Tag Archives: Isaiah

2020 VISION: Who Will Go for Us?

Got your fingers out of your ears? Got your eyes open?

2020 seems to be the year that the whisper in the deepest part of the heart is swirling a little longer…a little stronger…a little more intensely…than it has since the late 60’s, early 70’s. I felt it then.
My stomach revolted.
My head throbbed.
My heart wept.
I pulled the pillow over my head and burrowed deep into my covers.
I prayed.
I rebelled.
I prayed in the midst of the rebellion – after all, I had a life I wanted to live, and what I heard in my soul wasn’t part of it.

I heard – I saw – I turned away.

“I heard the voice of the LORD saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Is 6:8

Those early years of adulthood was when I discovered the wisdom and the power of Isaiah, a man who lived in a completely different world than I did, and yet – his words echoed more stridently than the protesters on the Quad. I would crawl out of my top bunk and curl up in the standard dorm room chair, reading his words by a light shining through the window from a nearby parking lot so that I wouldn’t wake the roommates.

“Who will go for Us?”

I heard the question.
I saw it in writing.
I closed His WORD.
I turned away.

50 years later, the call is reverberating all around me once again.

Perhaps it is in the hindsight of that 50 years that I see all of this through a different lens. I know my father and mother tried to explain to me several times what they felt during those unsettled years of civil unrest. Seeing my Father on his knees in prayer in the middle of the night said it best. I heard the words louder than ever that night as I crept back up the stairs and buried my head as deeply as I could.

“Who will go for Us?”

I’m still not sure that I don’t want to crawl into my bed once again. After all – ignoring the call is sooo much easier than answering that question. How many times have I sat in a classroom with my head down, hoping deep within me, that the teacher would not call my name – – – now or ever.

The stories in the Bible are full of people who pulled the covers over their head – ran in the other direction – sank their teeth into an apple – – – until – – – the heart of the Father whispered one last time, grace-to-rebellion, heart-to-heart, love-to-love:

“Who will go for Us?”

The thing I learned over the last 50 years is that I never waited to hear the words that came after His first whisper. I trembled. I hid. I covered myself. I put my fingers in my ears and closed my eyes. I bit the apple and missed the words that have made all the difference.

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

The cloud pillar is moving forward. It is time to stand on His Rock. Pick up my Bible and take a step. Maybe a baby step, but a step. It is time to look up and reach out with open palm to those gathered in my sphere. It is time to pray His WORDS in my heart and then – speak the answer that has been in my heart for 50 years. Speak it aloud because the Teacher has looked in my direction and is waiting for my answer. The birth pangs are coming with more frequency and harder with intensity, and scary as it is – answer the question.

“Hineni.”

“Here am I. Send me.” Is 6:8

[google images]

2020 VISION: Sabbath Quaking

“Sabbath was (and is) a gift from GOD – a pause, a stopping point, a decision to take a break from going and buying and accruing.” Priscilla Shirer, Awaken, p. 108

This morning, the choc lab girls woke me up by barking and barking and barking. Ugh. I stretched and looked at the clock it was a little after 8 AM. I figured they were just ready to go out or heard a strange sound in the neighborhood.

Not the first time I’ve been wrong!

We got up and began our first early morning walk – pulled some weeds – cut back some branches – walked the newspaper up to my neighbor’s house – swept leaves off the deck and patio – cleaned out the garage a little – and then – one of the neighbors hollered at me: “Did you feel the earthquake?”

Huh????
Earthquake????

“It is the Spirit empowered choice to cease striving and enjoy our GOD.” Ibid.

After he explained what had happened, I sat down on the patio swing and enjoyed the morning under a bunch of semi-blooming wisteria, birds calling out their own news of the morning and a couple of butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees flitting in and out of the sweet smelling salvias and around the swing. 2020 has certainly been a year filled with things I really hadn’t ever anticipated.

“Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.” – Isaiah 60:1

It was a good day to cease striving and enjoy God, so I did. I read some books. Threw the ball with the girls. Played with silly, spooky kitty. Made a few pickles since they were already cut up and sitting in the fridge – – but basically – – just spent time enjoying GOD and all His bounty that surrounds me everyday.

Prayed over my prayer list. Sang a few songs that never fail to stir the spirit within me. “Closer My God to Thee” Listened to a few Bible teachers who seemed to have the very wisdom I needed to hear. And just basically, ignored the outside world that so often intrudes on my time with My Father.

“It is the peace that comes in the midst of all the whirlwind and flurry of activity.” Ibid.

