Tag Archives: God

PANDEMIC VISION 2020: Where are you on the Pandemic Tree of Life – Part II.

Like most teachers – if I give out an assignment – I should also do the work to set the example (gotta love Vygotsky). So here is my Tree of Pandemic Life Essay, a treasure chest memory of this time for the future generations. Notice – I changed the words in various places – call it artistic license.

Pandemic –

A word that stopped the world mid-orbit.
A word that we confidently touted as a historical concept.
A word that applied to 3rd world countries – certainly not this country.
A word on the peripheral vision of life – not something in my direct line of vision.

A word of eight letters – the eternal number.
A word.

Yet – here it is on my Tree of Life. I lived through this on a major scale as a baby, toddler, preschooler. Polio kept me out of the water during those early hot summers, but other than that, it didn’t touch me. However, it forged an indelible memory of standing in a line of friends and family on the small steps leading into the cafeteria of my 1955 elementary school. Mom and dad held my hand. My older brother stood off to the side with a group of his friends. A small cup of liquid to drink, and then the word disappeared into the history books.

Pandemic.

The word eased itself back into my lexicon on a whisper of a breeze in late 2019. As I looked out the window, warmed by my gas logs, the full extent of that word was still just conceptualizing itself in my mind. Was this how my parents felt after they had battled their way through WWII and were facing this word? I prayed for those far away who were dealing with it as I prayed for those dealing with locusts invasions, earthquakes, volcanoes, and other illnesses. Surely, this new virus wouldn’t touch the shores of this country. Our society has 2020 vision – science, technology, stability, cleanliness – surely, it wouldn’t float over here. Yet – it did. It picked up speed until gale force winds swept over each of us and the eye of the storm peered down upon us.
Collectively.
Individually.
Nationally.

Pandemic 2020.

The word storm buffets the doors and windows everyday now of this place I call home. No longer a word of the past, but a word brandied about in every day conversation as we “social distance” away from family and friends. The illness itself as evolved with one name into another name into another name – Covid 19. I look out the window. The dogwoods, azaleas, wisteria are blooming. Spring looks beautiful as usual, but the world is different. I look at the picture on my desk. Where am I on this Tree of Life?

Where am I on the Pandemic Tree of Life 2020?

2019 was an especially hard year for me. My 40-year marriage covenant had broken and the “one flesh” shredded. If this pandemic had come 6 months earlier, I would have chosen the little boy lying on the ground. My world and faith in myself scattered about me in pieces. But the promises of My Father, ever faithful, had the golden glue that slowly mended me into a new piece of art. One that He had seen since the beginning of the sparkles in my parents’ eyes. Since then, I have gotten up, brushed myself off, put on a new dress and started to re-climb my Tree of Life.

Pandemic 2020 caught me on a lower branch. And – while I still grip the tree trunk fairly tightly, every now and then I glance up. I see the One who is reaching down – just in case – just in case I need some help. My bare feet feel the rough bark beneath them. My toes tighten at times to keep my balance, and then I glance up again. His face is smiling down at me, and I am ever so thankful for the past two months I spent in the gym. My balance is better. My strength is better. My health is better. Best yet, my knees can bend once again to touch the ground as I kneel in prayer.

I smile up at that Face. Yeshua Mashiach is still there. Not far away. Not sitting on a throne in a far away place. Not judging my mistakes or fears. Just reaching down and smiling. Waiting to help if I need a hand to climb a little higher. Waiting for me to be willing as He sits on a branch of my Tree of Life – as if He had not better place to be in the whole world.

So where am I on the Tree of Pandemic Life 2020?

I am climbing.
I am reaching up.
I am smiling, because I trust the One who is guiding me upward.

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VISION 2020: Faith Filled Feet

This morning I woke up with chorus of The Battle Hymn of the Republic marching through my mind. Nothing to get your faith feet under you for a new day with a robust, wonderful chorus of: “Glory, glory, hallelujah…”

But tonight is a little harder. The old choc lab girl is in pain. Her head is down, and she has been whimpering since she she came in after our last walk. She has many tumors, and the vet warned me last fall that it might not be long before the pain would worsen. I upped her CBD chews and laid on the floor with her until she fell asleep. I cried, but I’m still praying that tomorrow she will wake me up by being her old bouncy self. (Her nickname has always been “Bouncer” since she shows her excitement by bouncing.) I really don’t want to think about losing another part of my life right now.

