Tag Archives: Psalms

GRATITUDE ATTITUDE 2017 #21

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Eve. Today is the 325th day of the year. 40 more days, and it will be 2018.

Hard to believe, isn’t it?

And here I sit. Struggling with my Gratitude. Struggling with my Attitude. Struggling with my frailties.

There are just days when life seems to be full of prickly, poking, painful slashes. Days when you want to curl up and go home. Days when you want what was and those who know you best. Days when depression isn’t a big enough word.

Holidays seem to bring two bags when they move into our lives. One bag full of joy. The other bag – not so much. What ever the name of the cat that is in that second bag, it is sure to be the meanest cat who knows exactly how to reach out and draw blood on tender skin.

Break a favorite ornament. Drop a whole bottle of cleaner all over the floor. Arthritis – sinuses – loneliness – loss – the list of causes is long and tedious. Seen before. Known by name. But the cat in the bag is just a symptom.

It is really the snake that is in heart of his garden on these days.

“Let the heavens be glad, and the earth rejoice!
Let the sea and everything in it shout his praise!”~Ps 96:11

It is on apple-biting days when I have to dig deeper – with one of those heavy duty construction shovels – deeper and deeper until I find my Gratitude Attitude. Drag my feet to the war room. Force the mind into obedience of choice instead of wallowing in emotion. Choosing to sew the hole in the bag. Choosing to bite the snake instead of the apple. Choosing to re-claim this garden of life.

“Let the fields and their crops burst out with joy!
Let the trees of the forest rustle with praise
before the LORD, for he is coming!”~Ps 96:12-13

My Gratitude Attitude on the 21st day of November 2017 is for my frailties. These are the days when I fight to reclaim the precious Joy of the LORD. Find my roots and stand with the trees of the forest who sing His praise. And know – know deeply – that the LORD is coming – is coming soon. [google images]

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GRATITUDE ATTITUDE 2017 #16

“Come, ye thankful people, come;
Raise the song of harvest home.
All is safely gathered in
Ere the winter storms begin.”

If there is one hymn that I associate with Thanksgiving, it is “Come Ye Thankful People, Come”. The poem was written in 1810 by Henry Alford. Six years later, it was set to music by George Elvey.

I guess I should mention that this hymn has been singing in my head off and on during this month of Gratitude to Our Lord of Harvest. Growing up, we sang hymns, and this one was one that was requested often.  You see, in our church, we had Sundays when people would be invited to shout out the page numbers of their favorite hymns. Sometimes we sang Joy to the World on he hottest day of the summer.  Sometimes, we sang the spirituals that were not in the “official” hymn book like Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.  Sometimes, we sang older hymns that weren’t played often, like Sweet Hour of Prayer.  It was a song fest, and boy, did I loved those Sundays.

If Mom wasn’t in the choir loft and Dad wasn’t fishing in his favorite “church”, I got to feel how it felt to sing in a small choir. Altos. Sopranos. Tenors. Basses. The voices of families and people who would see me grow up surrounding me, as the voices of those melodious words buried themselves in my heart.

“God, our Maker, doth provide
For our wants to be supplied.
Come to God’s own temple, come;
Raise the song of harvest home.”

Our minister mentioned this week that everyone is pretty good about calling out their thankfulness. I agree. I’ve seen it everywhere – even on store fronts. From sports casters to social media to schools to – gasp – politicians, but – – as our preacher reminded us – – in all this thankfulness there is something missing.

While people in general mention how thankful they are, these same people seldom mention TO WHOM they are expressing thanks for all these blessings.  They may thank the people close to them or thank their lucky stars or thank heavens or thank goodness, but somehow – the name behind all these phrases is ignored.

“All the world is God’s own field,
Fruit unto his praise to yield,
Wheat and tares together sown,
Unto joy or sorrow grown.”

I think that is one of the reason those old hymns still sing through my soul. Sometimes singing me to sleep. Sometimes waking me up. Sometimes comforting me. Sometimes dancing in joy with me. They leave no doubt TO WHOM all thankfulness should be given, and they remind me TO WHOM I need to express my thankfulness.

No cliches. No lies of omission. No slight of hand or should I say…..mouth. 

