Tag Archives: Chronicles

VISION 2020: Best of Times

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” Charles Dickens, Tale of Two Cities

In 1859, Charles Dickens wrote a story. A story of civil war. Long ago – in 1969, I read that story again. A story that I had read first as a sophomore in high school but didn’t absorb. It was a country far away. A different culture. A country divided. I didn’t think much of it. When I re-read it, I had change. I had been quarantined to my home after a week spent in the hospital.  A week I don’t remember much about except one imprinted image of my daddy kneeling by my beside.  Mom told me later that they did that night after night. I had a bad case of mono that changed my journey. 

I think that is where we are now.  The world’s journey has changed.

When things weigh on my mind, i generally start reading – lots and lots and lots. Different genres. Different biases. Different forms of wisdom that circle and start to form a picture in my mind. A picture that I pray over and begin to look for confirmation from the Spirit that it is His wisdom that I am absorbing.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jer 29:11

I have read too many articles to count since last Sunday night, but a couple have stuck with me. Two of them just happened to be written by Jewish rabbis. (I think I’ve said it before – but I don’t believe in coincidences)

One compared this time-out-of-time experience – this Pandemic 2020 – as a time-out. A time-out allowed by a Father who has seen His children struggling. A Father who loves His children so much that He knows they need a Sabbath rest – times of quiet – times away from the normal – times to re-think their journey- times to see what is right in front of their face – times to open their eyes and ears to what they have been given – times to seek the path to the Tree of Life that has been there since the beginning but has been cluttered by the dirt and grime of human life.

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” Matt 6:25-26

The other article had nothing whatsoever to do with the Pandemic, but was all about the cherubs who guard the way to the Tree of Life. I’m still not sure how those two separate ideas are meshing together in my head, but something is still swirling them around together. I think I know what wisdom it is pointing out in my journey, but still waiting for the confirmation.

All-in-all, while this may SEEM to be the worst of times, this absolutely COULD BE the best of times. It depends on us. It depends on our choices. It depends on where we focus our eyes and our hearts.

“O God…For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” 2 Chron 20:12

I’m certainly not looking forward to giving up my gym time. After all, who doesn’t like an hour of water play? (Notice – I didn’t mention the dreaded half hour of machine workouts.) I am definitely not looking forward to weeks without teaching, and all those hugs I get from my students. I’m unquestionably not looking forward to giving up my lunches with friends or picking up my Grands from school.

However – there are folders upon folders of writings and poetry that I have promised myself to finish. There are my lab girls who love having me take them outside a million times a day. There is a garden of lettuce (that I just planted today) that will need tending. There are letters to write to residents in nursing homes. There are care packages to send out. There is a path to look for to the Tree of Life.

As for me, on this unusual St. Patrick’s Day, I am thankful. Thankful for a Father who loves me enough to allow me to live in times like these. I am thankful for family and friends who continue to check in with me. I am thankful for the healthcare professionals who are on the front line of this “time-out-of-time”. I am thankful for the leaders who have been appointed to lead in these times.

“He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning” Dan 2:21

Most of all, I am thankful for the Father who sent His Son to walk beside me every step of this Pandemic 2020, and I am keeping my eyes on Him in the worst of times – in the best of times.

[Pastor Doug Bouquist photography/google image]

WARM, BUTTERY BREAD

When the Holy Spirit is nudging, and I am plugging my ears, Our Father and His Son, Yeshua, will often step in and slap me upside the head with blessing after blessing just to get my attention.

“The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”~Ex 14:14

Last night a neighbor drove his mower over and not only did the road frontage, but also did the whole back yard. All day I had been internally wondering how I was going to fit everything in that I needed to get done this week. I wasn’t anxious about it, just pondering what kind of schedule I needed to implement so I could get to school and get some more books on the shelves and do all the things that seem to make up my day.

Later, I cried because that is just the way He works in my life these days. He knows that I hate traveling in canyons with their high steep walls. In canyons, the sky seems so far away, and daylight is overcast with shadow after shadow. This summer has been one long, huge canyon for me, and He knows it. But as always, He has provided a river of blessings that flows at the very bottom of that dark canyon to up-lift my dingy self.

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”~Is 41:10

As I struggled over devotions, I read and re-read the WORD given. It just seemed to not fit my day, and I wondered what I was missing this time. So I gave up and put myself in His hands as I closed my eyes for this somewhat long and uneasy day. “It’s Not Supposed To Be This Way” was one of the last things I thought before I drifted off to sleep with kitty curled into my side and dogs snoring at my feet.

