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JUST SPECIAL

Somedays are just special.

That’s it. Not anything miraculous. Not anything to stop traffic. Not anything that anyone would notice. It just is.

Maybe it is the way it started – before I even rolled out of bed. Lazy. Slow. Cat-stretches. Prayerful praises that turn into dream-remembering. The sound of the shofar. The words of Abraham’s servant circling in amongst it all,  “Lord…make me successful today…”~Gen 24:12a

Jewish tradition says that during the times of Noach (Noah), it would only rain once every 40 years or so. Life was perfect. Never too hot. Never too cold. Comfortable. Restful. Did you know that Noah’s name in Hebrew means rest, comfort?

Anyway, it was always comfortable because the seasons never changed. In fact, it was so perfect that humans had no reason to reach out to their Father. They didn’t need anything. They were comfortable. So they thought they could do anything by themselves. Sound familiar?

That has been rolling around in my mind for a while. How many times – when things were going well in my life – did I just ignore spending time in the WORD – ignored my prayer closet – ignored seeking His face? Way more than I care to remember, and like the people in Noah’s time – in all times – I, too, drifted further from My Father.

“As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.”~Gen 8:22

Christian tradition has us look at this Bible verse as meaning that God would never destroy the earth by water again. Jewish sages believe that it is YHWH reaffirming that He needed to change things up a little by adding different seasons to the world. Hot. Cold. Storms. Drought.

A little discomfort. A little less restful. A little reminder, that prayer reunites the Creator with those He loves and allows Him to always give back more than anyone could ever request. A time to remind His Beloved just how much He loves them.

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”~Ep 6;18

A special day to wake up from a dream with four shofar notes echoing. A special day to wake up with a praise hymn on my lips. A special day to get a picture from the Grandson that made me cry because he said he drew it just for me. Not anything miraculous. Not anything out of the ordinary. Just special with angels singing in the heavens. Just special with a “little Jesus” smiling in the heavens with them. Just special with the Cross of Salvation in the middle of a family filled with love.  

corso oct 17 2017 (2)

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PRAYING FOR PASTORS #12

Today my prayer for pastors is simple.  It came as a blessing from my son because he knows his mother’s heart.  A song that was an answer to a prayer torn from the depths of my valley.   A song that I have listened to multiple times today.  Praising Father God once again for His Grace that brings me to my knees – His love that stretches beyond finite understanding – His Son that loved enough to die in out place.
A song of where we have all been at one time or another.
A song of promises renewed over and over.
A song for the hills.
A song for the valleys.
“On the mountains, I will bow my life
To the one who set me there (to the one who set me there)
In the valley, I will lift my eyes to the one who sees me there
When I’m standing on the mountain aft, didn’t get there on my own
When I’m walking through the valley end, no I am not alone!
You’re God of the hills and valleys!”~Tuaren WellsP
So my prayer tonight for all pastors is this song.  A simple blessing: you are not alone.
Ever.
Not in the valley.  Not in the dessert.  Not on the hills.  Not when you are tired or sick or harried or just plain wanting some down time.  He’s got your back.  He’s just waiting for you.    
Hills and Valleys!
God of the hills and valleys
And I am not alone!
You’re God of the hills and valleys!
Hills and Valleys!
God of the hills and valleys
And I am not alone!
And I will choose to say “Blessed be Your name, yeah, yeah”
And I am not alone”~Tuaren Wells

PRAYING FOR PASTORS #11

You know how it is.  You scroll through your e-mail – your social media feed – clicking away.  Usually, I ignore random pop-up anything. I don’t like to waste my reading time. But when  God winks, you have to blink and then sometimes double blink just to make sure you saw what you saw.  Come to think about it, there was another devotion that got those blinks started even earlier.

