Tag Archives: Matthew

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 2018: The Promise

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS 2018: Field Treasure

Baby born in Bethlehem.
Angels sang.
Shepherds came.
Animals bowed.
Samuel, Anna, Wisemen wait in line.

“The Kingdom of heaven is like this. A man happens to find a treasure hidden in a field. He covers it up again, and is so happy that he goes and sells everything he has, and then goes back and buys that field.”~Matt 13:44

Santa came.
Presents opened.
Family gathered.
Food devored.
Games, laughter, stories, hugs shared.

“Also, the Kingdom of heaven is like this. A man is looking for fine pearls, and when he finds one that is unusually fine, he goes and sells everything he has, and buys that pearl.”~Matt 13:45-46

Field treasure found, buried and purchased for the heart of love and spirit for all time.

On this first day of Christmas. So many blessed memories made in such a short time. Sometimes it all goes as planned. Sometimes, it just falls apart from the “get-go”. Most of the time – it is somewhere in the middle. Long ago, the Scottish poet Robert Burns wrote:

“But Mousie, thou art no thy-lane, 
In proving foresight may be vain: 
The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men 
Gang aft agley, 
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain, 
For promis’d joy! “

Which boiled down to the basics just states that age-old adage you’ve probably heard repeated in part: “The best laid plans of Mice and Men…”

Joseph, Mary had a plan. GOD had a plan. 
I have a plan. GOD has a plan.
I’ll let you figure out which one has the better plan.

So as I get ready to close my eyes tonight, I continue to dig out gems that I found in my field over the past few days, and let the joy cascade over me. He planted the gem seeds long ago.  All I had to do is find them. They may not have grown according to my plan, but the gems shine so brightly that I can’t wait to open up the gate and run back into the field just to hold them in my hands again.

Faith is like that. Peace covers all the twists, turns and craziness that life brings our way. It causes the “SON” to shine brightly on those treasures, so that each one takes a lustre far beyond the physical touchstones that they once were.

Hope.
Love.
Grace.
Repristination.

It all started with a baby in a manger, and I can’t wait to see what other gems are waiting for me to discover when my plans get thrown out the window, and HIS plan is allowed to grow and blossom in my field.

“On the first day of Christmas, My Father gave to me…”

“Go to now, you that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain:Whereas you know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away. For that you ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.”~Jm 4:13-15

little seed   [personal image]

CHRISTMAS LOST – (3 Days and Counting)

It is 8:30 P.M. It is dark, cold, rainy and miserable on the shortest day of the year. Worse – our cat is out there somewhere – missing and the house feels empty. Even the lab girls are antsy.

You have to understand – Shadow-Spooky-Sparkle has three names for a reason. She jumps at her own shadows, spooks herself just sitting on a lap and sparkles all the time with little white hairs that dot her coat. Being outside for any real length of time is unusual. Being out after dark? Whoa!

It is 8:35. We just finished another Christmas movie, so it is my turn to go to the door and hollow “Kitty-kitty” like a crazy woman. I don’t think anyone else in our neighborhood hollers for their pets as loud as we do. When they are missing, we holler. We walk the property. We are peer over the edges of the drainage ditches and into the culverts.with our flashlights.

Seeking the lost is serious business.

“For The Son of Man has come to save whatever has been lost.”~Matt 18:11

Good news comes on the darkest of nights – especially when it is cold, rainy and miserable. So too, it came tonight at 8:40. I called one more time, and Kitty-kitty answered from the darkness. She heard my voice, mewed loudly from a distance and came running up the porch steps. And – like the true prodigal story, a tuna feast was thrown in her honor.

The lost has been found.

“My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow Me.”~Jn 10:27

I’m not sure why this was the important thing to write about tonight – especially when Christmas is just 3 days away. But like Mary and Joseph found out, life experiences happen no matter what time of year it is. We tend to think the special days should follow the schedule of happiness and joy. It doesn’t. My father had his second heart attack one Christmas morning. A treasure chest memory of a different kind.

That first Christmas was just the beginning of new life – figuratively and literally . A special, dark, cold and miserable night when GOD became man in a place that most people find way too smelly to spend even a few minutes – let alone a place to give birth to GOD was the first lesson on modeling the way we should live our lives.

Mary and Joseph became servants to what Father had called them to do. No comforts of home and family. Only faith in the promises given them and in the scriptures that they had buried in their hearts their entire lives. He spoke. They heard His voice. They called out from the darkness and began to run towards Him.

The glorious impossible happened when God was born so long ago.

