Tag Archives: Isaiah

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS: Times Go By

“Now the year is over, let us braver stand, / Seeking to discover His—our Father’s–hand.”~Emily Elliott

I always save “A Wonderful Life” for the last of my “Christmasy” movies. I’m not sure when it became a New Year’s tradition for me, but that is exactly what it is. There are the Santa Claus movies, the Nativity movies, the found-lost-old-new-love movies of TV fare – but “Wonderful Life” ranks among the ones that I really look forward to seeing – especially the ending.

Time flies by pretty fast for this ol’ gal. Seems like just yesterday, I was holding Zu-zu’s petals in my hands when I retired and moved to North Carolina. Of course it follows that 2018 was barely a blink in time. Watching the newscasts from around the world and waiting for the one ending in NYC, I understand a little better why this old Scottish poem has become so ingrained in New Year’s celebrations world-wide.

“Should old acquaintance be forgot, 
and never brought to mind? 
Should old acquaintance be forgot, 
and old lang syne?”

I remember sitting on the stairs wrapped in Mom’s seal skin coat, watching my parents celebrate with their friends in some living room (sometimes ours – sometimes elsewhere) at the stroke of midnight. Their hands joined in a circle as they swayed back and forth. Cigarette/pipe smells mixed with the sweet pungent smell of alcohol. Counting down with the radio or TV. Singing along with Guy Lombardo. “For auld lang syne…”

“For auld lang syne, my dear, 
for auld lang syne, 
we’ll take a cup of kindness yet, 
for auld lang syne.”

Most people don’t realize that they are singing Scottish words and the “auld lang syne” isn’t really “old lang syne”.  Even the addition of the English word “old”, doesn’t do much to help us understand what we are singing. The best translation that I found seems to be “Times Go By”. The song makes a little more sense as a New Year’s song when you substitute the words we understand for the Scottish ones.

Times Go By, and as we age, those times seem to go faster and faster until we are almost dizzy at the speed of events.

I think that is why I love watching “A Wonderful Life”. Harry and Mary Bailey are just like most of us. Making plans. Being side-tracked. Running into dead ends. Encouraging others. Raising a family. Frustrated when goals get trashed. A rock of strong values for others. Confused at times. Full of self-pity during weak moments. But as Times Go By, they grow wiser, and the Baileys finally figure out that they have really been on the path GOD designed just for them.

“And there’s a hand, my trusty friend! 
And give me a hand o’ thine! 
And we’ll take a right good-will draught, 
for auld lang syne.”

Today has been a great New Year’s Eve. Eggnog with the daughter and her family. Making a New Year’s Eve Star to hang above the nativity. Friends and family posting about so many wonderful blessings and thoughts from 2018. Devotional times that continue to enrich this last day of the year and shine a Light for me to follow into 2019.

Times Go By, and they may go by a little faster than I like. But my year – like the Baileys – has been filled with all the blessings that are designed just for me – just to help me become a wiser and better person than I was at the beginning of 2018. So tonight – if I am still awake – I will walk outside and give thanks to My Father. A Father who loves me more than I know and blesses me far beyond what I deserve.

“On the sixth day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me…”  Times Go By and Blessings!Be! in 2019!

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”~Is 43:19 

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12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS: The Vision

In 1951 I was 6 months old. Across the country a jazz musician by the name of Alfred Burt was writing a Christmas carol to go with the words written by Wihla Hutson. In 1955 when I was 4, this new carol was performed for a Christmas party where record executives were present. The rest is – as they say – history.

“Some children see Him lily white
The baby Jesus born this night
Some children see Him lily white
With tresses soft and fair
Some children see Him bronzed and brown
The Lord of heav’n to earth come down
Some children see Him bronzed and brown
With dark and heavy hair.”

As close as I can figure – maybe 11 years or so later, I sat in the back of a small church and heard my mother sing a “new” carol in a Christmas pageant. This church was in another town, so my mom took me along to many rehearsals. I would work on homework, write poetry, fall asleep, or wonder if I would ever sing as well as my mom. Most of the time, I just absorbed the peace and the holy quiet of the sanctuary as I watched the pageant become a work of art.