In Jewish tradition, this is the week they remember Moses giving Israel its final blessing before he climbed the mountain to return to YHWH.  I’ve read this passage a few times over the decades, but this time I really saw Moses as that preacher/teacher man that he must have been.  Here’s a bunch of people gathered around – watching him – waiting for direction – impatient – worried.  Some enthusiastically chose to follow.  Some were probably pressured to join.  Some were family members and had no choice. Some probably just wanted to get outta that ‘Egyptian’ Dodge.  In any case, LOTS of people, left their friends and other family members choosing to follow this Moses character and help him build a new tent.

Good people.  Untrained people. People of all ages. People who had only known slavery and abuse. Angry people. Stubborn people.  Confused people.  Sinful people.  Hopeful people.  Needy people.  Rebellious people. Luckily, people that didn’t have to worry about food, or illness, or clothing, or even shelter.  God covered those bases.  Still – all in all – it was a lot of people.  

I remember a few classrooms that were full of the same kind of people – just not so many.  I remember the frustration of having so many hands in the air – waiting for help – waiting for more direction –  trying to find the words that would explain what I had already said a dozen times before.  Lucky for me – kids are not quite as set in their ways –  not so fragmented  – not so clueless. Moses throwing those tablets really didn’t really surprise me when I thought about it.  After all, Moses was a human, too, and frailty is our middle name. 

“For no one has ever shown the mighty power or performed the awesome deeds that Moses did in the sight of all Israel. ~Deut 34:12

Which brings me back to the second blink. Did you know that Johann Sebastian Bach always signed his completed work with the acronym: AMDG?   Ad Majorem Dei Gloria. In the old days, when we were required to take Latin in high school, we knew this could be translated, ‘To the great glory of God.’ 

Seeing that little phrase threw me right back to 1971 when my college choral group started practicing the Bach B-Minor Mass. Our choir director pointed out that dedication because he wanted us to understand what Bach heard in his head as he wrote it. Little did I know that in the few months we worked on it my life would change. You see, two months after my father died, we performed that work, and for the rest of my life, nothing will ever surpass the Glory of God that surrounded me that night.

What if we looked at everything like Herr Bach?  Roll out of bed.  Feed the dogs.  Wash the dishes.  Drive the car. Do the same job we did the day before. Listen to whiny people.  Help a child with homework. Signing everything as we completed it with the initials, AMDG.

What if? 

“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”~Lk 12:32

So there you go, and that is my prayer for pastors tonight.  In Yeshua’s name, I pray that you are able to write the acronym, AMDG, at the end of your day – every day. Whether it be after all the trips at all hours of the night, or the millionth complaint about the length of the sermon, or the gossip that is circulating in the junior high group, or the furnace that needs replacing, or the funeral that is coming tomorrow,  or the day that seems to have no end or money that is never enough. That somehow – like Moses, you are able to perform awesome deeds and mighty works that always reflects the Glory of God. 

 

PRAYING FOR PASTORS #10

There are dreams and then there are DREAMS. It has been fun to watch the career choices that my former students have chosen.  Some always knew what they wanted to do and followed through on it.  Others found that dream later.  For whatever reason, I’ve found myself thinking about those dreams that we follow when we choose a life path.

When I was little I dreamed of being a vet. After all, I was always was pretending to be a horse.  Flying over fences in one jump.  Changing into a human when ever I needed to do so.  Running free across the playground and up the hill beyond the reaches of any teacher or foe.  But spelling veterinarian kinda made me nervous.  I figured if I couldn’t spell the job title, it might be too hard.  I was right – chemistry kicked that idea completely to the curb when I was a junior in high school.

Then there was the dream of dancing. Sugar plums.  Swans.  Broadway.  Jazz.  I loved moving my body anyway I wanted. Letting the music flow through me then releasing it into the world in a completely different form.  However, the knee broke, and my 10 year old self cried as I watched that dream spin off the theatre stage and into the storage chest of memories.

There were many other dreams in between.  I was one of those who stumble around a lot before I figure it out. Yet somehow, when I became a teacher, I realized  that one dream was the dream that had always been a part of everything I did.  Playing school with my dolls.  Playing school with my friends.  Teaching friends and younger neighbors how to twirl a baton.  Teaching Sunday school and Bible school.  Teaching disabled kids how to swim and enjoy the water (while I  hated the water intensely and still do). Life experiences that should have given me a clue, but I missed them all and just stumbled into teaching.  

