Tag Archives: devotions

Glimpse of Grace

For the past few weeks my head has been full of the thickness of the new spring. Spring pollen does not bode well with aging sinuses and words don’t come easily when the brain is fuzzy, befuddled, and swirling in mild circles.

However, like in most things, there is always the flip side of the coin.The good thing about feeling slightly yukky but not really sick is I do a lot more reading and pondering of ideas that I normally just throw in a file to think about later. Hmmm – – – does that even make sense? I think it does.

Unclench your fists
Hold out your hands.
Take mine.
Let us hold each other.
Thus is his Glory
Manifest.~MLE, Epiphany p.9

My Breadcrumbs journey let me back to a couple of books I found almost two decades ago – both written by Madeline L’Engle. Glimpses of Grace (devotional) written in 1995 and The Weather of the Heart (poetry), 1978,2001. I’ve read both of them before but decided it was time for a re-visit.

I’m glad I did. 
ב”
Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land, and follow after faithfulness. Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.”~Ps 37:3-4

For me, reading something the first time is like visiting a room. You walk around, 
notice a few things that catch your attention, 
enjoy your time there, 
and then close the door when you leave with a smile on your face. Re-reading a book is actually sitting down, soaking in things you never noticed the first time around, absorbing the nuances of the colors – light – shadows, and the craftsmanship that went into building it.

To the impossible: Yes!
Enter and penetrate
O Spirit. Come and bless
This hour: the star is late.
Only the absurdity of love
Can break the bonds of hate.~MLE, Annunciation, p.36

Re-reading the WORD is much the same. I was re-reading Psalm 37 today. I’ve read this Psalm many, many times and never noticed the insertion of the Jewish alphabet between verses. It looked like a shorter Psalm 119. Today I was reading it in my Catholic version of the Bible which sent me on a Bible search for other versions. Sure enough, when I looked on Bible Hub there are several other versions that include the Jewish word or letter.

I’m not sure why this was important today, but it was. When our brains are fuzzy and the world is pulling at our time, it is the little things we sometimes miss in our reading of His WORD. Often we need to revisit the room that we think we already know. 
Take a chair. 
Sit for awhile. 
Let the nuances soak into our very being. 
Absorb the colors. 
Let the Light cascade over us 
and catch a Glimpse of Grace.

ת”
But the salvation of the righteous is of the LORD: he is their strong hold in the time of trouble. And the LORD helpeth them, and rescueth them: he rescueth them from the wicked, and saveth them, because they have taken refuge in him.”~Ps 37:39-40   

 

    [google image]

GRATITUDE ATTITUDE 2017 #13

Only a couple of things rummaging around in this crazy brain, and both of them throwing me into into a stumbling, humbling Gratitude Attitude. Gratitude because lessons make me think. Gratitude because all things work to the glory of the LORD when we get out of the way and let Him carry the heavy lifting. Attitude – because I have to choose it.

The first lesson – don’t talk about ‘obs-tackles’ put in your path by the evil one, (and yes, I do believe in principalities) because ‘obs-tackles’ are bound to appear – almost immediately. By the time I went to bed last night, my “good” knee – formally the “bad” knee back in high school – was aching – – – A LOT. Aching enough to wake me up every time I moved – all night long. Giving up on sleep, I found that sitting, getting up – walking – trying to get anything done – the knee continued to hurt. It seriously put an ‘obs-tackle’ in my way today.

That said, it was a v-e-r-y long day. Long days often lead to self-pity, dragging butt, and eventually, not getting anything accomplished. However, if I get out of my own way and let God get me through it, long days also leads to introspection.

Hence – the second lesson of the day. Devotions destroy strongholds. IF one is smart enough to load them into the finite brain that does all that mechanical stuff in our lives. Over the decades I have finally learned to stop wallowing in myself, shut my mouth and turn off my brain long enough, so that I can feel the Spirit’s nudge. Whew – choice made, and the day didn’t look or feel so long or painful any longer.