That is when I had a dream with its roots in a memory and the devotional that I had struggled with earlier.

When I was 7, we moved to a new house. A house where my father could walk to work and where we could all listen to the trains rumble by our house every few hours. The best thing – it was a neighborhood filled with kids my age. Mostly boys, which I didn’t appreciate until much later, but there were a few girls. One was a girl named Annie. Her family brought us freshly baked bread that first day when we were hot and tired and excited. I don’t think I had ever had warm bread like that – ever. Other neighbors and relatives joined us with other treats. Impromptu parties were not unusual to my parents. But it was always Annie and that out-of-the-oven, buttery bread that I remembered.

Last night, I dreamed of that warm bread again. Sweeter, better than I ever remembered. The Bread and Annie were both there. She asked me, “Is it really that hard to understand?” I laughed because suddenly the devotional made perfect sense, and I woke up still smiling. In fact, I can still taste that bread tonight and see Annie’s laughing face.

The Bread of Life. The Living Water. Sometimes, we just need to close our eyes. Be still. Rest in His hand. Let Him carry the battle in the canyon journey that we really don’t like. And – eat some warm buttery bread.

“I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.’ “~ Jn 6:48-51 

     [personal images]

 

GRATITUDE ATTITUDE 2017 #2

Today was one of those “iron sharpens iron” days. I should have known when that verse jumped out at me in one of my friend’s FB post. I should have taken a deep breath when another FB friend posted about how a silver smith refines silver before it can be shaped into something beautiful or useful.

“But who will be able to endure it when he comes? Who will be able to stand and face him when he appears? For he will be like a blazing fire that refines metal, or like a strong soap that bleaches clothes. He will sit like a refiner of silver, burning away the dross. He will purify the Levites, refining them like gold and silver, so that they may once again offer acceptable sacrifices to the LORD.”~Mal 3:2-3

God is like that. He always lets me know when there are testing times afoot and to watch my step. However, I tend to be so wrapped up in me, I just skim over the warning with a ‘Yeah, whatever’ – or worse – I miss it altogether. So much for being spiritually in tune.

Today, I kinda knew. There is always that deep-pit-in-your-stomach-knowing that the Spirit speaks at times of testing. You see, I had to make a vet appointment for our baby girl dog. She is our lover-dog who loves to curl into our lap and slowly melt unto the floor. The runner-dog who loves to run just for the sake of running. The little-sister dog who whines when she can’t follow her sister everywhere. The mother-dog who licked two sick baby kittens as often as she could get to them.

Koay has been limping off and on over the past couple months. Restricting her movements didn’t help much, hence – the vet appointment. Initial exam says she has torn her ACL. Who knew dogs could tear their ACL or that dogs actually have two of them? Should have guessed she’d do something like that when she would run full bore into a tree chasing a squirrel or try to keep up with a deer in the deep woods or chase a stick for hours.

“Give thanks to the LORD and proclaim his greatness.
Let the whole world know what he has done.”~1 Chron 16:8

The fantastic thing is how grateful I felt as I walked out of the vet office. Yeah – we have some decisions to make, but it wasn’t cancer or any other life-threatening illness. Koayah may not be the runner-dog as she works her way through the rest of her life, but she will still be the lover-dog, the mother-dog to orphaned babies, the sister-dog who whines at the door when her sister is outside and our baby-girl dog.

While this may not have been my favorite day of the year, it has been a day when “iron sharpened iron”. A day when the refiner looked into the silver – and I hope – he saw a murky reflection of His face. I may not be there yet, but I know He’s still working on me. A little more fire. A few more impurities to work out. A new song to sing with Koay under my feet as I write. [google image]

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A Miracle Kind of Day

It’s a miracle!!! It’s thundering outside! (“God is laughing,” as my dad used to say.) Seriously – rain has been so rare – it feels like a miracle, and the thunderstorm makes it just so special. Now, I’m just hoping that the thunder brings the rain as well – a really – super-duper rainstorm. I would love to see a storm tonight, but I think my garden would love it even more than me. =)

Lately, we have been stopping to buy fresh corn and other veggies on the way home from church. It is just a small roadside building that sells local produce and a few home-made/local items, but it is like a treasure hunt for the husband and myself. We started out just buying the corn, but now our refrigerator is stuffed to the max with all the wonderful “gold” we uncover on a Sunday.

