Tag Archives: El

Advent Love #1: The Journey

“God always takes the initiative- – -He blessed first, served first, comforted first, and most of all, LOVED first. An then it’s up to us.”~Max Lucado, p175, Because of Bethlehem
 
This is the week, I really tend to start centering in on the humanity of the Holy family and the journey they actually took I mean – really? Walking and/or riding a donkey for 60 – 100 miles (depending on the probable routes of the times) in the last week of pregnancy has to be the ultimate ‘I-don’t-wanna-do-this-ever’ for new parents. And yet – somewhere deep within me – I know they didn’t even question it.
 
You have to figure that Mary and Joseph came from families that were immersed in scripture study. Visited by an angel – covered by the Holy Spirit – visited by another angel – Mary and Joseph knew scripture. They knew the prophecies – they knew that their son, Yeshua, would be born in Bethlehem – even before a Roman emperor told them that they would have to journey there to be counted.
 
“But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.”~Micah 5:2
 
They may not have liked it, but they knew Abba was faithful in His promises. They knew they were on a journey like no other, and they walked that long distance in faith. Just as they had traveled the last 9 months – of fear – of derision – of lectures – of shunning…. The long distance into the wilderness – the heat of day and the cold of night – the Braxton-Hicks Contractions…the pain…discomfort – snakes and robbers perhaps hidden ahead – or – on good days – staying with relatives, friends or even – perhaps – an inn – resting on the Sabbath – money to travel – maybe? – but – in reality? – no place to call their own…no place to lay their heads… no place to lay their child…the Messiah…
 
Sometimes over the years, I’ve wondered if they thought that God would open a miraculous door, and they would find a place “fit for a king” waiting for them when they got to Bethlehem. I’m pretty sure that Abba didn’t fill in a lot of details for them any more than He does us when He pushes us out the door on our own journeys. As I study the scriptures, El is great at pointing the way, but expects us to travel on faith most of the time. I guess you can tell, that is not always my favorite way of embarking on a journey. I’m still working on that particular aspect of my character.
 
However, as I read over the last couple of paragraphs again, the proverbial light bulb went on in my sometimes functioning mind. Bam!! It made sense. His parents had to travel their own mirror journey of what Christ’s path would reflect. How could they “train up a child the way he should go…” if they didn’t understand what hardships might lie ahead in His earthly, humanoid journey.
 
“Therefore we shall love God because he first LOVED us.”~1 John 4:19
 
Today, hubby put on his shorts and took his own journeys. He ran the four-wheeler, the scooter, the motorcycle and walked the dogs. I worked on Christmas stocking #3, cleaned the garage, delivered a pine decoration to a neighbor and lit the final Advent candle.
 
We are blessed. Prayers circle. LOVE arrives as a baby. Merry Christ-mass. Seek the infant.
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RATIONS 100 DAYS! #86

6 days left in this election cycle. A week from tonight, the newscasters will all be focused on declaring the projected winner before some voting sites even shut their doors. Candidates will be at party central. The populace will watching the game of the evening or the newest TV hit. And – whomever wins? Life will continue throughout the land.
 
November 1st is always the day that I try to pull out the the first of the Advent candles. One candle to light the darkness that Halloween always seems to bring into the world. A start to welcome righteousness back to a world that continues to fall further and further away from the path laid out in a perfect Garden.
 
“Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time,”~Gen 6:9
 
“…blameless among the people of his time.” Perfect. Righteous. According to Jewish sages, these are important words that most people just read over without thinking too much about them. I’ve done it many times. However, to the sages, every word is meant to be an important key to some wisdom that El wants us to understand.
 
The sages believe that one thing these words are to remind us that the times of Noah were completely empty of righteousness – – of any kind. But there stood Noah and his family. Not perfect by any means, but He did remember. He honored the traditions of his fathers and opened his tent to the four corners as he shared is belief in one God.
 
There are always a few – a remnant who remember. Always a God who continues to point the way and love us regardless. A Son who was completely righteous – in his time – and in ours and loved us beyond comprehension – with grace and mercy. That is what we have to remember – the righteousness that lives within us. The righteousness that has a plan – for us – – for our country – – for our world. We may not like it, but we have faith to lean on in the tough times.
 
Righteousness that awaits beyond next Tuesday. It will be there to guide and bless our journey forward. It will be there forever. All we have to do is open our tent to the four corners and share our belief in a Father who loved us enough to share His only begotten Son.
 
One candle in the darkness tonight.
 
1942 Daily Rations: ” ‘Thou said, ‘Pilate to the chief priests and to the people, I find no fault in this man.’
 
“Read: Luke 23:1-9
 
“Pilate’s verdict concerning Christ, ‘I find no fault in this man,’ has been the testimony of mankind throughout the centuries. Consider the moral perfection of the Master. There was no flaw in his character. Although tempted in all points like as we are he was absolutely without sin.
 
“Consider is emotional perfection. There was no flaw in his attitude toward humanity. he cherished good will toward those who mistreated him. He forgave and prayed for those who crucified him. He hated sin, but he loved sinners and made the supreme sacrifice to redeem them.
 