“For those who are led by The Spirit of God, these are the sons of God.”~Rm 8:14

After accepting that Christ is LORD of my life, it has been the Spirit’s nudges that has kept me sane and reminded me that I’m not in this battle alone. Even when I get off track. Even when I fall on my knees and feel like I can’t get up ever again. Even when I think I am the smartest person ever. Even when the knee hurts because of my own stupidity…

Even when…

And there, my friends, is my true Gratitude Attitude today. Jehovah-Shammah [The LORD who is there] loves me. Yeshua Christus loves me. Whether I am a mess and ugly as the sin that springs up daily, They – love – me. They love me enough to send a Helper – The Holy Spirit – to be with me always.

Even when…

Even when…

“If you love me, keep my commandments. I will ask the Father to give you another Helper, to be with you always. He is the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor recognizes him. But you recognize him, because he lives with you and will be in you.”~Jn 15-17

[google images/Akiane Jesus]

 

RATIONS 100 DAYS! #44

I was rummaging around in my office today. Trying to dig through the huge box of pictures and “stuff” my mom had accumulated in the later years of her life and handed over to me, has not been easy. There were fragments of her life story written on legal size yellow notebook paper. Aged, multi-colored-stained note cards covered with hand-written recipes (this from a woman who hated cooking). Pins, postcards and pictures from various conferences across the country. Dad’s stuff – her stuff – my stuff all mixed together. Memories that will take a long time to categorize since there is almost a half a century of “stuff’ with no year designation in sight.
I love it.
I set a goal. Grab one handful and that is all I do for the day. It may take forever, but saves on the frustration level. Best yet – that ‘push to finish’ isn’t around, and I can actually feel their presence as I work. Their voices talk as I read their words, this fear-filled world falls away, and it is as if I find them and our home all over again.
God is like that.
‘You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.’~Jer 29:13
During the day, I try to remember to reach in my life “box” and grab a hand-full of things that God left in there for me to find. As I read His words, His voice takes over and I bask in His presence. The neat thing is that presence tends to stay with me during the rest of the day. Cooking in the kitchen, listening to the news full of angst and fear, walking the dogs, reading to the Grands, crying over the picture of my mom when she wore a queen’s crown.
God’s presence is with us always – just up to us to seek it and turn away from the fear that the world wants us to feel. No surprise – today’s Ration, written in 1942, was written just for me.
1942 Daily Ration:           Read: II Timothy 1:1-12
“Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee…For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.’~II Timothy 1:6,7
“Almost everyone we meet is fear-ridden in some way. Fear of germs, fear of hunger, fear of assaults, fear of losing a job, fear of harm to loved ones- – -the list is endless. Make a list of your individual fears, and the group fears you have taken over. Look at them squarely. For most of us, the list will be long. How do we ever manage to enter any new day with such a burden on our spirits?
“The New Testament ‘good news’ is that we do not have to hear such a burden. To be free from it is the gift of God- – -not only to be free from fear, but to save in its place power, and love, and a sound mind.
“We want this gift above all else, and God is offering it to us- – -yet we do not reach out and take it. We will not let God give us his gift.
“Prayer: O most loving Father, who willest us to give thanks for all things, to dread nothing but the loss of thee, and to cast all our care on thee, who cares for us, preserve us from faithless fears and worldly anxieties, and grant that no cloud of this mortal life may hide from us the light of that love which is immortal, and which thou hast manifested unto us in thy Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

[Akiane/google images]

SQUISHY

jan 10 2016aGranddaughter: I love being 7; it’s the middle of life! I am finally a big kid. There’s baby, toddler, big kid, teenager and grown up. I am right in the middle.
Grandson: What about Grandma?
Granddaughter: Ok and grandma stage, but I am still in the middle.

Kids have a way of keeping us humble. They look at life with eyes wide open to all the possibilities and none of the limitations. The world is large. Time is endless. Hobbits and elves live under the next tree. Faeries dance under silvery moonlight in a mushroom ring. Unicorns race on sunbeams.

