Tag Archives: Isaiah

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]

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS 2017 #7

“On the 7th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…”

Yes, I know today is the first day of the world’s new year.

2018.

You know, when I was growing up, my parents said that “time flies”. I totally didn’t believe them, since it took forever to get to get from birthday-to-birthday or Christmas-to-Christmas or Labor Day-to-Memorial Day. But make no mistake, we continue to swim closer and closer to the end of the 12 days of Christmas 2017 and then 2018 will begin in earnest for me.

“On the 7th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: seven swans a swimming…”

I haven’t really made any resolutions this year – mostly because cold-fogged brains do not lend themselves to clear thoughts. But as the fog clears, and I start to swim in a straight line again, I’m beginning to organize my thoughts and figure out just where Our Father is wanting to lead me.

A friend and his family members chose a word to meditate on during the year. Another friend chooses a Bible verse. Others have chosen business or family goals. One friend has even chosen an author and wants to re-reads all the books, that person has written.

Truth be told, I’m not big on January New Year Resolutions. I suppose it is because for most of my 67 years on this earth, my new year has started with the beginning of school. Whether as a student or a teacher, that is when I set my direction for the year. Even now – almost 5 years into my retirement – I still find myself gearing up in August and preparing mentally to swim up-stream into a new adventure.

“There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.”~Is 11:1-3

There are 7 swans swimming in the living waters when we sing the 12 Days of Christmas. 7 fruits of the Spirit that Rabbi Yeshua modeled for us as He walked among us.

Wisdom
Understanding
Counsel
Fortitude
Knowledge
Piety
Fear [Awe] of God

Swim in the Living Waters. Harvest the Fruits of the Spirit. Now those are some resolutions that I think I really need to set my eyes on as I swim into this new adventurous year of 2018. I may have to push hard over the rapids. I may have to be patient in still waters. I may have to weather a storm or two. But if I wait for the breath of His promises under my wings, I can gain more power to swim a little closer to those Gifts of the Spirit and feel His peace surround me.

“I AM THE LIVING GOD, The Vine, and you are the branches; whoever abides with me and I in him, this one brings forth much fruit, because without me, you can do nothing.”~Jn 15:5 web-seven-gifts-of-the-holy-spirit-public-domain [google image]

TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS 2017 #1

“On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…”

My eyes are tired tonight. Early mornings. Late nights. Food, food, food. Chocolate and more chocolate. Forcing my eyes to stay open for just a little longer, so I don’t miss a moment of this blessed holyday.

The MI son and family started it all off four days ago. Their escape from the cold and snow of the north. My latching on to each of them for one more hug – one more moment – one more ear full of deeper voices, more grown-up stories, and wishing so much that they – and my son – were still little enough to cuddle close to my heart. Our two days together passed way too fast.

“Every good and perfect gift descends from above, from The Father of lights with whom there is no change nor a shadow of variation.”~Jm 1:17

Second daughter and hubby made their way to NC on Christmas Day. Eating Grandma Mickey’s shrimp and trail bologna. Cookies. Then the more formal food as we sit down to stuff our faces again. Swapping white elephants as we bartered with the Grands, stole from one to another; and finally carrying home a pair of hand-made, Peruvian dinosaurs to hang on our window garlands.

“Grandma, can I have your dinosaur?” Grandson whispers as we leave, and my heart melts a little more.

Yet – more than the gifts, it is the laughter – the smiles in the eyes of those I love – which sings its song in my heart tonight and stifles another yawn. Whether it is the laughter over “Say Anything” or “Timeline” board game; the Grands bouncing as the explain/ show all their new toys; or the grown-up versions of my baby girls and their spouses sharing conversations that flow over my head; the holyday is made more holy by just their presence and I soak it in even if I don’t say much.

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

In 12 more days, Christmas 2017 will be in the annuals of time. Pictures will be stored on the computer, posted to various social media sites, and “normal” returns to the land of humankind. My grown-up kids will travel to their far-away homes. Grands will return to their various schools – in MI and NC. But my heart – – –

My heart will be full of the blessings we were able to share in each other’s presence for a few days. I cry easily when they appear on my doorstep and when I wave goodbye. It is then I wonder that if I feel such powerful emotions – how much more deeply does My Father feel over all the coming and goings of His children?