Sometimes – it takes a little bit of shaking to wake us up so that we stop whining and start shining. Tonight, I’m already yawning. School starts tomorrow, and I can’t wait to shine a little more. There is always something invigorating about a new school year. While this year will be a little more complicated, it will still be good to be back.

Setting the compass on the Father today was important to make sure my direction is sure and in line with the Son’s Grace and Love.

Sabbath Shaking was one of those treasure chest memories of 2020 that I will ponder in my heart for times to come.

“Sabbath is what beats our lives into submission, giving us the breathing room for getting our sanity back. We cannot afford to neglect the Sabbath principle.” Ibid. 

 [personal images/google]

2020 VISION: Cloud Tufts

“All you people of the world,
you who live on the earth,
when a banner is raised on the mountains,
you will see it,
and when a trumpet sounds,
you will hear it.” Is 18:3

I’ve been looking at my beautiful lantana and flowering artichoke plants for over a month now. I have three lantana plants. Two have orange and yellow blooms, while the other is pink and yellow. Every year they wake up from their winter slumber and grow larger. I look forward to them because the bees, hummingbirds and butterflies are all over them.

But this year is different. The butterflies are missing.

The bee balm, like the day lilies, are on the down side of their season. The salvia will continue all summer; its smell perfuming the air whenever I brush past it. Even the wisteria has ushered a few extra blooms this summer. Bees of different kinds and hummingbirds have certainly feasted well, but only a rare butterfly or two.

I miss my butterflies.

“The physical cannot fully grasp the comprehensiveness of the spiritual…If we limit the scope of our hopefulness to what’s immediately visible, we’ll get an inaccurate reading on any scenario we’re seeking to evaluate. Believers must live by faith, by believing what they cannot yet see.”~Priscilla Shirer, p63, AWAKE.

In this strange year, I sit on my patio swing and wonder about my butterflies often. I talk to My Father about it. As usual, He answers, and I knew as soon as I started my devotions this morning, that this was His answer. It is another one of those “faith-building” things I need to see with my 2020 VISION.

When we have droughts, we look to the sky and search for clouds on the horizon. We look for that tiny wisp of a cloud that will bring a few drops of rain. When an earthquake – tornado – hurricane strikes, we look at the destruction and wonder where to start amid the destruction – until we find one thing to pick up and then another and another. When a plague strikes, we seek wisdom from every source possible, searching for an end to the threat. A tiny sign that it is passed, and things can return to “normal”.

It is our nature…it is that tiny seed of faith within us…to look for the smallest thing to reassure us. It is…

“…God’s way – preparing unfathomable things, even when only the slightest hints of them can be barely detected…to trust that the Father is able to come through at the perfect moment, no matter how far removed the possibility seems from our current vantage point.” ibid, p64.

Today, after several 90 degree days, high humidity, and stuffed sinuses, that a tiny cloud on the horizon multiplied into big, beautiful storm clouds. When I was little, I would sit in my “Thinking Tree” and wait for a storm to arrive. It was a weeping willow tree and not known to be the safest tree to sit in when the wind was whipping around which is probably why my Father would often come and sit in a chair beside me while we waited.

I was never afraid when my father sat beside me.

“This is what the Lord says to me:
“I will remain quiet and will look on from my dwelling place,
like shimmering heat in the sunshine,
like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest.”~Is 18:4

When the storm finally arrived and started pelting us with droplets, my father would lift me down from the tree, and we would run into the house. Mom would usually have a special treat for both of us, and we would sit on our screened-in porch talking, reading, or Daddy would pull out the guitar/banjo and we would sing.

All because of a wisp of a cloud and an answered prayer.

“Remember that even a little cloud of hope, when God’s WORD is behind it, points toward a downpour of promise, potential, and possibility. Even His silence and seeming slowness are only the quiet buildup to a thunderous revelation of His glory.” Ibid, p64.

Our 2020 VISION may not pick up much of a cloud on the horizon of this crazy, chaotic year, but every promise in His WORD points to the fact that He’s quietly sitting beside us, waiting to lift us out of the tree and run with us into the home His Son has prepared just for us.

I still miss my butterflies, and while I no longer climb into my “Thinking Tree” (probably a good idea in my 70th year around the sun), I’m sitting on my patio swing, watching for that small tuft of a cloud and listening for the sound of a trumpet off in the distance. 

[personal images]

VISION 2020: Renewing Covenants

I realized today as I wiped down the bike I had been riding in my gym, that I have not been spending time in my war room. When had that happened? When was the last time I’d read the Bible verses that the Father had given me since this chaotic year began? When was the last time, I touched the names written on my prayer list in that space? When had I forgotten the covenant?

