Tag Archives: Matthew

PANDEMIC VISION 2020: Perfect

All social-distancing right now is actually social-togetherness: keeping our distance from each other is the gift we give each other to get through this together. And staying home and staying flat on our faces in prayer is what can flatten this curve.” Ann Voskamp

Blessed beyond measure is the only way I can describe it.

Spring flowers bring…allergies for me. Especially – as one grows older. Never had allergies growing up. Never worried about what food I ate or what weeds were in bloom – until a tiny bug bit me and turned my immune system upside down. Suddenly, spring and fall were not my “perfect” seasons, and I discovered that I was more like my mother than I thought.

Allergies blossomed in my life and show up regularly.

Now taking after my mother is not a bad thing. Everyone loved her including me. She could sing, tell jokes and whistle tunes loud enough for me to find her wherever she might be working. But – she also had allergies. I can remember her sitting at her vanity sniffing penicillin on a pretty regular basis. (I think I’m glad I never had to do that.)

When the world shuts down – – – is exactly when our thanksgiving needs to rise up.” ibid A.V.

For the past few years when ever fall or spring start blowing through the neighborhood, my sinuses start wanting to blow back. Worse – it usually turns into a bronchitis presentation of coughing and wheezing and sniffling and tossing and turning and whining and fevers and doctor visits.

Ugh!

This spring – praise the LORD – I have only had a stopped up left ear. No fever. No coughing. No wheezing. Perhaps a little whining and tossing and turning – after all – going from stereo to monophonic is a wee bit disturbing. Put off calling the doctor until it was really stupid on my part. (“Stupid, stupid, stupid,” as my mom used to say to herself or the TV.)

Good news?

Didn’t have to go to the doctor or anywhere near the hospital in these chaotic times. Got my meds at my drive thru pharmacy. Took a couple naps. Still blowing my nose. Still waiting with lots of thanksgiving for my ear to pop open. But mostly – – –

“Praising my Savior all the day long….”

“Pursue the things which make the peace and the building up of one another.” Rm 14:19

As I was thinking about all of this today, this thought kept repeating itself. Even in the tiniest of potential problems, Our Father knows and provides for His people way beyond what we can conceive. It may not always (or in my case – hardly ever) be the way we think it will be, but it is always perfect – at the perfect time – in the most perfect of ways.

Today was perfect.

I may not hear in stereo yet. I may not feel like mowing the yard yet. I may not even feel like going outside to walk the dogs yet. But it was perfect and full of His perfect words comforting me and nudging me forward. I am in awe of the way He loves me. Can I do anything less than to pay it forward and love those He has placed in my circle?

This is the perfect time to unite. The perfect time to bless each other with our words – even from a good distance away. The perfect time to not jab at others who don’t agree with me, but to find the things we hold in common. The perfect time to pray for my President, my congressmen, my civic leaders who are struggling, making mistakes, but trying their best. The perfect time to find solitude in isolation. The perfect time to bless others with His peace and love in anyway we can. The perfect time to stay home “… flat on our faces in prayer…[and] flatten this curve.”

Perfect – just as Yeshua Mashiach, the Holy Spirit and Our Father are.

“Be therefore perfect, just as your Father who is in Heaven is perfect.” Matt 5:48 


Blessings!Be!

VISION 2020: Best of Times

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” Charles Dickens, Tale of Two Cities

In 1859, Charles Dickens wrote a story. A story of civil war. Long ago – in 1969, I read that story again. A story that I had read first as a sophomore in high school but didn’t absorb. It was a country far away. A different culture. A country divided. I didn’t think much of it. When I re-read it, I had change. I had been quarantined to my home after a week spent in the hospital.  A week I don’t remember much about except one imprinted image of my daddy kneeling by my beside.  Mom told me later that they did that night after night. I had a bad case of mono that changed my journey. 

I think that is where we are now.  The world’s journey has changed.

