Thursday, December 31, 2009

Good advice


"Stop trying to protect, to rescue, to judge, to manage the lives around you . . . remember that the lives of others are not your business. They are their business. They are God’s business . . . even your own life is not your business. It also is God’s business. Leave it to God. It is an astonishing thought. It can become a life-transforming thought . . . unclench the fists of your spirit and take it easy . . . What deadens us most to God’s presence within us, I think, is the inner dialogue that we are continuously engaged in with ourselves, the endless chatter of human thought. I suspect that there is nothing more crucial to true spiritual comfort . . . than being able from time to time to stop that chatter . . . "
— Frederick Buechner (Telling Secrets)


This is good advice and the closest I will come to making any kind of a New Year's resolution. I know better. No sooner do I put pressure on myself to do what I should already be doing that I fail miserably within a few weeks. The best thing I can come up with for 2010 is to keep doing the same things I did in 2009 but lean on God even more and myself even less. The best way to keep myself honest is to keep the Word close at hand. It shows my utter failure to do anything at all of eternal value in my own power. And it also shows that the giants of the faith had the same stuggles that I have. That makes me feel a bit better.

So today, and hopefully tomorrow I will get up and start all over again with a spirit of thanksgiving regardless of what is going on in my life, knowing that each day, each breath, is a precious gift from You, God. Thank you for the compass of Your Word and ones you have placed in my life to straighten me out when I need a bump on the head.

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does. James 1:22-25

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Miracles in the Mundane


I have had the blahs the past two days. It is grey out which isn't usual for us in Arizona. I have wanted to hole up and do nothing except grab a blanket and read. I have contemplated taking down the decorations but no far have had no motivation to do it. Company is gone, and I need to think about cleaning house, making Dr. and Dental appointments, and moving onward with the routine of life.

Sometimes in the afterglow of celebrations, returning to the routine can feel somewhat mundane. But it is in these times especially that our faith becomes real; that in spite of the blahs, we get up, get moving, start the day, do what needs to be done. That is when the real miracle happens and the mundane becomes the miracle itself because God reveals Himself to us in it.

Each day becomes a celebration all over again because God is placed squarely back on the throne of our lives. Yes, He lives. He is truly God with us, Immanuel. I think of how Peter must have felt when He thought Jesus was gone forever. All hopes dashed, dreams crushed in the dust. He did the one thing that always gave him comfort, he went fishing.

John 21:1-4
Jesus Appears at the Sea of Galilee:
After these things Jesus manifested Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and He manifested Himself in this way. Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, "I am going fishing." They said to him, "We will also come with you." They went out and got into the boat; and that night they caught nothing. But when the day was now breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.


Can you imagine the joy Peter must have felt when he realized who it was on shore cooking breakfast for him? That is how God works, just when you think He is gone forever He shows up and produces a miracle in the mundane!

Monday, December 28, 2009

An invitation

Photo by Ben James
You're invited!
To: The wedding supper of the Lamb
Date: Sometime in the future
Dress: Come as you are, clothed in righteousness
Time: For all eternity
Guest list: All who accept the invitation
Then I heard the sound of massed choirs, the sound of a mighty cataract, the sound of strong thunder:
Hallelujah!
The Master reigns,
our God, the Sovereign-Strong!
Let us celebrate, let us rejoice,
let us give him the glory!
The Marriage of the Lamb has come;
his Wife has made herself ready.
She was given a bridal gown
of bright and shining linen.
The linen is the righteousness of the saints.
The Angel said to me, "Write this: 'Blessed are those invited to the Wedding Supper of the Lamb.'" He added, "These are the true words of God!" Revelation 19:6-9

Jesus said:
"Don't let this throw you. You trust God, don't you? Trust me. There is plenty of room for you in my Father's home. If that weren't so, would I have told you that I'm on my way to get a room ready for you? And if I'm on my way to get your room ready, I'll come back and get you so you can live where I live. And you already know the road I'm taking." John 14:1-4

All we have to do is accept the invitation.....Counting my blessings today with thoughts of both earthly and heavenly homes.
A place of no tears, where sorrow and sighing are no more
Eternal light
Squeaky floors and screen doors
No more sadness, no more goodbyes
A tea pot on the stove
Reassuring hum of refrigerator
Shoes by the door
Books, books and more books
A river of life that runs right through the middle
Worn Bible
A barrel of firewood
Rustling grocery sacks
Car tires announcing arrival
The most beautiful music you could ever imagine
Squeak of ironing board
Eternal conversations with God
and loved ones

This makes #186 toward 1000 and beyond,
holy experience

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Something we can all do....


We all pray whether we think of it as praying or not. The odd silence we fall into when something very beautiful is happening, or something very good or very bad. The ah-h-h-h! that sometimes floats up out of us as out of a Fourth of July crowd when the skyrocket bursts over the water. The stammer of pain at somebody else's pain. The stammer of joy at somebody else's joy. Whatever words or sounds we use for sighing with over our own lives. These are all prayers in their way. These are all spoken not just to ourselves but to something even more familiar than ourselves and even more strange than the world.
By Frederick Buechner

Prayer......its something we can all do! At any time of the day, and He will hear.

Psalm 5:3
My voice You shall hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning I will direct my prayer to You, and I will look up.

"Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving; praying at the same time for us as well, that God may open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned; in order that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak." Colossians 4:2-4

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Camp stories


I have actually seen bears sit at tables like this. One time in Yosemite I actually saw one open a full jar of mayonnaise, proceed to lick it clean and then belch loudly before padding off the to next site. Another time a neighbor left their small dog tied to the car door overnight. The window was open a crack, just a crack mind you. The next morning they told us the dog had been so scared that he wedged himself into the car through that impossibly small crack. If they hadn't told me, I would never have believed it! We nicknamed him Houdini after that.

Another time we had just set a beautiful table for breakfast, eggs, bacon, pancakes, the whole 9 yards. No sooner had we put the first forkful into our mouths we hear shouts of, "Bear, bear!" echoing throughout the camp. We looked up to see a good sized one trotting right towards us. I guess the human fear was overridden by the smell of bacon and maple syrup. It was every man (and child) for himself, as we all ran in different directions. He proceeded to clear the table of everything, including us.

In their latter days of camping my Mom had taken to sleeping with a scissors close by her bed, "In case I need to cut my way out the back when the bear comes in." I guess she was assuming that the bear would automatically use decorum and come in through the front flap. Ever tried to cut into heavy duty canvas? I guess with the presence of adrenalin and fear anything is possible. Just ask Houdini dog.

This picture brought back some good memories of camping in my youth.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas to all.....


May you find a quiet corner today where you can sit in the silence and thank Him for His wondrous Gift, of Himself. Go out, look at the stars and think of how it must have been to see that other star that lit up the sky and broke open the heavens so that Angels spilled out.

May you wonder as they did, what can it possibly mean? May we follow the star all the way to the cross, and then the empty tomb, and then follow Him for the rest of our lives.

May your Christmas be blessed, remembering the one who came, the one who has come, and the one who will come back in a much different way than He came the first time. May we be ready!

And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” Acts 1:10,11

My prayer is that my life will leak out more and more of Your light, so that others may find You.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

God's bailout plan


Do feel tired, world-weary, stressed, bogged down and over-loaded? Feel like you need a bailout? God has the answer......and His bailout plan is eternal, the best kind! That is the Good News of Christmas!

For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:7,8

When we were powerless to save ourselves, He came down and did the impossible, awful, terrible, unthinkable thing. God Himself died for us so that we could be with Him forever. Not only that, this plan was in the works from the very beginning, before man took his first breath. He knew we would fail, He knew we would stray from Him, He knew this even as He breathed the breath of His own Spirit into our nostrils. Given the choice, each one of us eventually turn and go our own way, away the very One who loves us the most. It's insane, it's crazy, it's radical!

It's a God who loves us so much it hurts Him.

So not only do we not have to fear death, we don't have to fear this life either! At any moment during the day we can stop, reflect, pull back from the stress of life and know that we can draw a ready supply of strength and help from our Comforter. Now that's what I call a bail-out plan!

The Son of God became a man to enable men to become the sons of
God. - C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

But would we notice?


The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness --
on them light has shined.
Isaiah 9:2


I sometimes wonder if it happened all over again, would we stop long enough to notice, or try to explain it away? Sometimes I wonder about myself, as I start my day, get up, check things off "my agenda."

But really God it is Your day, You have redeemed all my days and each one is a precious gift. I confess that I am sometimes too caught up in my plan that I ignore Your whisperings in my heart. Forgive me, Lord. Help me to slow down and have better Spiritual hearing. Help me to remember that my days belong to You.

"Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them." Psalm 139:16

Monday, December 21, 2009

A few of my favorite things......

Things that just make me feel good.......adding to my list of gratitude today:
Don't robins make you feel like they have something important to tell you?
Libraries are my happy place...
Cat hugs are always great!
How can you see this and not feel all warm inside? The miracle of new life.....
I want to go back to Kindergarten!
Sitting at the bottom of Yosemite valley, I greet my familiar granite faces in wonder, again. I wait, cupping my chilled hands around my cup, and wait for first rays to reach me where I sit.
Cabins in snow, always a favorite.....

More things......Baby animals of all kinds, kites flying against a summer sky, puppy breath, the hush of snow fall, the wonder of God's whole creation, cry of coyotes in the wee hours, owls, angel statues in cemetaries, birdsong in the morning, falling asleep talking to God, hugs that are serious like they really don't want to let you go, the reassuring sound of the ocean washing over all my worries, good advice from someone who really cares, books and more books, musical laughter, and most of all the knowledge of where all these things come from, that is the best gift of all.

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." James 1:17

#170 toward 1000 and beyond,
holy experience

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A light unto my path....


"Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path." Psalm 119:105

I have allowed things to crowd You out Lord, the voice of Your Spirit has become dimmed, so this morning I run to Your Word. I cling to it as a drowning man clings to floating driftwood, knowing that it is my only hope of survival.

Like the lamp that lights the way to Narnia, Your Word is my gateway to communion with You. I hear the familiar Words and draw comfort. I begin to feel your Spirit's stir once again in my soul here in the quiet, and I am restored.

Thank You Lord, once again You greet me with Your Presence. Your grace covers me like a cloak. Words leap from pages as if they are meant just for me! Thank You for being patient with me again and again. I take one step toward Your Word and I am blessed beyond measure.

I hug it to my chest, panic subsiding, I drift. I reach Your golden shore.

