Tag Archives: Psalms
“I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?”
There are nights when after a full day of walking through his life, that the world seems darker than dark. Angry slurs spew back and forth – separating, dividing, tearing at loose bands that once wove and united one to another.
And the age old question rises once again.
The Book of Life is full of similar stories. People united then torn apart by complaining, whining, power, self-interest. They have a beautiful garden, but want what they want when they want it. They watch the leader walk up a mountain and when he is a little late, they make their own leader out of gold. They get freedom, but don’t like walking. They get manna but want meat. They see the Son of God but He doesn’t fit the description in their heads. They have forgotten the song.
When the Jewish people would journey to Jerusalem for a festival, they would sing Psalms and recite the Torah. It was a way to teach the youngsters, but it was also a way to remind themselves of why they needed to do this journey in life. They called the journey “aliyah”. Today, when a person moves to Israel, it is also called “aliyah”.
“My help comes from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth…”
Tomorrow, our little school is making a journey to a farm. They will take a hayride, pick out a pumpkin, get some pictures taken, spend time with the animals, and listen to some stories and songs. Since Jesus made aliyahs when He walked this earth, I will be reading a story about the Jewish festival Sukkot – the harvest festival. I had to smile when I saw that our principal paired me with the music teacher. After all, it is fitting that the story and songs will go together on an aliyah.
God is like that. When things are darker than dark, He throws a little light into it. A fire cloud that leads us forward and protects our hearts from the chaos. It is just a matter of faith. A matter of looking up to the hills and remembering to ask the question.
Where does our help come from?
It cometh from the LORD who hath made heaven and earth.
“He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD is your keeper;
the LORD is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The LORD will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
The LORD will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.” ~ Ps 121 A song of ascent.
“This is the day the LORD hath made…”
I always try to remember these words as I pry my eyes open and stretch for one last time before our “girls” (better known to the world at large as “dogs”) notice movement and start bouncing around my side of the bed. They are adorable as they really do bounce and shove each other out of the way as I try to put my feet on floor. Their joy is contagious and suddenly – the words that follow sing deep within my soul.
“I will rejoice and be glad in it.” Ps 118:24
Today was the “perfect” Fall day.
Not too cold.
Grands running up the porch ramp for fresh-off-the-grill buttermilk waffles while the adults munched on eggs, mushrooms and sausage.
Drawing Halloween pictures.
Reading scary stories.
Sitting by the gas logs while turning our brains to mush over a wooden puzzle that has stumped many a HMS student in its previous incarnation. Simple stuff that fills the treasure chest with more golden memories.
“Barach Hashem, Adonai. Hear O’ Isreal, the LORD our God is one…”
All too soon, the daughter and family are out the door. Chores are started, and I let my mind drift to he wonder of the rest of the day. Stretching on the inversion board. Hauling 4 wheel barrow-filled loads of mulch. Throwing sticks for the “girls”. Listening to the new neighbors enjoy their own gathering with a few fireworks. Finding a box of pans that I packed 5 years ago. Laughing as Kittie-kittie (formally known as Shadow-Spooky-Sparkle) rolls in the leaves as she tries – at the same time – to trap them with her paws. A perfect Fall day.
“…you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength…” Mk 12:29/Deut 6:5
Since I’ve retired, the Shema has become a constant in my day. As I go about my morning routines. As I wait in lines. As I walk our neighborhood. As I catalog books. As I read the news about violence erupting in our nation again. As I listen to our pastor speak about principalities and tightening our belt of truth. As I pray at five o’clock for our nation and what lies ahead. It is a Fall Day – full of perfect and…….not so perfect things.
“…And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Mk 12:30
As I begin my last set of prayers tonight. I always begin with my own version of the Shema – for the umpteenth time of the day. It reminds me that these are the commandments that Jesus held close to His heart as he walked among His lost sheep. Principles that guided His life. Principles that He shared with us. Love God with a whole heart, soul, mind, strength. Love every neighbor – regardless of how “not-perfect” they are. Love.
