Tag Archives: Romans

PANDEMIC VISION 2020: Perfect

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

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

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

Allergies blossomed in my life and show up regularly.

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

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

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

Ugh!

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

Good news?

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

“Praising my Savior all the day long….”

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

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

Today was perfect.

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

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

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

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


Blessings!Be!

VISION 2020: I CAN II

Today, I got new bookshelves in our little school library. Like most things in our library, these shelves were donated. The joy started bubbling over as I realized that they were exactly the answer to one of those unspoken prayers in my life. One of those things, I never really prayed over, but thought about often. Needless to say, my arthritic back was a little sore when I came home from school tonight. You can’t move close to a thousand books without experiencing a twinge or two.

In these “elder” years of my life, “I CAN do all things through Christ that strengthens me” always springs to mind when I see something I need to accomplish – especially when it is physical. Who am I kidding? It springs to mind whether it is physical, emotional or spiritual, and I am glad it does. It is His promise and I need those desperately.

But there was something more. The power of this answered prayer continued to nag at me with each stack of books I moved. I continued to chew on it as I worked. I ground my teeth a little as I sat in my chair icing my back. And finally – after being called into serious prayer in the Spirit for family, it hit me. Our Father cares about even those silly little everyday things that absorb our attention in daily life. The things we don’t really pray about – but somehow mean something to us – enough that it pulls at the depths of our heart and touches the Spirit that lives within us.

I CAN do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

I looked down at my feet tonight as I stood outside and realized how strong that rock is under my feet. The Aaronic prayer of Numbers circles through my head. Not the verse as much as the song that I sang over and over throughout my early life. His peace reigns. The Amen chorus ringing its 4-part harmony even after all these years.

My heart has been heavy for the past week. Several prayer requests from family and friends light up my heart throughout the days and whisper in my sleep. The Spirit nudges me to pray – not in the comfort of my chair or bed – but on my knees – to fast – to listen – to seek His heart within my own; to open my eyes to the glory that is about to be made manifest to those who have been called.

“We know that in all things GOD works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” Rm 8;28

The world whips around us at amazing speed. Technology filling our heads with topics, music, pundits, knowledge pulling us far from the inner core that allows us to withstand the storms of life. Tumultuous quakings, shakings, of the soul that mimics the physical rebellion of the earth itself.

“God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.” Ps 46:1-3

I often go out at night and stand on my front porch. It is not big. It does not need to be. It is comfortable and fits me perfectly. It has heard joyous songs. It has felt tears fall on its planks. It has provided shelter from the weather swirling beyond its confines. It is where I often feel closest to the Father and His Son. Whether the snow is falling or the humidity so thick that breathing is hard, whether skies are cloudy or the moon shining brightly upon the neighborhood, I feel His presence keenly. I savor whatever it is that calls me out to stand on its decking almost every night, and am humbled by the power of His glory that I can barely comprehend.

I CAN.

Valentines Day was today at our school. Tomorrow is a work day – which I really need to get the library back in shape. On my desk were little blessings, but as always, the best ones were from the kids as they peeked in the library, laughing at the mess, asking when they could come again, sneaking out of line to give me so many hugs, and giggling as they saw the candy tattoo on my tongue at lunch.

I CAN do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I CAN pray for those I can’t hug. I CAN move a bunch of books. I CAN love as HE loves. I CAN walk on water. I CAN do all things through Christ, and I’m so blessed that He is my rock and salvation. 

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THOUGHTSONG SINGS

I haven’t written much lately. Well – that’s not exactly true. I have been writing – – – a lot actually. I just haven’t posted anything to my blog or on FB. The Thoughtsong that flows into the blog or FB has been quiet. So quiet that I wondered if she would sing again. So in corresponding fashion – after all – I have learned over these many years to be silent when the Thoughtsong is not singing in my heart. But tonight, the song began again.

“Declare among the nations: “The LORD reigns!”
The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved…”~Ps 96:10a

The promises of Our Father, written way before I entered the chaos of Terra, are amazing. When His promises live in people of prayer, they are even more amazing. I think that is why Thoughtsong began singing once again. Reciting promise after promise and having prayer warriors reciting promise after promise continue to be all the manna one needs to survive. Thoughtsong is singing once again, and I am beyond thankful to hear her song welling up inside of me.