I can still see Mom kneeling as Mary. A blue veil falling across her face at the creche as she picked up the “child” to rock Him. Yet, strangely, there is not one picture of her singing in this production in any of our old photo albums. I wish – – – then again – – – maybe not – because the picture in my head is probably better than any picture because blended together in one image.
Her voice.
The Colors.
The Words.
The Vision.

“Some children see Him almond-eyed
This Savior whom we kneel beside
Some children see Him almond-eyed
With skin of yellow hue
Some children see Him dark as they
Sweet Mary’s Son to whom we pray
Some children see him dark as they
And, ah! they love Him, too”

In my head, I can see Mom. In my head, I can see GOD. In my head, I can see YESHUA. And that is exactly what Wihla Hutson realized the night she wrote these lyrics. We each see Our Father, His Son, The Holy Spirit according to The Vision in our own heads. The neat thing? It doesn’t matter what color – what facial features – what scars or disabilities – we see because GOD gave us that Vision. He put us in the families that surround us. He colored us with His mighty right hand. He formed us and knit together all the things that make us His. He gave us the Vision in our heads. Best of all? He loves us and is so happy when we come to the manager and kneel to give Him love in return.

“The children each in different place
Will see the baby Jesus’ face
Like theirs, but bright with heavenly grace
And filled with holy light
O lay aside each earthly thing
And with thy heart as offering
Come worship now the infant King
‘Tis love that’s born tonight.”

I still have the sheet music for this “new” carol. The sheet music is showing a lot of wear, but there are the notations that mom wrote for herself and for the organist. Mom had a Vision of how she wanted to sing the song. When I sing it, I have a Vision as well. It is a little different than the way mom sang it, but – GOD, JESUS, THE HOLY SPIRIT – don’t care. They gave me – they gave Mom – The Vision unique unto ourselves. It is the Truth, the Love, the Grace in each Vision that matters.

“He possessed no splendid form for us to see, no desirable appearance”~Is 53:2b

“On the fourth day of Christmas, My True Love gave to me…” The Vision.    

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS 2018: The Promise

Kidlets came. Kidlets left. Christmas came. Christmas….???

That is the beyond wonder-filled blessing of Christmas – – – it never truly leaves. The physical presence of relatives, the tree, the decorations, the gifts in fancy packaging, the sugarplums, the carols…
But…
Not the …
Promise.

“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”~Gen 3:15

Long before the star shone in the sky. Long before Mary chose to accept the LORD’s blessing. Long before prophets stood in a dessert and named Him. Long before any of that, there was the Father’s promise. Imagine – right after His first physical creations – created in His image – had chosen to eat the fruit of the tree that He had requested that they not eat, He made a promise.

HE would be with his children throughout any trials.
HE would be wounded.
HE would stand in the gap – between falsehoods and truth.
HE would crush the falsehood into dust along the way until it would eventually be gone – – – completely.

“…She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).” ~Isaiah 7:14

Later some of that dust HE created would swirl around the feet of Our Father’s children and prophets, sting the eyes and make it hard to breathe, but Our Father stood by His promise. He stated it several times. He shouted it the day the angels sang.

“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). ~Matthew 1:23

My youngest Grandson gave me a candle for Christmas. A candle he bought with his own money. He was so excited to give it to me that he tried to get me to open that wrapped present several times before Christmas. The more he tried, the more excited I got as well. It means the world to me, and while I don’t like seeing the wax disappear, I breathe in deeply the smell of Love that lingers in the air long after the fire has been blown out.

Our Father works much the same way at Christmas time. The Love doesn’t leave. It just surrounds us in a different way. It blesses us with its presence even when we can’t see it. That’s the way His Love and Truth work. It is just the way the Promise works.