It is His blessing in our lives to glimpse just a portion of His love on Christmas. A Father who sent His Son to a far away land. A Father who sent His Son to be raised by others. A Father who loved so much that He sent His Son to remind us of just how much He loves us.

In this the love of God is known to us: for God sent his only Son to the world so that it shall live by him.’~1 Jn 4:9

As I finish up here, I am yawning a few more times. My sentences have been reversing themselves as i type – which happens often when I am exhausted. And as I make my way back towards my comfy bed, I lay my hand on the door, where my “child” is already sleep and whisper a prayer of thanks once again.

Holydays bring their own blessings when we pray. They slow us down. They open our ears and eyes. New songs expand our hearts. The invisible becomes almost opaque. A slender,silver tie to our first family. So as the music begins, I will sing myself to sleep…

“On the first day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me: a partridge in a pear tree….”

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ADVENT 2017: LOVE #1

”Cause I alluz been with you, children. An’ whenever you sing, I’m goin’ to be with you still. An’ you know how I can say such a mackulous thing?…Why, ’cause we in Jesus…”~Odessa Williams

This is the week that I pull out my favorite Christmas stories. The ones my mom and dad read to me. The ones that were read to me in school or Sunday School. The ones I read to my children. The ones I read to my students. The ones that my NC Grands missed out on last night, because they were way too busy to read books.

Sad grandma.

Regardless, Grandma, pulled those stories out today and took some time to just read to myself. Like always, nothing puts me in the Christmas mood like these special stories. One of my favorites is The Manger Is Empty by Walter Wangerin, Jr. This is the same author who wrote the “Ragman” , a story that has been portrayed in many churches over the years.

This particular Christmas story revolves around the 7 year old Mary, daughter of an African-American preacher, and one of his elderly parishioners who is in the hospital, Odessa Williams. No spoiler alert – you will have to read it yourself.

Full of laughter, smiles, memories, and lots of tears. I finally tore myself away from those enchanted lands on the premise of getting something done (which didn’t happen). Instead, I napped in front of the fire between my two dogs on ‘their’ couch with Shadow Spooky Sparkle cat stretched out on the rug right in front of hearth. Sweet dreams of Christmas stories dancing in my head – prayers of gratitude in my heart.

“Babies, babies, we be in the hand of Jesus, us in his hand, and ain’ no one goin’ to snatch us out. Jesus, he don’ never let one of us go. Never. Not ever – -“~Odessa Williams

Before the Grands left today, they shook their packages one last time, argued over the beanie babies, re-arranged the village people and peeked in the creche. “Grandma, where is baby Jesus?” the Granddaughter pulled at my hand to make sure I saw the empty creche. I laughed and explained that Grandma Mickey always kept the Baby Jesus out of the creche until Christmas Eve. We did the same thing when our kidlets were little.

Old traditions die hard.

However, after re-reading Wangerin’s short little book, I think the seven year old Mary in The Manger Is Empty had a much, much better explanation.

“Jesus, he doesn’t have to be in the manger, does he? He goes back and forth, doesn’t he? I mean, he came from heaven, and he was borned right here, but then he went back to heaven again, and because he came and went, he’s coming and going all the time – – right?”~Mary

He’s coming and going all the time. He grabs us by the hand and “…don’t let one of us go. Never. Not ever.”

“For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.”~Is 41:13

[Greg Olsen artwork/personal photo]

GRATITUDE ATTITUDE 2017 #20

Long ago on Saturday nights, I was allowed one bowl of Corell’s potato chips and a glass of coke. Needless to say, that bowl of potato chips disappeared way too quickly. In time, I figured out how to stretch those delicious morsels. I would suck on them until they were on the verge of soft. Prolonging the sensation made them taste all the better as they slid down my throat.

Going to sound a little trivial, but I really do have a Gratitude Attitude tonight for that bowl of potato chips.  But mostly, for all the things that surrounds the memory of eating those tasty crunch-ables.

Even 67 year into this journey, I find myself savoring as slowly as possible those small (and I do mean small) bowls of chips – – even though they won’t ever be as good as the chips that were once made just down the street from my house. That chip house where we all tried to make multiple stops on Halloween (it never worked since they could see right through those disguises and call us by name).

