Tag Archives: Jesus

LENTEN INSIGHT 2019 #3

It has been a month since I have written. The words have been there. The thoughts. The dreams. The joyous bursts of creativity. But the fingers were stayed. For whatever reason – I found myself waiting. So – I waited. I waited some more. Waited for the special silence that always precedes the release of words. And still I waited.

Holy week. 
Palm Sunday
Maundy Thursday.
Good Friday.

A month ago, in one of my many thrift store meanderings, I found a Robert Shaw recording in conjunction with Ohio State University choirs. It was not one from when I was there, but the choral works on it spoke to me once again. The next day, I found myself sitting on the floor of my small utility closet as I pulled out all my classical CD’s. My school room filled with them as I worked. I began singing – not well – but nevertheless – with all my heart in the car on the way home. Finally, letting them filter through my prayers as I lay my head down.

“Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”~Lk 9:58

Two weeks later, I found myself walking through the door of a stately, city Methodist church. The steeple bell rang as I walked the sidewalk towards the church – just as they used to when I walked with my parents. Tears gathered in the corners of my eyes. I was not surprised. I needed the rituals. I needed the music. I needed to hear the oral readings of Psalms and “Our Father”. I needed to remember the community of my history. The birthplace of my faith – my youth – my maturity.

A touchstone of truth.

“Pilate said to him, “You are a King then?” Yeshua said to him,“You have said that I am a King. For this I was born and for this I have come into the world: to testify of the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.” Pilate said to him, “What is the truth?” ~Jn 18:37-38

It is Holy Week.
It is Good Friday.

On Maundy Thursday, I was going to go back to the Methodist church, but instead, I watched the Mass of the Basilica in DC and sang with choir during Holy Communion. Tonight, as I watched some of the Stations of the Cross in Rome, my thoughts focused and the fingers found their freedom. Then I turned on the “The Passion of the Christ”. It is always the last thing I want to do – ever. It is a hard movie to watch. I cry – often. And yet, it is the one thing thing I must do. I must remember the gift. I must honor the sacrifice that an earthly mother made in conjunction with the plan that a loving, heavenly Father made for all His children so long ago.

“There is no greater love than this: that a person would lay down his life for the sake of his friends.”~Jn 15:13

Today was a stormy day in NC. “The swirly winds came and the rain fell on us” as a poem from my high school days stated. I checked my plants. Pulled the flag in under the porch roof. Rubbed the dogs’ heads over and over as they stayed close by my side. Even the cat who has been standoffish all week has spent most of the night on my lap. The winds have quieted and while all three animals and hubby are sleeping in our small TV room, I am at peace.

The stone has covered the tomb, but Grace is about to blow away the cords that hold it closed.

Resurrection Day is coming.

“You are my friends if you will do all that I command you. No longer do I call you servants, because a servant does not know what his master does, but I have called you my friends, because all that I have heard from my Father, I have taught you.”~Jn 15:14-15

It has been an interesting month of being a learner again. Listening to the Teacher of Truth is never easy of me. I am – at this point in life – used to being the teacher in the room. I tend to want to control everything around me. Although – some of my oldest friends say that I have always had that “teacher attitude” – whatever that is. I’m still not sure where it is leading or what is on that path that seems to have very few mile markers. What I do know?

“You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you and I have appointed you so that you also will go bring forth fruit and your fruit will remain, so that all you will ask my Father in my name, he will give to you.These things I command you that you will love one another.”~Jn 15:16-17

 

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12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS: The Trinity

Tired. Enjoying. Expectant.

Words of the day. Flipped mattresses. Washed all the bedding from guest room and ours. Put a few more decorations away. Opened all the windows to air out the house…again (love 60’s on the first day of a new year). Sat outside and talked with an old friend while I enjoyed our patio swing. Roughed out a rough lesson plan for Friday’s library lesson. And – – – tried to absorb a bunch of wisdom from looking back over the “past”year, set some goals for the “future” year and really – really – just enjoyed this “present” of this holiday.