Christmas is only 3 days away. The lost are still out there, and He is still calling. He is using His flashlight. Peering over the edges of cliffs. Looking deep into the culverts. Walking through the woods. Calling over and over as He waits for His beloved to hear His voice and come running for the feast He has prepared.

“I wonder as I wander out under the sky,
How Jesus the Savior did come for to die.
For poor on’ry people like you and like I…
I wonder as I wander out under the sky.”  Ron-DiCianni-The-Promise-Full [Ron DiCianni artwork]

CHRISTMAS: TREASURE CHEST MEMORIES (8 Days and Counting)

I love, love, love making things at Christmas. It seems that decorations made with a little love and time make the beautiful even more beautiful. A little glitter. A little help from Youtube. A couple little hands touching a couple big hands. A little creativity… and the world just shines just a little brighter.
 
The Grands were over for our Sunday morning gathering. We colored. We glittered. We laughed. We cuddled. We pulled out the two remaining German stars that my mother’s sister made when I was their age and hung them on our tiny tree. Then – we made our own German star. The oldest Grand persevered through all the intricacies of folding and had the biggest smile as she carried her star to the car. Littlest Grand had the biggest smile on his face as he cuddled in the chair next to me and told me he had just read the instructions on the printer, so it was ready to print his own creation. He also noted that he and his sister used to be able to sit in this chair with me and now it was crowded with just the two of us. (My heart ached a little with this tidbit of wisdom.)
 
Treasure chest memories…“‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things…”~Lk 16:25a
 
It is the same with writing Christmas cards. As time consuming as it is, it is something I love to do, and something I like to get. I love when my former students send me pictures of their families. I love hearing from my childhood buddies, family members, and teaching peers. I love, love, love getting a card from the few elders that remain in my life. Although I have to admit, part of it is the memory of my mom working late into the night as she wrote letters with her Christmas cards. She did this after working a long day and putting up with me. Then together we would hang all the cards around our living room.
 
Treasured memories…“Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.”~Lk 2:19
 
A few weeks ago I was over at my daughter’s home and saw my doll collection. Before I became an obnoxious teen, it seemed like every Christmas brought a new doll from some part of the world where my mother’s brothers were stationed for awhile. After struggling to write thank you notes, I remember just touching each doll over and over – wishing I could see where they lived and wondering what it was like…and most of all….really wishing mom would let me play with them instead of just look at them. Even now, as I held and looked at them, I remember my aunts and uncles and love the memories they added to my life.
 
Memories beyond worth…“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you…”~Phil 1:3-5
 
Which I guess is the point. Christmas brings many gifts beyond presents under the tree – and yet – if you look – they all point toward the Father who used a little creativity, a little glitter, a bunch of love and sent a present from where He is “stationed” into the hearts of those who are ready. He reached His encompassing hands around our dirty hands and let His grace and mercy “glorious impossible” clean them.
 

Treasure chest memories gleaming like a paper star that points to a babe lying in a manger… “For we saw His star in the east, and have come to worship Him” ~Matt 2:1-2 

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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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DAYS TO REMEMBER

One of the younger Grands had a “family” b-day today. Her actual b-day is tomorrow when she will – officially – hit the double digits for the first time. Confetti balloons. Slime, slime everywhere. Legos here- there-underfoot. Rose water sprayed and re-sprayed. Robot assembly then robot drawing tablecloth designs. Ribbons on packages – ribbons on ponytails. And – ice cream cake to add even a little more sweetness.

 

Truth be told – these are the days to remember.
 
Remembering is one of the things I love about the Jewish and Christian faith. The Bible is full of stories; timeless stories that tell – the good and the bad – the ugly and the poetic – the historical that reaches into the present and even further into the future.
 
The first day of the Jewish festival Sukkot has just ended. It is a week-long festival (you do gotta love a group that know how to throw a festival that lasts for 7 days – full of joy and food). Days dedicated to remembering – remembering the times spent in the dessert – remembering eating food G-D provided and of living in temporary shelters – remembering their mortal heroes who led them through treacherous times and taught them to pray throughout all their days and years – remembering the Father who is always faithful to answer the tiniest of prayers.
 
“Your WORD is truth.”~Jn 17:17b
 
Abraham, father of the faith, walked out of his tent in the morning – before he opened all the sides of that tent to welcome the world – he bent his knees and welcomed His Father – Abba. Gratitude for waking up – gratitude for the new day – gratitude for the storms that may splash enough water into his boat and scare him beyond what he thought was possible – gratitude for the joy of hearing Abba’s voice – gratitude for a Father that will tell the wind to hush and the seas to be still because HE is always in the boat with with His child. (Matt 7:24-28)
 
Those are days worth remembering.
 