“I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps;
They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps,
His day is marching on.” v.2

Long ago, most of my early March days and nights were filled by participating in or watching our hometowns’ local talent show. Sponsored by the American Legion, it was filled with all the family and community elders that guided my life as a child; patriotic and sing-a-long songs that everyone in the audience knew; and friends and cousins every where – running up and down the darkened school’s hallways as we passed the time waiting for our parents to finish up.

“I have read His fiery gospel writ in rows of burnished steel!
“As ye deal with my condemners, so with you My grace shall deal!
Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with his heel, “
Since God is marching on.” v3

No matter where we were in the building, we could always hear the finale begin. We would stop whatever game we had going and head for the auditorium – after all – parents weren’t so understanding in those days if we weren’t ready when they were. Some gathered their stuff and headed out to the cars. Others made their way to the back to finish up a conversation or two. I usually sat down to watch and listen.

Usually, my mother or Godmother would start it by singing a favorite patriotic song. Mom’s was always “God Bless America”. Then dad (who was the director for many years) would get the rest of the singers going with “It’s a Grand Ol’ Flag”, “America the Beautiful”, and finally – “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”. It always changed from year-to-year, but that was the basic formula.

As opening night approached, Dad would sit down beside me, and we watched together. I loved those times. He would ask me what I thought and would tilt his head towards me as he listened.
His arm draped around the back of my shoulders, and one eye the stage or clock, so that he could talk to everyone before they left for the night.

One of the last performances he directed, he decided to drop the American flag behind the Chorus as they sang the last two verses of that last song without the usual chorus in between them. He had the small combo band that volunteered to play every year, drop out with only the drum playing a cadence.

And just like that – the atmosphere of that high school auditorium changed. The low hum of noise stopped. Kids rummaging around in the back grew silent. Dad sat a little straighter, focused entirely on seeing what was transpiring on stage.

Somehow – it almost felt as if I could hear the faithful feet of those who had marched so full of faith – for God – for country – as they sang this song long ago.

The gospel in the midst of the dark valley of war.

“He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment seat;
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him; be jubilant, my feet!
Our God is marching on.
In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me;
As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free!
While God is marching on.” v.4-5

It was one of those rare times that I remember feeling Our Father’s presence outside of church. As the band rejoined the singers for the final chorus, I heard the kids in the back begin to sing along. Dad stood up, and I stood with him. I don’t remember noticing anyone else, but tears were definitely in my eyes and in those of my father. When the song ended, everyone was quiet as if holding their breath.

Jewish wisdom says that when we breathe in, we say the word “Yah” and when we breathe out, we say the word “Weh”. When feet march to His beat, we breathe a little deeper. We notice more than usual. We fill ourselves with that faith-filled, life-giving sustenance that only He can give.

I think tonight, I just might let my faith-filled feet march me back to sleep beside my puppy for awhile and sing myself to sleep with a little “Glory, glory, hallelujah…”

“for I AM GOD, and there is none lie me,
declaring the end from the beginning
and from ancient times things not yet done,
saying, ‘My counsel shall stand,
and I will accomplish all my purpose.’ Is 46:9b-10 

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VISION 2020: Leap Day Faith

After leaping into physical therapy before Christmas, I leaped into a gym routine. It has been one month of going to the gym 3 or 4 times a week. In that time, I’ve figure out 4 times is probably a bit much for this 68 year old – at least for now. I’ve also figured out that when there is a salt water pool and hot tub, spending two hours at the gym is not such a bad thing.

Ride 3 miles on the bike –
Contort the body on a huge rubber ball –
Increase reps to 15 on three different machines –
All the while –
Remembering to breathe and use those dreaded core muscles.

“I do not like them. Sam I am. I do not like green eggs and ham”…or working out.