On the Third Day of Christmas, My True Love gave to me…” A promise to always be with me – with us – with all His children in this broken world. dec 27 2018 b  [personal image]

TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS 2018: Starlight

“If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore; and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God which had been shown! But every night come out these envoys of beauty, and light the universe with their admonishing smile.”~Ralph Waldo Emerson

When I was little, I would sit on our porch steps and wait to see the first star of the evening. As I aged, I talked the parents into letting me move into a bigger bedroom. I painted it blue – with a dark blue ceiling where my dad wrote my initials with glow-in-the-dark stars for a second time.  But really, the reason I wanted that room was because it had a roof-top porch. On many nights, I would step from the starlight of my finite room into the eternal room that held the “remembrance of the city of God”.   There, I could sing, whisper, and contemplate whatever wishes or problems or dreams or prayers that were the driving force of my life at that point.

“Starlight, Starbright, first star I see tonight; wish I may, wish I might have this wish I wish tonight.”

Words whispered from my heart into the ear of a Father that is always listening. The great thing, I don’t need my porch anymore. I carry that starlight within me wherever I am. Grocery line. Traffic jam. Angry people. Movie time. Family time. It doesn’t matter. The beauty that lights the universe with an admonishing smile is always there – lighting the way forward with Grace and Love.

It was there over Bethlehem.
It was there when the Wisemen began their journey.
It was there when the angels sang.
It was there as the shepherds made their way toward the inn.
It was there when the Light of the World opened His eyes for the first time as a human.

“Lift up your eyes on high And see who has created these stars, The One who leads forth their host by number, He calls them all by name; Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power, Not one of them is missing.”~Is 40:26

Emerson had it mostly right. Those stars do remind us of the City of God –  of Home. They also remind us of all the wonders that have come to us from that city – from Home. The stars that shone over a baby’s birth in a stable, shone just as brightly over a sepulchre 33 years later and continue to shine over our world in Truth and Grace that His Kingdom come  – soon.

Stars that are named. 
Stars that are not missing – not even one. 
A remembrance to all things eternal in a finite world.

“On the Second Day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me…Starlight, Starbright”

“Praise Him, sun and moon; Praise Him, all stars of light! Praise Him, highest heavens, And the waters that are above the heavens! Let them praise the name of the LORD, For He commanded and they were created.”~Ps 148:3-6

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Christmas Reflections 2018 (0 Days and Counting)

To all family, friends and world that cares, I am wrapping up the 12 Days of Christmas Countdown. Mocking Stocking and all the others are fini. Yea! (I may complain – but I really do love seeing the results.) Family are in the air and on the freeway and should arrive soon. Life is so blessed.

“…gave tongue to many interesting thoughts, which had frequently flashed through my soul, and died away for want of utterance.” ~Fredrick Douglas.

Words from an article often strike a chord and continue reverberating over and over in my soul. This quote is one of them. A few words swirling around – begging to be remembered – words lost in the fogginess of a million others that pass through on a daily basis – for lack of utterance — or action — dropped into the emptiness of not being thoroughly examined for the wisdom contained in a simple thought.

“…interesting thoughts…”

I bet the shepherds, wisemen, Mary, Joseph or even the animals had lots of interesting thoughts on that blessed night so long ago. Wouldn’t you love to know the first human thoughts that flashed through Baby Jesus’s soul as He took His first breath and opened those newborn eyes on the world He had created? 
I know I would.

Countless thoughts in a world of thoughts that never made their way past the mind of the soul to become concrete words full of wisdom’s gift. Thoughts that “…died away for want of utterance.” What would our world be today if Mary or Joseph had let the words of the angels just flash through their soul and die? Or the shepherds? Or the wisemen? Or even the animals gathered round that night? What would have happened to the blessing of Grace if not one person would have…

“..pondered them in her [their]heart…?”~Lk 2:19 

From the beginning of our creation, Our Father has always sought our thoughts – our choices – in all that He does here on earth. Why in the world He has so much love and confidence in us still humbles and shakes me to the core. He trusts me – and you – to be a person that recognizes the ‘thought that flashes through the soul’. He trusts me – and you – to be a person that will not let that thought die away for “want of utterance”. He loves us so much that He sent His Son to teach us – once again – His thoughts.