It brought me up short. I finished wiping down the all the areas I had touched on the bike. Said, “Have a blessed day” to the other two seniors working out in that big room, but my mind was reeling with the soft nudge of a whisper. A whisper that spoke louder than the up-beat music that played in this portion of the gym set aside for those who wish to work out with other women.

I dropped the rag in the basket and headed to the pool area. No wonder I’ve been out of sorts. Letting my emotions rule instead of depending upon the One always knows me better than I know myself. I’m an idiot at times. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt – – – especially in the middle of a spiritual war – – – that I need to seek His presence before I do anything else.

“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Cor. 10:3-5

The physical war on this 70th journey around the sun is easier to fight. I can see it, and as I age – I certainly can feel it in almost everything I do. It has been two months back at the gym and in the pool, but I know I’m still not back to where I was prior to this whole sheltering-in-home thingy. Riding the reclining bike for 20 minutes – 3.5 miles usually at a decent pace. Heart rate finally returning to its previous levels. Water play for the arthritic joints. Energy level on the upward trend.
Better.
Getting there –
but it really made me think about where I was spiritually and what ground I’ve lost as I drifted away from my war room. The evil one is way too subtle at times.
One day here.
One day there.
Pretty soon, a week, a month, a year drift by. I know this because it has happened all my life.

If I lost so much in just 2 and a half months physically, how much more have I lost spiritually?

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been in prayer, studied my devotions, read the WORD – – – but – – – I haven’t I haven’t spent time kneeling in my Father’s presence, listening, praising, thanking, covenanting as I should – especially during this strife-filled time. This time when havoc reigns in our world from plagues, dissonance and violence as the evil one struggles to keep a grip on this land.

When I came home, I sat down and began watching my church and the other ones I watch on-line, but the uneasiness remained. The nudge was becoming more than a gentle reminder. As I used my inversion board, clarity started to seep through. One of the quotes I have hanging in that small closet is: “Trusting GOD will not change WHAT you see, but will definitely change HOW you see.”

Inversion.

Sometimes I have to up-end things to make a room look better. I have to throw everything in the sink to clean the counters. I have to throw all the clothes in a pile to organize the closet. I have to throw the apple out of my hand before I take any more bites. Bad choices come way too easy for me. Harder it is to throw away the temptations that are easy on the eye and not as much work.

Perhaps, it is what our country is doing right now.
Inside out.
Upside down.
Topsy-turvey.
Sideways sliding.
Perhaps it is these types of shakings which will make the choices clearer for us.

I haven’t liked the past few months. Perhaps listening to the evil one’s subtle suggestion about my war room has been my own rebellious response. Hiding from the Father as my anger as Adam and Eve hid in the garden after letting my hand reach out for that apple dangled by the evil one who wants to keep me from His presence – keep me from the peace that passeth all understanding.

Separation.
Broken Covenant.

Covenants are holy promises between those who love each other. For the past year, I have missed my physical covenant made upon this plane, but I realized today that that it is the spiritual covenant with My Father that I can not live without. I went back to my war room today. I will go back to it again tonight. I will seek His presence once again. To touch the manna that hangs on the door and walls – to drink from the everlasting waters that sparkle as they wait to bring renewal to me.

Perhaps – renewing of the covenants will come at all levels as it came to me today. I found this verse today and will hang it tonight on the war room wall. It is another one of His promises. It is true for He is faithful in His covenants unlike I am. I am working on being just as faithful – just not there yet – but every day, I am getting better and better by His grace and love.

“I will restore your leaders as in days of old, your rulers as at the beginning. Afterward you will be called the City of Righteousness, the Faithful City.”—       Isaiah 1:26  inspiration-akiane-kramarik [artwork by Akiane Kramarik/google images]

VISION 2020: Email Wisdom: Corona virus 2020

Got this poem from my daughter this morning and thought it was worthy e-mail wisdom to pass along.

As we enter into a time of fasting and national day of prayer, it is good to consider these things. Meditating on Ps 91 today:

“This I declare about the LORD:He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;He is my God, and I trust him.For He will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease.He will cover you with His feathers.He will shelter you with His wings.His faithful promises are your armor and protection.” v.2-4

[Akiane Kramarik artwork/google images]

Part II:  “The first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb, when it comes, find us doing sensible and human things — praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts — not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs.”
— C.S. Lewis

Part III:  With all the schools in OH closing (NC not far behind – and now officially closed down), don’t forget to ask teenagers or college kids to help out if you need babysitters in the coming weeks. Teenagers/college students – don’t expect to get rich. Households are a little short of money. Send cards to senior citizens in nursing homes.  Have the kids make artwork and cards for senior citizens – or nurses – or doctors who are serving on the front lines.  Just remember – GOD’s got this. All we have to manage is the details, and YOU’ve got that.

