Tag Archives: Psalms

GUITAR PICKIN’ HOME

I can think of no better way to start a Sabbath than listening to some awesome bluegrass, guitar-pickin’ gospel songs. Probably, because there used to be no better way to fall asleep than listening to my dad, mom and assorted friends sing those same songs. It can pull me into the presence of GOD faster than those fingers can fly over the strings. It also can bring me to tears even faster.
 
Today was one such day. Blessings at every turn. A daughter beside me in church. Grands (albeit a little grumpy at being separated from their friends more than they like) listening to me talk on and on about the Veterans displays spread around our church campus. Another daughter’s excited voice describing life in the monster city of New York. A nighttime prayer in our quiet neighborhood as I take our “girls” out for one last time.
 
“I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving.”~Ps 69:30
 
Election day is just a two days away. Veterans Day is a week away. Two important days in our nation.
I take a deep breath and pray for both groups of people.
I will go and vote.
I will honor those who sacrifice every day for my freedom to vote.
I offer thankful prayers for both, and feel blessed to have been born for this special time and place.
 
Despite all the chaos that seems to circle everywhere this year, I continue learn from both of these special days. It is one of those rare gifts of freedom that comes with faith. The faith to believe that despite the outward appearance, there is a Hand that continues to bless us when we humble ourselves and remember. I read somewhere this week that there is another way to look at “chaos”:
C – Christ
H – has
A – all
O – our
S – solutions
 
“Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name.”~1 Chron 29:11b-13
 
As SSS (Shadow-Spooky-Sparkle) kitten sits on my lap, and I yawn for the umpteenth time, I’m thinking that I’m glad I got that extra hour of sleep last night. The allergies are still keeping me busy blowing my nose, and the flu shot added an extra dimension of coughing, and yet – I totally feel peaceful about tomorrow, the next day and the day after that and the day after that and the day….(I know you get the idea). The peace of God is way beyond my understanding, but today as I listened to those old, time gospel songs and listened to my daughter’s voice in my ear, I felt the peace of Home – where my parents are still singing and a Father holds out His favorite cloak to wrap around my shoulders. Best of all, I have kept “Home” with me all day.
 
Blessings!Be! Sweet Dreams! And may His will be accomplished “…on earth as it is in Heaven…”
 

“You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which will through us produce thanksgiving to God.” ~2 Corinthians 9:11 ESV 

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ALIYAH

“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. 

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#7daystoelection #7daystopray #7daystolookup

PERFECT FALL DAY

“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. 
Sun shining. 
Leaves falling. 
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.

BTW – I couldn’t have settled down into bed tonight without doing the wooden puzzle again, just to prove I still knew how to do it.   #Gome#perfectFallday #9daystoelection HMS puzzle[personal image]

RAINDROPS KEEP FALLIN’

“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 repent, 
to listen, and… 
to change.

“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

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DORIS DAY NIGHTS

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”
Pillow Talk
Pajama Game
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 love…
To watch over…
To nurture…
To tend…
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 

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ANTICIPATION DAYS

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 uncertainty.
The loss of stuff.
The worry.
The prayer.

‘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 – 
waiting – 
anticipating – 
loving – 
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

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17 YEARS

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 

9 11 2018

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A STIFF-NECKED, STUBBORN SOUL

For a couple of years when I was in college, I sang in a choir for the High Holy Days at a nearby Jewish synagogue. It was there that I made the connection that Jesus – Yeshua – was a Jewish rabbi. It’s not that I hadn’t been told that – after all it is in the gospels. He was called, “Rabbi”, and I’m sure that at some point, one of my pastors or teachers must have mentioned it. But it took a Rosh Hashanah and the 10 days to Yom Kippur to make it sink in through my stiff-neck, stubborn self. 
Day after day as I walked into the synagogue and listened to the rituals that had been passed down through the ages, my  eyes opened a little wider and I began to wonder about things that had never entered my thick skull before.
“Sing to the Lord a new song,
for he has done marvelous things;
His right hand and his holy arm
have worked salvation for him.
The Lord has made his salvation known
and revealed his righteousness to the nations.
He has remembered his love
and his faithfulness to Israel;
all the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation of our God.” Ps 98:1-4
 
It was the first time I heard a shofar. The first time I heard the Jewish language. The first time I saw Jewish words in print. The first time I tried to look through the eyes of the Jewish worldview at the Savior that I had fallen in love with long ago..
 
Jewish oral tradition believes that Tishri 1 – this head of the year – was the day people were created. It continues that this was also the day that Abraham’s Sarah became pregnant, and a few years later – the day when Issac was bound to be offered as a sacrifice. It was only after God provided a sacrifice to replace Issac that He created the first two shofroth from the horns of that sheep. It would serve as a loud testimony down through the ages of His love and faithfulness to all His people.  
 
The LORD remembered His love for His people. The LORD made His salvation known to all the ends of the earth with the sound of the horns. Just as the Father breathed life into His child, man breaths life into the sofar as The Feast of the Trumpets rings throughout the land. 
 
“with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn—
shout for joy before the Lord, the King.” Ps 98:6
 
Many continue to use the 10 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur as a period of fasting and reflection. A time to look back, and a time to look forward A time to throw out failures and a time to draw a new vision. A time to mourn over foolishness, and a time to sing over successes. A time to look within, and a time to look up to the One who breathed life into clay and continues to love unconditionally.
 
A couple years back, for each of the 10 days of High Holy Days, a question was posed on an electronic billboard in Times Square in NYC. Questions meant to encourage contemplation for the new year to anyone who read them . I don’t know what those questions were, but I do wonder as I start to formulate my own journey for these next 10 days. After all, Jesus honored, as was His habit, His Father’s commands in Leviticus 23 as He walked this earth. It just might do some good for this stubborn, stiff-necked soul as well.
 
“Let the sea resound, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it.
Let the rivers clap their hands,
let the mountains sing together for joy;
Let them sing before the Lord,
for he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
and the peoples with equity.” Ps 98:7-9 

 

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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]

GOODNIGHT, GOODNIGHT

Yesterday, a woman came with a bag bursting at the seams with children’s books. Heraugust 10 2018 a 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. 
Golden books. 
Tell-a-Tale 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!”august 10 2018 f