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder; and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty GOD, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.”~Is 9:6.

This reflection, written at the beginning of December, for our Christmas letter WHICH never made it into the mail until last week. LOL (Procrastination is not a Habit of Grace). Merry CHRIST-MASS to all of you from our home to yours with love.

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CHRISTMAS IMMANUEL (6 Days and Counting)

“Later, the LORD sent this message to King Ahaz: 11“Ask the LORD your God for a sign of confirmation, Ahaz. Make it as difficult as you want—as high as heaven or as deep as the place of the dead.”

Wouldn’t you love to receive that message from Poppa GOD? Just ask – anything – – high as heaven – – – or as deep as the place of dead? Hmmm… A prophecy buried within a prophecy. Even before Isaia got to the main point of his visit, he was hinting at its fulfillment. Gotta love every word of a Bible verse. Father’s words are never wasted.

“But the king refused. “No,” he said, “I will not test the LORD like that.”

And there it is. Yupper! Typical human response. Just put a spin on it, so it doesn’t sound like what it is. R-E-B-E-L-L-I-O-N. It is what we do. GOD reaches out. We push back – just a little – mind you. May not be an open rebellion – or even as brash as King Azah, after all, GOD had told him to ask for a sign. Not Azah, he didn’t need “test” GOD. Yet – here he was – – pushing back – – – rejecting what the LORD had told him to do, never-the-less.

“Then Isaiah said, “Listen well, you royal family of David! Isn’t it enough to exhaust human patience? Must you exhaust the patience of my God as well?”

Can you hear the exasperation in Isaiah’s voice? Can you here him biting back all those words that he wanted to say but couldn’t because he was about the LORD’s work right now? I must really becoming adapted to the South, for I can surely hear these words with just a twinge of a drawl clinging to each word.

“All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’). By the time this child is old enough to choose what is right and reject what is wrong, he will be eating yogurt and honey. For before the child is that old, the lands of the two kings you fear so much will both be deserted.”~Is 7:10-16

LOOK!

UNDERSTAND!

The glorious impossible happened just as Isaiah prophesied so long ago. A sign was given. A Virgin. A boy-child.

IMMANUEL.

GOD WITH US.

As high as heaven. Deep as the place of the dead.

YESHUA – GOD who is with us – who saves us – who loves us so much that He sent His son to tear the veil between the high heaven and the deep place of the dead. The Son who stands with us in the highest points of our lives to the lowest points of our lives.

Now that is Christmas! That is the reason I get so excited that it is almost here. The Glorious Impossible of Mary – a mother’s love bringing forth the Father’s sign. Mary - mothers love [Akiane artwork/google image]

FANTASTIC GIFTS OF FALL

“Pastor Phil had a farm…”

Yesterday was just what I needed. A day on the farm. The smell of freshly baled hay. Two hayrides out into open fields with parents, teachers, and students. A petting barn full of animals. Dogs, goats, horse, however the cows, chickens and quinea hens were a little stand offish – especially with all the excited kidlets running around, so I couldn’t quite pet them all. (Goats are still my favorite – even if there weren’t any Nubians.)

It was a true “harvest” festival. Pumpkins got decorated. Stories were mixed with songs. Long tables set with picnic lunches. Laughter and smiles on every face – except maybe for Pastor Phil when his tractor got a flat during the hayride. All in all – a day to give “Thank you, GOD, for everything praise in our loudest voices.”

“Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God.”~Heb 6:7

It reminded me how much I miss being on a farm. Born and bred as a “townie“, I was surprised at how well I took to farm life. My in-laws were the perfect mentors for me. Mom K. took me under her wing and taught me to feed chickens, gather eggs, cook, can and freeze. Pop K took me to the barn and taught me to feed the cows, throw hale bales (if they weren’t the huge ones) and stack them in the back of the wagon. I even learned to milk the cows – although, I was never good at it. My one claim to fame was milking out a cow with mastitis when everyone was sick. Pop would laugh every time he told that story, but his voice told me how proud he was that I did it well.