"A voice is calling, clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness; make smooth in the desert a highway for Our God." Isaiah 40:3
"The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the Lord blows upon it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers the flower fades, but the Word of the Lord stands forever." Isaiah 40: 7,8

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Still, still, still.....


Still, still, still,
One can hear the falling snow.
For all is hushed,
The world is sleeping,
Holy Star its vigil keeping.
Still, still, still,
One can hear the falling snow.

Sleep, sleep, sleep,
'Tis the eve of our Saviour's birth.
The night is peaceful all around you,
Close your eyes,
Let sleep surround you.
Sleep, sleep, sleep,
'Tis the eve of our Saviour's birth.

Dream, dream, dream,
Of the joyous day to come.
While guardian angels without number,
Watch you as you sweetly slumber.
Dream, dream, dream,
Of the joyous day to come.


From Salzburg, 1819
Literal English translation

Friday, December 18, 2009

A bit of poetry for the soul


One of my all time favorite poems....I can just hear the harness bells as the horse shakes his head in question, and the deep hush of the snow-filled woods....

Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.


He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.


The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Bethlehem Star

This is the best movie I have seen all year, amazing, powerful, awe-inspiring. Order this now, you will be glad you did. Well researched and thoughfully done. Guaranteed to produce chills when the presentation unfolds and you see how the backdrop of Scripture leaps to life. I was filled with a renewed appreciation for how God has meticulously planned everything right from the beginning. Nothing is random here!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Eventide....

Photo by Kathleen Connally
I found this online in a photo grouping by Kathleen Connally, thought it fit together with the lyrics of the evening Hymn below.

The Moravian Single Sisters' House on Church Street was used as a combination dormitory, industrial and religious center for single women within the community. The Moravians had a unique and highly-controlled social system which divided men, women and children into groups based on their sex, age and marital status. The groups were known as "choirs" and they participated in common work and worship together within their own residences.

O Radiant Light, O Sun divine, Of the God the Father’s deathless face,
O Image of the Light sublime that fills the heavenly dwelling place.

O Son of God, the source of life, Praise is your due by night and day,
Our joyful lips must raise the strain, the strain of Your esteemed and splendid name.
Lord Jesus Christ as daylight fades, as shine the lights of eventide, we praise
The Father with the Son, The Spirit blessed and with them one.

Presbyterian Hymn (third century Greek, translated)

This song is sung beautifully by Michael Joncas and the Cathedral singers available on ITUNES.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Delighting in the way....

Stepping Stones by Dan Hildreth

"The steps of a man (or woman) are established by the Lord; And He delights in his way. When he falls, he shall not be hurled headlong; because the Lord is the One who holds his hand." Psalm 23,24

I was stuck today. I couldn't seem to motivate myself to do a thing. Then I finally did the one thing I should have done first....Pray! At any time during the day we can stop, switch direction and start again. I made a mistake, I started dwelling on all the things I needed to do and ended up doing nothing. Until I prayed. Now I am motivated once again to pick up and go on.

What a wonder it is that God actually delights in our way! Thankful today for the many times He has kept me from harm when I insisted on plunging ahead anyway.

"I will give thanks to the Lord with all my heart; I will tell of all thy wonders." Psalm 9:1

I celebrate with the Gratitude community today for the stepping stones that God has lovingly provided to help me stay on track....Godly parents, loving friends, the wisdom found in the Word, Your marvelous creation that reminds me that I am very small yet still infinitely valuable to You.

#146 toward 1000 and beyond,
holy experience

Saturday, December 12, 2009

We have an answer....hope!


Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
"Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you now dismiss your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all people,
light for revelation to the Gentiles
and for glory to your people Israel." Luke 22:29-32

The child's father and mother marveled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: "This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too." Luke 22:33-35

Is there a right way to celebrate Christmas?.....absolutely. With the same joy and wonder that the angels felt when they touched down to announce His birth. And also with a bit of the somber forboding that Mary and Joseph must have had when Simeon gave his prophetic words in the temple.

It is impossible to see the babe in the manger, the sparkling lights on the tree, the manger scene lovingly arranged on the shelf, without also looking ahead to the death, burial and resurrection to come. That is the great paradox of our faith. We see the joy, but we also can't help seeing the sorrow. Though our world is still filled with the same problems as when He came, His coming gives the answer to them all. That is our great hope!

"Lord, to honor Your birth may I humbly remember what it cost to redeem me, and may I seek to glorify You with my life, my decisions, my words, so that others may clearly see Your light." Amen

Images from "Jesus of Nazareth" directed by Franco Zefferelli

Friday, December 11, 2009

Honesty


I loved the movie Liar, Liar because it made me think about what would happen if we all started to tell the whole truth. One of the characteristics that make a successful person to me is one who is not afraid to tell the truth in love.

Forthrightness is another word I would use to describe a person of character. It means to be an honest, frank or direct person. My best friend is such a person and that's one of the things I love about her. You always know right where you stand. The other day she was in Subway and she made a comment that the sandwich would be a great deal if it only looked like the one in the advertisement. The young man at the counter immediately puffed up and said, "They do look just like that!" So she said, "Well then make me one that looks just like that, with the same amount of everything." Silence.... and then warily, "Well, okay...do you want the foot long?" "Yes," she said, "Just like the one on the picture." And he did! If he hadn't gotten so defensive I am sure she would have just let it go.