It is not enough to be thankful just because it is November. The Native American and the Pilgrims did sit down to eat together. How it came to happen and what existed in the hearts of both groups of people, we can never know.

Today’s “truth” in man’s wisdom is ever fluctuating.

What we do know, from Wampanoag and Pilgrim traditions, is that there was a 3 day feast. A 3 day period of time when two very different groups of people were able to set aside their differences and break bread together. 3 days. Amazing things have been accomplished in 3 days. It all depends on the sower of seeds.

“First the blade, and then the ear,
Then the full corn shall appear.
LORD OF THE HARVEST, grant that we
Wholesome grain and pure may be.”

My hope is that as we enter these last few days before Thanksgiving 2017, more and more people – different groups of people – will find a way to lay aside their differences and offer their thankfulness. Thankfulness not just directed to impress or influence the people around them, but as a gift – a hymn/a psalm of praise – to the One who is the source of all blessings. A true Gratitude Attitude.

A song to the LORD who provided the seed – the LORD who provides the living water and dust of the earth in which the seed grows – the LORD who multiples the seed many times over for the one who sowed it – the LORD of the Harvest who was and is and is to come. Amen. [google image]20121119_FIRSTThanksgivingdetail

GRATITUDE ATTITUDE 2017 #12

I have absolutely no idea what to write about since there are tons of things running around in my mind that I am so thankful to have in my life. Yesterday, there was no doubt. Devotions led me deeper into the WORD, and that put it front and center.

So a list of random thankfulness that have flittered through my scattered brain tonight seems rather appropriate.

Mom’s voice waking me up this morning singing, “When the red, red robin…”

Off-beat Christmas music that pulls at my spirit even more than Perry Como or Nat King Cole or Andy Williams or Carpenters. (I never would have believe it was possible – but it’s true.)

“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.”~1 Chron 16:34

Two random ladies blessing me at church with their words and thoughts.

A wise man’s words about defeating the ‘obs-tackles’ that the evil one places in our path of our God given vision for our life. (Still thinking about this one, but I need to go back and read a few chapters in Nehemiah again)

The quiet of a morning walk after church with the girls.

“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.”~Col 4:2

An early afternoon nap while Sunday dinner cooked (I am really not cut out for early morning risings anymore).

Roast chicken, potatoes and gravy. Yum!!!!

Devotions and taking time to write a note of Thanksgiving to one of my former teachers. A teacher who was one of the ones to help me see what a teacher could be in a classroom of crazy kids with Senior-itis.

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.”~Ps 100:4

Hallmark, DVD’s, Christmas movies that inspire the Spirit.

Pine tree smells that can blossom in my home even without a live tree. (sniff, sniff – can’t talk Hubby into one).

A silly kitten that runs into a wall as she tries to turn the corner into her room when I am bringing her supper. (I hope she doesn’t hurt herself – I can’t afford any new vet bills)

A few teacher-preachers on TV.

God’s vision for my life.

“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our ‘God is a consuming fire.'”~Heb 12:28-29

As I re-read these Gratitude Attitudes, I began to see a pattern of my day. A pattern that points to the vision. Still a little blurry. Still a little ways off in the distance. Time for prayer. Time for clarity. Time to kick the ‘obs-tackles’ (don’t you love a Southern accent?) to the curb. If Nehemiah could do it, so can I.

[google images]

GRATITUDE ATTITUDE 2017 #11

I am a former reading teacher, and STILL a lot of time I don’t read the small print placed before me. Ever anxious to get on to the “main” content, I miss some of the truly important stuff.

Having read all 150 Psalms over and over – in liturgy – in song – in devotion, I had no idea that Psalms 120-134 were songs that were used as Jews traveled to the temple festivals in Jerusalem. Of course, I had to go to the Bible and look. Sure enough, under the title Psalm 120 was some tiny print, “Song of Ascent”. Of course, even if I read it at one point or another, I wouldn’t have had a clue of what it meant.

“I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.”~Ps 121:1-2

My search continued. I pulled out the well-used, marked-up study Bible that has been in my life for about 8 years now. It has notes on the side of the pages which have added much to my seeking over the years. The notes were well documented about the main ideas and intent of each verse, but I couldn’t find anything that talked about them being used by the Jewish people as they traveled or even – what ascent meant. So next step – what else? On-line Bible, of course.

