Tag Archives: Ecclesiastes

THERE IS A SEASON

“To everything there is a season…”

One of the awful things about being a quasi-librarian in charge of setting up a K-3 library is being around lots of books – – – ALL DAY LONG. Books that I don’t have the time to look at – let alone read. I do manage to read, skim or read reviews for most of the books that we need this year. But there are some…..S-O-M-E ……ok…… a lot…..that I can’t resist spending more time pondering.

“A time to break down, and a time to build up…”

Some books we just can’t use in our school library so I pass them on to others. Some we will store until we add more grades. Some I am using as resources for our teachers. Some that are just plain too special to pass over quickly. Currently, my personal shelf is occupied by a Betsy Ross biography written by her great grandson (beat up, water damaged, missing pages, but full of that old book smell not-to-mention history told from family historical documents); Priscilla Shirer’s “Prince Warriors Trilogy” (who knew she wrote a young adult series?); or Under God by DC Talk members, Toby Mac and Michael Tait (again, who knew these popular singers wrote a book about American history?).

“A time to keep silence, and a time to speak…”

As the mid-term election enters the last 10 days, I can’t help but wonder about the sacrifices made by all of Our Father’s creations that led to the establishment of this country. Chaos swirled around this land as it swirls around it now. Uncertainty. Anger. Division. Hate. Violence. And yet – in that same space of time – there was a whisper. A whisper of hope that swirled around this land just as it swirls now. Direction. Gratitude. Closeness. Love. Grace.

“A time to love, and a time to hate…”~Ecc 3

Freedom. We have the choice to choose. A choice to love – a choice to hate. A choice to listen to the prince of this world or a choice to listen to a whisper. A whisper that speaks one word to those whose ears are willing to listen.

“Grace.”

And behind the whisper – His breath breathing life into the chaotic dust that He continues to mold into His likeness. A burning bush shining in the darkness for the world to see if we have eyes open wide.

So for the next 10 days, I will be circling prayers. Circling prayers that we are humble enough to be thankful. Circling prayers that we are wise enough to look up. Circling prayers that we find our knees and listen to a whisper. Circling prayers that not our will be accomplished, but “His will be done…

on earth as it is in heaven…”

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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]

BREADCRUMBS: Little Things

For the past few months, we have not been able to figure out why the dogs go crazy when we let them out at night. They run into the side yard and start barking. The youngster, torn ACL completely forgotten, runs into the woods and comes back with the biggest smile on her face.

One of my friends came over last night and as we sat outside, kitties started appearing at our feet. One, two, three – We petted them and enjoyed their company as we talked. Later, I remained outside for a little bit and started counting again. There was a herd of kitties.

Our yard was a kitty amusement park.

You see – I haven’t taken down my last Christmas light that shines into our woods. It is one of those star projectors with dancing red and green lights. They roam all over the trees, bushes, shed and grass right off our porch. Hubby and I enjoy watching those silly lights bounce around. Apparently, the kitties do, too.

So last night, I spent some time watching kitties run hither and yon while pouncing on every light they could see. Laughter gurgled. I closed my eyes and let the little kitties tamp down the sadness of our broken world and resurrect that peace that the Shepherd always brings.

It is in the little things, right?

“He made everything beautiful in its time.”~Ecc 3:11

Prayer doesn’t come easy for me. Since I was little, I haven’t felt like I am good at it. My mind skips around to everything under the sun except being still. It even as the audacity to yak at me when I already told it a thousand time to shut up because I need to listen. Even after reading tons of – alright – maybe not tons – – but quite a few – devotionals on how to pray, I still end up with a stumbling tongue and a frustrated head.

It is then – in that choice moment – that I start giving thanks.

Thanks for a stumbling tongue that makes me work a little harder. 
Thanks for role models in my life who can string pearls as they pray. 
Thanks for the WORD who lifts me up from my bruised knees by His grace. 
Thanks to the Holy Spirit who groans – probably with a chuckle at how often she has to jump in for me – speaking the words I cannot find. 
Thanks for a millisecond of quiet from my brain every now and then when I can hear My Shepherd call my name. 
Thanks for a Savior who carved my true name in the palm of His hand and cradles me when there is sadness beyond explanation.