Sometimes it is very uncomfortable when we are confronted with the truth. Especially the truth about ourselves. When I decided to let God have ownership of a few things in my life a few years ago, it was painful. One thing he wanted me to address was my drinking. I always caught myself saying, "I have a glass of wine at dinner." But God kept nudging at my heart. The Holy Spirit was trying to confront me with the truth. I didn't have just one glass, I had 3. Every day! Back then I would go to Trader Joe's on a weekend and get 3 bottles of 2 buck chuck and be perfectly okay with it. Really happy in fact. But I sensed God prodding me with questions, or maybe I started to ask myself...."Would you be as happy without this? How easy would it be to give this up? Am I not enough for you? Would you give it up for Me?" His voice was soft but insistent. And He knew I was ready to listen.

So I gave it up. I gave up its power over me. I remember the day I surrendered. I was sitting in the backyard under the tree enjoying the sunset, the outdoor cat sitting by my side; the last light dipping below the wall. That moment was like a benchmark for me. I remember that evening very fondly even now.

It was and is crucial for me to be truthful to God, myself, and someone I trust to be a safe place who will hold me accountable. I have learned that I can have a glass of wine now and then. But this I do this cautiously and prayerfully and I now know that I can successfully live without it, one day at a time, and only with His help.

Until we get to Heaven we will always have weaknesses or "thorns" we have to deal with. But we are in good company....and we don't have to go it alone!

"Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me." 2 Cor. 12:8,9

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Dazzling creation

Photograph: Kenneth Libbrecht/Barcroft Media
Is each snowflake really unique? Says Hans Verlinde, associate professor of meteorology at Penn State:
"It depends upon how we define snowflake," says Hans Verlinde, associate professor of meteorology at Penn State. "Let's be specific, and define a snowflake as a single, vapor-grown ice crystal. I would say with a great deal of confidence that all crystals are different on a molecular level, purely because there are differences in the atomic structure of the atoms making up a water molecule, and hence, in the water molecules themselves."

He further states... "But we can address the probability of finding two identical ice crystals, which is vanishingly small," he notes. "The bigger the crystals get, the greater the freedom for different growth paths, and the lower the probability of finding identical crystals even at the macroscopic visual level."

Enough about the science! The point is, God could have just made them look like formless blobs, but he didn't! He is the original Master, and His Masterpieces are everywhere including you and me.

Last year I found a beautiful book at Barnes and Noble. On each page was a closeup of a different snowflake, about 200 in all. I just had to marvel again at the creativity of our Creator....nature speaks loudly for all who have the eyes to see and the ears to hear with....

"The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech or language, where their voice is not heard." Psalm 1: 1-3

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Good advice from Brother Lawrence.....


My dear sister in the Lord, I sympathize with your difficult situation. I think that freeing yourself of your present responsibilities for a while and devoting yourself entirely to prayer would be the best thing you could do for yourself. God does not ask much of us. But remembering Him, praising Him, asking for His grace, offering Him your troubles, or thanking Him for what He has given you will console you all the time. During your meals or during any daily duty, lift your heart up to Him, because even the least little remembrance will please HIm. You don't have to pray out loud; He's nearer than you can imagine.....From The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence

We are all going through some kind of "difficult situations" are we not? There are times when we can't seem to lift our head above water, we tread frantically, lots of motion but getting nowhere. Sometimes we struggle with an issue so long that we no longer have even the words to form for prayer. God knows your heart anyway. I take great comfort in this.

Sometimes we think our needs are trivial and we hesitate to bring them before God. After all, He sees the starving child in the streets, abused and alone.....Yes, He does. But He also sees us, and He cares about our every need. No prayer is trivial to Him. He takes our every concern to heart. Just the fact that we bring it up gives Him great joy.
Philippians 4:6-7 - Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (NKJV)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Stillness....


As I settled into my prayer shed yesterday I received a precious gift. As I lit my lantern and settled into my chair I heard the soft pitter pat magic of rain on the roof. I don't think anyone appreciates the rain quite like those of us living in the desert. To us it does seem like a miracle. I settled into prayer and as sometimes happens, I felt the blessing of God's own Presence. Though His precious Spirit is always with me, I don't always "feel" Him. But as Pastor said yesterday, in order to sense Him, we have to make room in our lives. And so I try to. I create small pockets of silence where I can hear Him when He speaks.

Yesterday's prayer time was a gift. Sometimes, He wakes me at night and I toss and turn, wondering if He is trying to speak into my soul what I cannot hear in the clamour of daylight's activity.

This happened the other night as I was worrying at my folk's house. Worried about the state of things, and my absence, among other things, worried about how I could fix things if I were there, boy what an ego I have!

I awoke in the early hours of morning and I sensed this deep quiet in my soul. It was much like the quiet of the woods in the snow, that insulated silence. I know that I know that I know, that this was the Holy Spirit's nudge. I felt that deep peace that He was absolutely there with me. He said, "I am still here." Then I prayed, and the peace lasted. Even now it stands out in my mind these many days later.

Sometimes we get that peace, today I am grateful for the gifts of His Spirit because without Him I can do nothing.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such thing there is no law." Galatians 5:22,23

This makes 141 of my One Thousand Gifts.....As I continue sharing gratitude along with others in the community at:
holy experience

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Peace on earth

Photo supplied by Google Images
I love finding great photos like this one! This 12-week-old macaque was rescued on Neilingding Island, in Goangdong Province, China, after being abandoned by his mother. Taken to an animal hospital, he was weaned back to physical health but still showed little appetite for life. It was not until a fellow patient, a white pigeon, took him under her wing and showed him love and affection that he perked up. Now the two are inseparable, say staff.