Perhaps it is because I turned in my resignation for my after school job that my students have been tugging at my arms – literally. Tuesday, one of my younger students discovered my grandma arms. You know – the arms that are more flab than muscle – especially on the underside? The next couple of days, she spent a lot of time grabbing my “squishy” arms – kneading them – rubbing her face on them – and showing all her friends how they jiggle. I felt like a koosh ball.

Memories are often paybacks as well as treasures.

I had to laugh along with her as I remembered curling into the “squishy” arms and lap of my own Grandma Mac. There was just something special about her “squishiness” that spoke of love to me. As I grew older, “squishy” arms were also a source of entertainment. Long ago my own 8th grade English teacher had those blessed arms. When she wrote on the board in the spring and fall, her short sleeved dresses quickly brought our attention on target. “Squishy” arms swaying back and forth. Occasional chalk squeaking along in accompaniment. We snorted and wrote notes. Laughed behind our hands. Rolled our eyes as we focused on the topic at hand – at least until she stopped writing and talked about grammar. 8th graders are not always nice, but maybe that is why they are still my favorite grade to teach.

Children know how to keep me humble. Students. Grandkids. It doesn’t matter. They do God’s work in this crazy world and keep me humble.

294c42a315b97755b9e67b2468a8ea59God is good about finding ways to keep me humble. Like that koosh ball, He gently kneads me – encouraging the yeast to activate within me so that I rise to my highest potential. Slammed against the floured board. Stretched here. Air bubbles trapped there. Pulled between this hand and that hand. Hummmmm…is it any wonder that I think I really don’t like this koosh ball analogy at all.

And then –

Just when I think I’m about to be torn into a million pieces –

My “squishiness”returns. I bounce back into shape, and find I can bounce higher than ever.

I guess, God designed us with this softness – this “squishiness”. Sometimes we let it control our lives. Sometimes we bury it deep inside of us – hidden from view. Sometimes we just acknowledge it and smile. Best of all – when I generally smile the most – I remember that God designed us in His own image. Today, I am wondering if He has “squishy” arms – or a squishy lap – or a squishy heart? I’m guessing the next time I curl into his lap for a good cry, I will have to try and find out.

“Come unto me, all of you who labor and are forced to bear burdens, and I shall give you rest.” Matt 11:28

[google images]

 

Attitude of Gratitude #8-14

porch days

Gratitude #8: Books. Books. And more Books. As much as I like technology – especially typing things instead of writing things (it goes so much faster…especially when I make mistakes ), but books are my still what I love best. Fiction. Non-fiction. Humorous. Informational Text. Devotionals – or spirit filled. Biographies. Autobiographies (obviously, as all my students will tell you). The WORD. Even books that are in the “oral tradition” (storytellers) capture my attention and hold me enthralled. Touching pages that others have touched. Smelling the paper on which it is written. Entering a world that was once in someone’s mind or is part of their knowledge base challenges me to get out of “me”. I am deeply thankful for books – especially the WORD which always challenges, humbles and blesses.

Gratitude #9: Laughter. After starting my Sunday with Tim Conway,Carol Burnett, Vikki Lawrence, and Dick Van Dyke – how could it be anything else. Our world needs more laughter. Laughter transcends so many barriers and elevates our perspective on life. My father used to say, “Thunder is God’s laughter,” and I loved the image of God’s laughter booming over our house every time a storm rolled through. Somehow, I was never afraid of storms. Though I might have cringed when mom told my boyfriends some risque joke, I loved the fact that she could tell jokes so well and so often. Our home was filled with laughter – commediennes on LP records, TV variety shows, minstrel late-night-endmen-joke-planning. So who better to end my day than – Bob Hope? Gotta the internet’s access to old video clips. With Veternans Day approaching, I chose an overview of all Bob Hope’s trips. I am thankful for laughter and so thankful for those who can tell jokes – cuz I sure cain’t.