Godwinks are beyond my understanding, but I love them.

“And Yeshua said to them, “Come after me, and I shall make you to become fishers of men.~Matt 4:19

Tonight’s prayer for pastors and their spouses circles around those life dreams we all have. Praying that you continue to see yourselves as “fishers” in the stormy waters of life – that you continue to  hold firm to the course the WORD set 5778 years ago – continue to let His light be in your eyes every time you look out at the “fish” He has placed in your waters – continue to wake up in the morning with His praise on your lips, and wonder at where you will be “fishing” today – continue to let His hands uphold you as you mend the broken nets or the aging boat that carries you forth into any storms that cross the horizon – continue to sing His blessing over all those fish that have chosen to jump in your nets and even those who have chosen to swim the other way.

Tonight, I can almost hear Yeshua praying this ancient blessing over you as I imagine He prayed it any times in His life.  

“The LORD bless thee, and keep thee:The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. And they shall put my name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them.”~Num 6:22-27  [google images]

 

PRAYING FOR PASTORS #9

“Every one who is called by My name, even for My honour I have created him, I have formed him, yea, I have made him.”~Is 43:7

There is something about a fall bouquet of flowers that makes me linger just a little longer as I add water – fuss a little more – breathe a little deeper the freshness that will soon be tucked back into the ground until spring’s warm breath softens the ground and a tiny shoot appears. It makes me wish I had just a little longer to sit on the swing and watch butterflies flit over the lantana as a silly kitten tries to catch them.

In Jewish tradition the High Holy Days are ending.  The new year has begun and even though the people are ready to get back to “life”, they linger – they sigh – they drag their feet.  After all, who ever wants to leave their Father’s presence and return to “normal”?  YHWH heard that silent whisper in their hearts and granted them one more holy day – a day to linger – a day to honor – a day to breathe their Father deeply into themselves – deeply enough to break through the crustiness of the days ahead that they might bloom in the fullness of His will.

And that is what I am praying over all pastors tonight.

I am praying in Yeshua’s name that as each day begins, pastors, their spouses, their families, their congregations (and me) all find time to remember that very first time when they chose to honor YHWH – to linger a little longer in His presence before beginning the day – to breathe even deeper the essence of the “Live-giver” as they head into daily life – to re-establish the very purpose which brought them to this path in the beginning – to pray continuously throughout the day – to laugh with loved ones and with the Father of us all as the sun begins to set – and to wish for just one more minute in prayer before the eyes drift into sleep once more.  

It is our purpose – our deepest desire – just one more minute – just one more chapter in the Book – just a little longer by the life-giving waters – just one more song sung in His presence – just a little more time to see clearly the path His Son showed us to walk – just a little more time for the sake of a few.  That is my prayer tonight for all of you – for our country – for our world – for me – so that someday we might all be able to repeat this verse as best we can – 

“I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.”~Jn 17:4

APOSTASIA

Sometimes you just have to find light in the darkness. Darkness that continues despite the sun’s warmth. Despite the brightness of the blue sky. Despite the spin on society’s faces. Despite all the busyness of daily life. Despite that you just don’t feel like looking for any kind of light whatsoever.

I feel like I have been doing that all week. I hadn’t put a word to it until today. It started with a dream and has continued to dog my steps throughout the week.  Don’t get me wrong.  It’s not depression although tears have dribbled down my cheeks.  It’s not anxiety though there are lots of payers. A devotion here. A song there. A book pointed out by a stranger. A search for information. A search for truth. A search of the WORD. A light that exists in the darkness.

Apostasia.

It is that dark word that has haunted and darkened my week – darkened the world. Since before I could ride a bike, I have known depth of this word inside of me. It haunted my childhood nightmares – some which have occurred over and over and over – varying little in detail. It echoes on the wind howling outside my windows when my armor is misplaced. A word known by the images in my mind even before I could conceptualize just how it would eventually materialize to darken this world  – – – our world.