Did I say I was tired yet? Well – I usually am, but I make another leap and switch to pool.
Pool stretches, bouncing, walking, swimming, leaping…
And then –
The thing that one thing that always keeps me leaping…

The hot tub for 15 minutes. Soothing, bubbling warmth with plenty of PTL’s for getting through another session.

“My heart leaps for joy,
and with my song I praise him.” Ps 28:7

My choc lab girls don’t exactly leap for joy with me spending more time away from them, but they sure leap for joy when we get the ball and take our walks. No matter how tired I may be after I get home, we all enjoy a walk in the woods and a few balls dropped in deep, dark holes. It is then I usually take a leap of faith and hope that the snakes aren’t awake yet and hiding in that hole.

As the girls leap into the leaves and roll around, I find myself talking to My Father, reciting Bible verses that pop in my mind, or singing some favorite hymns. His presences seems to make the skies a little brighter, the birds’ song a little sweeter and the squirrels a little funnier as they leap over my head and keep us company. My earthly father used to say he felt closer to GOD fishing than in church. I can understand that a little more these days.

The “Leap of Faith” phrase isn’t found in the Bible. However, the stories that the WORD contains is full of illustrations of the people who did.
Abraham walking his son up a hill.
Noah building a boat in a desert.
Esther asking for an audience with her husband king.
Ruth leaving her home for the love of her mother.
David facing a giant with 5 small stones.
A young woman and man believing an angel’s messages that they would be parents of the Mashiach.

I have found that Leaps of Faith happen when we least expect it – or often – want it. Sometimes you just need to go to the gym of faith.
Build up the muscles.
Increase the stamina.
Work on breathing through those last couple of stretches/miles.
Focus on the WORD.
Seek His presence.
It is then that you will Leap for Joy in that Leap of Faith, just as all the our ancestors have down down through time. Read the Book. It is full of their stories and their Leaps of Faith.

“Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven, for their fathers did the same thing to the prophets.” Lk 6:23 narnia (2) [google image]

VISION 2020: Quiet Time

Lately, I have noticed that noise filters through almost every minute of my existence. From the moment I open my eyes to pulling the covers up over my head at night, there is some kind of sound drifting into my ears. The constant pulsations of TV, radio, social media, podcasts, music, furnaces, dishwashers – even the once silent rooms of any library of our society are humming with sound.
 
Not sure why this aspect of life has started to bother me, but it has. I’ve also found, that old habits are hard to break.
 
“Quiet is the think tank of the soul.” Gordon Hempton, acoustic ecologist
 
As I considered this quote over the last few days, I thought about all the “Quiet Times” of my life. What made them so special that even decades later, the clarity of the experience is overwhelming? The emotions – the images – the thoughts are imprinted deeply and I would not trade them for all the noise that surrounds me on a daily basis.
 
I miss my “Quiet Time”.
 
“Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the LORD told him. And as Elijah stood there, the LORD passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper.” 1 Kg 19:11-12
 
Old habits are hard to break. When did noise have to start as soon as I wake up? Why do I think I need it to fall asleep? Why does a quieter version in the form of soft music fill my small library at school?
 
Today, I shut the music down in my library. I wanted to remember what it was like to work in silence. Long ago when I was a page for my hometown library, the nosiest thing I remember was the sound of a fan on a muggy, hot summer afternoon. The rustling of newspapers by the senior citizens who came in every day to read them. Students slumped at the round tables scattered throughout the narrow room, turning the pages of their notebooks or books (or passing notes back and forth),
 
When the head librarian whispered, everyone heard her, stopped what they were doing and paid attention.
 
That was the AWE of the “Quiet Time” being broken.
 
I think that is what has bothered me. It is harder to hear as we age. Noises side-track us, and we miss the small voice or certain pitches amid all the other sounds. The loud raucous noises in this physical world have gotten to the point that the windstorms of sound blast our ears; the earthquakes vibrate under our feet, and we stumble into pits of endless, repetitive auditory nonsense until the fire threatens to eradicate our hearing altogether.
 
The Whisper.
 