When things weigh on my mind, i generally start reading – lots and lots and lots. Different genres. Different biases. Different forms of wisdom that circle and start to form a picture in my mind. A picture that I pray over and begin to look for confirmation from the Spirit that it is His wisdom that I am absorbing.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jer 29:11

I have read too many articles to count since last Sunday night, but a couple have stuck with me. Two of them just happened to be written by Jewish rabbis. (I think I’ve said it before – but I don’t believe in coincidences)

One compared this time-out-of-time experience – this Pandemic 2020 – as a time-out. A time-out allowed by a Father who has seen His children struggling. A Father who loves His children so much that He knows they need a Sabbath rest – times of quiet – times away from the normal – times to re-think their journey- times to see what is right in front of their face – times to open their eyes and ears to what they have been given – times to seek the path to the Tree of Life that has been there since the beginning but has been cluttered by the dirt and grime of human life.

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” Matt 6:25-26

The other article had nothing whatsoever to do with the Pandemic, but was all about the cherubs who guard the way to the Tree of Life. I’m still not sure how those two separate ideas are meshing together in my head, but something is still swirling them around together. I think I know what wisdom it is pointing out in my journey, but still waiting for the confirmation.

All-in-all, while this may SEEM to be the worst of times, this absolutely COULD BE the best of times. It depends on us. It depends on our choices. It depends on where we focus our eyes and our hearts.

“O God…For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” 2 Chron 20:12

I’m certainly not looking forward to giving up my gym time. After all, who doesn’t like an hour of water play? (Notice – I didn’t mention the dreaded half hour of machine workouts.) I am definitely not looking forward to weeks without teaching, and all those hugs I get from my students. I’m unquestionably not looking forward to giving up my lunches with friends or picking up my Grands from school.

However – there are folders upon folders of writings and poetry that I have promised myself to finish. There are my lab girls who love having me take them outside a million times a day. There is a garden of lettuce (that I just planted today) that will need tending. There are letters to write to residents in nursing homes. There are care packages to send out. There is a path to look for to the Tree of Life.

As for me, on this unusual St. Patrick’s Day, I am thankful. Thankful for a Father who loves me enough to allow me to live in times like these. I am thankful for family and friends who continue to check in with me. I am thankful for the healthcare professionals who are on the front line of this “time-out-of-time”. I am thankful for the leaders who have been appointed to lead in these times.

“He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning” Dan 2:21

Most of all, I am thankful for the Father who sent His Son to walk beside me every step of this Pandemic 2020, and I am keeping my eyes on Him in the worst of times – in the best of times.

[Pastor Doug Bouquist photography/google image]

VISION 2020: The Chisel

Wasn’t it just Christmas?

Didn’t we just leap into a new decade?

I look at the calendar. The blank pages of the calendar have been chiseled with notations.
Gym.
Friends.
Doctors.
Grands.
Library times.
Snow days.
Goals completed/not completed.

It is all there and yet –
– it has flown by on such swift, silent winds that I –
failed to take note of how many of those carvings etched out this or that in the past few weeks.

“…do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” Matt 10:19-10

With words tumbling around in my mind, I check in with My Father tonight in prayer. It is the birthday of two special Grands who made me a grandma for the first time 20 years ago. It is a day of working with students and reading books. It is a day of walking dogs. It is a day of wonder at the complete joy that seems to surround me amid all the chiseling that has been shaping me and leaving pieces on the ground around me. It is not joy as the world knows nor probably can comprehend, but it is His joy. Joy of being exactly where I am supposed to be at this time in space and eternity.

Years ago when I was teaching in OH, we had to use door stops to keep our doors open. Mine kept disappearing, so when I got a new one, one of my ornerier 8th grader (with a few of his cohorts adding to it) decorated it. I think he was tired of hearing me complain about never having a door stop when I needed it – either that or the door slamming shut in his ears. I know it was on of my ornerier students because on one side, it says “Kaufman’s Quick Lube”, on the other side – in big clear letters – “The Chisel”. When I asked him why those two things, he laughed mumbled something about the one side, but then turned serious as he pointed to the other side, “Because that’s what you do with all of us.” He nodded his head as he went back to his seat. The room was quiet as I turned away and dabbed at my eyes.

I have never forgotten that moment. Little did I realize, at that moment, the chiseling that was going on in my own life. Needless to say, I took the door stop with me when I retired.

Today I pulled out that chisel to hold my door open. The warmth flooded inside. Dogs and cat wandered in and out at will. Curtains swayed. Birds sang. Squirrels chattered (and ate bird food)…bugs slept on (thankfully). However, the end of the week is coming and will bring another northerly wind, so the door stop will return to my bookshelf.