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”~Matt 6:33

This is the verse of my new year. Writing it huge and posting it in my closet and on my bathroom mirror. Taping it to the dashboard in my car and on my desk at school Maybe – I’ll even make it my screen saver on my phone and computer. My overall intention is to read it aloud at least 3 three times a day and write it in my heart at least three times a day.

A verse created in the past. Chosen in the present. Blessing my future.

A Trinity.

In folk wisdom, three is that magic number: 

“Third time’s the charm…”
“Rule of three…” 
“Three sheets to the wind…”
“As phoney as a three dollar bill…”
“Three stooges…” 
(Well – maybe that last one is a stretch.)

In the spatial world, we see in height, depth, width. In the material world, we see gas, liquid, solid. In the temporal world, we have three frames of time: past, present, future. In the educational world, we learn the 3 R’s. In Jewish tradition many important events occur on the third day. In Christianity, the third day was the day of GRACE. In the Spiritual world, “GOD in three persons, Blessed Trinity” (love that hymn).

The Father.
The Son.
The Holy Ghost.

The Trinity is sometimes debated since it is never referred to by that name in the Bible. But there are several verses that speak it to my heart. Verses where all three are working together to achieve His Salvation Plan for all of us. I particularly feel it when I read this: Lk 1:35: “The angel answered, The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.”

In any case – that is where I am tonight: tired, enjoying, expectant.

“On the 7th day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me…” A Trinity – – – the Way, the Truth and the Life.  (Hmmmm….funny…Jesus gave us another list of those pesky three’s.)

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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.    

THE CHRISTMAS BELL

In the past couple of months, we’ve started this thing on Sunday morning. The Hubby gets up and starts a fire in the patio wood stove. The daughter brings her family for breakfast. And me? Well – I manage to roll out of bed a few minutes before they arrive and start my portion of whatever kind of the breakfast meal is on the agenda. And if I am really on my game, I set out some kind of craft on Saturday night for the kids to work on while they wait for breakfast to finish up. Last week it was looking through circulars and making wish lists.

Today – – – it was THE CHRISTMAS BELL.

Not sure when we started the Christmas Bell tradition, but I’m pretty sure we were still living in Killbuck, and it took both me and Grandma Mickey to help get the kids’ bells done. Where the idea came from?? I have no clue, but it might have been a suggestion from one of the teachers I worked with at West Holmes or something that I read – somewhere. All I really know is that the tradition continued through our many Perrysville homesteads and on into NC.

Christmas music playing on the record player, cassette tape, CD or radio. A plain paper bell waiting to be decorated. A short poem that the kidlets would trace or copy or write (and that grown kidlets can still recite today). A paper chain of whatever paper we could scrounge up. Bouncing kids squabbling over scissors, crayons, markers, glitter, tape, glue, etc. And finally – a couple of tired parents or Grandma Mickey who all had love lights in their eyes at night as they tucked those kidlets into bed “after prayers had been said”.

Traditions are special. Whether it is Sunday morning breakfasts or pigroasts or family reunions or Christmas Bells…traditions carry much more than just the activity. Jewish traditions suggest that way, way back in time, Adam sat down and noticed that the days were growing shorter after he and Eve were kicked out of the garden. He prayed and fasted wondering if there would continue to be light in the world after choosing to eat that one piece of fruit. However with time, he noticed God started lengthening the days. His prayers had been answered.

Light Be!

Throughout Jewish history, God continued to bring light to the darkening world. Moses noticed the burning bush. Moses brought down Light from Mt. Sinai. The Macabees, after being lost in the darkness of their culture for many years, found one blessed oil container that miraculously remained untouched, and it supplied light in the temple for 8 days instead of one. A baby boy born on a dark night in a tiny stable with a dirt floor and laid in a manager.

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”~ Matt 5:17

Hanukkah was a relatively new festival when Jesus was walking this earth. Yet, it was a festival that he would have honored during his time as a man. His own words continue to push us to notice all the times God has put His Light in front of us – IF – we just notice.

Adam noticed more light.
Moses noticed the burning bush.
When Moses brought the Jewish people to Mount Sinai, they noticed the fire and the shaking of the earth.
The shepherds and wisemen noticed the Light in the sky and followed it.