I use various sites, but I tend to like Bible Hub. They have the Aramaic in Plain English of the New Testament which I love. I understand why the New Testament was written in Greek, but since most of the disciples spoke Aramaic and this version comes from an early source, I like comparing the two. That being said, Bible Hub’s “New Living Translation” had the words I was seeking in small print right under the title, ‘A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem.’

“The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand.The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.”~Ps 121:5-6

Okay – so far so good, but that didn’t really give me a lot of answers. As always I wanted more. I wanted the Jewish perspective. If there is one thing that I have learned over the past few years, it is that our Christian traditions have robbed us of our roots in the first covenant. The very covenanted roots that Yeshua treasured in His life here on earth.

So the thing is – the Jewish tradition says that there are many interpretations about these “Psalms of Ascents”. One belief is that it was used by pilgrims traveling to Jerusalem or out of Babylon or even one that had to do with the rising of water under King David’s temple.

I guess all in all, one of my devotions today was successful. It got me digging deeper into the WORD itself. And Our Father was faithful as always. When you hunger and thirst after righteousness, you do get filled or as it was said in the Greek, Plero’o – the cup is filled (which by the way – is a word I stumbled over in another devotion). Gotta love how God works all things to His purposes, don’t you?

“But The God of peace shall make all of you perfectly holy and shall keep your whole spirit, soul and body without fault for the arrival of Our Lord Yeshua The Messiah. Faithful is he who has called you; it is he who shall perform it.”~1 Thes 5:23-24Forgiven

(Greg Olsen artwork/google image]

GRATITUDE ATTITUDE 2017 #9

Joy.

This tiny word can stand alone, and I still just want to smile in thankfulness.

J
O
Y

Y
O
J

Spread it out List it. Write it backward.

Doesn’t matter. It is not a simple synonym for happiness – – – at least not for me. Joy bubbles. It erupts from a well spring deep within me. The gurgles bounce around until I can no longer contain them and I have to smile. Not a small smile – one of those large, crazy, out-of-controlled smiles.

Gurgles of JOY. Bouncing out into a darkening world. Bubbles of JOY. Flowing rivers of JOY. JOY that can’t be locked away, dammed up or lost. JOY spring of the living waters.

“The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for JOY, and with my song I praise him.”~Ps 28:7

For whatever reason, JOY has been the thought of the day. I can’t say it is because of the weather. The past two days have been rainy, cold and dank. Dogs have been tracking mud in the house. Kitty has been begging to go out until she puts a paw on the wet, cold porch. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her run so fast for her warm place in front of the gas logs.

JOY is a gift. I tend to think that since God created us in His own image, JOY must be an attribute of God. I can only imagine what JOY there was in the Garden before the fall. JOY to walk together. JOY of communion. JOY of purity of spirit. Peacemaker’s JOY. Face-to-face JOY.

“Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”~Heb 12:2

JOY-ous path re-opened that the living water might flow freely ‘…on earth as it is in heaven’. Tap in to the JOY. Seek the well-spring deep within. The Holy Spirit will open the spigots wide. Yeshua will laugh with JOY as it flows out and into the world. And JOY will bounce higher than “…red rubber ball.” as the Father re-JOY-ces with us all.

Yep – I have a lot of JOY in my Gratitude Attitude.

“And I think it’s gonna be all right.
Yeah, the worst is over,
Now the morning sun is shining like a Red Rubber Ball.”~Simon/Garfunkle
[google images/Greg Olsen artwork]

ERRR….CRAP!

‘s a sad fact of life. Touchstones break. We call them “stones” because they have weight in our life. It is the “touch” part that we sometimes forget. Weighted stones that have touched our lives at some point We can look at them – or touch them – and they release the memories – the smells – the sounds – the music – the faces.

Most of the time a smile may cross our soul as we hold it in our hands. Sometimes a laugh may escape the confines of the binder that held it trapped inside. And sometimes – when we drop them – – – they break.

Errrr…

This morning I walked the dogs as soon as I woke up. We picked some flowers, threw some sticks, and enjoyed the cool of a perfect spring morning. Since I had only picked two small flowers this morning, I pulled out the two small shot glasses that probably were some of my first touchstones ever.