“As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.” Lk 9:51

It seems like I was just reading the Gospel of Luke for the 24 days before Christmas. Now I am opening that epistle and looking at it with the eyes of the Passion. Time passes and Ash Wednesday is – so it seems – suddenly upon us. As ways, Rabbi Yeshua blended the linear and eternal lines into one – especially in Luke’s account,
The teachings became more intense.
The miracles full of the visible and invisible battles of the world. The Transfiguration testimony and blessing.

Prophecies pointed and passionate.

Yeshua Mashiach is my chisel. Although He has been my chisel all my life, His tools have been carving more deeply these days – in ways I couldn’t have imagined a few months back. His words, love and grace purposely defining a new shape. Cutting away the marred pieces to reveal the faith that He saw hidden away.

As Lent begins, it is time to honor in prayer and sacrifice, the time of Rabbi Yeshua’s earthly chisel coming to an end. He purposely and lovingly turned His feet towards Jerusalem, all-the-while knowing what was ahead. The good new is He also knew His eternal chiseling would continue to carve and illuminate whenever anyone asked Him to walk through their door.

“Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” Lk 9:57

[personal images]

GRATITUDE ATTITUDE #9

Spent some time laughing, sharing space and time with friends that I don’t get to see often enough. Scrubbed and polished my slate end tables. Kicked some leaves with my lab girls while they chased the beloved ball. “Technology Talked” with a couple of cousins and friends. Got a little chilly while I was swinging on my patio swing. And – put most of my fall decorations away.

Yupper. This year, I am one of those that have started the transition to Christmas before Thanksgiving. I usually do try to change everything over the week before Thanksgiving anyway – so this really isn’t much of a stretch. But when push comes to shove, in my mind, there is something about thanking God, eating turkey and enjoying the decorations at the end of that wonderful day. And  this year – I just need to surround myself with His Light a little more than usual since Thanksgiving is a little different for me this year.

“…the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” ~Matt 4:16

There are so many things to be thankful for during this month of transition. One of them is technology. Right now, I am watching the 1955 version of Peter Pan with Mary Martin. How fun is that for this baby boomer? “I Gotta Crow” that it is even more fun than I expected it to be!! How can I still remember most of the words to this play and its songs from so long ago? And yet – here I am – singing along and loving it.

Of course, besides remembering all of the songs, I also remember that I got to stay up late  just to watch it. My daddy brushed my hair while we watched – eating popcorn from a big orange bowl and drinking a soda pop – special treats for a special night. “It is a place where dreams were born…”

A daddy who brushed my hair. A mommy who sang along with the songs and braided my hair when Daddy finished up. An older, big (at least to me – he was huge) brother who tried to ignore us all as he worked on boy scout badges or homework, but casually kept his eyes on the screen. It was definitely a time when I “thought wonderful, happy thoughts” and found that “I’m flying” faster than I thought possible.

Simpler, joyous times. “2nd star to the right and straight on to morning…”

It is good to pull out the treasure chest of memories occasionally. The gold and the silvers ones shine brightly – – especially those shined with Our Father cloth of love. I had a pretty nifty childhood. Church and Sunday School every Sabbath. Sunday drives to visit aunts, uncles, and especially – cousins. Family meals together. Chores done. Bedtimes full of books and prayers. Pretty good model for what a marriage and family should be.

November is that month of transition. The skies darken earlier. The cold wind slows my gait a little more as arthritis clamps down on the joints a little more tightly than I like. And yet, if I go past that silly 2nd star and soar way beyond all stars, the winter morning gets here earlier and sooner than I expected, freeing its sparkling Light to make all things new, and it easily outshines Neverland in the process.

“I, The Light, have come to the world, that no one who believes in me shall abide in darkness.”~Jn 12:46

GOD is good all the time – even on the darkest of nights. All the time GOD is good.

[goggle images]

RIGHTEOUS ANGER

Wrestling with GOD is not easy – – – especially when you don’t know you are wrestling with Him. I had no clue – no comparison on which to logically understand any of what was going on inside of me. The restlessness. The questioning. The internal tsunami that seemed to continually wash over me without end. I only knew that today as I broke the communion wafer and drank the “wine” – wisdom managed to bridge all the barriers I had erected and showed me the face of it all.
 