Thanks for the little things.

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”~Phil 4:6-9 

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GRATITUDE ATTITUDE 2017 #1

Yesterday, I got to play with the Grands, see the daughter and her family begin their “trick-or-treat”evening, but as great as all of that was – a little bit of heaven was waiting for me at home. Yupper – heaven. Heaven – in the form of a walk-in tub.

“The end of something is better than its beginning. Patience is better than pride.”~Ecc 7:8

After one year and 10 months of waiting, our master bath is complete. When you buy a fixer-upper modular on a woody, couple of acres with lots iron-rich water, things tend to move slowly. Over these past few months, I have reminded myself over and over and over that I really need to be thankful. After all – Sarah waited 90 years for a baby; Jacob waited 7 years for Rachel and then worked an addition 7 years after that; the Jewish people waited 40 years for the Promise Land, and all though it never says how long the wait was/is in the Bible – the Father of Prodigals waited and continues to wait for his offspring to return that they might feast together.

“Maxima enim, patientia virtus” – – in other words – – patience is the greatest virtue.

I really need to write that Latin phrase on my War Room door. It might have helped the time fly a little faster when that walk-in tub arrived in late August. Have you ever had a bathtub decorate your living room for 2 months? I will tell you that the kitten found it to be a great hiding place – not to mention all the dog hair that accumulated underneath it.

Thanks to our handy neighbors who pulled and replaced the water pump, made multiple trips under the house and to the store, fussed with the water pressure time and time again, replaced and enlarged the water filters, finally- cut holes in the wall and re-wired a few things to make it safer – the walk-in tub now works perfectly.

“You also must be patient. Keep your hopes high, for the day of the Lord’s coming is near.”~Jm 5:8

Last night as I tried out the tub for the first time, my achy knees felt like there was a piece of heaven on earth, and I was beyond thankful. Thankful for all the blessings that have allowed us to be on this adventure. It also made me spend a lot of time praying for others who aren’t so blessed. Soldiers fighting in far away lands. Homeless individuals standing at stop signs. Children without warm clothes. Spouses sleeping in plastic hospital chairs. Deeper darknesses that tear at the edges of our society, threatening to fray the whole fabric to its breaking point.

Blessings come in many shapes and sizes. They wrap around me everyday, and sad to say, most of the time I take them for granted – if I even notice them at all. But if I don’t acknowledge them, I miss out on the awesome gift that is buried inside each and everyone of them – the Love of a Father who waits patiently is in its heart.

So it seems only fitting on this first day of this month that holds a couple of national holidays to express our thankfulness, that I write how thankful I am for this little bit of heaven on earth. Thankful for the day that the shofar will blow across the world. Thankful for so much more than a walk-in tub, but I have to admit – the walk-in tub is a great place to start.

THE HEDGE

In 1966, The Singing Nun won the Oscar for Best Musical. Greer Garson, Chad Everett, Debbie Reynolds, Ricardo Montalban – and one of my favorite movies. Tonight seemed to be a good night to watch an old movie. A movie filled with music, stars I loved to watch as a child, and tied to many memories in my treasure chest.

“Dominique, nique, nique, over the land he plods
And sings a little song
Never asking for reward
He just talks about the Lord
He just talks about the Lord”

The album played over and over on the little gray stereo that sat on our porch until eventually the scratches outnumbered the the playable rings of melodies. Loosely based on the true story of a nun from Belgium who achieved the number one Billboard ranking for her song “Dominique” in 1963, the movie hints at the serpent that waits in every hedge. Waits for an opening into his world.

“…and whoso breaketh an hedge, a serpent shall bite him.”~Ecc 10:8

In real life, the Sister who became famous in 1963 broke the hedge and the serpent bit. Pulled between the two yards, the “Singing Nun” became more and more discontented. In the movie, the Sister reached her hand out to break the hedge, but turned away at the last minute to return to what had led her to build her tent in the first yard.