But now, this is what the LORD says– he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.”~Is 43:1

Potato chips are a form of tasty food  though my food conscious kids would probably not agree that it should be classified as food. Then again, it isn’t really the food I treasure – even though its salty taste does seem to balance me out occasionally. It is rather the memories that slide out of my brain every time I bite down on those crispy chips that really catch in my throat.

Sitting with Mom and Dad. Sometimes curled into my dad’s side sharing a bowl of chips as we watch the Saturday night shows. Sometimes standing on Dad’s toes as he taught me to dance. Sometimes watching Mom and Dad dance. Mom and Dad singing along with songs on the turntable like Della Reese or Nat King Cole or Perry Como or Judy Garland. Sometimes all of us singing at the top of our lungs with The Mitch Miller Sing A-long Show.

Yupper.

The Gratitude Attitude is real for that small bowl of chips in my hand tonight. Yeah – it isn’t Saturday. Yeah, the parents are dancing in Heaven these days. But – the God who watches Israel continues to watch over me. He sends a tiny Godwink reminding me that He knows me and calls me by name. He put me just where I am supposed to be – at just the right time – with just the right people.

I am overwhelmed with thankfulness tonight and humbled once again.

GRATITUDE ATTITUDE 2017 #14

Tuesdays are usually an easy day for a Gratitude Attitude.

I get to see the Grands. How easy is that for Gratitude? I get to listen to the Grands babble all the way home about the wonders of the day. I get to teach the Grands piano. Every good boy does find… FACE! I get to be torn a half-a-dozen different ways as the Grands want me to see new favorite things or the new favorite power ranger on a poster or favorite American Girl doll (and accessories) in the Christmas catalog or the new chicken coop or the new addition to the clubhouse (that they made all by themselves).

Phew!

After piano lessons (and an impromptu composition by the Grandson that made this Grandma’s heart glad), while the Grandson was busy getting ready to go to the first practice of a new basketball team with Coach Dada and Sis, Grand daughter snuck me away to show off the new excitement outside. Chicken coop – check. Addition of a second floor to their stylin’ clubhouse – check. Conversation on the narrow, leaf-strewn, stump-laden path – – – priceless.

“The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them.”~Is 11:6

“Grandma, you sure do walk slow.”

“Yep. Old creaky, knees slow me down a bit.”

“Wow, I’m waiting and you still are behind me.”

“Don’t get smart, kid. I can only go as fast as the shovel.”

The shovel was my makeshift walking stick. It actually worked pretty well. But the best thing was Grand daughter turning around – waiting for me. At least three times on our short walk, she turned back to look at me with her smile in her eyes, her legs sticking through the giant holes in the knees of her pants – leaving her pant legs flapping in the wind at the back of her legs as she ran ahead of me in her polka-dotted rain boots.

It is the way of the best memories in this life. A simple day. A simple walk. A simple expression of love. A simple – priceless – treasure chest memory.

“I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.” ~Is 45:3

It is good on days like these to do a little “pondering”. To think about those riches we store away in our treasure chest. It is part of the Gratitude Attitude. Ponder. Wonder. Walk forward on that crazy path with a shovel as your staff and laughing in joy with the “Child” who is truly leading you.

Gratitude is like that. It is all in the Attitude.
Can you see Him?
The lamb and the lion by His side?
It is knowing He is there. Knowing that He is waiting for your slower steps to catch up. Joy in His eyes. Prayer shawl around His shoulders. Ready to take the shovel when it isn’t needed any more and that smile…..that smile in His eyes just for you.

 

It is all in the One leading the way down that path. The riches we gather on our way that have been stored in secret places just waiting for us to arrive –  gift from Him to all who choose to follow. Hearing Him call our name. Now that truly is the Gratitude Attitude that governs my life. Blessings!Be! 

“For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.”~Rm 8:14 

[google/Greg Olsen art]

GRATITUDE ATTITUDE 2017 #6

We have a cast iron pan that Hubby loves to use when he cooks breakfast. I have to admit, I love having him cook breakfast since I have never learned to cook eggs (mostly because I don’t like to eat eggs). Reality check – I don’t like any breakfast foods, so not having to think about cooking first thing in the morning makes me one happy camper. The main thing mom and I totally agreed on when I was a teenager was that Hostess cupcakes or ice cream make one terrific breakfast.

