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BOOM

So let’s re-cap what happened in the last 24 hour period before I fall asleep.

BOOM!

A car was hit by a big, ol’ truck (whose brakes failed) which forced the truck to burst through a wall of a new school. august 13 2018k

Emergency workers gathered.

Traffic backed up.

Neighbors – teachers – preachers – ordinary people – all gathered in small groups in the parking lot to watch, to talk and to pray.

Officials also gathered, and bright yellow signs of 
“condemnation” were hung.

“If my people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”~2 Chron 4:14

Engineers. Construction workers. Landscapers appeared on the scene.

august 14 2018 jPlans sketched and approved.

A car driver – still a little broken – was discharged from the hospital to heal at home.

Late into the night the people were still there.

Clearing. Building. Salvaging. Praying. Yawning.

While the uninjured-but-shaken truck driver sat in a school plastic chair under a tree on the lawn, keeping watch over his truck, people sought him out. They brought with them what comfort they had to offer. august 14 2018 e
Food. 
Small talk. 
Prayer. 
GRACE. 
Last night, the truck driver accepted Christ into his heart and the Shepherd found one of His own in the dark of an overcast sky.

By the time the sun’s rays pierced the final vestiges of the twilight, all the “condemnation” signs were gone except for one tiny wing that would take just a little longer to mend before it could fly again.

And BOOM!!!

Just like the initial one that started last night’s wave of destruction another BOOM rocked this building. That is the way miracles sometimes work on this barren plot of ground that we call life. A Father’s finger pokes into the dark dirt of our lives to allow His GRACE to grow something new. Sometimes that poke becomes a stick of dynamite – AND BOOM!

Then the Son plants a seed – perhaps the size of a mustard seed – in the heart of a pastor – who in turn plants it in the hearts of his elders – who in turn plant it in the hearts of some educators – who in turn plant it – tonight – in the hearts of families and students who attended the first GCA Open House.

And tomorrow?

GRACE Christian Academy will open its doors – on time – for the first day of school. Papa God is like that. He is faithful in all His promises for those who work together, humble themselves and pray. Praying through the darkness. “Be-attitudes” in action – on earth as it is in Heaven while the Shepherd smiles and the Holy Spirit breathes in our ears.

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”~Jn 1:14

Great is His Faithfulness! [personal images]GCA_HD_Logo-01

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Ya just never know how a day is going to turn out. We have our plans. We have our visions. But – – – sometimes – – – the day completely derails, and you just have to scratch your head, put what you are holding in your hands away, and just pray.

It was a sleepless night. The night before Open House or the first day of school has always been like that for me. I get way too excited. Last night was exceptionally so. Not only couldn’t sleep, but I had this pounding head. If I slept an hour, I would be surprised. I used all my tricks, prayed, put on harp music of hymns, prayed some more, talked to the dogs, and started the complaining prayers because nothing was working, and I really hate sinus-pounding-headaches. Errrrr….

When just like that, an answer to one of my prayers popped. Headache still there, but I could see what I needed to do to decorate the library and get the parents and students involved for 4 rounds of my 10 minutes of presentation. The rest of the night was filled with exactly how I was going to do it and organizing the supplies needed. Finally – I think – I fell asleep with a thankful prayer singing in my heart. However, by 5:30, the dogs and I were on our walk, excited to get the day started.

“And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose.”~Rm 8:28

Our school is fantastic. They served the staff a home-cooked breakfast, taught us how to use the newest smart board/interaction system (which – btw – is amazing), got a new GCA cup and wristband, and then we began working in our classrooms. Typical beginning to a new year.

It has been 5 years since I have been through this, and I am beyond blessed to be a part of the founding of a new Christian school. Tonight showed just how blessed this endeavor is. Shortly after most of the teachers had left to change clothes for open house, a truck rammed through a brick wall and into the 1st grade classroom. An hour earlier – just minutes earlier – teachers stood in front of that brick wall decorating it. An hour later students, teachers and parents would have filled this area of the building.august 13 2018e

At this point there are many versions of what happened. Truck driver is okay. One car driver needs prayers and is in the hospital. Our staff and church staff are all okay. The building – not so much.

“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”~1 Cor 13:12

The glass is pretty dark tonight. As I write, I have no idea when our school will open or what parts will be condemned for structural damage – after all – the cab of a logging truck sits in the middle of our 1st grade classroom. I have to admit – I am a little heart-broken not to be teaching again this week.