We just have to notice. We don’t have to find reasons or logic to explain the miraculous, we just have to notice its existence and praise God for reminding us that He always provides the Light to our the darkness. Faith mixed with a simple action of “thanks” thins the veil between earth and heaven just a little more, and we can almost feel the touch of His hand as He covers us with His love.

“For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”~Matt 5:18-20

A good way to start the first day of Hanukkah and the first Sunday of Advent as we notice Our Father continuing to add Light back in our world of darkness.

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A STIFF-NECKED, STUBBORN SOUL

For a couple of years when I was in college, I sang in a choir for the High Holy Days at a nearby Jewish synagogue. It was there that I made the connection that Jesus – Yeshua – was a Jewish rabbi. It’s not that I hadn’t been told that – after all it is in the gospels. He was called, “Rabbi”, and I’m sure that at some point, one of my pastors or teachers must have mentioned it. But it took a Rosh Hashanah and the 10 days to Yom Kippur to make it sink in through my stiff-neck, stubborn self. 
Day after day as I walked into the synagogue and listened to the rituals that had been passed down through the ages, my  eyes opened a little wider and I began to wonder about things that had never entered my thick skull before.
“Sing to the Lord a new song,
for he has done marvelous things;
His right hand and his holy arm
have worked salvation for him.
The Lord has made his salvation known
and revealed his righteousness to the nations.
He has remembered his love
and his faithfulness to Israel;
all the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation of our God.” Ps 98:1-4
 
It was the first time I heard a shofar. The first time I heard the Jewish language. The first time I saw Jewish words in print. The first time I tried to look through the eyes of the Jewish worldview at the Savior that I had fallen in love with long ago..
 
Jewish oral tradition believes that Tishri 1 – this head of the year – was the day people were created. It continues that this was also the day that Abraham’s Sarah became pregnant, and a few years later – the day when Issac was bound to be offered as a sacrifice. It was only after God provided a sacrifice to replace Issac that He created the first two shofroth from the horns of that sheep. It would serve as a loud testimony down through the ages of His love and faithfulness to all His people.  
 
The LORD remembered His love for His people. The LORD made His salvation known to all the ends of the earth with the sound of the horns. Just as the Father breathed life into His child, man breaths life into the sofar as The Feast of the Trumpets rings throughout the land. 
 
“with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn—
shout for joy before the Lord, the King.” Ps 98:6
 
Many continue to use the 10 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur as a period of fasting and reflection. A time to look back, and a time to look forward A time to throw out failures and a time to draw a new vision. A time to mourn over foolishness, and a time to sing over successes. A time to look within, and a time to look up to the One who breathed life into clay and continues to love unconditionally.
 
A couple years back, for each of the 10 days of High Holy Days, a question was posed on an electronic billboard in Times Square in NYC. Questions meant to encourage contemplation for the new year to anyone who read them . I don’t know what those questions were, but I do wonder as I start to formulate my own journey for these next 10 days. After all, Jesus honored, as was His habit, His Father’s commands in Leviticus 23 as He walked this earth. It just might do some good for this stubborn, stiff-necked soul as well.
 
“Let the sea resound, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it.
Let the rivers clap their hands,
let the mountains sing together for joy;
Let them sing before the Lord,
for he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
and the peoples with equity.” Ps 98:7-9 

 

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BREADCRUMBS: Go

Jesus said, “Go!”
My preacher’s sermon last night said, “Go!”
Today’s devotions said, “Go!”
The last thing I felt like doing today was – you guessed it – 
GO!

Occasionally when you have severe sinus problems, the world has a tendency to spin a little when you open your eyes. Then the choice is 1) spend the rest of the day either in the doctor’s office; 2) use some homeopathic techniques; 3) wait it out, move slowly and take sitting-up naps off and on all day and 4) don’t put in your mono-vision contacts for the day – after all the brain has enough things to sort through without adding something else into the mix.