Micah 4:3 (New International Version)

3 He will judge between many peoples
and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide.
They will beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not take up sword against nation,
nor will they train for war anymore.


Can we even imagine a world such as this? Only one person and one person alone has what it takes to bring this about and we celebrate His birth this month. While this prophecy is looking ahead to a future time in history, we can be assured that while there is turmoil around us, we can recieve His eternal peace in our hearts at this very moment. The peace that reconciles us to Him forever. Click here to find out how.

Have you ever experienced an unexpected peace as a direct result of prayer....recently? I would love to hear about it.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Advent

Photo by Romeo Koitmae, Estonia
Advent
(A Poem based on Rev. 22:20) I am. I was. I will be.
I am not coming soon I am here.

I was born on a cold night in a cold place
Unnoticed, unheralded by cold people
Who turned my mother away.
On that night were you listening?
On that night the "least of your brothers" was me.
Now do you see, do you hear and do you care?
I am not coming soon I am here.
In your life do you see me
In the ragged men and women
Who search the cold street
Looking for my reflection in your heart?
Do you hear my voice in
Their muttered plea or in their tear?
I am not coming soon I am here.
Do you hear me when your friend turns to you
To ask forgiveness and trust?
Do I not forgive you always?
Do I not give you a merciful ear?
I am not coming soon I am here.
In this season I was born unto you
Fulfilling the promise of God’s care.
Look for me, listen to me…
I am not coming soon I am here.

by W. H. Smaw

I love the season of advent. Something about it always creates a stillness inside me. Something that makes me slow down, draw back, close in. While I may join the flurry of activity around me, my soul seeks quiet places of prayer. Something within me resounds with the rightness of reflection, especially at this time of year. Even nature itself seems to draw itself in, indeed, the whole creation waits and groans for the savior's coming as though it knows that someday it will be redeemed as well....We embrace the joy of His birth, while at the same time we are keenly aware of the suffering to come, and ultimately we can only kneel humbly with the gratitude and awe of the wisemen, He is born and we are reborn!

"We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies." Romans 8:22,23

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Seeking things above....



The image above is called "Sunlight on Snow," with the footings of the Granville Street Bridge in the background by Mark Hamilton, journalism instructor at Kwantlen Polytechnic University.

I was originally looking for a peaceful snowy sunrise, but this fits even more with what I wanted to capture with my thoughts today. Thoughts of my trip back home. As the out of state family member, I feel sometimes like I need to be all things to everyone when I am there, and of course I can't. I get irritated with situations and then frustrated with myself when I don't react the way I think God would want me to. It is so easy to get wrapped up and bogged down with "earthly" situations and heartache down here and forget who is in control. Moments become lost forever. The Holy Spirit spoke to my heart and said, "I am still here." I listened.

I stopped.....I prayed....I gave it back to God, and I felt my time redeemed. I had returned everything to it's rightful owner, at least for a time. Why is it sometimes so easy to "lose our religion" so to speak? After I gave it back, I started loving again. It was a wonderful Thanksgiving day spent together, eating, praying, enjoying the blessing of each other. It is fleeting, it is precious.

And over all too soon.

In looking again at the photo I have to remind myself to see not the graffiti on the bridge, but the beauty of the sunlight on the snow, and know where it comes from.

Colossians 3: 1-5 (New American Standard)
"If then ye were raised together with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated on the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are upon the earth.For ye died, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall be manifested, then shall ye also with him be manifested in glory. Put to death therefore your members which are upon the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry."

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Coming home.....


Home to Arizona again.....No leaves here. In California there are leaves everywhere right now, on the street, stuck to shoes, blowing in the doorway.....magical, messy, colorful, God's artistry blowing down for us to enjoy. Watching my niece bury herself in dry dead old leaves, I saw them through her eyes....gleeful fun. The kind of fun we adults forget. We see mess, just imagine what could be lying in that pile raked along with all that color? But she sees only pure unadulterated joy. I let her bury me in it.

Reflection time now, sitting home. I let lose with a few tears. Tears that always must come when leaving ones you love. Knowing that it was helpful me being there, but also knowing when I leave the help goes away. My Mom and I said the same thing, we both started to give in to tears, and then prayed instead. Of course the only way, always and only. Prayer, our salvation, our lifeline when we are far apart.

So I pray....And as I pray, and feel sorrow breaking over me, I feel something else too. I see a scene in my mind of a summer day, boats bobbing off a green shore. A place where you would love to spend the Fourth of July. I see it, and I know it is God's way of anchoring my soul to His peace.

I find, and feel, hope. It is good to be home, and I know that I am not so far away from loved ones there. We are bound together in prayer.....God's hope.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Last of the fall leaves


They know their time is short, and still they hang on against the bitter wind....they cling to life against all hope.

Hope everyone had a very blessed Thanksgiving.....currently away from blogging enjoying family and friends....but will be back soon.

"Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God." Phil. 4:6

Friday, November 20, 2009

Bible humor


Elijah and the Baal worshipers….
I Kings 18:27 “At noon Elijah began to taunt them. "Shout louder!" he said. "Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened!”