In the past month, I’ve moved over 100+ wheelbarrow loads of mulch and stone. Watched my plants grow – despite weather that has been all over the charts – and produce fruit (can’t wait for the any-day-now-first tomato). Walked the dogs and thrown a stick more times than I can count – but my elbow knows – in both arms. Groaned in the Holy Spirit until there were no more tears and slept in exhaustion. Waited – not so patiently – as the new song began to form.

“For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”~Rm 15:4

Prayer as been the wind under my wings. 
Holding. 
Lifting. 
Carrying. 
Loving.
Directing.

A couple days back another prayer warrior dropped off a book for me, It’s Not Supposed To Be This Way  by Lysa Terkeurst. I read the first chapter and cried. I wrote and I wrote about things that God knew already, but these words were for me. I was the one that needed to see – to hear – needed to sing for myself. God hears and listens when we stand on His promises – just not always in the way we expect.

“Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all the earth.”~Ps 96:1

As I continue to step forward on this new God path, I continue to find the path in the darkness with each of His promises lighting my stumbling, tiny baby steps (I am not courageous enough to take giant steps nor secure enough to be confident). New paths are challenging – hard to navigate. But every day, I become stronger. My clothes hang a little more loosely. My muscles a little sturdier. And thankfully at the end of long days, my kitty curls in my lap while one dog snores behind my chair and the other cuts farts under my feet.

Life – while not how I thought it should be – is how HE thinks it should be, and I gulp another big breath as I prepare to step forward tomorrow. Maybe…even…double gulp …a giant step tomorrow.

“Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and ||mighty things, which thou knowest not..”~Jer 33:3 

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12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS: Grace Gifts

And just like that – Thanksgiving – Advent – Christmas – New Years – 12 Days of Christmas have all blown their Grace gifts deep into my soul. I have breathed their essence and tried to absorb them into every cell of my being.

“In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you.”~Rm 12:6

Tonight, I have already – mostly – turned off the lights for the last time on Christmas 2018 – – -except for my main nativity. As I write, I can look over at the soft white lights and try to hold the Grace gifts just a little closer. The great thing about getting older is that time flies by so quickly that maybe – just maybe – I might not screw up and forget them as often as I have in the past. (Now that is wistful thinking)

Epiphany ends the 12 Days of Christmas. Tomorrow will be a busy day as I pack away the last of the decorations and clean the house. Luckily, it is not so cold this year in NC and taking down the outside lights will be full of sunlight and warmth. A Grace gift for sure.

“If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well.”~Rm 12:7

Grace gifts come in many forms. Our school started back up on Wednesday. Teachers were squirrely. Kids were squirrelier. But – there were so many smiles on so many faces that it really didn’t matter in the least. There were hugs upon hugs as if it had been two years instead of two weeks. There were times of sharing, laughter, lessons and times when I opened the treasure chest to fill it with a few more memories.

“If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.”~Rm 12:8

Our Father has given (and is continually giving) us many Grace Gifts. He reminds us of them often, but we don’t seem to listen too well. Everyday life tends to plug our ears and throw sand in our eyes. That is probably why He gave a lot of festivals to the Jewish people. After all, when we get to gather together – eat lots of food – hug on each other – and (for me) sleep in until 8 or 9, we tend to listen and see a little more clearly.

Thanksgiving. Advent. Christmas. New Years. 12 Days of Christmas.

Here – for a brief shining moment in each year, these few days shine brightly. A Grace Gift to the world from a Father whose love knows no limit. I’m holding tight to those Christmas Grace Gifts and so thankful for His Light as it continues to brighten my 2019 treasure chest memories. It is the littlest thing that brings a smile or a tear or a Grace Gift to someone in our sphere of living. All we have to do is listen, share, encourage, lead responsibly, be kind, go that extra mile, and do for others as you would have them do for you.

“On the 12th Day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me…” Grace Gifts.  download [personal image}

PROMISES OF PEACE

In the midst of the past month, we watched two hurricanes pass our way. One with lots of rain – the other with lots of wind. The huge trees that litter many yards and crumpled cars and homes around us is a testimony of winds that exceeded any tornado winds I ever saw in OH.