Sadly – we often miss His whisper. That gentle, soft voice that comes in the “Quiet Times” of our lives. The times when we shut the noise of the world away and open the door where harmony awaits.
 
Tonight, I shut off the TV, the music, the man-made chaos and went outside to check in with My Father. The peeper frogs were singing in the rain, and an animal was scuttling somewhere in the woods. It was not silent, but it was His creations that were making noise – and somehow – it was still a “Quiet Time”.
 
A “Quiet Time” in His presence amid all He had created. And it was good, because He waiting for me – just like He said He would – just like He always does. The dogs sat by my side in the rain, as we talked. Even the old girl, who hates getting wet, nudged the side of my leg as she wiped her head on my leggings.
 
I think I’m going to try to extend these “Quiet Times” into even more of my day … and night.

“The LORD is near …” Ps 145:18

“Make sure of that one fact, that my everlasting Father takes care of the hairs of my head; that my heavenly Father watches over me with a love that never falters and with a patience that is never exhausted.”~Rev Dr John Cummings, 1807-1881

friends-zoom                [Greg Olsen artwork]

VISION 2020: I CAN II

Today, I got new bookshelves in our little school library. Like most things in our library, these shelves were donated. The joy started bubbling over as I realized that they were exactly the answer to one of those unspoken prayers in my life. One of those things, I never really prayed over, but thought about often. Needless to say, my arthritic back was a little sore when I came home from school tonight. You can’t move close to a thousand books without experiencing a twinge or two.

In these “elder” years of my life, “I CAN do all things through Christ that strengthens me” always springs to mind when I see something I need to accomplish – especially when it is physical. Who am I kidding? It springs to mind whether it is physical, emotional or spiritual, and I am glad it does. It is His promise and I need those desperately.

But there was something more. The power of this answered prayer continued to nag at me with each stack of books I moved. I continued to chew on it as I worked. I ground my teeth a little as I sat in my chair icing my back. And finally – after being called into serious prayer in the Spirit for family, it hit me. Our Father cares about even those silly little everyday things that absorb our attention in daily life. The things we don’t really pray about – but somehow mean something to us – enough that it pulls at the depths of our heart and touches the Spirit that lives within us.

I CAN do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

I looked down at my feet tonight as I stood outside and realized how strong that rock is under my feet. The Aaronic prayer of Numbers circles through my head. Not the verse as much as the song that I sang over and over throughout my early life. His peace reigns. The Amen chorus ringing its 4-part harmony even after all these years.

My heart has been heavy for the past week. Several prayer requests from family and friends light up my heart throughout the days and whisper in my sleep. The Spirit nudges me to pray – not in the comfort of my chair or bed – but on my knees – to fast – to listen – to seek His heart within my own; to open my eyes to the glory that is about to be made manifest to those who have been called.

“We know that in all things GOD works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” Rm 8;28

The world whips around us at amazing speed. Technology filling our heads with topics, music, pundits, knowledge pulling us far from the inner core that allows us to withstand the storms of life. Tumultuous quakings, shakings, of the soul that mimics the physical rebellion of the earth itself.

“God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.” Ps 46:1-3

I often go out at night and stand on my front porch. It is not big. It does not need to be. It is comfortable and fits me perfectly. It has heard joyous songs. It has felt tears fall on its planks. It has provided shelter from the weather swirling beyond its confines. It is where I often feel closest to the Father and His Son. Whether the snow is falling or the humidity so thick that breathing is hard, whether skies are cloudy or the moon shining brightly upon the neighborhood, I feel His presence keenly. I savor whatever it is that calls me out to stand on its decking almost every night, and am humbled by the power of His glory that I can barely comprehend.

I CAN.

Valentines Day was today at our school. Tomorrow is a work day – which I really need to get the library back in shape. On my desk were little blessings, but as always, the best ones were from the kids as they peeked in the library, laughing at the mess, asking when they could come again, sneaking out of line to give me so many hugs, and giggling as they saw the candy tattoo on my tongue at lunch.

I CAN do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I CAN pray for those I can’t hug. I CAN move a bunch of books. I CAN love as HE loves. I CAN walk on water. I CAN do all things through Christ, and I’m so blessed that He is my rock and salvation. 