Mom had special glasses for party nights. They were colorful. Red. Blue. Yellow. Green. They also had matching shot glasses. I can still see Dad and hear his laugh as he was telling jokes or getting ready to play his guitar and holding one of those glasses. Other times, when I would pick violets for Mom, she would take out the shot glasses, and we would fill them up with the purple and white blessings. She would pull the doilies she had made out of their drawers and place the glasses around the living room. Just thinking about those violets bring back the smell of her hugs, the smell of her perfume and her red-lipstick smile.

Over the years, all the glasses disappeared. And by the time, we moved Mom out of her house, there were only two shot glasses left. Yellow. Green. Today the yellow one dropped into the sink as I was running water to hold a small rose. Errrrr…I don’t deal well with breaking things that have touched my life. But – I reminded myself – they are just things. I rolled my eyes, looked out the kitchen window while having one of those — half prayer — half talk – conversations with myself.

Errr…I looked at the fragments scattered around the sink and said, “Crap!”

A short time later, I broke a tiny winged, patriotic figure that I bought the summer my mother died. I think Mom must have been born to be a politician from birth. She had all the smarts, charisma, and charm needed. She just was a slow starter in the field. However, once elected as village clerk of our small home town, she rose through the state ranks and on to national organization of clerks.

The figurine I broke – out of a set of six – was the one that said held the banner that said, “God Bless America”. So this was a double touchstone. Mom sang “God Bless America” so many times, that I knew all the words by the time I was 5 years old – – – including the introduction. “When the storm clouds gather…”

Errr…I picked the pieces up off the floor and said, “Crap!”

I decided it was more than time for devotions. Needless to say, they shattered my bad mood completely. I read about the “hupogrammos”. An ancient Greek word that basically means example – but more deeply – it is a concrete, hands-on way of teaching someone how to do something. In this case – Christ became the “hupogrammos”. He set his actions, his steps, his manner, his love before all of us that we might easily follow His steps if we just put our feet and heart where He put His.

“To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example (hupogrammos), that you should follow in his steps.”~1 Pt 2:21

As the tears pushed the corners of my eyes, I read this last devotion. “You answered me, when I called You; with Your strength, You strengthened me.”~Ps 138:3

The lesson of the day? Forget the Errrr… and the Crap!
Touchstones of this earth break and easily.  They fall apart. Our Christ Touchstone is just the opposite. He is an eternal cornerstone that hold everything else together when the world seems to be falling apart. He is the “hupogrammos” for our lives.

SCROLL OF LIFE

Been a busy couple of weeks. Visiting days at the Grands’ schools. Planting new starts for the terrace gardens. Reading umpteen things that I find totally absorbing. Not to mention, Easter and the end of Lent. And – – – loving every minute of it.

Didn’t write much this year about where I was heading with my spiritual journey. I’ve said this before, bu I think it has just been my time to absorb and reflect on the blessings of this past year. I am somewhat healthier. Our new NC home feels so much more like home. Plants are flourishing – just like Hubby and I am. It has been that way since my 100 Day Ration and Advent writings – 140 days of writing and then a restful time by the sea. A time of enjoying the present moment and absorbing all I can as my scroll unfolds before me.

You see, the Jewish word that is usually translated as book in English is “sefer”. Sefer means scroll. Thus – “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in Your BOOK before one of them came to be.” [Ps 139:16] Would actually be – “…were written in Your SCROLL…”

Books are ‘a whole ‘nother thing’ as Mama Mick used to say. We can easily flip pages in a book. We can look back. We can skip forward. We can even take a peek at the very end so we don’t have to wait for it to unfold. And – while you can do the same thing in a scroll you can only see pieces of the one scroll that you hold in your hands.

“…and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’
Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.’ “~Lk 4:17-21

God wink moments happened to Yeshua, the man, and to all those people attending service that morning. He had to unroll the scroll the attendant handed to him – not the scroll He had choosen – and find the place that fulfilled the promise of that moment. Not the moments that lay in the past. Not the moments that would come in the future. But that moment. That moment when a promise was fulfilled. A wrinkle in time being lived to its fullest.