When I drove to church this morning, I realized how blessed we truly are. The loss of electric and internet are minor inconveniences compared to the utter destruction of homes, businesses, and communities in FL.

“The grass withers, the flower fades, But the WORD of our GOD stands forever.”~Is 40:8

I’ve been reading a lot more over the past few days – done some cross stitch – finished lots of cryptograms (my favorite kind of puzzle) – started working on a couple other Christmas things – and done a lot of praying for those who have absolutely nothing left after Hurricane Michael passed over them.

Yesterday, our power returned and we were able to turn off the generator that had kept our food cold and our water running. 
Today, our congregation was prayed over by missionaries from Africa, and tears streamed down my face. Tomorrow night our church is packing 60 thousand meals to send off to FL, and I get to pick up the Grands. My life is returning to normal while many people will be months and maybe years from normal.

“Neither death nor life…nor things present nor things to come…shall be able to separate us from the love of GOD.”~Rm 8:38-39

I’ve been reading a Billy Graham devotional from 2002 off and on this summer and fall. Throughout the past few days, the prayers centered on praising GOD in all things – especially in difficult times – just as Job did in the OT. I especially identified with this quote full of hope and promise:

“It’s easy to praise after the fact when we receive the healing, the restored relationship, and the financial windfall. It is a true and mature faith that praises GOD in the midst of the trial and trusts Him even before the outcome is revealed.”~Rev. Billy Graham, Oct 14, 2018

And so it was.

As Hubby and I stood on the porch or in the garage and watched the rain so thick that we couldn’t see our neighbors’ homes – were astounded when the top of tall trees reached for the ground – mourned a little when the banana tree’s leaves shred in even tinier slivers or broke completely – listened to our dogs whine and pace while kitty hid in the back room curled in my office chair where she spent so many days as a kitten, I chose to give thanks. I chose to remember to trust. I chose to offer continual prayers of thankfulness. I chose to rely on His promises and found peace in the midst of the storm.

Peace in the storm. 
Peace in the sunset after the storm.
Peace in the inconvenience of daily routines. 
Peace in a fall-blooming iris still standing tall – not one leaf destroyed.
Peace in the waiting for “normalcy”. 
Peace of His blessings following me all the days of my life.

Promises of Peace given to each and everyone of us in His boat.

Can’t get any better than that. 

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Ya just never know how a day is going to turn out. We have our plans. We have our visions. But – – – sometimes – – – the day completely derails, and you just have to scratch your head, put what you are holding in your hands away, and just pray.

It was a sleepless night. The night before Open House or the first day of school has always been like that for me. I get way too excited. Last night was exceptionally so. Not only couldn’t sleep, but I had this pounding head. If I slept an hour, I would be surprised. I used all my tricks, prayed, put on harp music of hymns, prayed some more, talked to the dogs, and started the complaining prayers because nothing was working, and I really hate sinus-pounding-headaches. Errrrr….

When just like that, an answer to one of my prayers popped. Headache still there, but I could see what I needed to do to decorate the library and get the parents and students involved for 4 rounds of my 10 minutes of presentation. The rest of the night was filled with exactly how I was going to do it and organizing the supplies needed. Finally – I think – I fell asleep with a thankful prayer singing in my heart. However, by 5:30, the dogs and I were on our walk, excited to get the day started.

“And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose.”~Rm 8:28

Our school is fantastic. They served the staff a home-cooked breakfast, taught us how to use the newest smart board/interaction system (which – btw – is amazing), got a new GCA cup and wristband, and then we began working in our classrooms. Typical beginning to a new year.

It has been 5 years since I have been through this, and I am beyond blessed to be a part of the founding of a new Christian school. Tonight showed just how blessed this endeavor is. Shortly after most of the teachers had left to change clothes for open house, a truck rammed through a brick wall and into the 1st grade classroom. An hour earlier – just minutes earlier – teachers stood in front of that brick wall decorating it. An hour later students, teachers and parents would have filled this area of the building.august 13 2018e

At this point there are many versions of what happened. Truck driver is okay. One car driver needs prayers and is in the hospital. Our staff and church staff are all okay. The building – not so much.

“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”~1 Cor 13:12

The glass is pretty dark tonight. As I write, I have no idea when our school will open or what parts will be condemned for structural damage – after all – the cab of a logging truck sits in the middle of our 1st grade classroom. I have to admit – I am a little heart-broken not to be teaching again this week.