I have to admit, I loved the Debbie Reynolds’ version better than the real life story. The Singing Nun never had another song reach the pinnacle of “Dominique” and eventually, she drifted from the minds of all the people who lived in those two yards. The venom of the serpent blinded and deafened her to the peace of the covenant that was still there surrounding her. She just forgot the ancient prophet and the words of a resurrected rabbi that still cried to her to bend down and wash her eyes in the pool to find His peace.

“For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee.”~Is 54:10

Life is like that. We build those hedges around what we love – – hoping to keep the serpent out of our yards and far away from our tent. Yet sometimes, we forget and break that hedge by our own choice. It is then we need to pull up the mustard plant, harvest the seed into our hand, close our eyes and walk back through the hedge to the pool by our first tent.

God has promised He is always there. Yeshua Christus repeated the promise – “Blessed are the poor in spirit…” – the humble – the broken – the poisoned – the outcasts from their own yard – the ones who tore down the tent and broke the hedge but somehow – by faith – remember the faint rambling of an ancient promise – “…for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” ~Matt 5:4

The songs from the movie are still singing in my head. My eyes are heavy while the growing kitten is already out for the night (still mad that I gave her a bath today to kill some fleas). Our Chocolaty dogs are complaining because I haven’t taken them back to the coolness of the bedroom (but they are happy to be clean once again – for a little while), and I open my memory chest. A memory chest that holds the mustard seed necklace my parents gave me when I was a child. It is time to yawn, stretch and spend some time with He who always fulfills His promises.   [Google images]

“Grant us now, oh Dominique
The grace of love and simple mirth
That we all may help to quicken
Godly life and truth on earth.”~
SOEUR SOURIRE, NOEL REGNEY (Jeanne Paule Deckers)

RATIONS 100 DAYS! #81

It’s 11 days to the election. Early voting has started in most states that allow it. Words are ugly and getting uglier: nasty, criminal, deplorable, irredeemable
 
“Remove vexation from your heart, and put away pain from your body, for youth and the dawn of life are vanity.” — Ecclesiastes 11:10 (ESV)
 
My prayers for this country and its leaders continues every night at 6 P.M. during the 1942 American Prayer minute, and if I don’t quite make it at 6, I know that there is a place where time doesn’t matter. It is the same place where every person that is covered in any kind of sin IS redeemable.
 
It is time to start using wise words that express the beauty, the wonder, the awe of each individual instead of the ugly, dark words. According to ancient rabbinic tradition, Solomon knew this when he wrote, “Remove vexation from your heart…” Vexation in the original Hebrew should actually be translated “anger”.
 
Remove the anger. Clean the dark glass. Find the blessings in each of the next 11 days.
 
Grace and Salvation are always found in the Light and may we come together again as a nation.
 
1942 Daily Rations: “Jehovah is my light and my salvation: Whom shall I fear?~Ps 27:1
 
“Dense forests creep up to the very edge of the deep-blue waters of Lake Tahoe in the high Sierras. All about the sore are hundreds of campers, but during the day a person may paddle for hours in his canoe with a feeling that he is alone. Only when night does does the glow of many campfires make him aware of comradeship- – -the presence of life.
 
“So often in the bright daylight of our lives various interests and activities claim our attention so fully that the presence of the living Christ becomes obscured. Then comes darkness. A loved one is taken away. Storms of conflicting emotions arise. But in the darkness we see a strange light, the brightness of God’s glory- – -Jesus Christ the Light of the world- – -and our hearts burn within us. Darkness comes that we may see the light.
 
“The two men on the way to Emmaus had reached the darkest depths of despair when Jesus appeared and there was light. Paul on the way to Damascus had reached the deepest abyss of his life when suddenly the light of Jesus appeared.
 