Have no fear. If the world is seriously spinning, I get someone to trot me off to the doctor’s office pretty quick. Today, however, was definitely a #2, #3, and #4 kinda day. Boring. Sedentary. And definitely – not a “Go” type of day.

I did convince the brain to “Go” and read devotions. It was not impressed in the morning, but by the afternoon, the brain had re-gained enough of its equilibrium to enjoy the irony of the lessons and help me focus my prayers a little more tightly.

“One sometimes has to go against his or her nature to dig into the dark trenches of life. One has to be willing to lose everything in order to gain what GOD has shaped them for, because there’s a cost to the things that matter most in life and it in that sacrifice that we find our true treasure.” When Calls the Heart, Season 1, Ep 2.

You know God is seriously winking hard at you when He sends His message again through a TV show – just to make sure you heard Him the first couple of times.

David was still just a youngster when God said, “Go!” He took the things that he trusted and the wisdom gained as a shepherd, carrying food from his father and went – lots of not-so-hidden metaphors there. Went against the advice of his older brothers. Went against the laughter trying to shift the sand under his feet. Went into “the dark trench” of a giant’s shadow.

That’s what faith can do. More times than I can list in a short blog – 
God said to Abraham – “Go!”
God said to Moses – “Go!”
God said to Esther – “Go!”
God said to Mary – “Go!”
God said to Jesus – “Go!” 
Jesus told the disciples – “Go!”
Jesus tells us – “Go!”

“Go!” is different for each of us.

Today, I know there was a reason, I woke up with the world spinning. I also know that there is a reason that God is saying “Go!” So I will do a couple more homeopathic stretches of my sinuses. Drink some more water and probably sleep in my recliner just to do my best on this side.

Later, as I prepare to whisper my good-night prayers, I will pray His words back to Him and focus on “Go!” I need to wink back at Him just as broadly to let Him know that I got His not-so-subtle message. 
No more procrastinating. 
No more excuses. 
Time to face the dark ttrenches.
Time to find my treasure in Him. 
Time to “Go!”

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”~Mk 16:15

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BREADCRUMBS: Lessons

My itchy ankle wouldn’t let me sleep last night. I think it is poison ivy that one of my lovely critters decided to share with me when she cuddled between my feet and rubbed her head against them. I figured going to church was not happening since anything touching it would result in lots of fidgeting and squirming.

I could handle this. A day of rest. A day of rest at home.

Earlier today, I was half listening to a newscast, half listening to a loud snuffling puppy (who is the above said cuddler), half listening to mumbling sounds coming out of the kitchen, and half reading an on-line devotional. Obviously – that meant I was only retaining about one fourth of any of it- – -if I was lucky. Quite a large amount of something was getting lost in the boggle of my synapses.

The mumbler was cooking breakfast and pointed out that the porch needed to be cleaned off so we could paint before the rain arrived. Upon looking out the window and seeing very dark clouds above our neighbors’ roof lines, I decided I should get that done. Turned off TV. Comforted snuffling puppy. Moved one half of million things off the part of the porch to be stain/painted and find new homes for the other half million things.

So much for a day of rest – – – scratching my ankle every step of the way – – – I found lessons waiting instead.

“Blessed is he that mourn for he shall be comforted.”~Matt 5:4

A couple hours later, that Beatitude is about as much as I remembered from today’s early morning devotional, but it set the stage. GOD is good that way. Breakfast completed. Kitchen cleaned. Hubby busy stain/painting porch floor; I squirreled back in my chair and turned on the TV to listen to our church service. Today’s service was a celebration service, but as always, God was winking as He stringing the pearls of lessons in front of me today.

Lesson One: It is easy to mourn in this world. A lot of sad things happen to us that makes us sad, and this beatitude reminds us that it is such a blessing to know that we will be comforted in our sadness. At least – that is the way I mostly looked at it. But if this is an attitude we should have in Christ, why are we supposed to mourn? The devotional looked at it in a broader sense. What if we mourn in the way Jesus mourned for the world around him? Mourned the way He knows the Father mourns for all of us – all of His creation? If we mourn for someone, then we have the ability to offer comfort to them…to pray for them…to put our arms around them in prayer – if not in actual physicality.