“Consider his spiritual perfection. He lived in unbroken communion with God. From the time when as a lad in the Temple he said, ‘Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?’ until he declared from the cross, ‘Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit,’ he wrought in perfect unity and harmony with God.
 
“Sidney Lanier has given classic expression to this universal sentiment concerning Christ’s perfection:
‘What if or yet what mote what flaw what lapse,- – –
What least defect, or shadow of defect,
What rumor, tattled by an enemy,
Of inference loose, what lack of grace
Even in torture’s grasp,, or sleep’s, or death’s,- – –
Oh, what amiss may I forgive in Thee,
Jesus, good Paragon, thou Crystal Christ?’
 
“Prayer: Our Father, prompt us to aspire after the highest holiest, and best as exemplified in Christ. We pray in is name. Amen.”  [google images]

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 #15

“Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that might not sin against thee.”~Ps 119:11

The longest Psalms and so jammed packed with little nuggets like this one. I love that it was the start to the Ration today.

The Granddaughter and I spent some time at the lake today. As she jumped around the shoreline trying to gather minnows. I took time to sit on the dock and enjoy the scenery. Blue herons, geese calling back and forth, the plops of jumping fish and soft whiffs of clouds overhead made for a beautiful backdrop for summer’s end and a rising 2nd grader enjoying every moment. I guess I was ‘shooting the sun” as the Navy called it during WWII.

“And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years…'”~Gen 1:14

The clouds were those writing type of clouds. You know – the ones where you can almost read a message in them, but you just can’t quite grab that last bit of knowledge to interpret it because it is in jots and tittles. Sometimes, I think that EL writes in Jewish letters just to remind us.

A swish here.

A dot there.

A double lined letter with a dot above it.

I saw it all today. Music wisdom written in the skies. What a wonderful summer day – especially since Littlest is almost here. Time to “shoot the sun” with my family and with my Creator. The America’s Prayer Minute has lasted most of the day today, and I am so thankful for this little RATION book.

“At noon each day on shipboard, the vessel’s clocks and instruments are checked by a careful observation of the ships position with reference to the sun. This is called ‘shooting the sun’. By it the vessel, storm-tossed and wind-driven, is kept adjusted to the very center of our universe.

“We have imagined sometimes that one great religious experience sets life on the highway forever. There are people who look back to a great conversion experience, but who never see the need of daily reattunement with God. We become too busy to ‘shoot the sun,’….

“We need to recall the ideals we set up for ourselves in our best moments. In prayers we need to attune out lives to God and His will; not storming the gates of heaven like Oriental beggars, but waiting in quietness, opening our hearts and minds to God until our discordant lives are brought back into harmony with him who is the center of our moral and spiritual universe.

“Another way to keep life in tune with the Infinite is worship. Our inner selves ‘run down,’ our hearts lose their attunement. We need time each day with the Bible and public worship with its ennobling music, its Christian fellowship, its quiet prayer, its friendly counsel.

“Prayer: Heavenly Father, thou who are God, the same yesterday, today, and forever, we thank thee that in the midst of a constantly changing world, at the center of the scene which is shifting every hour, we can have faith in thee who dost abide the same always. Amen.

SIMPLY THAT

462c5a9440ae12beb5875986b41683b50c857935“As I’ve gotten older, I realize I’m certain of only two things.
Days that begin with rowing on a lake are better than days that do not.
Second a man ‘s character is his fate.
And, as a student of history, I find this hard to refute.
For most of us, our stories can be written long before we die.
There are exceptions among the great men of history,…
but they are rare, and I am not one of them.
I am a teacher… simply that.” Wm. Hundert, The Emperor’s Club

Simply that.

I haven’t written for awhile. Craziness of moving. Unpacking boxes. Finding new homes for old familiar treasures. Walking the land. Planning unseen gardens. Waiting.

It is often harder to wait than it is to do.

After watching an OSU victory in March madness, hubby fell asleep, and I decided to watch a 2002 movie: “The Emperor’s Club”. I’m glad I did – it got me out of my tired funk of moving this, picturing that, wondering if I will ever see the top of my desk – seriously – ever again. Instead, it got me thinking about the Teacher who guides my life.

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” — Proverbs 19:21

Students swarmed around me as the spring sunshine warmed the top of our heads and the breeze blew dust in our eyes.Their stories bouncing off my ears as I tried to keep track of 60 moving bodies and monitoring the drama of the day so it didn’t escalate into warring factions of tears and anger.

Simply that…

From the beginning monologue to the ending one, Wm. Hundert (Kevin Kline) got me thinking. It will probably keep me thinking. I took a break this past month from teaching. I haven’t written birthday blessings. I haven’t gone out of my way to listen to those around me. I haven’t invested myself in what I am supposed to do – teach.

El has a way of bringing wisdom to the forefront of my mind when I am in open rebellion and taking backward steps. It is Lent, yet here I was,doing what comes easily – straying into old habits of procrastination and excuses that I was so good at in my youth. I guess old ways never truly leave, they just wait to re-emerge in our weakness.