I do know the Hand of the Father was on our staff today. It was on me, because I always drive through that intersection on my way into school. When I arrived shortly after it happened, the staff was already gathered together, prayers circulated, hugs shared and talk about other place on campus that could be utilized. It won’t be easy, but then – Our Father never promised it would be. He did promise that it would be worth it.

The good news? I get some more time with the Grands this summer. I came home to the neighbors having gathered together to cut up our fallen tree. And puppies did their happy dance because I finally came home to throw a couple of sticks that still litter the ground.

Ya just never know.

This week our preacher finished his sermon by singing, “Great is thy Faithfulness” in his own unique style. It brought me to tears on Sunday. I thought about that song as I drove home tonight, with tears in my eyes again, and the words echoing in my head:

“Great is Thy faithfulness,” O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.
“Great is Thy faithfulness!” “Great is Thy faithfulness!”
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
“Great is Thy faithfulness,” Lord, unto me!” 

GOODNIGHT, GOODNIGHT

Yesterday, a woman came with a bag bursting at the seams with children’s books. Heraugust 10 2018 a humble heart spoke over her words as she showed me the treasures buried within that bag. They were her books. Books of her childhood. Books of my childhood. Early Primers. 
Yogi Bear, Bugs Bunny, Huckle Berry Hound Books. 
Golden books. 
Tell-a-Tale Books.
Tears shined in her eyes as she turned to leave and truth be told, shone in mine as well.

 

Strange the things you remember from 60 years ago. Stories read to you and read by you. The image on the front of a book, and the back of a book that caught my breath in familiarity. Did I read those lists books over and over – dreaming about reading them? Or was it the cutesy, baby animals that cavorted around those titles? Then again, I remember the back of the Golden Books just as well. A few years later, Golden Books would also add little pictures surrounding titles.

Best of all, it was the memory attached to these books that slowed my day down. Curled into my mother or father’s side at bedtime. Yawning and struggling to keep my eyes open after prayers just to hear one more story before they tucked the covers tight around me, turned off the light and left me gazing at the stars.

For years and years and years, long after the parents had stopped reading to me, I would gaze up at those glow-in-the-dark stars my Father had put on the ceiling, and tell myself a continuation of all those stories or stories-yet-to-be as I fell asleep. Sometimes with music in my head and sometimes with music from downstairs, I would drift off to sleep “…with a peace of GOD that passeth all understanding.”~Phil 4:7

I realize now how blessed I was that My Father chose this path for me. Easier than some – harder than others – but on a path designed just for me. So tonight as I re-read this small, familiar book of prayers, yawning and fighting to keep my eyes open long enough to read one more prayer, I wish I still had my initials written on my ceiling and could hear the music from downstairs once again because “….surely goodness and mercy [has] follow[ed] me all the days of my life and I [have] dwell[ed] in the house of the LORD forever.”~Ps 23:6

“Good night! Good night! Far flies the light;
But still God’s love shall flame above,
Making all bright. Good night! Good night!”august 10 2018 f

SNIFFLES

“When you can’t be with the one you love…”

july 9 2016f

2016

Today is big brother’s birthday. Special days always turn my heart towards home and family. It doesn’t change just because we have 500 miles between us. We are still brother and sister. Raised by super parents – even if it was 9 years apart – and nurtured by a creative, supportive extended family, we were blessed. And still, I sniff a little.

“Love the one you’re with…”

I couldn’t be with big brother this year on his special day. Instead I talked with him a couple days ago. Seeing as he is the more social, out-going sib of the two of us, I knew he would be busy doing things from sun-up to sun-down and just enjoying the love flowing around him. There is nothing better at our age.

 

silver 1953

Sniff, sniff…

That being said, the Grands are here tonight filling up the heart that has a small hole because it wishes it could be in Columbus, OH tonight. Their world has expanded exponentially this year. In a couple months, the oldest will be 10 – going on 13 (in her mind, anyway). The younger one running in her shadow, trying to keep up. The years are slipping away much too quickly.

Sniff, sniff, sniff.

As they curled up to choose a movie, after the eldest reading 6 “Junie B.” books, the youngest coloring three “Star Wars” ninjas, walking with Papa (and beating him (and the dogs) back without even being winded), then eating more than I have ever seen them eat, …. then….reading/coloring some more – – – we laughed as they compared how little the queen-sized bed seems now that they have grown “so big”. The younger said, “We were just babies when we started sleeping in this bed.”

True words never spoken which, of course, made me sniffle a little louder.

It is days like this when blessings sometimes have pointed tips to them. They prick my soul awake and remind me to take note. And – when I do, they fill my heart with their richness. These are the treasures that are eternal. The queen-size bed – the movies – the books and coloring sheets – are temporal. It is the cuddles, the laughter, the joy of “gathering in love” that is eternal.