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2020 VISION – PART III

I love those mornings I can just amble through. Nothing pressing. No schedule to hurry me out the door. Just time to breathe deep while I scratch the lab girls’ ears, and they stretch. Rub Shadow/Spooky/Sparkle kitten’s head until she jumps off whatever strange place she decided to claim as hers for the night. Best of all – if I’m out of my prayer closet on time – I stand on the porch and watch the first rays turn the top of the trees bronze as the dark clouds of night sink further into the west.

Today was one such day. After reading the paper, my morning devotions, doing a couple word puzzles and a reading a chapter in a book my daughter gave me for Christmas, I read a few poems from my other new book.

“Imagine a bowl of flowers in the morning can give a sense of quiet in a crowded day – – – like writing a poem or saying a prayer.” Ann Morrow LIndbergh

A North Carolinian friend of mind gave me a basket of small things that have to do with gardening. A poetry book. A pair of gloves. A plaster wall hanging. A small tote to carry hand tools. She already knows me well. She and her husband befriended me 3 years ago when I first moved to this neighborhood. Both educators in their 80’s, they have taught me a lot about the history of the neighborhood, the Southern viewpoint of the 60’s desegregation in education, and gardening. Many starts of wild plants from their property have started anew just up the road with me.

God sends people into our lives for a season, and sometimes – you just wish that season would have started a lot earlier or would last forever.

This is a hard week of bittersweet season endings for me. On the 9th – 49 years ago – my father went to the room prepared just for him by Yeshua Mashiach. I know he was ready even if I was not. He told me so just a few days before Christmas. 9 years of heart issues had definitely taken their toll on him and all of us. 10 years later, my fiance and I decided to get married on the 9th to give all of us a happy memory. But when the winds begin to blow and seasons end, sometimes you have two bittersweet memories instead of one.

However, the ultimate, most wonderful thing that happens at the end of one season is that another one begins. And – while it may not be our favorite season, it is a season that He has given, and we find that we are exactly where we are supposed to be to bless others with what we have learned. All I have to do is wait for the light, rain, warmth, rooting or seedling, and a new garden will begin to flourish all around me. When my friend gave me the blessing of a garden on that cold December day, the Father’s wings enfolded me as He showed me a new garden gate opening just for me.

“Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the awe of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.”~Ex 20:20

Did you notice the notation of the verse in Exodus?

20:20.

2020

His promises never fail. Gardens are His thing. And I? I am His child. That 2020 Vision just continues to improve, and if I’m lucky, I will have more mornings of standing on the porch watching the first rays of His light cross the horizon and beginning my day with His Light, Grace and Love.

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2020 VISION – EPIPHANY

Epiphany – 12th Day of Christmas – The arrival of the wisemen – put away decorations – an idea that takes hold in the mind.

Everyone seems to have their own ideas on what Epiphany is – that is – IF they even remember that there is such a thing.

“On the twelfth day my true love gave to me
Twelve drummers drumming…”

The 12 disciples – the Apostles Creed – the 12 tribes of Judah – the prayer of Yeshua…

GOD IS!

The wisemen raised in a tradition started by Daniel during Babylon sojourn (or so I’ve read). They read their histories. They read the stars. They trusted something beyond belief and rode into the unknown following only a star to a baby and his family.

GOD ACTS!

Long before any could put all the pieces together, God was already doing so. Aligning stars. Using Daniel’s captivity to unfurl another mystery. Protecting His newly given Son. Drumming history into the words of a song that people would sing far in the future.

GOD CHANGES!

People reason. Ideas take shape and wallah – there is a plan to act on – an answer to the problem. “We are so smart,” we think. We march forward only to find a river in front of us. A storm on the horizon. A mountain that won’t move. A fig tree without a bloom. An empty garden. Silence around us. What now?