Here’s a lesson not to taunt God’s prophets……
2 Kings 2:23-24
From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road some youths came out of the town and jeered at him. "Go on up, you baldhead!" they said. "Go on up, you baldhead!"
He turned around, and looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the Lord.
Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the youths.

Proverbs 29:20
There is more hope for a fool than for someone who speaks without thinking.

If only you would be altogether silent! For you, that would be wisdom. Job 13:5

Give beer to those who are perishing, wine to those who are in anguish. Proverbs 31:6

And just to clarify: And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled
with the Spirit Ephesians 5:18

When he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. (I heard it say that this was proof that there are no women in Heaven…NOT funny)Revelations 8:1

Genesis 25:30
He said to Jacob, "Let me eat some of that red stuff, because I'm exhausted."

Poor Job….
Job 38:1 Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said,
2"Who is this that darkens counsel
by words without knowledge?
3"Now gird up your loins like a man,
and I will ask you, and you instruct Me!
4"Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell Me, if you have understanding
and later in the same Chapter....
18"Have you understood the expanse of the earth?
Tell Me, if you know all this. 21"You know, for you were born then,
and the number of your days is great!

1 Thessalonians 4:11 "Also, make it your goal to live quietly, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we instructed you."

And from 2 Kings 9:20 "The lookout reported, "He has reached them, but he isn't coming back either. The driving is like that of Jehu son of Nimshi--he drives like a madman."
(Guess they had crazy drivers in Bible times too!)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Dream a little dream

Painting by Alphonse Fran├žois

"While Pilate was sitting on the judge's seat, his wife sent him this message: "Don't have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him." Matthew 27:19

Dreams have always fascinated me. I guess because I dream a lot. It is more unusual for me not to have a dream. I have dreams where I fly through the air, drive wierd little cars, climb through narrow passageways, and ever since I was a kid I have dreamed about my teeth falling out. The Bible is filled with stories of the way God uses dreams to communicate with people.

Once I had a "healing dream." I was suffering from anorexia in my very early twenties. It was a nightmare, and my Mom and Dad suffered the most their prayers seemed to hit the ceiling and go no further, until one night. What I actually dreamed was sketchy. Different scenes played out here and there, but through it all the one thing I remember was a golden light filling everything around me. When I awoke I knew that I had been healed. I announced it and we all cried, and I remember eating my first rational meal in months and months. The power that had held my mind and body captive was broken by the Great Healer! I will never forget it.

Do you ever dream about a place you've never been before but dream about it over and over? My Mom dreams of a little messy house that she can never get clean, always the same house. I have dreamed of a little alleyway restaurant more than once, an oriental restaurant with a walkup counter....I can see it now in my mind. I always wonder if that is a real place somewhere.

So what about you? Comment and share your dreams.....I would love to hear them!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Weary travelers....


Soon we may be driving....flying.....somewhere, to greet family, friends and loved ones. Faces may show up at our door, or we may be the shining faces others greet. We come, we go. Hoping for a respite from our whirlwind of activity, our day to day stresses. We hope to lay our heavy burdens aside for awhile; hopefully we lay them down.

May we pause, knowing that we are all traveling hard journeys, going through hard things. May we meet each other right where we are, and in the midst of this may we be the recipients and the bearers of Christ's love. While we stop the madness for awhile, may we be able to leave our pack by the door, at rest at least for a time.

May we help each other lighten the load....and not add to the burden.

This Thanksgiving may we look around at all the faces we see, and say a prayer of thanks for each and every one, and what they have meant in our lives.

"Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you." Ephesians 4:32

Monday, November 16, 2009

Gratitude for teachers.....


Click here to read Cliffs review at Musings of a Minister......

What a wonderful book this was. I found myself smiling all the way through. What an inspiration to read about a teacher who truly loves his students and his job! It brought back so many memories of my own school days and of the teachers who invested in my life growing up. These people sacrifically gave of themselves because they believed that it was worth it to invest in kids, and me!

My first Principal, Mr. Tamblin. He used to wander the playground and talk to all of us kids in his suit. We really respected him. I remember him being very kind. My first kindergarten teacher Roberta Ruhl; I still remember how magic her classroom seemed. I remember making faces with Randall Speth during "rest period." I have to thank my first grade teacher Mrs. Campbell, although she was extremely strict and most of us were scared of her, she believed in phonics. She led me to the doorway of one of the great loves of my life....Reading. During this year, I also joined the gleeclub. I am indebted to Roberta (her last name escapes me) for teaching us every verse of every patriotic song ever written. My second grade teacher was Arlie Earhardt. She had a blonde bouffant hairdo that never moved and dimples. She was beautiful. When she read "Charlotte's Web" to us, it came alive! I can still hear her soft, sweet voice even now. My fifth grade teacher was unforgettable. Mrs. Fairchild led singing hour and had a voice like Edith Bunker, but we didn't care. She always made us laugh, and let us watch the world series because she loved baseball, particularly the Mets.

My sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Jan Wakefield was our hero. She was the one teacher we all went back to visit after we entered Jr. High. Her classroom was a haven of wonderful memories. She was like Mary Tyler Moore, very stylish. She had a beautiful smile and perfect penmanship, everything a good teacher should be, she was.

I also thank all my Sunday School teachers over the years.....especially the one who combined Bible lessons with walks to the park and DONUTS. What heroes of the faith they all were. Sunday after Sunday they dedicated themselves to us kids and role-modeled what faith should look like.