I was angry. Not angry at life or the people or the circumstances which presently surround me. But angry all the same. Angry with my Father. Angry with my GOD. Angry about the fiery lesson that seemed to be burning all around me.  I don’t like fiery furnaces at all.
Why me?
Why now?
What are YOU thinking?
What possible glimmer of goodness can come out of this bog?
You know I HATE this, right?!?!
 
“There is no one holy like the LORD; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God.”~1 Sam 2:2
 
It is a hard thing when you realize you have been wrestling the One who loves you best. The One whom you love best. The One who is beyond knowing and yet known. The One who is I AM. The One who is Abba Father.
 
Hannah wrestled with this same anger in the Bible. She wanted a child in the worst way. She prayed and prayed. Her husband tried to give her material things to make up for it. The priest accused her of being drunk with her sorrow. When in reality, Hannah was praying out her anger and sharing it with the only One who knew the depths of that anger and pain of the situation. The only One who could understand the depths of all her emotions. The One who would be the Rock beneath her feet until the wisdom of the time could bridge the anger barriers and restore her peace.
 
That was her wrestling.
 
That was when I AM met her. Lifted her out of the miry bog and put her feet upon Himself.
 
Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.~Matt 7:13-14
 
Our Father is so good. Wisdom manages to break down the barriers eventually when Truth is spoken. A fire quenched. A deep breath drawn. A trail of tears dried.
 
The mind was – and is still – boggled with the illuminating presence of peace. And yet – as if to confirm that it is of Him – He sends at least two or three confirmations in quick succession to reassure my stumbling mind. A video devotional. A big brother’s phone call. Anger is okay. God understands it. Our Father reaches out to reassure in response. The Son smiles and holds the trembling hands. The Spirit nudges.
 
Righteous anger is something a Christ follower has trouble with in this life – – especially when one has spent a lifetime avoiding “anger” and “out-of-control” situations. However, righteous anger is the exact opposite – it is total control. It is that realistic,
“no-blinders-on” look at a situation and responding in the most simple, basic, organic way possible with the only One who knows every side, every word, every action, every thought, every motivation that led to this point in time. A totally honest – if angry – conversation with the Father who loves us best.
 
And that is what happened today.
 
I’m not sure if any of this makes sense. I’m not sure why I am sharing these thoughts – except – that inner nudge that says – “Share”. So here it is. The rather focused thoughts on the wisdom of my day. Just let it be known that wrestling with GOD is not my favorite thing in the world. The last couple of days have not been fun. Yet as I cuddle this new Wisdom Baby close tonight, and as my eyes grow heavier, I can feel two hands pulling a soft, pink blanket up around us both. (Why it is pink I have no idea – but pink it is.)
 
We are warm.
We are safe.
We are at peace.
And tonight, I realize in that hidden fount  of life deep within me
that I need –
I must rejoice in ALL things –
ALWAYS!
 
“Even before they call, I will answer, and while they are still speaking, I will hear.” Is 65:24 and “This third I will bring through the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on My name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘They are My people,’ and they will say, ‘The LORD is our God.'”~Zech 13:9
anger   [google image]

SUNDIAL SHADOWS

“Son of man, stand up on your feet, and I will speak.”~Ez 2:1
 
There are times that stand outside of time. Times when the sundial stands still. It doesn’t go backwards. It doesn’t go forward. It just waits. Holding its collective breath of past, present and future until it seals itself into the fiber of every living thing. Times when one knows, even as one is marching down the hallway with the groanings of the Holy Spirit pouring from the depths of whatever it is that aches deep inside of all of us, that life is about to change.
 
Praying.
Questioning.
Doubting.
Pouting.
Bowing.
Kneeling.
Writing.
 
Those verbs are often the way I feel my way to Our Father’s path and will. Today was one of those days. As I stomped down the hallway, I spoke aloud, “There is no way there is an answer in Your book for this one. None. Zilch. No way, Jose. But I’m going to look, just because You won’t quit nudging me until I do so.”
 