“I heard and my heart pounded,
my lips quivered at the sound;
decay crept into my bones,
and my legs trembled.”v.16

I am eclectic. No other way to put it. I bounce between genres of music, literature and religion. Any day you could find me bouncing between Lauren Diagle – Beverly Sills – Streisand – Julie Andrews – Ella Fitzgerald and singing – singing – singing. Did I mention? There has been a miracle over Christmas – my voice is back. Still pretty weak, but back. The squeaks are rare. The doctors wrong. So like any physical therapy – I keep exercising it – pushing it – testing it’s limits.

Praising GOD.

While I am still mostly reading non-fiction – Bible, poetry, history, and devotionals. I’ve started adding some fiction. That also started over Christmas. I read several Christmas novels – Charles Dickens, Lloyd C. Douglas, Truman Capote, T. Davis Bunn – not to mention – the wonderful Christmas stories I read as a child that still sit on my shelf. I cried. I giggled. I gleaned some wisdom. I promised myself to read and re-read some of my favorite fiction authors in 2020.

“Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,”v.17

Sundays find me going to my traditional early service at a local Methodist church. Especially this year of trying to step onto the dry riverbed with towering walls of water all around me. I am savoring the comfort of rituals learned at my parents’ knees – the old hymns – the majestic chords of classical choral music – the organ that thrums deep within me. Then I come home to feed on the non-traditional services – Ravi Zacharias, Brian Biggers, Rabbi Johnathan Cahn, Priscilla Shirer, Max Lucado. I mark up my Bibles. I look up verses and re-read them again. Note cards get filled. Walk the lab girls. Hug my teddy bear. Sing. Play the piano. Talk to My Father.

“Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
He makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
He enables me to tread on the heights.” Hab 3:18-19

GOD IS!
GOD ACTS!
GOD CHANGES!

Not sure I like changes. I have a friend whose focus word is “trust” for 2020. Last year, that was my word. It changed my life because that is what Our Father does. He changes us – from the inside to the outside. My 2020 vision seems to be clearing a little. His “power” (which is my focus word this year) – his powerful presence continues to overwhelm me – clearing my path when I see no path – opening my throat when the notes are lost in tears – reminding me of a tiny book written by a prophet 3000 years before I was born.

Just a matter of trusting the power of the Spirit in 2020 and remembering always: GOD IS – GOD ACTS – GOD CHANGES!!
What an Epiphany! 

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2020 VISION — PART II

My 2020 vision is already crystal clear. I am positively not going to make it to the bewitching hour of 12 A.M.

Mama Mick used to say – “No sense letting a holiday go to waste. Celebrate even if you are by yourself.” So there you go. My wise mama, who would always babysit for me but never go out with me on New Years Eve, shared her wisdom once again. And – thus – no matter where I was, what I was doing, I would find a way to call her as the ball began to drop.Back in the day, when I was singing on New Years Eve or involved elsewhere, this became a little complicated – especially since cell phones were a few decades in the future. But I can still hear her voice as she answered the phone, “Happy New Year, Brynie.”

No caller ID needed. She knew – I knew. A tradition that continued until she no longer remembered to stay awake to answer, and I cried. Still want to pick up the phone and call her tonight.

“Baby Face, you’ve got the cutest little baby face
There’s not another one could take your place,”

So – since I am already yawning, watching my favorite movie for New Years Eve, “It’s a Wonderful Life”, munching away on Mama Mick’s traditional shrimp, chips, cheese (brie instead of swiss) and some OH trail bologna, all I needed to do was add a little mead wine from a local meadery, and my 2020 celebration began a little early..

“Baby face,
My poor heart is jumpin you sure have started somethin’…”

Much is being made about the new decade – the roaring 20’s – which just kinda adds to the ambience of this New Years Eve celebration. I was raised on the music of the 20’s
“Baby Face”
“Ain’t Misbehavin'”
“Someone to Watch Over Me.”
“Rhapsody in Blue”
“Melancholy Baby”
“April Showers”
“Swanee”
“My Blue Heaven”
I have a feeling, there are a few other Loudonville “kids” who grew up watching their parents sing these songs out there, just like me.

The Roaring 20’s were just that. The Charleston. The new-fangled radio. Movies. Cars. WWI was officially over – the war to end all wars kicked it off with a roar. But a word of caution…the 20’s didn’t end that way.