In our divided world, we stand at the base of the cross casting lots for a philosophical robe that will slip through our fingers without true understanding of the fingers that wove it or the One who wore it. We forget the Shema of Love that should guide our lives with every word we speak and every deed we set out to accomplish. We are not perfect. The world is not perfect. And yet – we can love perfectly because He first loved us.
Love seems to be the word that was whispered to me today. Perfect Love on a perhaps – not so perfect Fall day.
“Raindrops keep fallin’ on my head…”
It has been a weekend of dark, dreary and rainy days. Yet, our big, old bag of wind Florence only brought us a few gusts of wind and about 6 inches according to our rain gauges. Then again, since some of those gusts have kind of blown the rain sideways, some of the rain might have missed those gauges entirely.
Hard to feel excited on dreary days. ‘Blue days’ as my mom used to call them. Got to admit, I’ve wasted most of the past couple days. Could have pulled out the crochet needles – could have read more of my books – could have gone on more walks (between the raindrops) – – – could have done a lot of things.
I just didn’t.
I did do several cryptograms, jigsaw puzzles, on-line word games, baked cookies, read some devotions on-line and off, watched several of my favorite ministers, made a big batch of spaghetti, watched some of my favorite movies, and kinda meandered here there, doing miscellaneous chores that I wanted to accomplish just in case the electric went out. But all-in-all – – – nada, zilch, nothing that contributed anything to anyone – anywhere.
“But there’s one thing I know
The blues they send to meet me
Won’t defeat me
It won’t be long ’till happiness steps up to greet me…”~”Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head”
I really don’t like looking back over my weekend and seeing how much time so easily slipped past me. I did, indeed, let the “blues defeat me”. However, God is good. He opened the eyes of my heart today. I walked the dogs and really listened as I avoided the worst of the slippery red, clay. After all that is what the 10 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is all about. Holy Days.
Time to reflect,
to listen, and…
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my eye upon you….”~Ps 32:8
Those raindrops keep falling tonight, and I think we have added another inch just since I started writing. Flood and tornado watches are up. The dogs stick their heads out the door and give Spooky-Shadow-Sparkle a dirty look because no one makes her go outside in the rain. So – I think it is time to stretch my knees and start to make my way back to my quiet room. Read a book, listen to some harp music and plan the many things I want to accomplish tomorrow. The Grands are coming for the morning, so lets start there.
“Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous,
and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!”~Ps 32:11
It’s a Doris Day movie kind of night. Wind has picked up. Rain has kicked in. Satellite has kicked out more times than I can count on one hand. Soooooo….
Movie night….Doris Day movies…and clam dip kind of night.
There is just something about Doris Day comedies, musicals and even her dramas that lightens my mood.
It Happened to Jane”
Please Don’t Eat the Daisies
Love Me or Leave Me
April in Paris
Do I need to name more? There are definitely more, but there are very few – if any – that I haven’t seen and watched several times. I do have my favorites, but generally, I love the older movies when I really want to forget the world and all the things that it brings with it on these kind of days.
I smile. I laugh. I cry. I praise Our Father for reminding me of all the joy that can surround us even on the darkest nights..
“…what is mankind that you are mindful of them – human beings that you care for them?”~Ps 8:4
The past two days have been stay-at-home-days, and I probably won’t leave the homestead for another two. There is something that calls to me to stay put when storms swirl about me and my home. Something that calls me to gather some flowers from the garden for that old, bag of wind Florence before she gets here.
Besides, I like re-assuring the pets and receiving their wiggles and cuddles in return.
I like walking the yard and neighborhood as the winds, rain (or snow in some storms) buffer my cheeks.
I like checking on plants, picking some out of the water, and as I go, lifting and carrying bigger sticks that litter my path back to the wood pile.
While watching my trees bend and – sometimes – break is not something I like to watch, but it is something I need to see. My banana tree has definitely not been happy today, and I keep touching it when I walk outside as if to re-assure it that “This too shall pass”, and that “all the tears in its leaves will only make it stronger”.