I like to think that this is what I have been doing in the past few weeks. Living my wrinkle in time. Talking with shut-ins. Running errands for those who are struggling to stand without falling. Playing with Grands that won’t be tiny munchkins much longer. Reading and printing things to absorb. Praying for family, friends, and country in my war room.

Speaking of which – this week – I cleaned off the door to my war room. All my prayer lists and Bible verses are filed away in one of my notebooks, so I can look back at them occasionally and see where I’ve been. Good use for a book. I seem to need that reassurance every now and then. A acknowledgment to myself, that my path – while somewhat crooked – is becoming straighter and easier to walk.

Today, I hung 3 new verses on that door. Verses that will reassure me on the dark days and challenge me to keep my path straight through the rainstorms of life. And, as the scroll unfolds a little more, I will write up a new prayer list which will be full of colorful names and requests. I like using different colors because that is the way Abba created everything – – – full of rich hues, vibrancy, diversity. Full of a little heaven on earth.

It’s funny. As I read back through today’s musings, this definitely wasn’t what I had in mind when I started to write. God winks are like that. The scroll unrolls – words leap off the page and into my head – and I just marvel at the path of thoughts that He plants with His WORD and Spirit. As always, I can’t wait to unroll the scroll a little more and see what He has planned for me this day.

Whatever it is – it will be for my good. [google images]

NEVER ALONE

It is Grands’ night. Hot tub – mac n’ cheese Papa style – Wii – 2 bowls of popcorn (half of it on the bed) – 1 bottle of Grandma water (a piece) – 3 peep Oreos each – 1 movie – drawing the last picture of the night in their little notebooks – a little Jim Brickman lullaby in the background – 1 Koayah puppy squished in the middle of them – and they are asleep. (and yes – Mama – they brushed their teeth extra good because I threatened never to spoil them again. Although – I don’t think they really believed me. They kept laughing.)

I don’t know who enjoys these nights more. We talk. We catch up on their ball practices and school. We talk about coloring duck eggs with their neighborhood besties tomorrow and laugh over a stubbed toe. There is nothing more precious than getting to spend a night with the Grands. I only wish I could have retired about 13 years earlier so I could have moved to MI to be with my older Grands…well…that is probably stretching it a bit since a MI winter is definitely not on my to-do-over-list.

It is not how I usually spend my evenings on Maundy Thursday. Growing up, we would go to church. Later in college and beyond, our family would go to church. Full of familiar rituals, age-old hymns, prayers, solemnity. In the past few years, this night has been more an internal day and today was an eye opener.

The Grands and I were on the bed, watching Prince of Egypt in honor of Passover when it dawned on me. This was probably a closer way to spend this Holy Day than anything I have everdone. The Grands and I shared a meal. We laughed and told stories. We remembered the Moshe and the first deliverence of the Jewish people. We sang a song – it wasn’t Psalm 118 which is the Psalm sung at the Passover Seder – but in my heart it was singing.

“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good!
His faithful love endures forever.”~Psalm 118:1

And now – in the quiet of the night – my prayers circling to the darkened, star-lit skies – Grands stretched out all over the large bed – dog snuggled in their own bed while Hubby snores softly in his – I find my cornerstone of this night. The stone rejected steadies my balance and holds me upright. Even has a yawn stretches up through my rib cage and my eyes grow heavy, I struggle to stay awake and pray with Him.

“They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.”~Mk 14:32–34

This is the part of the night that hits Rabbi Yeshua’s humanness – hits my humanness. I don’t do well with sacrifice. I like to think I do, but I don’t. I know my eyes – like the loved ones who shared the meal with their beloved rabbi – mine will also close before long, and my prayers will rise into the darkness above me.
 
Alone. He. Prayed.
Alone. He. Cried.
Alone…but not really.
 
The perfect lamb alone in a garden…waiting to become the rejected stone…waiting to sacrifice himself for the world that rejected him…waiting for you…waiting for me, straining to listen for His Father’s voice. No words came. No sign. Just the quite of the night. But that is where Yeshua’s humanness and mine are miles apart because even though he did not “feel” His Father or “hear” His Father or “see” a sign from His Father. He “knew beyond knowing” that His Father was very much present. Listening. Seeing. Loving. Eternally. 
 