Yet, deep within me – in that place that aches beyond description and the font of tears that seem to be unending through this whole process, I know differently. He has always answered my prayers immediately and blessed my steps beyond measure since He set my feet on this path. So while I may have been arguing in my physical world, I followed His nudge and did what I have done since I was tiny, I began my march down the hall to find His WORD. Questions bubbling. Doubts swirling. Muttering rather loudly. Lab girls following – after all – they generally know when I need them next to me. I knelt by my bed and randomly opened His Sefer.
 
“Son of man, stand on your feet, and I will speak to you…”
 
Needless to say, the words had a voice. A voice not my own. A voice, that even now, continues to ring in my head. Continues to ring long after the sundial once again started it’s shadowy path, and an almost full moon has taken its place. Thus, not being totally stupid, I decided that I am soooooo not arguing with this voice as I stood and continued to read.
 
Tonight, as I re-read these words written long ago by a Jewish priest, I am humbled. Why do I continue to question and doubt? You’d think after 68 full journeys around the sun, I would have a little more sense of these things. Sin nature is strong – and after all – we believers are often a strong and stubborn lot. Just ask Jonah.
 
“Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against me…obstinate and stubborn…”~Ez 2:3-4
 
Teaching has always been my balance in this chaotic world. A chance to pay it forward. A chance to be blessed by so many hugs and  smiles. A chance to watch the lightbulb light up many eyes. It is when I am teaching that I feel closest to Rabbi Yeshua. I know deep within me that He also watched for those lights to shine in all the eyes in front of Him as He taught them. He watched for mine today as it lit up my heart.
 
It was not the answer I wanted – nor the answer I sought – and yet – it was the very answer for exactly the right moment in this place in time. A place where time stood still and the out of body experience still echoes throughout the house. A place and a time for which I was created, and my tears were dried as I ate the scroll of “lament and mourning and woe.”v.10 
 I am learning, I think. Ever so slowly, but the Light did come on for one brief moment. Maybe – I’m learning – just a little.
 
“Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of GOD.”        ~Matt 5:9 
friends-zoom[Greg Olsen, artwork]

MAY STORMS’ PASSING

While there are “blue skies up above”, and I’m thinkin’ that not quite “everyone’s in love” with the heat in NC, it has definitely been a lazy river type of day – especially as the sinus infection seems to slowly begin its meandering journey away from me. Storms never come in singularity for me. Some I talk about and some – I just don’t. Depends on what I hear the Captain speak to my fingers.

Spent most of the day just fidgeting. Making physical copies of Pop Kaufman and Daddy Mike for the Memorial Day display in our home – – Reading some more of Kline’s “Piece of the World” – – Brushing the lab girls as I try to keep some of their hair outside instead of inside clumps floating here – – War room time as I pray, copy Bible verses, and wonder for the umpteenth million time WHY? WHAT possible lesson am I missing in this trifecta of storms? You’d think at 68 it would be a little easier navigating this dinghy – –

When I came inside from trying to move a few plants and failing miserably (since it is too hot and I still just want to curl into a ball and sleep), a few of Mom and Dad’s favorite songs “just happened” to be playing on my list – “Up a Lazy River”, “It Had To Be You”, “Summertime”, “My Foolish Heart”, “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered”, “Dancing Cheek-to-Cheek” and suddenly, I’m 4 or 5 again, watching from the sofa as they dance around the living room or listening at the top of a dark stairway for the signals that their stormy argument is almost over – – and somehow – – those signals always came as both of them would wander up the steep stair to tuck me back into bed and sing “Oh, You Beautiful Doll” until I fall asleep.

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”~Matt 6:33

So today, I guess I’m still looking for signals of the storm’s passing, waiting for the melodies that always soar around me when I reach deep for that “peace that passeth all understanding” which always follow the storms’ path. I just have to keep taking baby steps forward. Listen for His voice. Stand on His WORD. And – positively KNOW that while He is just being quiet in my noisy boat, He has already charted the course and controls the winds and seas with His WORDS.

It’s funny.  I really love physical storms.  I love watching the dark clouds approach.  The way the thunder rumbles not only around the house but deep into my belly.  Oooooo – the smell of rain as it begins to hit the leaves far away, drawing closer and closer until it hits my nose. Not to mention – the wind that blows out all the staleness and dirt that clutters the air.  Lightening that crackles my soul with becomes a small light in the darkness.

All of it.  Powerful. Magical. Miraculous.