“You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet: all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild, the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.”~Ps 8:6-8
It is hard not to be attached to things in this world. After all, Our Father created a garden for us to live in, and even though we are locked out of the original garden, we still have remnants of it in this world. Our world may be a little harsher – a little more crazy – a lot more dense with sin – and yet – it is the world that He created just for us.
To watch over…
To clean up when needed…
And evenually – – –
To give back to Him…
With all praise and honor and glory …
“Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!”~Ps 8:9
Ya know how you wait and you wait and you wait for special days? Anticipation takes over almost every waiting minute? Lists of things to accomplish before the event occurs? While the pit of your stomach aches just to go to sleep, so you can wake up before it arrives and get more done?
That’s what it has been like in NC this week.
Switching between the weather channel and local news. Walking outside to recheck what might need to be stashed or tied down or chucked in the trash. Checking on friends living close to the coast. Answering notes of messages of concern from friends in other states. Checking on older neighbors. Praying for, not just our coast, but all the other coasts, states and countries that are battling their own natural disasters.
The workers that stand in the gap.
The loss of stuff.
‘We make this plea, not because we deserve help, but because of your mercy. O Lord, hear. O Lord, forgive. O Lord, listen and act!”~Dan 9:18b-19a
As always – knowing me well and my constant need for reassurance – my many devotions centered on the power of prayer and a merciful and loving Father who not only hears but anticipates our every need – even before we voice it. Oh but He loves to hear our voices cry out to Him, so He waits. Like us – whom He created in His own image –
completely knowing us to depths of ourselves that even we don’t know.
These are the nights and the days of anticipation. The days of the shofar. Jewish tradition says that every night when sleep comes, the souls rise to heaven and record what they did that day in a book- the real good, the good, the bad, the ugly bad – and then attest to it with their signature.
A part of me likes this idea. Being accountable for my actions was drilled into me over and over as I grew up. Recording them while they are still fresh with joy or heavy with dread – in my soul seems like good parenting. Signing my name in full to the real good, the good, the bad, the ugly bad helps me face what I have done with my day. But in my mind I see something more – something so full of love that my breath catches in anticipation.
When the shofar blows at sunrise, I see a cross stamped – – – completely blotting out my deeds and signature. My tear-filled eyes blink to see His nailed-scared hand holding mine, easing the eternal back into the temporal. Our eyes meet in that silver cord second, and His smile remains within me for the rest of the day. His song singing in my soul as the sun rises above the horizon, and I swing my feet over the side of the bed to start anew.
I am fully known, fully forgiven and fully loved..
“Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.”~Ps 32:1a
[google images/Akiane art]
For 17 years, I have worn this one shirt. It is a simple white shirt with an American flag, a bald eagle, the date, 9/11/2001 and one word written in red: UNITED.
Shortly after the attack, one of the teachers I worked with created this shirt for the staff. We wore it quite often that first year, but for the most of the past 17 years, it has just sat in my drawer and waits for that date to arrive.
“Remember your people, whom you chose for yourself long ago, whom you brought out of slavery to be your own tribe. Remember Mount Zion, where once you lived.”~Ps 74:2
We don’t forget where we were on days that change our lives. A father’s first heart attack – or second – or third. The death of JFK – of MLK – of RFK. Graduations. Watching a man walk on the moon. Resignation of a President. First loves – last loves. Death of a parent…parents. Birth of a child – from the heart or from the body……… 9-11-2001.
And somehow – in all of images that superimpose themselves one on top of another – I think of the Bible. If my finite, limited, mortal body puts such emphasis on memorable days, would not a loving Father do this as well – especially since He created us in His own image?
God’s memories of a stiff-necked, stubborn people – one group out of many that walked this earth – written then simplified enough for us to read, speaking in glorious metaphors of his love through each superimposed image – one on top of another. From one fateful decision by one couple under a tree, to a Son choosing to lay down His life on another tree, to the gates of the garden of trees being unlocked, and the return of our King on a white horse to throw those gates wide open.
