Tag Archives: Jesus

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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BREADCRUMBS: Little Things

For the past few months, we have not been able to figure out why the dogs go crazy when we let them out at night. They run into the side yard and start barking. The youngster, torn ACL completely forgotten, runs into the woods and comes back with the biggest smile on her face.

One of my friends came over last night and as we sat outside, kitties started appearing at our feet. One, two, three – We petted them and enjoyed their company as we talked. Later, I remained outside for a little bit and started counting again. There was a herd of kitties.

Our yard was a kitty amusement park.

You see – I haven’t taken down my last Christmas light that shines into our woods. It is one of those star projectors with dancing red and green lights. They roam all over the trees, bushes, shed and grass right off our porch. Hubby and I enjoy watching those silly lights bounce around. Apparently, the kitties do, too.

So last night, I spent some time watching kitties run hither and yon while pouncing on every light they could see. Laughter gurgled. I closed my eyes and let the little kitties tamp down the sadness of our broken world and resurrect that peace that the Shepherd always brings.

It is in the little things, right?

“He made everything beautiful in its time.”~Ecc 3:11

Prayer doesn’t come easy for me. Since I was little, I haven’t felt like I am good at it. My mind skips around to everything under the sun except being still. It even as the audacity to yak at me when I already told it a thousand time to shut up because I need to listen. Even after reading tons of – alright – maybe not tons – – but quite a few – devotionals on how to pray, I still end up with a stumbling tongue and a frustrated head.

It is then – in that choice moment – that I start giving thanks.

Thanks for a stumbling tongue that makes me work a little harder. 
Thanks for role models in my life who can string pearls as they pray. 
Thanks for the WORD who lifts me up from my bruised knees by His grace. 
Thanks to the Holy Spirit who groans – probably with a chuckle at how often she has to jump in for me – speaking the words I cannot find. 
Thanks for a millisecond of quiet from my brain every now and then when I can hear My Shepherd call my name. 
Thanks for a Savior who carved my true name in the palm of His hand and cradles me when there is sadness beyond explanation.

Thanks for the little things.

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”~Phil 4:6-9 

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BREADCRUMBS II

“Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me…” ~Jn 11:41b-42a

Sleeping-in on a dreary, rainy morning, picking up the novel of dujour, and snuggling under the covers has always been one of my favorite things to do. It just such a rarity these days that it has become a treasure chest memory of days long gone bye-bye.

First off, it is Sunday. I didn’t need to be sleeping in today. I needed to be up for church this morning. Didn’t happen. Instead my internal alarm clock that usually wakes me 15 minutes before I need to be awake, didn’t go off in my head until an hour and a half later. sigh.

Second, the book dujour that always has rested by my side during the night has been replaced by bouncy, smiley dogs. Dogs that are generally staring at me, tongues out, warm, smelly breath in my face, ready to drag me from sound sleep into their active world before I have even whispered my morning prayers.

In other words, my day didn’t go as I planned. So I do what I tend to do when things go awry, I followed the breadcrumbs. Went to my church via internet and worshiped with the people I usually worship with – only from my recliner. In fact, I could even share my pastor’s sermon with you tonight via YouTube. We live in amazing technological times even though the world often seems darker than ever before – literally and figuratively.

Later in the day, I followed the breadcrumbs back to John 11 as I have done most of this week. The last time I wrote, Jesus wept. He wept with compassion for Martha and Mary’s sorrow. He wept for Lazarus who had lain entombed for the past four days . He wept for His people who needed grace; grace that only He would provide. He wept as the foreshadowing covered them all in front of the tomb.

Then, He prayed.

A simple prayer. “Abba, I thank You that You have heard me…” Then in the same poor in spirit attitude that he taught in the beginning of his ministry, he continued his prayer. A prayer that was filled with faith in his Father’s love and mercy. “And I know that you always hear me, but for the sake of this crowd that is standing here I said these things, that they may believe that you have sent me.” ~v.42

Today, the breadcrumbs led me to see the full circle of Rabbi Yeshua’s prophecy from the beginning of chapter 11, “This sickness is not of death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified because of it.” ~v. 4, to Lazarus walking out of the tomb.

And then – – why am I surprised??? – – another breadcrumb appears on my path. God is good and loves to drop breadcrumbs on my path, which is really great since I would be way overwhelmed with a full loaf of bread dropped under my feet.