OK – I think I got a little side-tracked into my treasure chest of memories in that last paragraph. What I really wanted to talk about was that being on the farm reminded me of how close it always makes me feel to Our Father. It is one of my “happy” places – a gem in a treasure chest. A place where I sang Pop’s favorite hymns and songs as I cleaned the milk tank. A place where I walked in the cow pasture or the hay field to sit under a tree just to watch the cows, write or pray. There is just something about a farm that opens up my eyes to how blessed it is to be truly known and truly loved by Our Father.

Yesterday, was our own version of Sukkot and full of “Fantastic Gifts of Fall”. it was a blessing to all who were able to be there to enjoy the hayrides, stories, songs, food, fellowship that filled our harvest cornucopia. Throw in the sounds of a few animals, the laughter of children and adults, and it is as close to perfect as you can make it on this earth. 

“This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: 
‘Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. 
In quietness and confidence is your strength.’ “~ Is 30:14-15

#fivedaystoelection #Godisgood#prayforournation

 

PROMISES OF PEACE

In the midst of the past month, we watched two hurricanes pass our way. One with lots of rain – the other with lots of wind. The huge trees that litter many yards and crumpled cars and homes around us is a testimony of winds that exceeded any tornado winds I ever saw in OH.

When I drove to church this morning, I realized how blessed we truly are. The loss of electric and internet are minor inconveniences compared to the utter destruction of homes, businesses, and communities in FL.

“The grass withers, the flower fades, But the WORD of our GOD stands forever.”~Is 40:8

I’ve been reading a lot more over the past few days – done some cross stitch – finished lots of cryptograms (my favorite kind of puzzle) – started working on a couple other Christmas things – and done a lot of praying for those who have absolutely nothing left after Hurricane Michael passed over them.

Yesterday, our power returned and we were able to turn off the generator that had kept our food cold and our water running. 
Today, our congregation was prayed over by missionaries from Africa, and tears streamed down my face. Tomorrow night our church is packing 60 thousand meals to send off to FL, and I get to pick up the Grands. My life is returning to normal while many people will be months and maybe years from normal.

“Neither death nor life…nor things present nor things to come…shall be able to separate us from the love of GOD.”~Rm 8:38-39

I’ve been reading a Billy Graham devotional from 2002 off and on this summer and fall. Throughout the past few days, the prayers centered on praising GOD in all things – especially in difficult times – just as Job did in the OT. I especially identified with this quote full of hope and promise:

“It’s easy to praise after the fact when we receive the healing, the restored relationship, and the financial windfall. It is a true and mature faith that praises GOD in the midst of the trial and trusts Him even before the outcome is revealed.”~Rev. Billy Graham, Oct 14, 2018

And so it was.

As Hubby and I stood on the porch or in the garage and watched the rain so thick that we couldn’t see our neighbors’ homes – were astounded when the top of tall trees reached for the ground – mourned a little when the banana tree’s leaves shred in even tinier slivers or broke completely – listened to our dogs whine and pace while kitty hid in the back room curled in my office chair where she spent so many days as a kitten, I chose to give thanks. I chose to remember to trust. I chose to offer continual prayers of thankfulness. I chose to rely on His promises and found peace in the midst of the storm.

Peace in the storm. 
Peace in the sunset after the storm.
Peace in the inconvenience of daily routines. 
Peace in a fall-blooming iris still standing tall – not one leaf destroyed.
Peace in the waiting for “normalcy”. 
Peace of His blessings following me all the days of my life.

Promises of Peace given to each and everyone of us in His boat.

Can’t get any better than that. 