Daddy used to say it was just one of GOD’s ways of reminding all us who really is in charge of creation.  I still remember coming down a different set of stairs when a storm had awakened me, on July 4th 50 years ago.  Mom was still asleep in their bed , but Dad was standing by the window watching the storm of a lifetime hit our small town. He heard me and beckoned me forward to him.  We stood together, watching the lightening, listening to the thunder and rain while my earthly father shared his heart of wisdom with me.  Once again, He prayed with me and for me.  I miss that.

“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”~Ps 90:12

So I am numbering my days. Seeking those signals that the storms of a lifetime are once again leaving my area. Excited to hear the new melodies that will enfold me in their warmth and dry my tears. For Our Father, His Son, and the Holy Spirit are good…very good…at steering floundering dinghys – even ones with lots of holes in them.  Grace patches are amazing.  

All the time –

They are good.   

LIGHTS OUT #3

Advent lights are all put away for now. Spring is supposed to be in the air, but right now – not so much.  The gas log are on, the small heater is pumping out heat and my hands are curled into the sleeves of my sweatshirt…when I’m not typing. Feels like I should be putting candles in the window instead of taking them out of the window. Errrr….

Cold weather makes me very lazy. All I want to do is curl up with a blankie, a book, and my babies…well…not all the babies. Big Lab girls cut off the circulation in my legs if they sit on my lap for more than a minute or two. Luckily, Shadow-Spooky-Sparkle cat wanted to cuddle tonight, and I could tuck my hands under her for extra warmth. Awwe….

I really shouldn’t be whining. After all, when there are earthquakes in Colorado, snowstorms north and east of us, tornadoes to the south of us, I should be able to handle a couple of nights in the mid-30’s. Errrr…

“Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”~Matt 26:41

Sometimes I just have to remind myself to get up and move in the Awesome Spirit of GOD instead of being content to sit in the Whining Spirit of the World. So tonight I took myself back to the piano. Played some of my favorite songs and hymns, letting the melodies and the memories swirl around me like a warm blanket. Awwe…

“[The Lord] loves, and cares, and sympathizes, and understands, and seeks, and saves, and forgives, and helps, and encourages, and walks by our side… taking care of us in life when we can’t take care of ourselves.”~W. A. Criswell

The Advent lights may all be packed away. There may be a deep chill in the air. There may even be storms wreaking havoc on all my horizons. But – and this may be the “Awwe” part of this “Fat Tuesday” insight so read this slowly:

GOD’S      GOT      THIS!!

Enough said…

Ponderings His WORD…

Feet walking His path…

Following His Light…

Singing His Praise.

AWE.

“…And I’m going there to see my Saviour,
to sing His praise forevermore. 
I’m only going over Jordan,
I’m going home; I’m going home.”~“Wayfaring Stranger” 1935 1-the-river-jordan-holy-land-jordan-everett [google images]

THE POET PRESIDENT

Please tell me how I got to be almost 68 years of age and did not know that President Abraham Lincoln was a poet? Why didn’t If figure this out? His speeches alone should have been a clue.

“Four score and seven years ago 
Our fathers brought forth upon this continent a new nation, 
Conceived in Liberty and dedicated to the proposition 
That all men are created equal.”
~ Gettysburg Address

“Fondly do we hope—
Fervently do we pray—
That this mighty scourge of war 
May speedily pass away.”~2nd Inaugural Address

How many times have I read these speeches – taught them to my class and did not see the big hint right in front of me? Errrr…  Just goes to show – we can be oblivious to things that are right in front of us and not have a clue!!

I love teaching again. I love discovering things I never knew, but now I’m kicking myself in the butt for not discovering all of this 40 years ago when I was teaching my poetry classes and speech classes. It could have added a whole new dimension to our discussions.

The power of Lincoln’s word choices and cadence became so clear as I went back through and started looking at his speeches through the eyes of the poet as well as the speech giver.

A man with a satirical sense of humor.
A man who wrote short poems in his boyhood math book.
A man longing for home.
A man chased – at times – by depression.
A man filled with compassion for the world around him. 
A man who had faults like the rest of us.
A man who always tried to rise above the problems.
A poet-man with integrity.