Shucking corn in the front garden, listening to the baby birds hollering for food, watching the dogs dust themselves where grass should be – makes for a lovely Sunday. When the husband goes in to start fixing a “brunch” omelette that is loaded with “gold”, it gives me time to think as I work.

“Remember your people whom you acquired in ancient times,
whom you rescued so they could be your very own nation,
as well as Mount Zion, where you dwell!” Ps 74:2

King-David-Tragedy-and-Triumph

David had a way with words. Whether he was on the run or hiding in caves, waging war against giants or armies, failing to follow the path his Father had created just for him or planning the temple where “His” people would find comfort and peace from the One who comforted him. David wrote words. A kernel of truth the size of a mustard seed in every verse – powerful – meaningful – heartfelt – then…and even now in today’s world when war is surrounding His people.

“Remember Your people…”

We slay giants. We amass armies (remember – this IS a metaphor – just think of the kind of armies – good and bad – that line up behind you). We hide in caves – those dark, scary, damp, cold places that no one wants to be in…even with the brightest flashlight. But hopefully – we stumble upon a path…a Lighted path…and we take one step. Open our eyes and take another step. Blessings! Be! It is easier for us than David. We don’t have to build a temple to find comfort or worship Our God. Our LORD died on the cross and rose again so that the temple and the Helper is inside of us. David knew the ultimate goal was the dwelling place of God. It is our our ultimate destination as well.

King_David_Praising_the_Lord_with_His_Harp_001

“O LORD God, do not reject your chosen ones! Remember the faithful promises you made to your servant David!” 1 Chron 6:42
“Remember Your promises…”

Today as we sang this praise song, those two lines stuck in my mind…are still stuck in my mind: “Remember Your people…Remember Your promises…” Today as I sat in my garden, I prayed. I wept. I rejoiced. I smiled…because He does remember — His people — His promises. I carried the corn in the house, ate a “golden” breakfast fixed by a great cook, and enjoyed the miracles of the day. Just been one of those kind of days…a pocket full of miracle days.

Thankful Heart

This week has been a week of painful discovery. It actually started on Friday when I pulled a back muscle spreading mulch. I’ve never pulled a back muscle, so discovering it was painful, was putting it mildly. Knocked me three ways sideways and down for the count. It’s still not gone, but today, I learned to be thankful. In the midst of my whining and complaining, 1 Thes 5:18 popped in my mind. “In everything be thankful, because this is God’s will for you in the Messiah Jesus.” Only took me 5 days to remember this, open my eyes and heart, draw a circle in my prayer closet and begin to pray. It is amazing how my body is beginning to respond.

There are good things to a pulled muscle. READiNG is one of them. Posted a status earlier on reading. Not unusual, I tend to re-post many things that are about reading. The earlier one was about how 33% of high school graduates will never open a book after graduation. Worse – 80% of US families did not buy or read a book last year. UGH! Scary thought for a former Language Arts teacher who usually has – at least – 10 things opened to different pages and who “…read[s] books as one would breathe air…to fill up and live.” Annie Dillard (another favorite author)

Today, I finished a modern fairy tale by Jodi Picoult and her daughter, “Between the Lines”. Interesting YA read, but not any where near the quality of the new book I subsequently started. Actually, it is an old book by Frank Slaughter, “Song of Ruth”. I was three when it was published in 1954, so it wasn’t until I started as a page in the Loudonville Library as a freshman that I probably discovered it. I say probably, because I had been stealing into the adult stacks for quite a few years prior to that. Mrs. Wright was always very good about chasing me out when she found me, but she also looked the other way when I check out those books….although I later found out that she would call mom and let her know which books I was checking out of the adult section. And even as a page, I never got to check out the ones under the librarian’s desk, but I did read them in the library when no one was keeping an eye on me. Even though I have read all of Frank Slaughter’s books, I was immediately sucked back into the story by page 16 and can’t wait to steal some more time tonight.

When we moved to NC, one of the saddest things I had to do was dismantle the library that I had accumulated over a lifetime. Moving to a smaller home left no room for a huge library that took up half of our great room wall space – 1 wall of our bedroom – downstairs basement family room wall space – and miscellaneous spaces in-between…Now – I keep a few favorites to re-read, and when I buy I book, I take it to the local free book exchange at our local general store or give it to one of my friends when I finish re-reading it. And in that – I am thankful once again…for the pain that has slowed me down has allowed me to read a few books and pass on the wisdom it carries.

Joy comes in the small, ordinary things as well as the big, splashy miracles. It is the same God who continues to repeat: “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the LORD is finished.” 1 Chron 28:20