Gratitude #10: Unexpected gifts. Holiday season – decorations going up – gifts wordare on the mind. Those to buy – those to make – those in need. But sometime – it is the unexpected gift that means the most. A butterfly on a beach. A choc lab that whines to sit in your lap. A child’s trust. A late fall flower in bloom. The sound of geese flying low over the lake. A hug from a stranger at church.on Sunday who said, “Your mom said you needed a hug today.” All gifts that I didn’t deserve and yet blessing my life in more ways than I could ever imagine. I can’t be thankful enough to Our Father for dropping unexpected gifts on to my path these last few days.

Gratitude #11: Veterans. This one was obviously the choice of the day. Originally, the world set aside this day to remember those who had died in WWI. Whether it is called Armistice Day – Rememberance Day – or it’s more modern freedom to voteterm: Veterans Day – it is now a day to remember all veterans and say thank you. In America we have Memorial Day, so 11-11 at 11 A.M. was changed in 1947 to honor all Veterans and the sacrifices they made for our country. Leaving home. Leaving family. Leaving the comforts of home. Heat. Cold. Impossible tasks and choices…Life…Death. They have made sacrifices that I can’t even imagine. I admire all the veterans I have known growing up: my father, my brother, my uncles, my peers, my former students. Veterans are truly an example of: “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Jn 15:13

Gratitude #12: Mothers. I was talking to one of my FB friends about how I have had many mothers in my life, and I couldn’t get that thought out of my mind as I said my devotions. Who would I be without my “mothers”? They carried so much 254942_1682499116937_4399549_nknowledge, practicality and wisdom that proved invaluable to my life. They emerged from my family, extended family, peers, collegues.and miraculously (as if God didn’t plan it that way ), they manage to appear right when I needed them. They “mothered” me through those tough times and stepped back when I spread my wings. Lucky for me, I had a great mother, so I was able to recognize it when I saw it. So thankful for the many mothers in my life – but mostly thankful that Our Father sent me to learn from the best. Still missing her and still thankful.

Gratitude #13: Devotions. A day can be so-so and then something happens that makes it – the same – great – or terrible. The interesting thing is that we often have normanvincentpeale130593a choice. Each day I try to spend a couple different times in devotions (needless to say – this does not always happen…to my detriment ) A new Jewish wisdom story started the day (seeing the OT in a new way made me wonder all day long) – a preacher who (with lots of jokes and stories thrown in for fun) reminded me why one little verse in the NT can change the way we think – then change our heart – then change our mouths – was the way I ended my day. Thinking about God always makes me truly thankful. “…whatsoever things are TRUE, whatsoever things are HONEST, whatsoever things are JUST, whatsoever things are PURE, whatsoever things are LOVELY, whatsoever things are of GOOD REPORT; if there be any VIRTUE, and if there be any PRAISE, think on these things.” Phil 4:8

Gratitude #14: Excitement. There are days that are totally “God-blessed” from start to finish. An unplanned day trip with the hubby to Nashville – not OH, too small – not TN, too big – NC, ahhhhhh….just right! And in that small town there was a cafe. Good food, interesting local arts and used books. The excitement comes in here. We went to Nashville to buy a kitchen island with a slate top that we had been looking for since last year. It is beautiful and perfect. That is still not the excitment. It was finding two books out of hundreds that I found in 5 minutes and knew deep within me that I was supposed to bring them home as well. You know – that little voice that nudges…”look at the books…old books…that one that you can’t read the title…don’t leave…look at that other book two cases over…” Excitement builds as you pull out the first one: His Eye Is on the Sparrow: the Autobiography of Ethel Waters. One of my favorite jazz singers/actresses from my mom and dad’s era. The second was: The Best-Loved Religious Poems by James Gilchrist Lawson. Excitement is bubbling. There is much more I want to share about these wonderful gifts, but that’s not the message of the day. Sometimes (as I am reminded by that same small voice} we must stay focused on the message – I’m just thankful for God-blessed excitement of the day and where it is leading me. Long video but such a great example of Ethel Waters talents.