Obviously, it’s not one of my favorite words. Greek in origin, it basically means “to depart from a stand” – – – “to fall away from sacred values held at the core of self” – – – “to abandon truth”.

Who would have thought it would come to this? Basic truths thrown under the bus in the name of tolerance or political correctness or love or defiance. Today is the Eve of Yom Kippur.  Simply put – the holiest day of the Jewish faith.  For, after 30 days of repentance – 10 days of introspection and atonement (known as the 10 days of Awe) – they stand on the rock of renewed faith.  In the days of the Jewish temple in Jerusalem, a red thread would mysteriously turn white to represent their change in the eyes of the Father and being sealed into His Book of Life for the next year. I like to think of Jesus (Yeshua] making this yearly journey – even though he was without sin. Shepherding us, His followers, even then.

“Because of this, put on all the armor of God that you shall be able to confront The Evil One, and when you are ready in all things, you shall stand.” Ep 6:13

It is not easy to stand when the visible rock is crumbling under the feet. As you age, you think – you hope – things will never “REALLY” change. Tweaks here. Re-direction there. That right will always triumph in the end. After all – strength is in numbers – education – military might. But as history has proven over and over and over again, history does repeat itself – especially when the defiance demon starts digging its claws into unprotected skulls willing to believe lies covered by the facade of something entirely different.

A wistful melancholy steals over me as I type. While I have always known that I was born for this time and to be in this place and to speak these words, it doesn’t mean that it is always where I want to be – in fact – – – tried my hardest to ignore it – – – tried to run the other direction – – – tried my hardest to prove I am worse than King David – – – tried to be defiant. It just comes down to the fact that I have always understood Jonah all too well. Never wanted to go to Nineveh and still don’t.

But like Jonah (thankfully without the whale), I have figured out how to be a servant even while I may drag my feet or try to cushion the words or wish I could find any way but this way. Yet – as I read the WORD, I am more and more convinced that we are here. I am here. Apostasia in all its ugliness is here, and although reluctant, I have picked up my staff and turned my feet toward Nineveh. When society confuses kneeling with standing for a physical symbol and doesn’t see the deeper spiritual metaphor hiding in plain sight, my heart hurts and the paradigm grows even larger.

“Behold, The Day of Our Lord has arrived.” Let no man deceive you by any means, to the effect that surely no revolt will first come and The Man of Sin, The Son of Destruction, be revealed, He who opposes and exalts himself against everything that is called God and religion, just as he will sit in the Temple of God, as God, and will show concerning himself as if he is God.” 2 Thes 2:2-4 (Aramaic in Plain English translation)  [google images]

THERE

In the quiet of the morning, God walks with me and our girls. His Spirit breathes energy into my steps. And as I walk down the first hill – I can almost see it. The New Garden. There. Can you see it?

Just over the next hill. Around the bend. That place Yeshua will bring His many roomed mansion. The New Garden. The New Jerusalem. The place where we will walk together with the One who loves us best.

Walk together.

An amazing concept. Walking together. Side by side. Conversing. Laughing. Singing. Praying. As a people, we all don’t walk together so well since we quit walking with Our Father.

Our neighborhood is a quiet place by the time I take my dogs for their walk. The School buses have made their rumbling journey down the road. Construction workers rolled out of bed even earlier to reach their sites.  Office workers not long after. While those who cart their children to charter schools have also driven off with their agendas set for the day.

The girls and I enjoy our walks. How can we not? Birds sing to us.  The chatter of fall bugs (or it could be the ringing in my ears, depending on the day).  Stray cats dart out of our path while the dogs give chase. Squirrels throw hickory nuts on our heads. And – when we stop to gather a few scuppernong/muscadine grapes to eat on our return journey, a young female deer comes within inches of us before she sees us – – – and the dogs give chase – – again.

It is a good way to start the day.

Pray. Day. Way.