Pray for the medical personnel and those in leadership positions.

Pray for revival. Nothing better than revival to beat the evil one and his minions.

is 41 10

 

 

VISION 2020: Hewn

“Listen to Me…”

In the clamor of chaos it is hard to listen. Shards of noise litter the air and impune the truth that tries to exist amidst its sharp edges. Covered ears and eyes do not hear and see so well –and yet — without any protection, the maliciousness of noise hurts that which is buried deep inside.

“…you who pursue righteousness…”

Upside down. Inside out. Circles of choices that leave the head wondering – is this right? Is that? The ears hurt. The eyes hurt. How to pursue – how to chase – when the ambiguities muddy the vision and sounds of what once was so clear – so just – so pure – so right….

“…you who seek the LORD…”

Schedules way too crowded. Dusty Bibles stashed in corners. Here.
There.
Piles upon piles of things covering them – things much more crucial in today’s civilized air.
Seek what is lost?
Find a clean cloth of wisdom?
Pull the hands away from the ears.
Wipe the eyes.
Blink.. Is it there? Is it visible at all?

“Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were HEWN.” Is 51:1

Solid.
Rough but sturdy.
It is there.
Deeply buried.
Covered in grimy grit.
Hands dig until nails are broken and skin torn.
Eyes see.
It is there.
Still there.

The rock shaped and carved — HEWN — long ago out of the deep rock bed of the ancient quarry by a much stronger, talented, and deeply scarred fingers of the only One who knew the rock before it was HEWN.

The Master Mason knew the quarry. He knew where to find the rock of you. He knew the stones from which you came. Stones that carried the same traits with the dearly sought after veins of strength that the rock would need to shine forth its own light and survive the chaotic life outside the quarry.

Eyes open.
Ears uncovered.
Amid the clamor of chaos that still cuts – still shouts its lies – trying to confuse and distract as the Master Mason bends over and rubs the hem of His own pure, white garment over the rock of you that has remained hidden for way too long.

Facets polished.
Shimmers of bright colored gems shine forth.
Once more —HEWN by the Master Mason as He turns His countenance upon the rock and bestows the silence of His peace as He brings it forth into the Light of the Father.

“As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in Scripture it says:

“See, I lay a stone in Zion,
a chosen and precious cornerstone,
and the one who trusts in him
will never be put to shame.” 1 Pt 2:4-6 Forgiven  [Greg Olsen art]

VISION 2020: Sabbath

The house is a maze of throw rugs. Wood floors peeking out in between them. Rugs spaced just far enough apart that a certain four-legged, beloved lab girl feels more secure as she walks from one end of the house to the other. Truth be told, she mostly wanders just one side of the house during the day, but at night she wants to amble back to the other side to protect me and her kid sister. The good news – I’m tickled pink to have her wandering again and praising My Father for her stubborn heart.

Four days ago, the old dog seemed to be ready to leave. I’ve been around the block a time or two with old dogs. I recognize the signs. They don’t eat or drink. Their breathing changes. Their eyes change – as if they are looking beyond what’s in front of them. So because I didn’t want her to be alone, I slept on the floor – with her on one side and kid sister on the other. (Hard to believe that as a kid I used to find sleeping on the floor a treat.)

The great news – she is still here and showing some signs of her old ornery self. Still a little hard for her to get up. Still a little unsteady on her feet. But those big eyes are wide open and checking every morsel that I put in my mouth. Can anything be better than having those big puppy dog eyes watching every move of the spoon? I think not.

“I am not alone, because the Father is with Me.” Jn 16:32

Rather hectic days lead this simple soul, to enjoying a true Sabbath. I didn’t do much. Didn’t go to the gym. Didn’t work on much of anything except to move a few piles or sticks and rocks. Washed a couple of blankets and hung them on the back deck to dry. Knitted a few rows of a prayer shawl. Read some devotionals. Walked the dogs. Worked a cryptogram. Laughed when the old lab girl wanted to come with me, carrying her ball and trying to keep it from her kid sister. Sat on the patio swing. Listened to sounds echo through the woods – all the while hoping that the smelly remnant of a skunk was exactly that – a remnant and not a warning of its presence.

GOD is good, all the time.