Simply that….

In this fourth week of Lent, the bowl I had wanted to fill with all my talents sits on my baker’s shelf – almost empty. My Bible has gathered dust of a different kind this past month and my heart is so heavy that I just sit on the path with my head in my hands.

Which brings me to the final monologue of the movie I watched tonight. “The worth of a life is not determined by a single failure or a solitary success…” Teachers are not perfect – save One. Yet – even He allowed us to see His weakness. His sadness. His tiredness. His sweating of blood. His prayers. His total surrender to the holy will of the One who loves us best. [Matt 26:36-56]

A Teacher – in all ways – simply that…

Sometimes we fail. We fail ourselves. We fail our students. But part of a true teacher’s journey is to share our failures as well as the successes. We tend to think we will look weak if we share those things that are not perfect. However, we learn from empty bowls as well as from full bowls. And if we are lucky, we gather the wisdom stones that we tripped over, push ourselves into a standing position or at least to our knees, and begin our forward journey once again.

“However much we stumble,it is a teacher’s burden – always to hope that with learning, a boy’s character might be changed.And, so, the destiny of a man.” Wm Hundert, The Emperor’s Club

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HOME

“Bless the four corners of this house, and be the lintel blessed; And bless the hearth and bless the board, And bless each place of rest, And bless each place of rest.”

Yesterday, we started moving our “junk” into the house. It was bittersweet. When I opened my eyes in the morning, I could feel the house considering us. It had been ripped apart, patched, and given an expensive beauty treatment and face-lift. Now it was pondering what would come next. Expectation circled as I pulled myself out of bed and made my way with dancing dogs to the feed bowls. (Yes, indeed, after saying my morning drowsy prayers, the dogs claim my first steps to their dog bowls and treats).

I could almost feel the house sigh with happiness.

My kids and hubby will tell you that our car rides were filled with fictional short stories about people, animals and/or random things we encountered along the way. I think it started with my mom and dad trying to find ways to entertain a squirmy 5 year old with no seat belt to hold her semi-still, on “long” trips to visit family on a Sunday afternoon. Sometimes it was as simple as, “I bet that tree is sorry that it lost a branch in that wind storm last night” – to stories that would last for miles as each of us added more details, emotions and personality to whatever had caught our fancy. So I guess you can see why I could “hear” the house sigh.

“And bless the door that opens wide To stranger, as to kin; And bless each crystal window pane, That lets the star light in, That lets the star light in.”

By the end of the day, I was too tired, sore and grumpy to do much of anything except fall into bed. I felt bad that I didn’t write on the second day of Lent. I felt bad that I didn’t get more done. I felt bad that it was so cold. I felt bad that every joint and muscle hurt. But – as I curled under the covers, the newly installed heat system kicked on and the house began to sing a lullaby.

This morning brought a more lazy awakening. Hubby had taken the dogs out for an early – very chilly – walk. There were no tongues licking my hands or dancing paws next to the bed. Just me, saying good morning to my Father and feeling warmth spreading around the room in welcome. Birds – a nuthatch, titmouse, sparrow, cardinal, blue-jay, woodpecker – darted in and around the bird feeder outside the bedroom window, and I smiled. A hint of whisper echoed in my ears as I sat up, “Love”.

“And bless the roof-tree over head, And every sturdy wall; The peace of Man, the peace of God, the peace of Love on all, The peace of Love on all.” Arthur Guiterman, 1871-1943/Van Denman, Thompson, 1890-1969 “United Methodist Hymnal” 1932 p 433

This afternoon, I sat down to the piano for the first time in over a month. I have missed it. Unfortunately, all my music is still packed away, and I don’t play by ear. However, El had a plan – as always. A book fell out of a box that I was moving. It was an old Methodist hymnal. Funny thing about God wink moments – nothing is a coincidence. The first page I opened the hymnal to was page 433. Hmmmmmmm…… Needless to say, the first song I played today was the hymn on page 433. smile emoticon

We are far from done. There is more junk still in the garage than is in the house. There are still many things that still need patching and re-newed. Hubby took a second big trailer of junk to the landfill. Together, we moved things. fussed at each other and fussed at each other again, and planned the master bathroom in more detail that we hoped to start soon. But underneath it all, we could hear the house say she understands and is happy just to have us here. This morning she wondered if she had become our home yet. Tonight I am telling her, “Yes, we have come to you, and you – imperfect as you are – we chose you to be our home.”

On this third day of Lent, I pick up another stone and place it in my bowl. Home. Home – here on earth. Home – in the arms of family. Home – to those that are entrusted to our sphere of care. Home – as imperfect as we are – in the heart of a Father who sent His Son – to choose to make His Home with us. Our house has become our Home —- our Temple.

“As for this temple you are building, if you follow my decrees, observe my laws and keep all my commands and obey them, I will fulfill through you the promise I gave to David your father. And I will live among the Israelites and will not abandon my people Israel”~1 Kgs 6:12–13

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