And while I may still sniff, whine, and wish I could be in two places at once, it is the love that surrounds me tonight which keeps me smiling through the sniffles and opening my treasure chest so I can fill it a little more.  On that note – I’m off to go sit in a darkened bedroom, push the kidlets to the sides of the bed so I can squash myself in the middle, and watch something called “Kong”. I will probably be asleep before they are, but I won’t be sniffling until tomorrow when they go home and the house is quiet once again.

Happy birthday, big brother, hope it was the best one ever and blessed with love all around.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”~1 Cor 13:4-7

 

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TIME TO AWAKEN

“It is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep…”

50 years ago today, I was standing backstage of a theatre in England with 100+ other OH kids waiting to sing our first concert before British royalty. The director stepped up to me and asked, “Are you ready to sing your solo tonight?”

I said, “I guess.”

He looked at me for what seemed eternity, and then said, “Since you’re not sure, John will sing it tonight.” John did sing it that night and did a great job. Me? I learned a tough lesson.

I got to sing my solo many times after that – once in front of the Vatican and a Pope who came to stand on the balcony – but I never forgot that one particular lesson or many others that my director, Glenville Thomas, taught me during my two years with The All Ohio State Fair Choir.

Looking back through my teenage scrapbook this week made me smile. From the distinctive, high school handwriting to the blurry pictures to the various faded newspaper clippings to the required (by the director) letters I wrote home to the anxious parents to a few postcards and old mimeographed programs, I kept chuckling all the way through those bittersweet times. 
Wondering about those lost singing buddies – 
Looking at the list of songs I can still sing in my head – 
Thinking about the many lessons I learned because a Welsh immigrant who loved to sing had a dream.

“…the night is almost gone, and the day is at hand.”– Rom 13:11

It was during these two years that my fascinations with old churches and singing under bridges all began. It was a different time. A different culture. We were given freedom to roam away from the group, and there was a group of us who would seek out old churches – even the ones we weren’t singing in.

There was almost always at least one STAB quartet in our group so we could sing in harmony on most anything we decided to sing and the acoustics were well worth the seeking. If we couldn’t find churches, we would find bridges and sing under them. If we couldn’t find bridges, we sang in parks. And sometimes – we just sang in the lobby of the hotel.

No matter where we sang, people gathered. They laughed. 
They smiled. They found ways to communicate with us even when we didn’t speak the same language. And – strange as it may seem, I remember those tiny concerts much more than I remember the ones we did as an entire group before large impressive crowds. And I remember the choir director who smiled and listened to our stories when we returned.

“I will sing to the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.”~Ps 104:33

My voice has been gone for a couple of years, but the last few months it seems to be making a comeback. So I have been stretching it and pushing the boundaries a little. It is still not in great shape, but it is better, and I have started to sing just for the joy of singing again.

Darkness is like that. The eyes grow heavy, and it is hard to find the joy in being awake in this world. Yet – even in the darkest night I continue to push myself into the WORD. Push myself to understand what is beyond my understanding. Seek to find that nook where I can stand or fall to my knees or dance for joy or sing a new song for the One who loves me beyond measure.

“…for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed…let us therefore lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of Light.”~Rm 13:11-12

Time to awaken from sleep.
Time to open the eyes.
Time to stand in the nook.
Time to sing for joy.
Time for Grace.

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CLAPPING TREES

“If someone ventures a word with you, will you be impatient? But who can keep from speaking? Think how you have instructed many, how you have strengthened feeble hands. Your words have supported those who stumbled; you have strengthened faltering knees. But now trouble comes to you, and you are discouraged; it strikes you, and you are dismayed. Should not your piety be your confidence and your blameless ways your hope?”~ Job 4:2-6
 
There has been only quiet and emptiness. The sky thunderously dark and empty of light mocked the brightness of previous days, and the night withheld its dim beauty. Job knew this period of life well. Many of us know this period of life.
 
“Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.”~1 Chron 4:10
 
When I get full of myself, I have this crazy tendency to pray this simple prayer by a man only mentioned one time in the Bible. A man that had his prayer answered. I always think, “Ok, I’ve grown a lot in the past few years, right, Father? Expanding my territory will mean that it will be much easier than the last time I prayed this prayer, right?”
 
“Right?”
 
It never is. In fact, it is always a little more challenging. It is why I have only prayed this prayer 3 times. Right now – I don’t know if I will ever be brave enough to pray it again – but then again – I have said this before.
 