“I’ve walked among the shadows
You wiped my tears away
And I’ve felt the pain of heartbreak
And I’ve seen the brighter days
And I’ve prayed prayers to heaven from my lowest place
And I have held the blessings
God, you give and take away”
The hills and valleys of this life frame our journey. We mark our time by them and – hopefully – grow in wisdom and thankfulness to the One who carved them both. Journeys are never easy. Our emotions rage from one extreme to another. And yet – the blessings of hidden bread and water await us at just the right moments – at just the precise time we need nourishment – at the perfect place in the journey so that we can continue forward.
“No matter what I have, Your grace is enough
No matter where I am, I’m standing in Your love.”
There is a song, that my youngest son drew my attention to a few months back. He may be many miles away, and we may not speak often, but he knows his mama’s heart so well. So today as I prepared a little more for that old, bag of wind Florence to hit town, I heard this song twice. It especially spoke to my heart on a day when bittersweet memories were stuck in a repetitive play, and I felt Our Father’s presence so close that I had to pray no matter where I was.
“On the mountains, I will bow my life
To the one who set me there (to the one who set me there)
In the valley, I will lift my eyes to the one who sees me there
When I’m standing on the mountain aft, didn’t get there on my own”
When I’m walking through the valley end, no I am not alone!
At sunset tonight, a thunderstorm entered our area and thus, the third day of the Jewish High Holy Days began. I look at the question that I have set aside for today and wonder about the vision I see for the coming year. Then I get sidetracked and I wonder what Rabbi Yeshua pondered for his vision during his ministry years? What did his mother, Mary, envision for her life in that coming year as she watched her son set about His Father’s business? The disciples? His family?
You’re God of the hills and valleys!
Hills and Valleys!
God of the hills and valleys
And I am not alone!
You’re God of the hills and valleys!
Hills and Valleys!
God of the hills and valleys
And I am not alone!” ~”Hills and Valleys” by Tauren Wells
Sometimes – I think way too much. I just need to turn off the question machine and listen, be thankful, and bend the cranky ol’ knees. After all – 17 years can go by in the blink of an eye.
“Listen Now -Serve the LORD with fear
and celebrate his rule with trembling.” ~Psalm 2:11
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.
“The Son will come up tomorrow…” [personal images]
Yesterday, a woman came with a bag bursting at the seams with children’s books. Her humble heart spoke over her words as she showed me the treasures buried within that bag. They were her books. Books of her childhood. Books of my childhood. Early Primers.
Yogi Bear, Bugs Bunny, Huckle Berry Hound Books.
Tears shined in her eyes as she turned to leave and truth be told, shone in mine as well.
Strange the things you remember from 60 years ago. Stories read to you and read by you. The image on the front of a book, and the back of a book that caught my breath in familiarity. Did I read those lists books over and over – dreaming about reading them? Or was it the cutesy, baby animals that cavorted around those titles? Then again, I remember the back of the Golden Books just as well. A few years later, Golden Books would also add little pictures surrounding titles.
Best of all, it was the memory attached to these books that slowed my day down. Curled into my mother or father’s side at bedtime. Yawning and struggling to keep my eyes open after prayers just to hear one more story before they tucked the covers tight around me, turned off the light and left me gazing at the stars.
For years and years and years, long after the parents had stopped reading to me, I would gaze up at those glow-in-the-dark stars my Father had put on the ceiling, and tell myself a continuation of all those stories or stories-yet-to-be as I fell asleep. Sometimes with music in my head and sometimes with music from downstairs, I would drift off to sleep “…with a peace of GOD that passeth all understanding.”~Phil 4:7
I realize now how blessed I was that My Father chose this path for me. Easier than some – harder than others – but on a path designed just for me. So tonight as I re-read this small, familiar book of prayers, yawning and fighting to keep my eyes open long enough to read one more prayer, I wish I still had my initials written on my ceiling and could hear the music from downstairs once again because “….surely goodness and mercy [has] follow[ed] me all the days of my life and I [have] dwell[ed] in the house of the LORD forever.”~Ps 23:6
“Good night! Good night! Far flies the light;
But still God’s love shall flame above,
Making all bright. Good night! Good night!”