“Therefore I live for today. Certain of finding at sunrise – Guidance and Strength for the way, Power for each moment of weakness, Hope for each moment of pain, Comfort for every sorrow, Sunshine and joy after rain!”~Anon.

We never know what the new walk around the sun will bring. It is often a mixture of opposites – of darkness and light. Last year, God gave me the Bible verse that set the tone for 2019.

“Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.”– Rev 21:5

I had one idea of how that would work out. Our Father had am entirely different idea. Valley faith walks grow a whole lot faster than they do in the bright sunlight of a meadow – especially since I have this tendency to lay down, close my eyes and just enjoy the beautiful day around me while I take a little nap.

Sigh.

This year, I’ve been reading and re-reading about Hanukkah. Listening to podcasts, watching videos, then reading the Bible. After listening to one Rabbi speak on it tonight, I pulled out the Catholic Bible so I could read Maccabees. Did you know the only place Hanukkah is mentioned in the protestant Bible is in John 10? Jesus celebrates it. He is the only one mentioned celebrating it anywhere in the Bible. I am fascinated for way too many reasons to list here, but it is leading me on a new adventure, and I love these kind of adventures. While I haven’t found my verse of the year – yet – I know He will supply it in His own time.

In the meantime, I found this tonight, and it’s just too beautiful not to share on this last night of the decade/the last night of the year.There may be dark times ahead – there may be armies so vast that I am completely dumbfounded and overwhelmed – but I have read the end of His book. My eyes are on Him, so how can I not be optimistic about 2020?

I would say my 2020 vision is working better than I deserve.

“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. 3 No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. 4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.” Rev 22:1-5 

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2020 VISION

It is the 5th day of Christmas. It is the last day of Hanukkah. It is two days until New Years Eve. My windows and doors are still open. There will probably be a fan in my window tonight – – – and at 10 o’clock at night – – it is still in the sixties!

“Hey buds below … up is where to grow
Up with which below can’t compare with.
Hurry – it’s lovely up here …”

I have been outside everyday since Christmas singing this song. Can’t help it when daffodils are popping up in a couple gardens, and green shoots are everywhere. Took all I had in me, not to clear away the leaf barriers that will protect the roots/shoots when winter remembers her blustery self and breathes on us some of that stuff that makes us remember why we like spring.

“Life down a hole takes an awful toll,
What with not a soul there to share with,
Hurry – it’s lovely up here!”

Cleaned a new path in the woods. Dug a couple trenches for drainage and to hold wooden borders. (Our one lab girl would dig to China the gardens didn’t have something to keep her out of them). Cleaned dead things out of the gardens.Hauled 4 wheelbarrows of mulch to remove more of the temptation for said lab girl. Straightened patio steps – a little. (I’m not too good at that, but helped it a little). Created new artwork and watched “Eloise” with the Grands as we munched on popcorn, washed down with root beer floats.

“And what a gift package of showers, sun and love
You’ll be met above everywhere with…Hurry – it’s lovely up here!”

To say I am tired and the arthritis aggravated is probably an understatement, but that is why I have my prayer closets, comfy bed, physical therapy exercises and an inversion board, right?

“Thou dost keep them in perfect peace, whose minds are stayed on Thee, because they trusts in Thee. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting Rock.”~Is 26:3-4

I have to admit, the last two weeks leading into Christmas were filled with little anxiety. The last six months – from the 24th to the 24th – have been the hardest challenge in my faith walk. Evenso – blessing after blessing cushioned each step. New promises appeared daily to dry each tear. Friends – far and near rallied round with prayers and thoughtful words. And each night, His wings covered me with His peace. I shouldn’t have been surprised that Christmas was no different – in fact – it was one of the ones I will stash away with other special holy times in my life.

Times spent in His presence: As a 7 year old on a sunny day, lying under an oak tree as the Son appeared between the leaves. A teenage Christmas Eve communion service in an upper room. January 4,1971, when my father held me extra long before I returned to college, and the following Saturday when I got the phone call that he had gone to the room prepared just for him. A few years later, lying on my bed in a small apartment watching the sun set as tears of repentance brought me to my knees once again. A Christmas Eve surprise trip home that brought me a son and a new life journey. Standing at the back of the church on another early January night by myself before I got married. The birth of three blessings in fairly rapid succession but always perfectly timed by Him. My mother’s smile at the corner of the room as she squeezed my hand one last time before she went to dance with daddy.