Last but certainly not least is Mr Wylie Moffat, my Choir teacher in High School. His class was one of the few bright spots of my High School experience. Yes, that is scary I admit to being a nerd. He introduced us to Opera, Broadway musicals, all of the great composers and his love of music and his passion was infectious. He had us to his home for cookouts, and we all loved him. He always forgave me when I started giggling onstage and couldn't stop. Every year, he led us to a "Command Performance" in all our competitions because we wanted to make him proud. He loved God too, and wasn't afraid to sing religious songs in school assemblies. I so admire him for that. Sad to say, he would probably get in trouble for it now, but back in the seventies freedom of expression was still allowed.

Take a moment to reflect on all of the great teachers in your life......I could have gone on and on.

Today makes 130 of 1000.....

Continuing with gratitude toward my 1000 blessings
holy experience

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Peace and Hope


Those who love me, I will deliver; I will protect those who know my name. When they call to me, I will answer them; I will be with them in trouble, I will rescue them and honor them. With long life I will satisfy them, and show them my salvation. Psalm 91:14-16

This was a very encouraging verse for me today. I pray that this gives you comfort as well. Sometimes the circumstances of life cause us to feel totally out of control, but the truth is we never had control anyway! But we know the One who does. He always has had it, and He always will have it. And because of that, we can rest easier.....So take a deep breath, feel His calm and peace that passes all understanding overtake you. Though the fires are raging around us, we will not be burned!
1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble....Psalm 46:1

Friday, November 13, 2009

True friendship


After years of vain familiarity, some distant gesture or unconscious behavior, which we remember, speaks to us with more emphasis than the wisest or kindest words. We are sometimes made aware of a kindness long passed, and realize that there have been times when our Friends’ thoughts of us were of so pure and lofty a character that they passed over us like the winds of heaven unnoticed; when they treated us not as what we were, but as what we aspired to be. Henry David Thoreau

It is truly an honor to have a few friends who truly see me the way I wish I were. Sometimes I take them for granted, brushing by them with a smile and wave. But each of us knows that underneath the topical layers of life lays something unspoken, something pure and true. That in times of need or crisis, or maybe joy, that something would leap to life. If I asked them to pray I know they would not hesitate to grab my hand and bow right then and there. In one magic instant my cares would become theirs.

A faithful friend is the medicine of Life. Ecclesiates 6:16

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Window of compassion



I saw a crazy lady on a bike yesterday. She was talking to herself, making wild movements. She was at a crosswalk and I was wary, thinking she might dart out in front of me. At that moment a bit of Heaven peeled back and I saw her, really saw her the way God must see her. Something moved me deep within and tears came unexpectedly. This is someone's daughter, maybe someone's Mom.

The light turned green, I moved on. But the impact is still there even today. Day after day we carry our burdens carefully so as not to upset the precarious balance we have made. Under the weight of our own we sometimes don't see others precious burdens. We say, "Why don't they just let it go?" But if we just turn and help, listen....support, acknowledge the burden; give them the freedom to acknowledge yours.

I wonder are we all just a bit crazy? Maybe we are all a bit like the woman on the bicycle; maybe we just hide it better.

Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. Galations 6:2

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Miracle continues.....

My story continues from yesterday's post:
As the day approaching my transfer grew nearer, I was filled with trepidation. I went through the required equivalent of Intel "basic training" for two weeks. That I was already at Intel didn't matter. We were retooling the factory to do an entirely different process; something never done before. New process, new training. Stakes were unbelievably high. Success was crucial. It was into this atmosphere that I was thrown....new area, new people, new process; clusters of engineers waiting for results in every aisle and the margin for error slim to none. It was a hostile environment and though my co-workers were very welcoming, they were under enormous pressure to make everything work. I learned to pray like never before. I did the best I could under the circumstances.

Around the same time, my Mom took a terrible fall and my brother's wife told him she wanted a divorce. I couldn't leave to help my Mom or brother and I was devastated. I cried at the drop of a hat. Pressure at work was tremendous and I got my first bad review ever at Intel. In my OM's words: "I wasn't working out." He was right I wasn't!

Around the same time, I started attending Saturday morning prayer with a man who led Bible study at Intel's Bible based Christian group. He got a conference room and we layed our heart's on God's altar together. Another of God's miracles. He brought us together at a special season in both of our lives. Right away we became unlikely friends. He black, me white. He a father of seven, me no kids at all, but it didn't matter. Will's passion and zeal for God was infectious, and his excitement about reading the Word re-ignited my desire to study and dig deeper. He encouraged me to "seek the kingdom first" and boy did I; at the end of my strength, I was powerless to change anything.

So my career was in the tanker and I was emotionally drained and very sad that I could not seem to help anyone I cared about. Even so I knew that somehow God would see me through the other side of the tunnel, though I had no idea how. In faith I continued to put one foot in front of the other. Around that time they were pioneering a place called the ROC (Remote Operation Center) outside the Fab. They were asking for volunteers for this new program so my OM graciously asked me if I would be willing to do it. As I felt my doubts rush in, I felt myself saying yes anyway. Really, what did I have to lose? I took a giant step of faith and jumped off the abyss. God caught me.