I often wonder if they rhyme for a reason. A Jewish sage once said that humans can not breathe without breathing God’s true name. The name that is ineffable, unutterable, distinctive – a breath of a name – YHWH. It is a breath of a sound. A breath returning to the Creator who breathed it first into our nostrils – – – the “breath of life” in so many ways beyond physical.

The walk allows time for many thoughts to circle. Breathe in. Breathe out. My conscious mind absorbs His name and lets it soak deep into my lungs. It flow through my heart – fills my mind with His Light – circles my soul with His Love. A day that starts as I pray. Pray for walks were we all join together. Pray for those trying to find life amid destruction. Pray for those who forget to breathe His name. Pray for – – –

– – -there.

There. That place over the hill – beyond the bend – where a many room mansion is almost complete – where a Garden waits to bloom – – where The Gardner waits to walk – to talk – to sing – to laugh with me and my girls as He dries my tears and offers me water that I might never thirst again.

Pray.

Day.

The Way.

“For the Lamb on the throne
will be their Shepherd.
He will lead them to springs of life-giving water.
And God will wipe every tear from their eyes.”~Rev 7:17

AS WE PRAY

I was on a journey tonight. I looked at the wild fire maps since we really don’t hear much about them on the news. There are a lot. They seem to be covering many states in many different parts of our country. I looked at the pictures of tired fire-fighters, wild animals wading in streams, smoke plumes blotting out the sun.
 
I felt sad.
 
I looked at the hurricane damage from Harvey in TX – Irma/Jose in FL and the various islands – Maria’s damage to those same islands and Puerto Rico. So much damage. So many people without power. So many people trying to figure out how to find a way to get food, shelter, clothing.
 
I felt sadder.
 
I looked at the pictures from Mexico. People digging with bare hands at a crumpled school. Parents crying over bodies. Buildings cracked. Roads separated. People sitting in the street with their head in their hands.
 
Sad doesn’t begin to describe how I feel.
 
Money doesn’t seem to be enough when the earth is quaking under the feet – the seas roiling past sandy borders – fires blackening everything in its path.
 
Tears gather. The throat tightens. I look away from the images and look out the windows of my well-lit, air-conditioned, over-stuffed refrigerator home and into the darkness of the night. So many people. Strangers far away. Not to mention – friends and family who message me – asking me to join them in prayer – the clerk at the grocery who can barely move her fingers due to scleroderma – the megastore worker who has to use a cart to get around – the military families separated to different parts of the world.
 
Shadow Kitten, who has taken to sitting on the back of my chair most nights starts to pat my hair with her paw. I reach up and she pats my hand. The dogs shift from their sleeping positions to look up at me. Hubby’s snores gently rattle the quiet and a light catches the corner of my eye. A verse circles round.
 
“Therefore, I beg of you that before all things, you will offer supplications to God, prayers, intercessions and thanksgiving, for the sake of all people”~1 Tim 2:1
 
Feelings don’t really matter in the scheme of things, but there is one thing that does. Prayer.  
Time to talk with Our Father.  
Time to talk with His Son.  
Time in Pray.  
Time to pray as one voice.  
Prayer.
It is perhaps more important today than it has ever been in my lifetime. Yeshua modeled prayer many times as He walked this earth. The first century church flourished in prayer more than it did from preaching or creative song. We may not have enough money to help everyone. Many of us can not make our way or have the resources to get to all these places, but we all can pray. Pray as Yeshua taught us to pray. Pray for the people suffering – the people helping – the countries dealing – and the peace of the new day coming.
 
The first day of the month of Tishrei in the Jewish calendar is over. The shofar has sounded its warning to awake. The month of reflection and repentance end and the High Holy Days of 5778 now begin. It is – perhaps – a new day for all of us. All we have to do is trust Our Father. Trust His Word. Trust that we remember how to be His people. Trust His Son to help us as we pray….
 
“… ‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
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 6:10-13 [google image]110

FOLDED HANDS

Hurricanes are like people. They have a mind of their own and respond to pressures that surround it. sigh. People pressure – air pressures often change the course of humans and the things that operate in this temporary world as a part of our habitat.