It IS lovely here.

Hopefully, like me, not all my flowers and bushes will be too stressed out when the cold weather does return. Cold weather and darkness hits each of us at one time or another. Bittersweet days threaten to smother us with the bitter memories, but – that is when His promises – if we remember – pull His wings tightly about us and the aroma of sweetness lifts us into His perfect peace.

Early January memories are coming, but His peace is constant when we are tethered to His Word. His rock solid promises continue to line our paths and support our feet on this new path in the woods. Personally, I can’t wait to open my eyes in 2020 to see what is behind that door.

Best of all – my 2020 vision – get it? – 2020 vision??? Anyway, my 2020 vision is about to see all the possibilities that He has promised. GOD is good – all the time. All the time – GOD IS GOOD. 

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ADVENT #17 2019

“A smile is laughter’s whisper and has its roots in the soul.”~ Bishop Fulton J. Sheen

After my dad had his first heart attack, we stuck pretty close to home for the rest of the summer. There were only 3 stations on the TV. No computer or phone to mess with while sitting in an ‘easy’ chair. But there were lots of things that were so much better – conversations with family and friends dropping in (and they always brought good food to eat since mom didn’t like to cook), tons of books, newspapers and magazines shared, not to mention – music of all kinds – via friends bringing their instruments, radio, and records playing on the stereo. Smiles were everywhere in that stormy time of life.

Storms in life bring changes.

Tonight, instead of banging my head against a wall, I went searching for a Catholic mass on TV. I’m not Catholic, but when the chaos of my world tries to blow out my candle light, I need to close my eyes and let my soul fall into the cadence of songs and traditions of worship that have been passed down through the ages. It is there – in that place – between breathing in [Yah] and breathing out [Weh] – when I remember His presence is never gone; It is in that breath where His voice is never silent; His light never cloaked – – – it’s just me that has forgotten to breathe. So easy to inhale deeply and enter His presence with Thanksgiving.

“Each of us makes his own weather, determines the color of the skies in the emotional universe which he inhabits.” Ibid

After the mass, a priest asked for prayers for the canonization of Bishop Sheen which in turn was God’s wink at me tonight. I could see me sitting on the floor, leaning against my dad’s leg, listening to mom sing in the other room, and watching to Bishop Sheen on TV. Sometimes, Dad would nudge me with his knee if Bishop Sheen said something I should remember – or something that made him laugh. Dad was intentionally making his own weather in the storm that had changed his life, and as he did so, he was teaching me to color my own skies when the storms buffet my horizon and threaten that Light that is within all of us.

Most years, the holy-days season brings such joy, but occasionally those storms of everyday life overlap and darken the horizon whether we want it to or not. This is one of those years of me. But if there is one thing I learned at my father’s knee, it is this – that I can color the skies of my emotional universe and be thankful to the One who waits for me between breaths.

One of my favorite teacher/preachers likes to say: “I do not live by sight, hearing, or feelings, but instead, by every word breathed by the mouth of GOD”. I like that – A LOT. When the skies darken, it is my mantra, and then I repeat the Ps 118:24: “This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.”

A week from tonight, Advent calendars will be completely done for 2019. Kids will be squirming with excitement and straining to hear a sound of bells in the distance. Churches will be bathed in candle light. And last of all, stockings will be hung by the chimney with care. But for some of us, the storm clouds are overhead, and  choices need be made. So as for me, I choose to breathe. Breathe deeply and find that place between breaths to remember. No matter what chaos may be swirling, Christ-mass is one of my favorite times of the year. And if I remember to stand, look up, I can rejoice to see a sky colored by many, many treasure chests full of memories of joy and love and most of all – the grace of a newborn baby’s cry.

“Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.”~Is 9:6-7 mom's nativity 1940's [personal image]