Mourn for others.

“Behold, I stand at the door and I shall knock. If a man listens to my voice and will open the door, I also shall come in and I shall have supper with him, and he with me.”~Rev 3:20

Lesson Two: Baby steps are so important. Today’s church was dedicated to the church’s missions work in prison ministries and addiction ministries. So many testimonies. So many who were “mourned over” and comforted. A men’s choir that was more off key than on, and yet, was more beautiful than any choir I have ever heard. Men who had chosen to open the door when they heard a knock. One man described His voice asking one question? “Have you fallen enough yet?” He replied, “You mean I can fall further?” He said it didn’t take him very long to open the door wide and ask Him inside.

Invite Jesus in. He’s still knocking.

“For David served the will of God in his generation and he fell asleep and was added to his fathers ..”~Act 13:36a.

Lesson Three: As I was reading Rick Warren’s tribute to Rev. Billy Graham, I started to see a message repeated. It ended up coming at me from three different directions (our church offered the visual version and Dr. David Jeremiah cited the same verse today as well), and whenever that happens – I know God is winking as broadly as He can for me to notice.

These three pastors were preaching virtually the same sermon. I think Pastor Warren simplified it the best by defining it as his own life verse which, of course, got me thinking some more. The more I thought, the more I could see the value of looking at my life through this verse as well: “…serving God’s purpose (that what is timeless) in your generation,(in a timely way)”.

Inviting Jesus into my life. Mourning for those around me. Living a life through Jesus’s eyes with God’s reflection [purpose] in mine.

Lessons are a goal. I will probably fail the test more than I pass it before I get to look into My Father’s face through the Grace of Christ. Even so, I know He loves my heart – just like He loved David’s heart. One lesson at a time.

Thanks be to Father God that hears our prayers, mourns with us, comforts us, and dreams our dreams with us to His glory. Baruch Hashem Adonai. Hear O Israel the LORD our GOD is one. You shall love the L-rd your G‑d with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might. The second is liken unto it: Love your neighbor as yourself. In the name of His precious son, Yeshua, we pray. 

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BREADCRUMBS: Prayer Call

In the middle of the TV blaring, the computer discussions, dogs barking or snoring or rubbing against my feet, kitty kneading the blanket in my chair between me and the arm – – – in all that craziness – – – a Bible verse pops into my mind.

It is like bits and pieces of song that I know and yet – – don’t know well enough.I have sung them, but am just figuring out how to sing them back to Him. Slowly – I’ve been working on this. Writing them on cards. Hanging them in my prayer closet. Listening to them on my CD player. Reading them over and over. Incorporating them into my prayers songs.

“Remember your congregation [people] which you have possessed [called] from the first, and you have saved, the tribe of your inheritance, this Mount Zion [Jerusalem] in which you have dwelt.”~Ps 74:2

Tonight it was this one. “Remember your people…” I never remember the reference (I’m working on this as well), so I look it up. The my internal voice is silent now, but the nudge is not. “Pray.”
My internal voice awakens with questions – “What? Now? Here?”
“Pray”
“But – “ My internal dialogue slows, and I begin to pray. People I know that need prayer covering. Prayers for our country. Prayers for the world. Unspokens that touch the heart but not the lips. There is no chaos now. Only the words of the verse and the call.
“Pray”

When the nudge quiets and tears dry, I feel sad. I miss it already. Normal returns while chaos shakes my world with distractions that are way too loud. Then I feel bad because I did not leave this chaos around me and go to my closet when the nudge came. Yet – I know He doesn’t care. He called me where I was. He hears our prayers wherever we are. He speaks and listens in whatever language we speak. In the precious name of Jesus the prayers continue to circle in time for a reason beyond me. It is enough, It is more than enough.