At some point, I fell asleep with the windows open and the sun shining through them. The rabbi I had been watching on YouTube had turned into a video of Akiane Kramarik. It had been awhile since I had watched one of her videos, so I watched a few more. If you don’t remember – she is the art prodigy that started her career at the age of four. Not only that – she led her family to faith in GOD.

“Heavenly music is always gentle. I can’t tell you how different it is from what you hear on earth! It feels like joy, it looks like love, smells like flowers and dances like butterflies. Music there is alive! You can even taste it.” Akiane Kramarik

Treasure chest memories were everywhere today. One of the videos showed Akiane milking goats – a goat that looked just exactly like our first goat, Ami. Then as I folded the blankets off the back deck, I buried my nose in them. My childhood and OH homes all had clotheslines. What is it about hanging clothes outside to dry that makes them smell so good?

This Sabbath was blessed in too many ways to count. Eldest son’s birthday. Old lab finding her way back to me. Carolina warmth and sun. Treasure chest memories. Kitty curled on my lap. God’s presence drifting over every second of this Sabbath. Just glad my eyes, ears, heart and soul were open to all He has done on this holy day.

Our Father’s promises always lead to Joy.

“If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
and from doing as you please on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight
and the Lord’s holy day honorable,
and if you honor it by not going your own way
and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,
then you will find your joy in the Lord,
and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land
and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.”
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
Is 58:13-14 

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 

 [personal images]

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 #19 2019

“He knows our need, To our weakness no stranger!
Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend!
Behold your King! your King! before him bend!”

There are wonderful things that happen when a lot of odd ingredients are mixed together in one bowl and produce a dessert that is way too sweet on such a ….. “O Holy Night”. Unbelievable singers sharing Christ-mass music. Christ-mass lights twinkling in every room. A kitty curled on the arm of the chair. Puppies stretched out under the feet. Devotions that just seemed to hit the sweet spot. Yum!

“Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is Love and His gospel is Peace;”

Didn’t watch the news. Didn’t mess around on the computer. Instead – I played with some rocks, seashells, glitter, and candles while I listened to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir with Kristin Chenoweth. Earlier, as I was looking for something else – I found my dad’s journal from his time in China during WWII. He only wrote a few entries. But from the moment I opened it and saw his handwriting, I could hear his voice and feel the love he always showed his family.

Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother,
And in his name all oppression shall cease,”

The journal must have been passed out as a Christmas/New Year gift to new units arriving in China in 1946. It had facts about The Republic of China. The National Anthem. Monetary conversion charts. Key phrases for a soldier – written in Chinese – just in case needed. I was impressed when I found the map key he had made so that he would remember the notations on the small yearly calendar in the front of the journal.

74 years ago, my daddy was on a ship – a BIG ship – being socked with 40 foot waves at some points, heading for a far away country with people, animals and sights that he couldn’t begin to imagine. He was on that ship for 5 weeks according to his notations. He spent Christ-mass far away from his wife and little boy. He didn’t get Christ-mass cards or letters until February 1946. Just a small town fellow heading into the giant world of the unknown. Hard to imagine in our days of instant communication, isn’t it?

“Sweet hymns of joy in grateful Chorus raise we;
Let all within us praise his Holy name!”

Don’t know why I happened upon this particular Christmas special on TV or why I found Dad’s journal just before I sat down. Don’t know why I never read Daddy’s tiny book before now. Don’t know why I decided to make some last minute gifts of Light. But as I read – and as the Christ-mass music circled around, the devotionals blended into this mixture thoughts and feelings as His presence filled this small home with His peace and grace. I have a feeling that I will continue to ponder all of these things until I tuck myself into bed and commend my soul into His keeping before I close my eyes to sleep.

“Christ is the Lord, then ever! ever praise we!
His pow’r and glory, evermore proclaim!
His pow’r and glory, evermore proclaim!”

Some nights are just like that. Nights that make you cry – then smile – then pull out the treasure chest of memories to feel blessed beyond measure. Peace reigns and Christ-mass is only a few days off. Time to:
“…Fall on your knees, Oh hear the angel voices!
O night divine! O night when Christ was born.
O night, O holy night, O night divine.”

BTW – Kristin Chenoweth’s gowns are beyond classy and fabulous if you get a chance to watch this special. They are almost as gorgeous as her voice – especially when she sings “Mary, Did You Know?” or “O Holy Night”. And like me, she thinks Sandi Patti is pretty cool.  How about that? 

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”~Is 55:8-9  large960_blur-5a5a26143a23b1ba57e9d591bb21fdbb

https://oklahoman.com/article/5649803/video-pbs-special-christmas-with-the-tabernacle-choir-featuring-kristin-chenoweth-airing-monday