In any case, my pastor was really stringing pearls today from OT to NT and back again. As he spoke, the treasure chest of memories opened up. Singing this blessing in my church choir – in my high school choir – with the All Ohio Youth Choir – with my college choir – on the marching band bus – on choir tour buses – in cathedrals – under bridges – small groups – large groups – mixed quartets – college party nights under the stars (seriously – that’s the kind of parties I went to in college – and yes, in all other ways it was a typical college party from the 70’s)…

God blessed me many times over today, and more than I deserved. Such is grace. I am so glad this day didn’t go as I had originally planned. God always does a much better job in the planning department.

‘ “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” ’Num 6:24-26

BREADCRUMBS I

“Jesus wept.”~Jn 10:35

It is the shortest verse in the Bible and yet…it catches my breath every time I read it.

God wept.

I’ve been thinking of the story of Lazarus all week. It seems Our Father does this to me often. He plops breadcrumbs down in front of my feet – like I’m supposed to know what to do with them.

Eat them? Follow them?

Obviously, I don’t handle His hints very well. Sometimes, I crush them – mostly by accident…..I think – with the heel of my boots. Sometimes, I stoop down to study them where they are lying, wondering if I really want to deal with the mess of breadcrumbs in my pocket – you know – they crumble, right? Sometimes, I pick them up – popping them in my mouth – – duh, I’m hungry and the five second rule works for me. And sometimes – I pick them up and turn them carefully in my hands and wonder why they sparkle in the sun? Then I wonder just what in the world am I supposed to do with a sparkly breadcrumb?

It has been one of those weeks. The breadcrumbs have been plentiful – way more than I can handle – and I’ve been befuddled on what to do with all of them. My path littered with crumbs I’ve inadvertently crushed. My belly full of broken challa that feeds my soul. My pockets, a crumbly mess of wisdom that I wish I understood just a little more. My hands full of somewhat intact crumbs that sparkle and then I look up. The darkness thins, and He shows me why they sparkle. They are covered with tears.

As I’ve been reading Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus by Lois Tverberg which led me at some point to the story of Lazarus. As if to drive the point home, I stumbled over to a podcast by a Messianic Rabbi on John Chapter 11. Till finally last night, there was a transforming catalyst of the breadcrumbs and that sent me to the back door slider in our home. A sunset. A ray of light reflecting off my tears. He always prepares me, I just am not so smart at realizing it until I look closely at those breadcrumbs that I hold tenderly in my hand.

Rabbi Yeshua was close to His followers and even closer to His disciples. He was their teacher for as long as He was given. His Father gave him a list, and He gathered them by calling their name or telling a story or by just a look over a crowd. He broke bread with them. He taught them with love. He patiently explained this new knowledge in different ways, over and over and over. He struggled when they struggled with their faith. He wept when they wept for great was His compassion – – – great was His love.

In our society, students don’t stay as long with their teachers as they did in Jesus’ time. However, like the rabbis of old, teachers today still share tiny bits of their lives, knowledge – and hopefully – wisdom with those given to their charge by the Father through a list typed out by the school secretary in some office. Before they know it though, the students are walking out the door and onto their own paths; their teachers sniffle a little as they wave good-bye.

As teachers, we don’t talk about it much. We act like it is just a job. Actually, I don’t think we understand the process as much as we think we do. We just know – that somehow – we grew attached. We gathered them at the beginning of the year. We broke bread with them. We laughed with them. Struggled with them in their struggles. We sweated in the heat of the summer that didn’t know when to quit. We froze in the depth of winters when old boilers couldn’t keep up with the below-freezing cold. We wept when the ugliness of life jumped out of the bushes and unto the path that we are walking together.

Overdoses.

Vehicle crashes.

Storms that break tree limbs.

Illnesses.

A national tragedy – a local tragedy – a familial tragedy.

The connection between teachers and students has been there since the beginning of time and will continue in the everlasting gospel (Rev 14:6). It has been modeled for us throughout the entire WORD. When Our Father gathered His people to Him. When He sat on Mount Sinai with Moses and the Elders to break bread (Ex 24:9-10). When He carved His law upon the tablets and told Moses what to write in the Torah (Ex 19-24). He struggles with His people when they struggle. He weeps with holy tears as His people weep (Jer 14:7).

Teachers – Students – breadcrumbs that sparkle with tears in every season of life. God is good and greatly to be praised. Amen and amen.

 

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