“How precious is your unfailing love, O God!
All humanity finds shelter in the shadow of your wings.
You feed them from the abundance of your own house,letting them drink from your river of delights.
For you are the fountain of life,the light by which we see.
Pour out your unfailing love on those who love you;
give justice to those with honest hearts.”~Ps 36:7-9

Prayer calls are given everyday to everyone. It is a matter of recognizing the nudge – – – recognizing the voice – – -recognizing the choice to humble ourselves – – listen to His WORD – – turn away from worldly chaos – – and know that He hears our prayer, He heals our land, and in Jesus’a name, He forgives our sin. A day of thanksgiving. A day of Prayer Call. 

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BREADCRUMBS: Dust Motes

Once upon a time in a the far away land of childhood, I sat on a folding chair on a hot summer night. Sawdust clung to my white socks. Patent leather shoes covered with clumps of dust. Mom on one side. Dad on the other.

“Clouds are the dust of His Feet
and watching the evening sky
I chuckled to think, “Now neat. 
God just passed by.”

A man sang. A choir sang. We sang. A man spoke. I fell asleep in my daddy’s lap. My long hair not in its usual ponytail, but loose and sticking to me and to my dad. Later, cradled in my father’s arms, the talking man greeted us and pushed a strand of hair out of my sleepy eyes. His smile bright enough to see the dust motes circling in the lights from the tent as we walked into the darkness towards the car.

Yet something happened that night. Something that caused me to bury that visual memory deep in “never-to-be-forgotten” files. Sometimes, I think it was the breeze that seemed to filter through the open sides of the tent. Sometimes I think it was watching my feet swing back and forth as we waited for people to finish filing into the seats around us. Sometimes I think it was just hearing the voices of my parents in my ears. But most of the time, I think it was the voice and the smile of Rev. Billy Graham, the man who spoke that night.

“Dust my soul tonight
Earth has been dear
Bewildered, I come to You,
Father God, hear.”

Back in 1994 my mom, retired for 8 years, was still traveling around to sing in various choirs. Most of all, she loved singing in the massive choirs of the Billy Graham gatherings. Columbus or Cleveland. Didn’t matter. She was off, singing and loving every minute of it. Big crowds were never my thing, so I never went with her. I think the small tent revival won my heart forever. To this day, I do regret that I never went with her when she asked.

It was 1994, when I bought my mom a book of poetry. She was the first one to teach me to love poetry and reading. Sitting on her lap, listening to the rhythm of the words harmonized to the beating of her heart was heaven. Dad followed right behind her because he would sing me to sleep; the lyrics touching my eyelids softly until sleep was too hard to resist. I didn’t realize it at the time, but later, I read the poetry my dad had written to mom when they were high school sweethearts. No wonder I love to read and write the stuff.

“And He, 
through the echoing of my empty 
heart,
replied,
‘I shall be waiting for you
at the very spot
you left my side.’ “

The poetry book was written by Ruth Bell Graham called, Clouds are the Dust of His Feet. Marked with sticky notes, Mom kept it by her side until she developed Macular Degeneration. Later when she moved to the nursing home, it was on her bedside table with her Bible. And occasionally – once in a great while – we would read together again.

“When the butterfly escapes 
its chrysalis,
does regret
set in?”

Dust motes are almost invisible. Unless the light hits them just right or get some in an eye, we walk right through them and never notice. Sometimes, I think of my memories like that. They are dust motes. Floating. Drifting. Circling. They exist.They are right there within reach. Yet somehow, we just ignore them until something highlights them in such a way that we remember.

His Light highlighted certain dust motes for me this week. Rev. Billy Graham went home. He got to see his wife, loved ones, and the faces he longed to see the most – the Father and His Son, Jesus. It makes me wonder how it all works. I wonder if there is an announcement made before hand in heaven so that all the loved ones can gather or do they just know? I wonder what is like to see the face of Our Father and Yeshua, our LORD? I’ve re-read the words that Ruth wrote to Billy “a day or two” before they were married and wonder about their reunion?

I wonder and wonder and wonder, and I am oh-so thankful. Thankful for dust motes created by two people I never truly knew, but who changed my life in so many ways. Someday, I hope to find them in heaven and say thank you for being dust motes in my life. And just maybe – Mom, Dad and I can sing to them, “Just as I am…”

“I’ll be a bride – –
your bride, dear – –
in just a day or two.
There’ll be white
and a long veil
(like mist)
to see up through.
There’ll be flowers,
and music, 
and after our vows,
a prayer,
and after the prayer
your firm, sweet kiss,
and people everywhere.
There will be rice in showers,
perhaps a can or two.
Distance then
and darkness,
and then
there’ll be you!”