Since I teach younger grades these days, I’m sticking with the his famous quote that he took from the Bible, A house divided against itself cannot stand.”[“Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.”~Matt 12:25 ] A beginning – a start – an introduction to our complicated, messy world and history.

For me, I’m fascinated by re-reading his 2nd Inaugural Address. As I read, his words take on new depth since our country seems to be tearing apart at the seams just as it was as he was President. Our social/cultural issues as divisive as they were in the 1860’s. It is as if I can hear his voice – his pauses in my head.

“Both read the same Bible…
Pray to the same God…
Each invokes his aid against the other.
It may seem strange 
That any men should dare to ask 
A just God’s assistance in wringing 
Their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces;
But let us judge not, 
That we be not judged. 
The prayers of both
Could not be answered–
That of neither has been answered fully.”

Poetry. 
Prayer. 
Psalms. 
If only all of us and our leaders would remember. It saved our nation once before – perhaps – if we find our knees again – our long-suffering, patient Father will hear from heaven and heal our land. 

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EPIPHANIES

It was a crazy busy day, and “I am whooped”, as my mother used to say. Inside decorations put away by noon. Outside decorations put away and stuffing my face with food by 3. It is the day of Epiphany, and my house looks like it is in mourning.

“The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly.” ~ Jim Rohn

My nephew posted this quote today. Actually, it was a memory post, but today it struck me as an epiphany. There was another quote that also struck me as an epiphany. “Instead of saying, “LORD, I don’t know how I’m going to do this,” say, “LORD, I don’t know how YOU are going to do this.”

The last one should NOT have been an epiphany since I love the verse in 2 Chronicles 20:12 which basically tells me the same thing. ” For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on YOU.”

My eyes, my heart, my total being needs to be focused only on how My Father intends to work through me or others in my sphere to handle something. I have to admit, I often get overwhelmed. I get angry, frustrated and definitely, impatient. I also have a soft heart. It breaks often. It rejoices often. A students tells me his only prayer at Christmas was for his mom and dad to get back together. Another friend celebrated their mom’s 90th birthday. A friend’s husband walked out on them just after Christmas. Another friend was reunited with GOD and their family. A former student lost his battle with the C-word while another just got a clean bill of health and a final surgery from that same dreaded C-word. A kitty who always has matty eyes and scabby skin cuddles in my lap and yet – has survived a whole year and half when we thought she wouldn’t make it a week.

Hmmm – when I started writing this post, I didn’t see it going in this direction and yet, that is the way the Spirit seems to be moving me tonight. Epiphanies are like that. Those break-through moments that you open your eyes and see something that you didn’t expect to see. A sun dog in the sky. A dark cloud in an otherwise sunny day. A phone call from an old friend that was full of laughter, thoughts and love that couldn’t be shared with anyone else than her. A phone call to look forward to from a son just home from his vacay.

GOD is good. So good that He sent a Son and His Holy Spirit to comfort us, to sustain us, to challenge us, to push us, to encourage us, to help us laugh, to dry our tears, to offer Grace Gifts that will carry us through until we see Him again. Now that is an epiphany worth hanging onto in the dark times and in the joyful times.

The next couple of weeks are hard ones for me. Bittersweet dates in time when I will miss my earthly parents and parent-in-law a little more than usual. Reflection times of pulling out their memory books has already started.Touching captured moments in time with my fingers. Reading words that they wrote so many years ago and lingering a little longer with those internal memories that words cannot express.

Today’s epiphanies that Our Father has whispered inside my heart have been His Grace Gift to me. A while back, I thought I had found the perfect way to combat the sadness of these weeks, but that was only on the worldly level. This epiphany level is ever so much stronger and better. The Be-attitudes strike me again with the strength of a sledge hammer. I only wish I had realized it so much earlier on this path I walked. Then again – I think I probably recognized it at just the right time in eternal space because it is His space in time, and that is always perfect.

I will cry – I am crying – I will cry, but tears are good. They wash out the dirt and grime that as accumulated in the corners of my eyes and allow my vision to clear. The Grace Gifts of yesterday are also swirling around, and I am itching to start my new Bible studies and delve even deeper into Jewish wisdom.

GOD is good all the time. All the time, GOD is good.

“Blessed are those that mourn, for they shall be comforted.”~Matt 5:4  comfort-bible-verse-1-lg   [google image]