Needless to say, this is one of those weeks when the Weather channel has been set semi-permanently on the remote. While most Carolinians are breathing somewhat easier, my friends and family in FL are taking deeper breaths as they try to decide what to do.

Leave? Ride it out? Go to work? Stay home? Kids safe? Elderly parents safe? Buy the right stuff to make it through a week – 2 weeks – 1 month of no electric???

One thing nice about this extended hurricane warning, people have had time to contemplate every day as it draws closer and closer. I often wonder how the people prior to technology dealt with the surprise of waking up to a 15 foot wave surge coming ashore? Of course, there were probably fewer people who were silly enough to live so close to the ocean back then. Personally, I like to think they were just that much smarter than us.

That being said, I gotta admit – there is nothing I like more than falling asleep to the sound of the ocean – or reading a book while listening to the sea birds AND the ocean. It is like classical music to me. Perhaps it is because I am made up of three-fourths water and the sea calls to me as the Sirens called to the sailors in the Greek mythology. Or perhaps, it is just the ocean carrying the imprint of My Father’s voice when He spoke it into being that I long to hear over and over.

Natural disasters change the thought processes of us mortals. We seek reasons. We seek answers. We seek hope in times of testing. And – like the disciples – we sometimes seek a hiding place.

Testing times in rain – or in fire – or in shaking are never fun times. They are time to change the thought process. Perhaps – that is what the month of Ehul has always been about. The word repentance in Hebrew means more than just saying, “Sorry”. Rather it means to “Change your path – change the course you choose for your feet walk”. “…and Yeshua said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on, sin no more.”~Jn 8:11

So tonight, before I close my eyes – I will think about all of those who are watching fire and water approach their homes, those who have lost their homes to fire and water, those who have been shaken to their core by all that they see around them. I will pray that they seek Your face, that they find Your peace, and I will center my prayer around this part of the Daniel prayer:

“Now therefore, O our God, listen to the prayer of your servant, and his pleas for mercy…O LORD hear; O LORD, forgive, O LORD, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name.”~Dan 9:17-19  

[google images]Prayer-Fasting2

PRICELESS PRAYERS

While the Hubby and I are monitoring Hurricane Irma’s destruction, approach and speed, we are – albeit slowly – preparing for – perhaps – our first major hurricane experience in NC. After all – we remember our ancient lessons and try not to be like the grasshopper who fiddles around until it is too late.

Generator wiring and the man to hook it up – check. Filling water bottles – check. Batteries – check. Extra gas – getting there. Batten down the hatches – pretty much. Peace that passeth all understanding – PRICELESS!

We are lucky. We live in-land, unlike some of my friends who live right on the coast. Better yet – we live on a hill. We should be fine. So tonight, when I hop into bed after prayers have been said, I think I will say a few more prayers for those who are living out West and dealing with fire. I think the wildfires, the first responders fighting them, the people, wildlife, plant-life effected by them have been lost in the squirrely-ness of the multiple hurricanes impacting the East coast.

It is the month of Ehul. It is the month of repentance. It is the month that ends the year of Jubilee. It is the month to hear Our Father shouting, “Here I AM! Here I AM!” [Is 65:1]. And if we are humble enough – faithful enough – brave enough, it is the month to answer, Ani Lo! Ani Lo!” [SOS 2:16]

Praying for all the states out West and for those I know and love who are watching and preparing for them as I am watching and preparing for hurricanes.

“Because of this, it is not tiresome to us, for even if our external person is being destroyed, on the other hand, that which is from within is renewed day by day. For the suffering of this time, while very small and swift, prepares us great glory without limits for the eternity of eternities. For we do not rejoice * in those things that are seen, but in these things that are unseen. For things seen are time related, but those things that are unseen are eternal.”~2 Cor 4:16-18

https://www.theatlantic.com/photo/2017/09/wildfires-rage-across-the-american-west/538977/