 

Two lives diverged in our little town…

Two girls.  Raised in the same little town in the same expanse of time.  Our parents experienced the Great Depression and WWII.   We wore ponytails and skirts in the same school, and were baptized in the same church on the same day.  We had older siblings who taught us to deal with life outside the womb of our homes. We had the same teachers, explored the same books assigned in high school and acted in the same plays.  We laughed with our peers at games, dances, parties and marched to the beat of the bass drum in the same marching band. Our fathers both died when we were 19, and we took our first steps into adulthood with a strong matriarchal influence. And yet…our two lives diverged in our little town when we opted for college…the same college.

Does it ever make you wonder: what makes each of us unique in this world?  Why we make the decisions we make?  Hold the values we do?

I think about these things a lot (after I quit reading and doing the usual things that somehow seem to fill up my time).  Although we are different, we are both 60 year old women who have made a journey from childhood to “golden” years and are experiencing the sensations, the wisdom, the pain, the fears and the joys of being the elders of our individual families. Is this a rite of passage that our mothers didn’t tell us about…or we did we just – not – listen?

Our college life I would imagine was pretty similar – both big, compared to our rural beginnings; so big that I don’t ever remember seeing her on campus.  Did we really go to the same college?  We lived through the riots, the shut down of campus after Kent State, the propaganda from the communist/socialist/marxism/SDS diatribes/feminist manifestos and the free love/drug/communal/organic culture explosion.  True to my Gemini nature, “I took the road less traveled by…” with courses so diverse that I’m surprised I graduated with any major: music, black studies, social work, education, history.  If I could have, I would have stayed forever in the ivory tower just to sing in the choirs, but practicalities inserted themselves, and I took a job teaching in the inner city of my college town, which was, to my astonishment, far more educational (and my choir director found ways to let me keep singing, so how could I complain?).

When I think back…Mom was barely 60 when I finally married and moved home to live.  It was a conscious choice and completely agreeable to my fiance who had been my high school sweetheart for a year, ten years prior to our reunification.  I wanted my kids to have family around them just like I had…grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, room to have as many animals as we could, and a small town to stretch into themselves.  Mom was still working for our small town as the village clerk, a job that she held since my first year of high school.  Did she feel like I do now?  If she did, she never talked to me about it.  Her mom had been gone for just a few years when she became a sexagenarian – just like me.  Who did she talk to?  Who held her confidences?  I wish now, I had sat down and just talked with her.  Asked her more questions – been a better daughter.  How much wiser could I have been? Would she have stayed on this plane a little longer – if I had done so?  Instead, probably like most daughters, I kept my secrets and did my own thing, had babies (that she loved more than life itself) and rolled my eyes at things she said and did.  Are we all fools regarding our parents until they are gone?  To take it a step further, is that how we regard God?  Are we always trying to cut the proverbial apron strings and “do it on our own”?  The tree of life is still intriguing.

Who knew that you could be an orphan at the age of 60?  We tend to relegate that role to children, but somehow, I feel the loss of my parents as deeply today as I did at 19 and 54.   Even after 40 years since my father joined the heavenly stage (six years since my mother joined him), I can’t see his face except for pictures that have become my memories.  Still, both of them are the voices in my head in times of crisis, times of joy and in the spiritual road I follow.

Two lives diverged in our little town…and yet, we are on the similar paths, under the similar trees, passing through similar storms…we just follow two different roads.  Do the roads lead to the same place?  Who knows?  I tend to believe so.  Factually, I only know that the parallels are there, and it is nice to know that there are others out there who question with wonder and regret.  No matter how we individually label ourselves… we are similar; we are on a journey together and somehow…that is comforting.

Robert Frost’s poem ends with “…I shall be telling this with a sigh, Somewhere ages and ages hence…”  He was a wise man that Robert Frost.

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