His presence: As a 7 year old on a sunny day, lying under an oak tree as the Son appeared between the leaves. A teenage Christmas Eve communion service in an upper room. January 4,1971, when my father held me extra long before I returned to college, and the following Saturday when I got the phone call that he had gone to the room prepared just for him. A few years later, lying on my bed in a small apartment watching the sun set as tears of repentance brought me to my knees once again. A Christmas Eve surprise trip home that brought me a son and a new life journey. Standing at the back of the church on another early January night by myself before I got married. The birth of three blessings in fairly rapid succession but always perfectly timed by Him. My mother’s smile at the corner of the room as she squeezed my hand one last time before she went to dance with daddy.
It IS lovely here.
Hopefully, like me, not all my flowers and bushes will be too stressed out when the cold weather does return. Cold weather and darkness hits each of us at one time or another. Bittersweet days threaten to smother us with the bitter memories, but – that is when His promises – if we remember – pull His wings tightly about us and the aroma of sweetness lifts us into His perfect peace.
Early January memories are coming, but His peace is constant when we are tethered to His Word. His rock solid promises continue to line our paths and support our feet on this new path in the woods. Personally, I can’t wait to open my eyes in 2020 to see what is behind that door.
Best of all – my 2020 vision – get it? – 2020 vision??? Anyway, my 2020 vision is about to see all the possibilities that He has promised. GOD is good – all the time. All the time – GOD IS GOOD.
What can I say? I love, love, love the shortest day of the year. I can turn on the Christmas lights earlier in the day. I only had to walk the spoiled labs girls 3 times instead of 4 or 5 – after all – once it is dark, they curl into their favorite spots and start to snore. (I can barely get them outside to do their business before I go to bed.) And best yet – – – hope flies up out of the pit of my stomach shouting: “Tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow – darkness starts to lose it’s hold on the world.”
Gotta love it when Light puts her dainty, little foot down, and darkness starts whining as she drags her big, clod-hopper feet backwards.
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it”~Jn1:5
It was one of those busy days that wasn’t the one I planned, but exactly the one I needed. The lab girls and I worked outside – well – I worked while they sat exactly in my way, dropping the ball and begging for me to throw it one more time. Wrapped presents – one of my dreaded Christmas chore. I am not the world’s greatest wrapper. I get impatient and want to bang my head against the nearest wall most of the time. I think next year, everyone gets a beautifully decorated bagged gift instead. Thus, to regain my peace, I grabbed on of my older Christmas books and sat down by the gas logs. This book, read so often, it’s outside binding has lost its color and outer shell of protection. Published in 1937, Home for Christmas by Lloyd C. Douglas is the story about a grown family that decides to reunite in their childhood home sans spouses and offspring to spend one more Christmas as they did as children.
“Your homes too, as I remember them, were similarly blest by the uninquiring confidence of parents to whom faith was the substance of their dearest hopes and sufficient evidence of things unseen.”~p.104
Towards the end, Douglas, who wrote The Robe, Magnificent Obsession, The Big Fisherman (to name a few), hit the premise of this tiny book.We all just need to come home. Come home to the heart of Christmas. It seems to me – and even Douglas in 1937 – as if the bustle of our technologically savvy world, a gazillion choices of anything we think we desire, and the bright disco ball of colors dazzling and blinding our eyes in this world in which we live, we tend to gloss over or stray a little farther from the real “Home” of Christmas.
“…if all the great musical composers were met in conclave to decide which of all the immortal songs had stirred mankind to its best endeavors, they would unanimously vote for the anthem of peace chanted one night above the Plains of Bethlehem…”p.105
As always, Douglas hits my spiritual sweet spot. It is why I have kept several of his books sitting on my bookshelves since high school. In my retirement move to the South, I purged a majority of my personal library; however, Douglas was one of those writers that traveled South with me. Wisdom comes in many ways – even in books written long ago.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”~Jn1:1
A friend and I were talking about all the theories surrounding the birth of Christ. The date (December or Nissan 1 or Feast of Tabernacles) – the place (a cave or a stable or a family room that animals shared in the typical Jewish home) – why Our Father chose the richest and the poorest to pay tribute to a baby born in Bethlehem – swaddling clothes richly embroidered rather than rags…….details that are fun to debate, but when it comes down to it, but just that – physical pinpoints of our world. What we really need is to go to the eternal heart of it all –
the “Home” of Christmas –
a tiny baby named Yeshua –
Whose name means “He who saves”.
“He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life,and the life was the light of men”~Jn1:2-4
3 more days till I need to be Home for Christmas. [Google images]
“He knows our need, To our weakness no stranger!
Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend!
Behold your King! your King! before him bend!”
There are wonderful things that happen when a lot of odd ingredients are mixed together in one bowl and produce a dessert that is way too sweet on such a ….. “O Holy Night”. Unbelievable singers sharing Christ-mass music. Christ-mass lights twinkling in every room. A kitty curled on the arm of the chair. Puppies stretched out under the feet. Devotions that just seemed to hit the sweet spot. Yum!
“Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is Love and His gospel is Peace;”
Didn’t watch the news. Didn’t mess around on the computer. Instead – I played with some rocks, seashells, glitter, and candles while I listened to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir with Kristin Chenoweth. Earlier, as I was looking for something else – I found my dad’s journal from his time in China during WWII. He only wrote a few entries. But from the moment I opened it and saw his handwriting, I could hear his voice and feel the love he always showed his family.
“Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother,
And in his name all oppression shall cease,”
The journal must have been passed out as a Christmas/New Year gift to new units arriving in China in 1946. It had facts about The Republic of China. The National Anthem. Monetary conversion charts. Key phrases for a soldier – written in Chinese – just in case needed. I was impressed when I found the map key he had made so that he would remember the notations on the small yearly calendar in the front of the journal.
74 years ago, my daddy was on a ship – a BIG ship – being socked with 40 foot waves at some points, heading for a far away country with people, animals and sights that he couldn’t begin to imagine. He was on that ship for 5 weeks according to his notations. He spent Christ-mass far away from his wife and little boy. He didn’t get Christ-mass cards or letters until February 1946. Just a small town fellow heading into the giant world of the unknown. Hard to imagine in our days of instant communication, isn’t it?
“Sweet hymns of joy in grateful Chorus raise we;
Let all within us praise his Holy name!”
Don’t know why I happened upon this particular Christmas special on TV or why I found Dad’s journal just before I sat down. Don’t know why I never read Daddy’s tiny book before now. Don’t know why I decided to make some last minute gifts of Light. But as I read – and as the Christ-mass music circled around, the devotionals blended into this mixture thoughts and feelings as His presence filled this small home with His peace and grace. I have a feeling that I will continue to ponder all of these things until I tuck myself into bed and commend my soul into His keeping before I close my eyes to sleep.
“Christ is the Lord, then ever! ever praise we!
His pow’r and glory, evermore proclaim!
His pow’r and glory, evermore proclaim!”
Some nights are just like that. Nights that make you cry – then smile – then pull out the treasure chest of memories to feel blessed beyond measure. Peace reigns and Christ-mass is only a few days off. Time to:
“…Fall on your knees, Oh hear the angel voices!
O night divine! O night when Christ was born.
O night, O holy night, O night divine.”
BTW – Kristin Chenoweth’s gowns are beyond classy and fabulous if you get a chance to watch this special. They are almost as gorgeous as her voice – especially when she sings “Mary, Did You Know?” or “O Holy Night”. And like me, she thinks Sandi Patti is pretty cool. How about that?
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”~Is 55:8-9
“A smile is laughter’s whisper and has its roots in the soul.”~ Bishop Fulton J. Sheen
After my dad had his first heart attack, we stuck pretty close to home for the rest of the summer. There were only 3 stations on the TV. No computer or phone to mess with while sitting in an ‘easy’ chair. But there were lots of things that were so much better – conversations with family and friends dropping in (and they always brought good food to eat since mom didn’t like to cook), tons of books, newspapers and magazines shared, not to mention – music of all kinds – via friends bringing their instruments, radio, and records playing on the stereo. Smiles were everywhere in that stormy time of life.
Storms in life bring changes.
Tonight, instead of banging my head against a wall, I went searching for a Catholic mass on TV. I’m not Catholic, but when the chaos of my world tries to blow out my candle light, I need to close my eyes and let my soul fall into the cadence of songs and traditions of worship that have been passed down through the ages. It is there – in that place – between breathing in [Yah] and breathing out [Weh] – when I remember His presence is never gone; It is in that breath where His voice is never silent; His light never cloaked – – – it’s just me that has forgotten to breathe. So easy to inhale deeply and enter His presence with Thanksgiving.
“Each of us makes his own weather, determines the color of the skies in the emotional universe which he inhabits.” Ibid
After the mass, a priest asked for prayers for the canonization of Bishop Sheen which in turn was God’s wink at me tonight. I could see me sitting on the floor, leaning against my dad’s leg, listening to mom sing in the other room, and watching to Bishop Sheen on TV. Sometimes, Dad would nudge me with his knee if Bishop Sheen said something I should remember – or something that made him laugh. Dad was intentionally making his own weather in the storm that had changed his life, and as he did so, he was teaching me to color my own skies when the storms buffet my horizon and threaten that Light that is within all of us.
Most years, the holy-days season brings such joy, but occasionally those storms of everyday life overlap and darken the horizon whether we want it to or not. This is one of those years of me. But if there is one thing I learned at my father’s knee, it is this – that I can color the skies of my emotional universe and be thankful to the One who waits for me between breaths.
One of my favorite teacher/preachers likes to say: “I do not live by sight, hearing, or feelings, but instead, by every word breathed by the mouth of GOD”. I like that – A LOT. When the skies darken, it is my mantra, and then I repeat the Ps 118:24: “This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.”
A week from tonight, Advent calendars will be completely done for 2019. Kids will be squirming with excitement and straining to hear a sound of bells in the distance. Churches will be bathed in candle light. And last of all, stockings will be hung by the chimney with care. But for some of us, the storm clouds are overhead, and choices need be made. So as for me, I choose to breathe. Breathe deeply and find that place between breaths to remember. No matter what chaos may be swirling, Christ-mass is one of my favorite times of the year. And if I remember to stand, look up, I can rejoice to see a sky colored by many, many treasure chests full of memories of joy and love and most of all – the grace of a newborn baby’s cry.
“Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.”~Is 9:6-7 [personal image]