The solemnity of the night has wrapped itself around me once again. I wish I always “knew beyond knowing” like my Savior. It is something I still a striving to find. Another yawn brings tears to the surface of my eyes, and I know it is time to check on the Grands once last time before I give in and close my eyes for the night.
 
Mothering habits don’t really ever go away, and I will probably wake up before daybreak and check on them once again. Tonight, I will remember that Rabbi Yeshua was still awake praying. Praying as he waited. Talking to His Father. Trusting His Father. Waiting. But not alone. Never alone.
 
Tonight that is what I remember when I think of Maundy Thursday. Never alone. Ever. Not once.

 

“The stone that the builders rejected
has now become the cornerstone.
This is the LORD’s doing,
and it is wonderful to see.
This is the day the LORD has made.
We will rejoice and be glad in it.” Ps 118:22-24

NEIGHBORHOOD

The Grands have found the joy of childhood. They have friends that live only a few yards away. A barefoot run full of laughter. A stream full of adventures yet to discover. Tree houses with screaming imaginary battles to be fought.. Broken toys refurbished into new toys and bicycles decorating yards – just waiting for the next journey.

It feels as if I am seeing my own childhood through my parents’ eyes as I listen to them play. There is a certain joy that seems to fill me as I watch mothers sitting on the ground in front of their houses as the toddlers explore the smaller confines of their yard. It all sets my mind tumbling backwards. A small yard. A bunny hutch. A dog on a lead wire. Bushes taller than the parents where a kitty grabs some tiny toes and sends me scurrying back to a warm lap and laughter.

“Praise the LORD!
I will thank the LORD with all my heart
as I meet with his godly people.
How amazing are the deeds of the LORD!
All who delight in him should ponder them.”

It is good to see the resurgence of this type of neighborhood. It is good to hear the older children fighting imaginary dragons. It is good to see a neighborhood model that I thought had been lost to the ravages of a technological age. And I am – oh – so praying that it is not an isolated one. I’m praying that across this nation, parents are walking out their doors, sitting in the yards with their kids, talking to their neighbors and allowing their children to fall, pick themselves up and explore the small part of the world around them.

Our world is a scary one on so many levels. I do worry about those Grands when I can’t see them as I’m sure my parents and Grandmother worried about me. Yet, I remember walking to my Grandma’s when I was pretty young. I remember sitting in her garden while she showed me which plant was a weed and which plant was food. I remember running to my friends’ homes when I was the age of the Grands until I heard the three beeps of a car horn which sent me running for home.

“Everything he does reveals his glory and majesty.
His righteousness never fails.
He causes us to remember his wonderful works.
How gracious and merciful is our LORD!”

I think from a very young age, Our Father let me see what the Garden could have been for all His children. I think He is letting me see it again through the joy of the Grands during this Lenten season for a reason. I’m not quite sure what that reason is yet – but you can betcha – I’m looking for more wisdom everyday. Nothing is a coincidence in this life. Nothing.

As we travel through these last few days of the 2017 Lenten walk, I can’t help but wonder if Rabbi Yeshua was thinking and feeling much the same way as I am tonight. He could see the ugliness around Him. He could see the hazy shape of the cross in the skies just over the hills. Listening to the children laugh. Watching them explore the wonders of their world. Praying for them and their parents with each step that he took towards Jerusalem.

“All he does is just and good,
and all his commandments are trustworthy.
They are forever true,
to be obeyed faithfully and with integrity.”

I’m sure the Jewish world was every bit as scary – probably more – as our world is today. Much more than I can imagine. An occupied country with all the pain and atrocities that come with it. A religion that was constantly under attack – and this is where Our Father sent His Son. To a land that needed Him the most. To a people that were stuck between that proverbial “rock and a hard place”. To a few that were still seeking and willing to explore the world with child-like eyes of faith.

“He has paid a full ransom for his people.
He has guaranteed his covenant with them forever.
What a holy, awe-inspiring name he has!
Fear of the LORD is the foundation of true wisdom.
All who obey his commandments will grow in wisdom.
Praise him forever!”~Ps 111

A son who would pay the ransom for His people. A son who guaranteed His Father’s covenant with them forever and added a new covenant for those who had been separated from the flock.