Nobody was more stunned than I when next review time I was presented with a promotion and a bigger raise than I have ever gotten before or since!
God took what looked extremely hopeless to me and brought me out the other side. Look at what Psalm 40:1,2 says:

1 I waited patiently for the LORD;
And He inclined to me,
And heard my cry.
2 He also brought me up out of a horrible pit,
Out of the miry clay,
And set my feet upon a rock,
And established my steps.

He literally picked me up and set me into a new place called the ROC, how cool is that? I have now been there for 5 years and it doesn't seem possible. I think about all those years ago when I put in for that transfer never imagining what I would have to go through and never knowing what I would be rewarded with at the end. But God knew all along.......

Monday, November 9, 2009

Wherever I am, there He is.


This week I entered another dimension and went back into the "clean room" where I worked 5 years ago. Within about 10 minutes it all came back like I never left. To those in the Semi-conductor industry, wearing gortex suits, (we call them bunny suits) klevlar gloves, and a hood that completely covers the face, not to mention constant “white noise” are all considered normal. Up until 5 years ago it was part of my daily routine. I found myself there again this week while they made repairs to the air conditioning ducts in our office. This week I found that sometimes it is good to go back. It reminded me of all that God had brought me through, and it was humbling.

Part of this story is about how God took a small town girl without a college degree and supplied her with a wonderful job and career that has lasted almost 14 years now. It is my hope that others will be encouraged by my story, and assured that when all seems hopeless to us, God does His best work yet.

I had been working at Intel (computer chip producing giant) for about 9 years when this part of the story starts. I had recently been selected (to my dismay) to go work next door to one of the toughest areas, due to "business need." I would be dealing with "defects" on computer chips all day long. I was petrified. But I had no choice. Desperate prayer became a part of every waking moment. One of the first people I see there is one of the kindest men I have ever met and he is also a Pastor. I said "thank you, God." Small miracle number one. Each day before work, I prayed in the bathroom stall for courage to make it through; to learn all that I had to learn. God was faithful. He supplied me with good trainers, good people; I got reaccquainted with two Christian women and we went to lunch and prayed, and together helped each other out.

Then came a day I had an opportunity to go back next door where I started out. I was just beginning to feel comfortable where I was, but something urged me to fill out a REQ transfer. With my hands hovering at the keyboard seemingly with a mind of their own, I remember thinking that I could always change my mind and stay if they approved it. I hit "send" and my fate was sealed, though I didn't know it at the time. A few weeks later, my Manager called me into a meeting and told me my transfer was complete. He then told me the area I would be going into and it had nothing to do with what I had selected on my transfer form. Once again due to "business need." I informed him I had changed my mind. He said, "This is irreversible." I said, "Can I contact the hiring manager and tell them myself?" He said, "It's too late, I already sent the paperwork, it's a done deal." Steel bars clanged shut in my mind and from then on I felt the chill of fear and dread surrounding me. What had I just done? My release date was set and there was no going back........Miracle story continues tomorrow........ Continuing with gratitude toward my 1000 blessings, join with others at:
holy experience

112) for His provision at every stage of my life 113) my 3 month premature birth and that my Mom happened to be close to Stanford Hospital. In 1959 it was a miracle that I survived. I am glad my Mom was visiting her sister that weekend. 114) for always providing me with His Hands and Feet in the shape of good people who have been there for me 115) experiences and challenges that have stretched my faith 116) God's discipline to help me grow and keep me on the right path 117) people who lovingly bring my faults to my attention and keep me humble 118) people around me who really listen to what I have to say 119) laughter, always laughter! 120) answered prayer, always at the right time.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Still small voice


And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake:

And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. 1 Kings 19:11,12


Tomorrow, a personal story of God's provision in my life......

Friday, November 6, 2009

We all pray....


We all pray whether we think of it as praying or not. The odd silence we fall into when something very beautiful is happening, or something very good or very bad. The ah-h-h-h! that sometimes floats up out of us as out of a Fourth of July crowd when the skyrocket bursts over the water. The stammer of pain at somebody else’s pain. The stammer of joy at somebody else’s joy. Whatever words or sounds we use for sighing with over our own lives. These are all prayers in their way. These are all spoken not just to ourselves but to something even more familiar than ourselves and even more strange than the world....Frederick Buechner

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7).

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The eyes have it....


"The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! Matthew 6:22,23

The eyes are truly the "windows" to the soul. They can mirror all kinds of things and just one look from someone can send all kinds of signals without a word ever spoken. They can welcome or rebuff, set us aglow with peace and well-being, or send sparks flying into our soul....They can wound and wither us, but they can also warm us to the very depths of our soul with their reflection of kindness, love. God knows that the eyes reflect what is truly on the inside. Haughty eyes get top billing on the "seven things God hates" roster! Haughty eyes see themselves as "superior" to everyone else.
Proverbs 6:16-19
16 There are six things the Lord hates—
no, seven things he detests:
17 haughty eyes,
a lying tongue,
hands that kill the innocent,
18 a heart that plots evil,
feet that race to do wrong,
19 a false witness who pours out lies,
a person who sows discord in a family.


I am trying to be a kinder person. Too often my eyes reflect many things other than kindness. Impatience, irritation, admonishment, anxiety. Too often my eyes have been rejecting and not welcoming; eyes of judgement meant to send someone to a cold lonely place. But Lord, help my eyes more and more be a reflection of You. Help my eyes be a safe place to rest upon for someone else. Not haughty eyes, but eyes like those of a child, pure and guileless, open and innocent as Heaven.