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CLAPPING TREES

“If someone ventures a word with you, will you be impatient? But who can keep from speaking? Think how you have instructed many, how you have strengthened feeble hands. Your words have supported those who stumbled; you have strengthened faltering knees. But now trouble comes to you, and you are discouraged; it strikes you, and you are dismayed. Should not your piety be your confidence and your blameless ways your hope?”~ Job 4:2-6
 
There has been only quiet and emptiness. The sky thunderously dark and empty of light mocked the brightness of previous days, and the night withheld its dim beauty. Job knew this period of life well. Many of us know this period of life.
 
“Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.”~1 Chron 4:10
 
When I get full of myself, I have this crazy tendency to pray this simple prayer by a man only mentioned one time in the Bible. A man that had his prayer answered. I always think, “Ok, I’ve grown a lot in the past few years, right, Father? Expanding my territory will mean that it will be much easier than the last time I prayed this prayer, right?”
 
“Right?”
 
It never is. In fact, it is always a little more challenging. It is why I have only prayed this prayer 3 times. Right now – I don’t know if I will ever be brave enough to pray it again – but then again – I have said this before.
 
It is a prayer that – for me – tears off the veils that I have used to cover all those weak areas in my life that are buried so deeply that most of the time I can pretend they don’t exist.
Physical.
Emotional.
Spiritual.
And even – those states that exist so far beyond my logical understanding that I have no words for them. The good news?God knows them – knows of their existence – even if I don’t, and He strips the veils away to expand my territory in Him.
 
In January I prayed. God answered…as He always does. Territory expanded and…as always…a blessed period of rest begins. A tiny flower of clarity. A deep breath that I had been holding for almost six months. And a whole bunch of Grace shining so brightly that I almost feel ready to stand up and begin my journey again.
 
“You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”~Is 55:12
 
Four weeks ago, just before my scheduled trip to NYC with the daughters, I was still struggling. This test had been longer and more intense than the other two times, and I was tired – – – very tired. It was then He woke me up in the middle of the night and gave this verse in Isaiah. The darkness was pushed back to reveal the stars that had been there all along.
 
It was time to step out in joy and let Him lead me forth in peace. The mountains continue to sing as the trees clap their hands and I am looking forward to starting a new adventure. I get to be a librarian again. It looks like I will end my working career the way I started it long ago when I was a page in the Loudonville library. I also get to work in a new Christian school that is just starting in NC.
K-3.
A small room.
A few shelves of books.
A chance to help build a room in Our Father’s house – – – “…on earth as it is in heaven.”~Matt 6:10b
 
There are mountainous songs circling and trees clapping.
Can you hear them?
 

Grace Christian Academy – can’t wait to see what Our Father is about to do. 

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SICK WISDOM

Wisdom learned over the weekend:

1) Antibiotics are not magic pills –
2) Prayer warriors’ worth are beyond rubies –
3) Body needs sleep and lazy days to heal (instead of mowing grass and digging bushes to transplant) –
4) Shadow-Spooky-Sparkle kitten knows when I am sick and sleeps on or beside me all night in my chair (except for the occasional mouse chase in the kitchen) –
5) The big girls – otherwise known as ‘the lab girls’ – don’t leave whatever room I am in while they snore away the time –
6) But most of all – I need to quit being stupid.
7) “Even to your old age and gray hairs, I AM he, I AM he who will sustain you. I have made you, and I will carry you; I will sustain you, and I will rescue you.”~Is 46:4

“Back of every mistaken venture and defeat is the laughter of wisdom if you listen.”~Carl Sandburg.

“Give me hunger, 
O you gods that sit and give 
The world its orders. 
Give me hunger, pain and want, 
Shut me out with shame and failure 
From your doors of gold and fame, 
Give me your shabbiest, weariest hunger!

But leave me a little love, 
A voice to speak to me in the day end, 
A hand to touch me in the dark room 
Breaking the long loneliness. 
In the dusk of day-shapes 
Blurring the sunset, 
One little wandering, western star 
Thrust out from the changing shores of shadow. 
Let me go to the window, 
Watch there the day-shapes of dusk 
And wait and know the coming 
Of a little love.”~Carl Sandburg I-will-carry-you-Isa-46.4  [google image]