“Read: Luke 4:18,19; John 8:12; 1 John 1:5-7
 
Prayer: O Lord, let us not fear, for thou art our light and our salvation. Though we walk through the valley of the shadow thou art with us. Amen.”
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RATIONS 100 DAYS! #80

Planted one shrub today. It wasn’t pretty or easy. Red clay and driveway stone are not easy mediums to dig through – especially when one foot keeps shouting at you “Ow, ow, ow, ow…”

Never fear – I persevered. Hubby back filled the patio wall, the plant is now firmly ensconced in Mother earth, and the toe is – once again – happily elevated. There comes a point when a person just has to tell the toe to shut up and “…be happy in their toil- – -“

“Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God.” — Ecclesiastes 5:19

The fire pit is blazing again tonight and the Indians game is being ignored. Sometimes sports take a backseat in the Stumpman world, and I have a feeling that fire will blaze quite often on our new little patio. As nice as the deck on the front of our house is, the patio is somehow better. Finishing and softening it with plants, water and those little gifts of thanks to the One who created us, will make it even better.

When El planted us in the Garden, He planted within us the desire to plant back. The original Hebrew Gen 2:3 reads differently than our Bible. ““Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it He rested from all the work which God had created for it to continue to make.” Jewish sages believe that it means that He created us to continue to create what He started.

So we continue to toil, laugh and nurse our sore bodies and at the end of the day and say to ourselves, “It is good.”

1942 Daily Rations: “Man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”~1 Sam 16:7

“Read: 1 John 3:1-6

“By looking on the heart God sees what men do not see. Every man, likewise, sees within himself what no other man can see. For he sees his unpublished self that eludes the public eye. Down under our commonplace, conventional selves, are selves that are not commonplace. There are hidden glories in a man that he has not yet revealed. He walks among men a prince in disguise. He is better than any man knows. This knowledge of what he is and strives to be gives him courage and self-respect and satisfaction. The final basis for self-acceptance is unshaken confidence in one’s own integrity and endeavors.

“Prayer: O Lord, we thank thee for the ideals and purposes that thou has implanted in our hearts and that make us better than we appear to be. Make us loyal to the inner voices, give us the joy of a good conscience and the comfort which belongs to those who have striven to be true. Amen.” [google image]

RATIONS 100 DAYS! #33

When I read today’s Ration, I knew that I couldn’t say it any better than this author did in the third paragraph. Most of us bump around this crazy world hoping to dislodge whatever stone is hiding the magic key of knowledge that we need to navigate this life; or maybe the magic broom that will sweep all the huge, sticky spider webs from our path; or the magic bridge – or the magic app – or …
 
But as any former kid that finally reach the age of majority will tell you, – that knowledge comes with a bunch of strings that tend to tie them in knots at various stages of their lives. But the author of this Ration understood that magic is useless. Our Father gave us every inner tool we needed to cut free if those knots and succeed.  He even gave us Eliezer’s prayer as a model.  The first prayer offered by an ordinary person in Genesis, “Lord…make me successful today…” ~Gen 124:12
 
He made us curious to seek wisdom. He gave us responsibility to accumulate more knowledge and wisdom. Strength to untie the knots that form around us. Character to stand on the principles of faith in Him when the knots seem unbreakable.
 
He did indeed make us in His image.
 
1942 Daily Ration: “The more you know, the more you suffer; the more you understand, the more you ache. “~Eccl. 1:18
 
“Certainly the Preacher is right. The more knowledge one has the more suffering he knows. If we did not know of hatred and starvation and death, we might be smugly content. We are tempted to turn our eyes away from the knowledge of evil and suffering.
 
“To face the facts of life honestly is a heroic job. Many well-meaning souls break under the strain. Knowledge means responsibility; responsibility requires strength; strength demands character; and character grows out of an inner faith.
 
“The world is tired because men have tried to build upon a foundation of knowledge without character, without an inner source of strength. The Christian sends his roots deep into a living hope and faith and is able to withstand the withering heat of the sun.
 
Read:  Ecc 1:12-17; Matt 13:18-23
 
“But we have the mind of Christ”~1 Chron 2:16
 
Prayer: Eternal God of all life, give us more completely ‘the mind of Christ’ that we may have good soil for deep roots. Help us to live in calm and courageous assurance before the facts of our confused world because we know that truth and love are in thee. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.”

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RATIONS 100 DAYS! #28

Today – well – I didn’t do much at all. It was nice. It was relaxing. And – well – – – I have totally no idea what I did that the day is over, and it is dark outside.

Didn’t listen to a sermon.

Didn’t do my devotions.

Didn’t do any crocheting.