Treasure chest days.
 
Festival days.
 
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
 

When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching,”~Matt 7:24-28 

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I CHOOSE

It has been one of those awful, no-good, very bad, terrible days when nothing went right from the minute I left devotions. So these are the days – I stick out my tongue and repeat over and over and over again : I CHOOSE JOY! “For surely, Goodness and Mercy follow me all the days of my life and I WILL dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”~Ps 23

So – hopefully – pretty-please-with-sugar-on-top  –  please???– computer issue fixed, $$ spent, and lesson plan printed. All the million of things that were lost – found. A bucket of cherry tomatoes stored in the fridge. A couple pieces of wood carried back to the fire pit. And – beautiful magnolia blossom from my very own Southern tree to remind me that God knows how I need flowers on such a day as this.

“High times, hard times
Sometimes the livin’ is sweet
And sometimes there’s nothing to eat
But I always land on my feet

So when there’s dry times
I wait for high times and then
I put on my best and I stick out my chest
And I’m off to the races again!”~Newsies, 1992

I think this is definitely a weekend to watch Newsies for the umpteenth time. To listen to Ann Margaret sing those words that still sing in my head on these kind of days while I recite His promises over and over and over.

Be-attitudes to the rescue again.

“Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.”– Matt 5:8

He never promised it would be easy. He never promised that there wouldn’t be days when the head feels ten sizes bigger than it should. Days when nothing seems easy. Days when the Spirit moves you so high in morning chapel, and the evil one tries to pull you so low for the rest of the day.

I choose joy. I choose His promises. I choose to look at my goat pictures tonight – and my magnolia blossom – and sing of His praises forever and ever and ever.

AMEN and AMEN!

And – of course – to end this I had to go back re-take a picture, up-load, down-load because somehow it didn’t get saved the first time. And that is exactly how today has gone. Can’t wait to start a new day with my Father tomorrow. 

Whew! 
“The Son will come up tomorrow…”       [personal images]

CLAPPING TREES

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

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

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SICK WHINY WISDOM

“As thou knowest not what is the way of the wind,
Nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child;
Even so thou knowest not the work of God
Who doeth all things.”
~Ecc 11:5

Two weeks of letting sinus pressure build up ✔️
Two more weeks of fun antibiotics ✔️
And now – – – more meds.

This is getting old – especially since all I want to do is work outside, play with the Grands, and do the usual crazy things that I love to do each and every day instead of feeling like my head is stuffed to the gills with yuk. 
Grass needs mowing (it’s half done because I couldn’t stand it any longer and cut part of it). 
Gardens need mulch and more mulch and more mulch. 
Plants need to be stuffed into holes before the dry summer days get here. Begging for water plants is not pretty.
And worse – there is a wonderful swing on our patio calling my name. “Come, come sit on me, curl up in my pillows and write and read.”
AND – I’m tired of taking morning and noon naps. Is that an oxymoron?

Is that enough whining?

Errrr…… I hate when I whine.

There is no explaining why things happen the way they do. All I know is that The Bible never promised an easy time of it. Abraham, Moses, Deborah, Joseph, Jacob, Esther, David, Ruth, – to name a few – and the disciples certainly didn’t have an easy time when they ventured out into the world on their own, even after HEARing His voice issue all of His promises in front of them.

“…behold, I am with you every day, even unto the end of time. Amen”~Matt 28:20

Luckily, the Holy Spirit continues to speak those words over and over in our souls when our brains are mute and our tongues too thick to work – as we pray for young families who have to introduce topics to their children because of the ugliness of life – prayers for those who stand every day in the gap for the rest of us – prayers for tragedies and illnesses that seem to increase beyond measure – prayers for the souls who don’t know His voice.

In Jewish culture Lag B’Omar is coming to a close and as the light of the bonfires have dwindled to a smolder of ash, we remember that in the deep dark of the world, we can grow light. 
We can still light fires of curiosity with a match of a question.
We can still add pallets of wisdom to nourish growth.
We can stand back and watch the fire soar high above our own meager expectations.
And best of all, we can continue to peacefully rest in the Light that has brought true holy fire to our needy world.

“In the morning sow thy seed,
And in the evening withhold not thy hand;
For thou knowest not which shall prosper, whether this or that,
Or whether they both shall be alike good.”~Ecc 11:6

Now if my ears will just stop popping and the eyes stay open, but so thankful for the promise of My Father and His Son. Praising The LORD in all things on this National Day of Prayer. 

[google images/art work by Yoram Raanan]