The unfortunate thing about cooking is that the pans do get dirty. We established early on in this retirement routine that Hubby would also clean said pan. I learned early on that greasy pans make scratchers get very dirty, not to mention germy and sticky, very quickly. Cleaning them was a pain until I discovered that Dawn dish soap works on scratchers just as well as it works in rescues of oily birds.

“Rejoice in our Lord always, and again I say, rejoice.”~Phil 4:4

Strange as it seems, my Gratitude Attitude started cropping up almost immediately this morning as I went about cleaning up the kitchen (after the “cook” semi-destroyed it) It seems only fitting that I clean when he cooks, so that is how I usually start my morning. It also gives me a chance to think. A chance to organize my day as I go about the mindless, busy work of wiping down the kitchen.

Liberally apply dish soap to scratcher, scrub the sink with it, and the dirty, greasy, germy stain on the scratcher has pretty much disappeared (as well as the dirty sink and counters). Never to be seen again. Well – – at least until breakfast tomorrow morning when the scratcher will be clean enough to help out in the kitchen once again.

“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”~Is 1:18

It “dawn”-ed on me this morning that there was a huge metaphor in today’s cleaning of the kitchen. A Gratitude Attitude. I just needed to “ferret” it out a little more fully. So here is what I discovered after a long day of messing with a frustrating dog brace and feeling my sinus cavities fill up with the impending cold front on its way. I am a scratcher in this life.

I am still meandering out of the pan into the fire occasionally. I don’t mean to do it, but sometimes that ol’ sin-nature gets the best of my intentions. When that happens, I get a little sooty and dirty – – again. Of course , at some point, I still try to grease my way out of it and whine deep in the heart of me with all sorts of excuses. Thus, my covering does show the wear and tear of multiple scrubbings over the years.

Lucky for me, I have a Savior who isn’t opposed to hugging a dirty scratcher close to his heart. His blood washing out the stains as He puts me back on the sink so I’m ready to help clean a few pans that He might need me to help Him with in this birth-pang filled world. Life is not easy. Kitchen cleaning is a chore I really don’t like. Yet – with the right Gratitude Attitude, I just may learn something new every time I do it.

“This is what the LORD Almighty says: “In those days ten people from all languages and nations will take firm hold of one Jew by the hem of his robe and say, ‘Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you.'”~Zech 8:23

I for one am grabbing on to the hem of this one Jew’s robe and shouting to the world, “Let me go with You, Yeshua Christus, because I know that you are the Son of God. Blessings!Be!nov 5 2017

PRAYING FOR PASTORS #9

“Every one who is called by My name, even for My honour I have created him, I have formed him, yea, I have made him.”~Is 43:7

There is something about a fall bouquet of flowers that makes me linger just a little longer as I add water – fuss a little more – breathe a little deeper the freshness that will soon be tucked back into the ground until spring’s warm breath softens the ground and a tiny shoot appears. It makes me wish I had just a little longer to sit on the swing and watch butterflies flit over the lantana as a silly kitten tries to catch them.

In Jewish tradition the High Holy Days are ending.  The new year has begun and even though the people are ready to get back to “life”, they linger – they sigh – they drag their feet.  After all, who ever wants to leave their Father’s presence and return to “normal”?  YHWH heard that silent whisper in their hearts and granted them one more holy day – a day to linger – a day to honor – a day to breathe their Father deeply into themselves – deeply enough to break through the crustiness of the days ahead that they might bloom in the fullness of His will.

And that is what I am praying over all pastors tonight.

I am praying in Yeshua’s name that as each day begins, pastors, their spouses, their families, their congregations (and me) all find time to remember that very first time when they chose to honor YHWH – to linger a little longer in His presence before beginning the day – to breathe even deeper the essence of the “Live-giver” as they head into daily life – to re-establish the very purpose which brought them to this path in the beginning – to pray continuously throughout the day – to laugh with loved ones and with the Father of us all as the sun begins to set – and to wish for just one more minute in prayer before the eyes drift into sleep once more.  

It is our purpose – our deepest desire – just one more minute – just one more chapter in the Book – just a little longer by the life-giving waters – just one more song sung in His presence – just a little more time to see clearly the path His Son showed us to walk – just a little more time for the sake of a few.  That is my prayer tonight for all of you – for our country – for our world – for me – so that someday we might all be able to repeat this verse as best we can – 

“I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.”~Jn 17:4