I do know the Hand of the Father was on our staff today. It was on me, because I always drive through that intersection on my way into school. When I arrived shortly after it happened, the staff was already gathered together, prayers circulated, hugs shared and talk about other place on campus that could be utilized. It won’t be easy, but then – Our Father never promised it would be. He did promise that it would be worth it.

The good news? I get some more time with the Grands this summer. I came home to the neighbors having gathered together to cut up our fallen tree. And puppies did their happy dance because I finally came home to throw a couple of sticks that still litter the ground.

Ya just never know.

This week our preacher finished his sermon by singing, “Great is thy Faithfulness” in his own unique style. It brought me to tears on Sunday. I thought about that song as I drove home tonight, with tears in my eyes again, and the words echoing in my head:

“Great is Thy faithfulness,” O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.
“Great is Thy faithfulness!” “Great is Thy faithfulness!”
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
“Great is Thy faithfulness,” Lord, unto me!” 

TIME TO AWAKEN

“It is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep…”

50 years ago today, I was standing backstage of a theatre in England with 100+ other OH kids waiting to sing our first concert before British royalty. The director stepped up to me and asked, “Are you ready to sing your solo tonight?”

I said, “I guess.”

He looked at me for what seemed eternity, and then said, “Since you’re not sure, John will sing it tonight.” John did sing it that night and did a great job. Me? I learned a tough lesson.

I got to sing my solo many times after that – once in front of the Vatican and a Pope who came to stand on the balcony – but I never forgot that one particular lesson or many others that my director, Glenville Thomas, taught me during my two years with The All Ohio State Fair Choir.

Looking back through my teenage scrapbook this week made me smile. From the distinctive, high school handwriting to the blurry pictures to the various faded newspaper clippings to the required (by the director) letters I wrote home to the anxious parents to a few postcards and old mimeographed programs, I kept chuckling all the way through those bittersweet times. 
Wondering about those lost singing buddies – 
Looking at the list of songs I can still sing in my head – 
Thinking about the many lessons I learned because a Welsh immigrant who loved to sing had a dream.

“…the night is almost gone, and the day is at hand.”– Rom 13:11

It was during these two years that my fascinations with old churches and singing under bridges all began. It was a different time. A different culture. We were given freedom to roam away from the group, and there was a group of us who would seek out old churches – even the ones we weren’t singing in.

There was almost always at least one STAB quartet in our group so we could sing in harmony on most anything we decided to sing and the acoustics were well worth the seeking. If we couldn’t find churches, we would find bridges and sing under them. If we couldn’t find bridges, we sang in parks. And sometimes – we just sang in the lobby of the hotel.

No matter where we sang, people gathered. They laughed. 
They smiled. They found ways to communicate with us even when we didn’t speak the same language. And – strange as it may seem, I remember those tiny concerts much more than I remember the ones we did as an entire group before large impressive crowds. And I remember the choir director who smiled and listened to our stories when we returned.

“I will sing to the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.”~Ps 104:33

My voice has been gone for a couple of years, but the last few months it seems to be making a comeback. So I have been stretching it and pushing the boundaries a little. It is still not in great shape, but it is better, and I have started to sing just for the joy of singing again.

Darkness is like that. The eyes grow heavy, and it is hard to find the joy in being awake in this world. Yet – even in the darkest night I continue to push myself into the WORD. Push myself to understand what is beyond my understanding. Seek to find that nook where I can stand or fall to my knees or dance for joy or sing a new song for the One who loves me beyond measure.

“…for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed…let us therefore lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of Light.”~Rm 13:11-12

Time to awaken from sleep.
Time to open the eyes.
Time to stand in the nook.
Time to sing for joy.
Time for Grace.

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BREADCRUMBS III: The Sigh.

Tiny black notebooks don’t stay tiny for long. Just like all other baby critters, a notebook can grow with a life all unto itself. Stuffed into whatever corner of light found in my varied classrooms, that tiny notebook flourished.  Over the years it became stuffed with teaching ideas, notes from students, a few stories/poems that students gave me to keep, very few pictures, and even fewer pieces of my own writing (believe it or not, this writing teacher needs to write with her students), that notebook grew into one larger version after another.