It is a prayer that – for me – tears off the veils that I have used to cover all those weak areas in my life that are buried so deeply that most of the time I can pretend they don’t exist.
Physical.
Emotional.
Spiritual.
And even – those states that exist so far beyond my logical understanding that I have no words for them. The good news?God knows them – knows of their existence – even if I don’t, and He strips the veils away to expand my territory in Him.
 
In January I prayed. God answered…as He always does. Territory expanded and…as always…a blessed period of rest begins. A tiny flower of clarity. A deep breath that I had been holding for almost six months. And a whole bunch of Grace shining so brightly that I almost feel ready to stand up and begin my journey again.
 
“You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”~Is 55:12
 
Four weeks ago, just before my scheduled trip to NYC with the daughters, I was still struggling. This test had been longer and more intense than the other two times, and I was tired – – – very tired. It was then He woke me up in the middle of the night and gave this verse in Isaiah. The darkness was pushed back to reveal the stars that had been there all along.
 
It was time to step out in joy and let Him lead me forth in peace. The mountains continue to sing as the trees clap their hands and I am looking forward to starting a new adventure. I get to be a librarian again. It looks like I will end my working career the way I started it long ago when I was a page in the Loudonville library. I also get to work in a new Christian school that is just starting in NC.
K-3.
A small room.
A few shelves of books.
A chance to help build a room in Our Father’s house – – – “…on earth as it is in heaven.”~Matt 6:10b
 
There are mountainous songs circling and trees clapping.
Can you hear them?
 

Grace Christian Academy – can’t wait to see what Our Father is about to do. 

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SICK WHINY WISDOM

“As thou knowest not what is the way of the wind,
Nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child;
Even so thou knowest not the work of God
Who doeth all things.”
~Ecc 11:5

Two weeks of letting sinus pressure build up ✔️
Two more weeks of fun antibiotics ✔️
And now – – – more meds.

This is getting old – especially since all I want to do is work outside, play with the Grands, and do the usual crazy things that I love to do each and every day instead of feeling like my head is stuffed to the gills with yuk. 
Grass needs mowing (it’s half done because I couldn’t stand it any longer and cut part of it). 
Gardens need mulch and more mulch and more mulch. 
Plants need to be stuffed into holes before the dry summer days get here. Begging for water plants is not pretty.
And worse – there is a wonderful swing on our patio calling my name. “Come, come sit on me, curl up in my pillows and write and read.”
AND – I’m tired of taking morning and noon naps. Is that an oxymoron?

Is that enough whining?

Errrr…… I hate when I whine.

There is no explaining why things happen the way they do. All I know is that The Bible never promised an easy time of it. Abraham, Moses, Deborah, Joseph, Jacob, Esther, David, Ruth, – to name a few – and the disciples certainly didn’t have an easy time when they ventured out into the world on their own, even after HEARing His voice issue all of His promises in front of them.

“…behold, I am with you every day, even unto the end of time. Amen”~Matt 28:20

Luckily, the Holy Spirit continues to speak those words over and over in our souls when our brains are mute and our tongues too thick to work – as we pray for young families who have to introduce topics to their children because of the ugliness of life – prayers for those who stand every day in the gap for the rest of us – prayers for tragedies and illnesses that seem to increase beyond measure – prayers for the souls who don’t know His voice.

In Jewish culture Lag B’Omar is coming to a close and as the light of the bonfires have dwindled to a smolder of ash, we remember that in the deep dark of the world, we can grow light. 
We can still light fires of curiosity with a match of a question.
We can still add pallets of wisdom to nourish growth.
We can stand back and watch the fire soar high above our own meager expectations.
And best of all, we can continue to peacefully rest in the Light that has brought true holy fire to our needy world.

“In the morning sow thy seed,
And in the evening withhold not thy hand;
For thou knowest not which shall prosper, whether this or that,
Or whether they both shall be alike good.”~Ecc 11:6

Now if my ears will just stop popping and the eyes stay open, but so thankful for the promise of My Father and His Son. Praising The LORD in all things on this National Day of Prayer. 

[google images/art work by Yoram Raanan]

SICK WISDOM

Wisdom learned over the weekend:

1) Antibiotics are not magic pills –
2) Prayer warriors’ worth are beyond rubies –
3) Body needs sleep and lazy days to heal (instead of mowing grass and digging bushes to transplant) –
4) Shadow-Spooky-Sparkle kitten knows when I am sick and sleeps on or beside me all night in my chair (except for the occasional mouse chase in the kitchen) –
5) The big girls – otherwise known as ‘the lab girls’ – don’t leave whatever room I am in while they snore away the time –
6) But most of all – I need to quit being stupid.
7) “Even to your old age and gray hairs, I AM he, I AM he who will sustain you. I have made you, and I will carry you; I will sustain you, and I will rescue you.”~Is 46:4

“Back of every mistaken venture and defeat is the laughter of wisdom if you listen.”~Carl Sandburg.