A Son who – like Issac did for Abraham – heeded His Father’s voice when He called.
A Son who – like Issac did for Abraham – rode a donkey to a hazy mount in the distance as His Father walked beside him.
A Son who – like Issac did for Abraham – carried the wood to the top of the top of the mount for His Father
A Son who – like Issac did for Abraham – would voluntarily lay himself down to be bound to that wood.
A Son who – unlike Issac who heard Abraham’s voice at the top of that mount – – – a Son who endured the absolute silence of His Father’s voice.
A Son who, indeed, sacrificed His life for the redemption of all – a redemption that would last for all people everywhere – for all time and beyond – so that His Father’s voice would never be silenced again and His children that had walked in darkness would see a great Light.

One day, the Garden gates will be thrown open and there will be many neighborhoods where parents and grandparents can sit upon their lawns, sharing with one another the beauty of the day. Children will explore wildly as their laughter, joy and song float all around the neighborhood. I feel so blessed tonight. Blessed to have caught a glimpse of His gifts once again. Blessed to hear His words echoing in my heart. Blessed to close my eyes and look forward to the Light that is just beyond that far hill. Blessed to begin the walk forward towards it.  [google images]

UNENDING QUESTIONS

Today I ventured out into the world beyond our quirky house. Seeing as how Hubby doesn’t like to grocery shop, and my slight flu/cold/whatever virus was somewhat better, I ditched the comfy clothes and headed out to see if the world-beyond-our-neighborhood had changed.
 
Lucky for me – it had not, and I found plenty of good food with relative ease. Not so lucky for me is I was really, really tired when I came home and have felt kind of crappy ever since (so much for the virus being completely gone). Lucky for me, I will get good night’s sleep and wake up feeling even better.
 
Like usual, when I am tired and wanting to crawl into a fetal posture to recover but can’t because I’m still 20 minutes from home, I distract myself with mind explorations of things that have been at the back of the filing cabinet of consciousness. Like: I wonder what it was like for Yeshua in those missing years.
 
It is one of those questions that has been around for a very long time, and I’m sure that I’m not the first one to ponder it. The first time I remember thinking about it was in my pre-teen bedroom. Beside my canopy bed was a night stand. On that nightstand, sat a tri-fold cardboard “stain glass altar” that I made one year in Summer Community Bible school. In front of it, I set my childhood Bible. And – at some point or another – I found this verse.
 
“But Yeshua was growing in his stature and in his wisdom and in favor with God and the children of men.” ~Lk 2:52
 
And here we are some 55+ years later, and I am still wondering and trying to picture it. We know he grew in stature. Did he have best buds that he hung out with after he worked all day with the wood? Did they laugh and joke? Hang out somewhere and eat? After all it said he grew in favor “with the children of men.”
 
Was it irony or a mystery that his hands grew strong, calloused, scarred as he worked with wood? Shaping it. Sanding it. Spending time to find the beauty that it held inside. Wood that would eventually bare the stains of his blood and hold the nails that pierced those same hands and feet?
 
Did he find the pleasure that a fur-baby can bring in this life with nearby shepherds or a dog that cuddled by his side at night? Did he laugh with his family daily? Did he shake with grief or indecision when his earthly father grew sick? Was he tempted to stop it? Did his family ask?
 
Did he dance at weddings? Sing while he was working? Pray constantly? Lay back in the grass on a Sabbath and rest in blessing of the day? Play jokes on his younger sibs or friends?
 
We know from his experience at the temple when he was 12 that his wisdom was manifesting even at that age. Did he continue to debate with the rabbis in Galliee? Did people seek him out even before he declared his ministry? Did he struggle with illness, fear, love?
 
There are so many nuances to life. Yeshua – a name that comes from the base word, yasha, which means “to save, help, defend, preserve, to make free, attain victory, heal, or bring to safety”, had many nuances. He was God. He was man. He was born of woman. He experienced life with all its complexities, sorrows and joys.
 
Love wondering and someday – I hope to ask Him, face-to-face, but tonight – I think I am saying prayers, curling into my pillow and putting all these questions out of my mind. Because – like David – I know:
 
“I waited patiently for the LORD;
He turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
He set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the LORD
and put their trust in Him.” ~Ps 40:1-3
[google images]