In other words: one glorious treasure chest of memories.

Not sure what started me on this journey today. Had no plans to dig into this particular treasure chest. After all, my room is still cluttered with enough stuff that I need to organize from my mom’s last box of memories. But there I was my hand resting on a black notebook that had been stuck totally in a back corner of my photo closet with no other explanation except that a breadcrumb had landed on it and caught my eye.

I sighed and pulled it out. Papers stuck in between pages fluttered to the floor, and I laughed. What else can you do when there is some paczki sitting in my fridge on King’s Day or Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras or Carnival or whatever you want to call the day before Lent? You stuff your face with one kind of sweetness and fill your eyes with another kind – sweet memories.

One of the things that fell to the floor was a Peanuts cartoon. Linus holding his blanket. Bossy Lucy sitting in front of the TV. A sigh hanging between them. I remembered this cartoon and a note from a student back in 2000 saying they thought of me when they read it. I smiled and I sighed.

“And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness.”

It is the beginning of Lent. The symbolic remembrance of a singular journey. A day when a young Rabbi arose before daybreak to walk into the darkness. A custom that started his day and ended his day. A whispered prayer that started and ended each day for him and all the generations of Jews before and after him.

“She-ma yisrael, adonai eloheinu, adonai echad…” 
Hear O’ Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One…

Alone time with his Father before he woke the others. A time of reflection. A time to look deep within himself and out over the countryside that waited for his first step. And somewhere deep inside me, I think, he smiled, took a deep breath and sighed.

The Father knew what was in the heart of his son on that first day. That day when Yeshua turned his feet towards Jerusalem. He knew the humanness that pulled at his first born. He knew the atrocities that lived in the heart of His other children. He knew of the love and repentance of others. And – perhaps – like His son – He, too, breathed deeply and sighed.

Two sighs united in eternity. Two hearts beating in two different realms. A Father – – A Son singing notes that could not be expressed in words until the Holy Spirit harmonized with them. A single note with all the harmonics of the universe blended into one focused purpose. A trinity united for one purpose – Grace began its journey toward Jerusalem in that breath – that sigh.

Valentines Day seems to be the perfect day to start Lent. Whether we give something up or give something away or give of ourselves to others, Lent is an active choice of Love enacted in life. A time to set our sights on Jerusalem, take a step into the darkness and pray for strength to walk forward in a timeless sigh towards Grace.

“And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.”~Rm 8:26-30 Peanuts 2000 051[google image]

ADVENT 2017 – HOPE #3

It has been one of those nights when all I’ve done is find one podcast after another (and should I  mention that I really don’t like to listen to them at all .  I am a visual learner who does much better watching body cues and facial expression while I listen). Podcasts that popped up in various ways and yet – all related – tied together by theme and content. And now, they are all tumbling around in my head as I am watching seasonal, up-lifting movies, praying off and on, working on a Christmas stocking, and enjoying the colorful lights that decorate my house.

I am blessed. Blessed beyond time. Blessed with unending HOPE.

And yet – I yearn for more.  Yearn to understand more.  Yearn to peek over the balcony in my own world. I can see my cover picture on FB. It is entitled, “Heaven’s balcony” by Ron DiCianni. When I first saw it, it struck me that this has always been the way I pictured angels and my loved ones as they look down from heaven at the rest of us – – – a time of peeking over the rails of clouds into the murky world below.

Can you imagine what Heaven’s balcony looked like when Zechariah was in the temple? At the annunciation to a young girl? At the moment when John leapt in Elizabeth’s belly? On the night of Yeshua’s birth?

Can you imagine them seeing the HOPE that shown in the eyes of a weary couple – in a place – a place they had never envisioned as the perfect spot to birth a babe – let alone – their baby?

“And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.”~Lk 2:6-7

HOPE.

Whether it is a balcony full of angels blowing golden trumpets – – – a choir of heavenly voices – – – a multitude of candles forming a humongous star – – – on that blessed night, there was HOPE. A gathering of notes. An accumulation of lights. A stairway of prayers from heaven to earth. “…a kingdom come…”

HOPE.