“Give me hunger, 
O you gods that sit and give 
The world its orders. 
Give me hunger, pain and want, 
Shut me out with shame and failure 
From your doors of gold and fame, 
Give me your shabbiest, weariest hunger!

But leave me a little love, 
A voice to speak to me in the day end, 
A hand to touch me in the dark room 
Breaking the long loneliness. 
In the dusk of day-shapes 
Blurring the sunset, 
One little wandering, western star 
Thrust out from the changing shores of shadow. 
Let me go to the window, 
Watch there the day-shapes of dusk 
And wait and know the coming 
Of a little love.”~Carl Sandburg I-will-carry-you-Isa-46.4  [google image]

BLESSING OF A BITTERSWEET DAY

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”~A.A. Milne

Back in the day when all I had was a room, a bed to sleep on and miscellaneous things that made me smile, I collected quotes. This was before the days of easy access to quotes, so they were clipped or handwritten from of magazines, books, or songs. I taped them to whatever thing that was handy, the wall or even the boards that served as my make-shift bookcase with the help of some bricks.

When my dad died, I was 19 and this was one of the quotes that was taped to his picture that I kept close to my bed. As is often the case, the quote disappeared from the picture, but not from the memory files in my head.

Blessings are sometimes hard to find when the heart hurts from loneliness. Yet, that is exactly why this quote has stuck with me for such a long time. However, unlike A.A. Milne, I’m beyond lucky – I am blessed.

Blessed to have had a father that taught me the love of our heavenly Father. 
Blessed to have watched the great love affair between him and my mother – loud fights and car rides full of harmonizing songs – included. 
Blessed to have watched him work a full day in a factory and still find time to be a boy scout leader for the son he adored. 
Blessed to have him for 9 more years with him after his initial heart attack.
Blessed to have had a long telephone conversation with him the night before he died.
Blessed to have him serve as a heavenly guardian for my children and father-in-law on this day 24 years later when a car accident occurred.
Blessed to be the daughter curled into his side.

Bittersweet days are hard ones, but they are also blessed ones. I sat outside and watched birds flock around the feeder. I listened to some music that reminded me of my childhood days. I kept busy trying to learn a little more about the Heavenly Father. Fussed with the new mantle that reminds me of the one in my childhood home. Then I pulled out the piece of his old hammer and traced the carved letters with my fingers. Mom had cut this piece from his hammer after he died because he had carved his name in it. She kept it in the night table beside her bed, right beside the needle holder he had bought for her long, long ago.

Bittersweet days are filled with tiny blessings. We just have to remember to look for them.

“I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.”~Jn 10:10    

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GOLDEN SAPPHIRE

Darkling day.
Cloudy day.
Windy day.
Chilly day.

And yet –

For a brief moment – while the rest of the world sat in the twilight of today’s last’s visages – the fiery sun burnt a hole in the thick clouds until the horizon blazed fiery orange through the dark blueish gray around it; giving light to impending darkness.

Tops of trees brushed in burnished brass – 
Tips singed first – 
Until bright flames shot –
Further –
Deeper –
Down the trunks –
Flames coloring the world in its image –
While the Breath of Life swirled new sparks 
Golden sparkles – 
That spun and reflected the Light back into the darkness –
Flowing over the branches – 
Tree after tree bowing in rhythm – 
Waiting to be touched –
By the Firestarter’s unfailing hand –

And my breath caught.

Time stopped.

Ayn Sof spoke.

“Be still, and know that I am God;”~Ps 46:10

Golden sapphires.
Unbroken covenants.
Reminders – that even in the darkest of times – 
The saddest of times – 
The chaotic mess of times –
The soft twilight times –
His Fire continues to burn bushes – 
Tall trees –
Souls 
Fired with His wisdom –
And immeasurable fiery Light into the world –
Once more – 
Over –
And over –
And over again –
Until the whole world knows.

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”~Ez 36:26

So tonight this is my prayer:
That God be glorified –
In whatever afflicted, messy poverty that towers above my world – over my head – beneath my feet – within my heart
That I remember the Helper – the Deliverer –
The Holy Ground around the bush –
“To Him be the glory and the power forever and ever, Amen.” ~1 Peter 4:11da         TheBurningBush [google images]