Didn’t even really read much of anything.

And just like that – the day is done – gone the sun – from the hills – – –

Well you know – – – just one of those days.

But you know what? It is the beginning of a new season. I had a great – praise-filled – joyful day. It seemed like God was in every corner of this house and in every corner of me because what I did do was – – – pray.

I prayed for my friends who are fighting unspokens.

I prayed traveling mercies around those who were on the road.

I prayed for those fighting impossible, scary diseases.

I prayed songs of silence – quiet joy – within me.

I offered thanks for the gifts family brings to my life.

I offered thanks for His mercy – His love – His Grace.

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; …” Ecc 3:1-8

It is a new season in our life journey, and it is definitely ‘more blessed to give than to receive.’

1942 Ration: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”~Acts 20:35

“To the immature this is nonsense They have not yet discovered the mechanics of joy. We make much use of the phrase ‘getting a kick’ out of life. Those who use a gun know that a ‘kick’ is the rebound that comes from the release of pent-up energy. ‘A kick out of life’ comes as a part of a similar process. The child jumps up and down and laughs. The student bends to a problem and finds joy in it. Te loving heart pours itself out joyfully. No man is happy for long in merely receiving things. It’s nature’s protest that he is not the center. Happy people are those who put the center of life outside themselves. In sending, not in getting, in realizing their noblest hidden energies, they find life’s greatest and most enduring happiness.

“Prayer: O God, we pray thee that we may exercise this day the noblest capacities that thou hast implanted within us. Give us wisdom and courage to put into daily practice our best thoughts and dispositions, and the things we most sincerely believe. Amen.”

TEACHER FRUITS

img716I am now the proud owner of a snowman spoon holder, several pictures, a pink, batman-beaded bracelet that says “Thanks for being my superhero”, and several things that seemed edible – but who really knows. It is teacher appreciation week, even in the after-school programs.

teachers day 2016“By their fruit you will recognize them. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?”~Matt 7:16

 

It’s strange – but I don’t think there was such a thing as teacher appreciation day, 1st gradeor week, or even teacher of the year..although, back in my school days, I didn’t really pay much attention to teacher things, so I could be wrong. But, because of how we were raised, if we had extra apples or oranges, one found its way to a big person’s desk. If we passed pretty flowers on a tree or in a garden, they might have ended up on another teacher’s desk. A simple card made out of colored construction paper and crayon or a letter written in pencil and splashed in tears. A Valentine candy heart was enough to bring a smile to both our faces.

Nice thing about small town was that our teachers were generally involved in more than just our school lives. They read us stories in the morning – usually Bible stories – prayed with us – led us in the pledge, became our Sunday school teachers, our church choir directors, our boy/girl scout leaders, our coaches, our advisors, our safety patrol leaders, honor society leaders, our – extended family.

“The end of a matter is better than its beginning; Patience of spirit is better than haughtiness of spirit.”~Ecc 7:8RF McMullen staff 62 63

One of my “extended family” danced into heaven this past year to join her husband who had also been a part of my extended family since he was in the church choir and a drummer for every minstrel I can remember. I didn’t have her as a “school” teacher, but she still touched my life with hers. Over the years, we would re-connect, visit in the grocery aisle or at the annual street fair and exchange Christmas cards. Still my teacher – still inspiring – still sharing her light with her student.

“Walk as children of light, for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness, and truth.”~Ep 5:9

As I look at the pictures of these special people from my own student days, I see the fruits of the spirit. Love wasn’t a noun – it was a verb. I know we say that teachers don’t get paid much, but back in the day – they made even less and did much more. (I know because my beginning salary was $7,600 in C-bus public schools, and my mom thought that was a fortune) As hard as I worked, I know I never did as much as they did, but I tried to give my students as much as they gave me.

I am thankful that G-d put each and every one of these teachers on my life path. In their own way, they helped shape the person I have become. It is the little things – more than the paycheck – more than the things that can be bought. It is the fruits of the spirit offered. It is the fruits of the spirit accepted and passed on to the next generation.

“But the fruits of The Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, sweetness, goodness, faith,”~Gal 5:22img717