“And the word of our God stands for eternities. And this is that word by which you have been evangelized.”~1 Pt 1:25

This is not at all what I was going to write about tonight. As it often is the case, the pictures change in my head, and the words change with them. We celebrate the memory of HOPE during this season, but the great news is – HOPE remains in this murky world. Scary as it seems at times. Frightful as the world turns upside down. Humbling as the knees fold.

But for those “poor in spirit, mournful, meek, hungering/thirsting, merciful, pure of heart, peacemakers, persecuted” – – – HOPE remains in this world and I yearn – yearn for even more HOPE.

“For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”~Rm 8:24-25 [google images/Ron DiCianni art]heaven's balcony

GRATITUDE ATTITUDE 2017 #26

Gratitude is precious. I know because my heart is bubbling over with Gratitude Attitude.
 
Our 3 year old choc lab was sick on Thanksgiving. Not bad sick, just off her feed. By Saturday, I was cuddled on the floor beside her non-moving body and destroying the full box of tissue beside me. Needless to say, trying to sleep on a cold wooden floor – not to mention trying to get up and down from said flooring – or being awakened by a barfing dog tends to disrupt the sleep patterns of any senior citizen. 
 
By last night – not only was my sleep disrupted – I was off my feed and praying – – or maybe I should say crying and groaning – – a lot.
 
“In this way also The Spirit helps our weakness. We do not know what we should pray for, whenever it is necessary, but that Spirit prays in our place with groaning which is unspoken.”~Rm. 8:26
 
The power of prayer is far beyond my understanding. When I was young, I saw my parents in deep prayer a few times. Twice with my dad. Three times with my mom. Prayer changes people who pray. It changes those around them. It changed me.
 
While being mentioned over 260+ times in the New Testament, the name of the Holy Spirit is only mentioned 3 times in the Old Testament; instead it is commonly referred to as the Spirit of God over 88 times. However, it is interesting to note that King David, after being chastised by the Prophet Nathan and becoming “poor in spirit”, says, “Do not banish me from Your presence, and don’t take Your Holy Spirit from me.” Ps 51:11
 
When we are shattered into shards of our former self, when we look around us and see the ugliness we have created, when our heart aches so deeply that the world spins into darkness, when no words seem adequate – let alone coherent or effective, that is when the Holy Spirit speaks for us – – to us – – replacing the ravages of the storm with the Peace of the Father.
 
I’m not sure how this whole pet thing works in the scheme of the spiritual realm. Who has eternal souls and who doesn’t. What I do know is that we are all created to glorify Our Father. From the tiniest particle of matter to the complex forms of humans, we are handcrafted in love and heard – – – even if the answer isn’t what we wanted to hear when we started the conversation.
 
Last night, after I had moved Koay’s body close to the couch so I could still pet her and lay on the couch, I had peace (and not just because I was more comfortable on the couch). Somewhere in the midst of sniffling and ranting and groaning, His Peace encircled me and my eyes were able to drift shut.
 
Our Father doesn’t send bad things to us. He is all goodness and love. It is our world that is “crap full” (as mom used to say) of bad apple choices and the resulting mutations of creation. What He does promise is to weave bad things, good things, even the mediocre, minor-things-we-don’t-even-notice together for the good of those who love Him.
 
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”~Rm 8:28
 
We were blessed today and our Gratitude Attitude grew 10 times larger. At 3 AM, Koay lifted her head for the first time in a very long afternoon-evening of darkness. She drank some water that I held for her, then her head fell back on the blanket with a plop. When next she woke me at 6 AM, it was because she had squirmed her body even closer to my hand and curled her head my palm. I got up and offered her some food that I had been trying to feed her for 24 hours. 
 
She ate.
She has been eating, drinking all day.
Better yet – no barfing.
But best of all? She wagged her tail. She had not wagged it for 3 days.
 
We are still keeping her close. Feeding her small portions throughout the day. Making sure she has plenty of water. And – we find that in all things, we see a blessing. The illness had kept her off her torn ACL leg, and now she is putting a little more weight on it.
 
So before I go to bed and try to catch up on all the sleep I have missed over the past two nights, I will take her outside and sing my own song of praise and Gratitude that we get to walk together one more day, find more new life that continues to blossom in the NC sunshine, and hopefully – walk a little further every day after that.
 
God is good and worthy to be praised. [personal photos]