[Poetry by Ruth Bell Graham, Clouds are the Dust of His Feet and Footprints of a Pilgrim

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BREADCRUMBS: Going Deep

Shadow-Spooky-Sparkle is 9 months old. At least – that is the educated guess of our vet. She was a ball of fluff when she came to live with us, and for the longest couple of weeks in history, she pretty much lived deep in the crook of my arm,

With matted eyes, runny nose and only able to eat soft foods, I really didn’t think she would make it. What can I say? God is good and now, she is our totally pampered cat that thinks she is human…….or a dog. It depends on the day and how tolerant our Ryndi and Koay are feeling that day.

SSS knows some words. She comes when she is called – even though she tries to be totally cool about it. She meanders instead of running like our lab girls (who are totally not cool about anything). She knows the word “no”. And – – ta da – – she knows how to go deep when she wants to get something. 
Deep under chairs. 
Deep into the crevices. 
Deep into the darkness where mice like to scurry. 
Two days..
Two mice.
Granted – they were baby mice – but they were two baby mice that will not grow up; two baby mice that I didn’t have to catch, so I’m totally down with that.

Needless to say, SSS (btw – that is sssssssss, for short) got a bunch of hugs and an extra dash of tuna in her bowl on both nights. (A part of me thinks she read my FB post from last Friday when I said she didn’t know how to really catch a squirrel.) She figured out something I am just figuring out. When we go deep – when we burrow into things – into deep waters – into deep crevices – into the deep of night – we will find the amazing at the WORD of the LORD .

“And when he had ceased speaking, he said to Simon, “Take to the DEEP and cast your nets for a catch.” Simon answered and he said to him, “Rabbi, we worked all night, and we have not caught anything, but AT YOUR WORD, I will cast the net.” [all caps added]

I love the way Luke sets up this story. You can see Simon (Shimeon in Aramaic) tired after a long frustrating night of catching zilch, gets out of mending nets with the other fishermen to take this wandering rabbi out in his boat. The rabbi teaches, Simon catches a few z’s, and then, the crazy rabbi tells him to go deeper out into the water. You can just tell, that is absolutely the last thing Simon wants to do after being awake all night and catching nothing.

“And when they had done this, they caught very many fish and the net was breaking. And they beckoned to their partners who were in another ship to come help them and when they came they filled those two ships, so that they were almost sinking. And when Simon saw it, he fell before the feet of Yeshua and he said to him, “I beg you, my Lord, abandon me, for I am a sinner.”~Lk 5:6-9, Aramaic Bible

With a little foreshadowing, Luke describes Rabbi Jesus pushing Simon to stay awake a little longer and go deeper. 
Deeper in the water. 
Deeper in the WORD. 
Deeper in his own heart. 
Deeper to find the true rewards of a journey.
And what a treasure was found in those deep waters. 
Boats-full of fish.
Lost souls.
Deep joy – love – peace – grace – beyond all understanding.

Going deep is often scary. When I was little, I took swimming lessons. The red cross at our local dam said I was ready to go deep. So I swam out to the raft and dived into the water. The bad news? I dived off the raft and came up under the raft and knocked myself out. Scared everyone there – including my mom who swam out as soon as she couldn’t see me.

My parents didn’t let me quit. They kept pushing me to go back to that deep water in the succeeding days, and I eventually got my swimming certificate. I never did like deep water after that. (which was totally the wrong way to look at it). After all these years, I have figured out that it wasn’t going deep that was the problem. It was the stuff on the surface that “cracked” me open.

Going deep – beyond the surface of things – opens a heart – a mind – to things that aren’t obvious from the top.

“Do not be afraid; from now on, you will be catching men for salvation.” And they brought those ships to land, and they left everything and they came after him.”~Lk 5:10-11

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