Saturday, December 31, 2011

Impossible Joy


Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?  As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Romans 8:35-37


The past year is fast receding, along with all the events, challenges, joys and sorrows along with it. As I look back along the 365 days worth of everything that made up 2011, I am once again filled with thanksgiving of what He brought me through. I reflected on this one thought this morning on my 30 minute commute, as my car idled into the parking lot and came to a stop.

That in every seemingly impossible situation during the past year, impossible joy came along for the ride. In the moments of hysteria, sometimes laughter rose up beside it.

In helping my best friend deal with both parents, one with Dementia and one with Alzheimer's, I learned many things about myself, some things which were not pleasant. I learned how easy it is to love the lovable, and just how difficult it can be to love the unlovely, the unlovable. It stretches you like nothing else. Several times a day I fail miserably. But I am thankful for that too, for that is what keeps me praying.

I am amazed at what transpired, what we got done.

What He brought us through.

And I am amazed at how painful moments can recede in hindsight and the joys magnify.

Like stones worn smooth by a rushing river, He smooths us out. It is easy to forget that just like that mighty river that is flowing all around us, He is still and always, there.

Washing us clean, making us more like Himself.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Afterglow


So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

As years go by I am appreciating more and more, those winding down days after Christmas.......as the activity wanes, the afterglow remains. I still play Christmas music for a few days more.....and reflect on what just passed, and what still  remains of the current year.

I realize that I need not release anything of the magic, for Christ is with us still.

And we have the hope of knowing that whatever happens in the coming year, His precious Holy Spirit strives with us, anticipating every step we take.

Bask in the Father's love today, for I really believe He loves us more than we know.

Without condition.

“The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Home Again


"God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can't take credit for this; it is a gift from God." Ephesians 2:8 NLT 


I am back home in Arizona after a treasured time with my family. I needed to be there and my presence was so appreciated, but also missed back here. Elaine had to take her Mom in to the hospital after a bout with the flu. She came home Christmas Eve, but has been nursing her ever since. Getting someone with Alzheimer's to eat is a challenge all by itself, but when you throw in other factors it makes it much more difficult.

Goodbyes on both ends are always difficult, and I look forward to the day when all goodbyes will be over for good. This is the rejoicing part of what we celebrate at Christmas. Once again, I am enjoying the after Christmas quiet.

I used to feel depressed the day or two after.....it was all such a let down, after all. But as I have gotten older, I have realized the value of the days after. The joy that comes when you realize that for Christians, the most important part of Christmas, the part we celebrate, never ends!

It doesn't mean that we won't have difficulty, but it does mean that He is still and always, God with Us. That is the hope that keeps us going in and through it all.

It is always good to see family and friends you haven't seen in awhile, and I did both back home. There were a few mishaps that I am sure we will look back on and laugh....

I gave my brother a recipe for Prime Rib in salt but forgot the operative ingredient (water) that would have made a paste. Instead he spent hours trying to mix flour, salt, and an egg into something that would stick to a piece of meat. It turned out wonderful anyway.....

I also watered the plant on the front porch not thinking of how my Dad's compulsive worrying about the house would affect things. You see, the water there doesn't evaporate like the desert, it stays around for days. He thought there was a water leak under the house and proceeded to go crawling around under there with a flashlight. It was only after the fact he asked if anyone had watered the plant by the porch.

He said, "Hallelujah, thank God!" when I told him I had.

Who knew my innocent watering of a plant would set such things in motion?

I have missed you all my friends, hope you had a safe and happy Christmas! It's good to be back in touch......



Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Very Merry Christmas


Wishing you all a very happy and restful Christmas, from Lori's Prayer Closet........my own little corner where all are welcome.

To dream, to pray.....or be silent.

To talk it all out with our Father in Heaven.

Thanking Him today and everyday for His Son that was given, and gave Himself.....

who intercedes for us even now.

He is our blessed hope.....

I love you all.

I pray for a closer walk for the coming year.

I just popped over to Panera for a quick cup of coffee and note to you all. I am on a mission to find a Panda Express for food tomorrow. Just a quick hello to say I was thinking of you all, and that while I may or may not be able to blog this week, you are in my thoughts, keeping things loose here.......

I do ask for prayers for my dear friend Elaine, who is back in Arizona. She had to take her Mom to the hospital due to dehydration and a bad case of the flu. I ask for strength for them both and rest for the caretaker, who is the last to be taken care of.

I do so appreciate all your thoughts, comments and prayers!

Monday, December 19, 2011

For Unto Us a Son is Given


For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

My prayer this Christmas is a simple one. That may we remember always why we are doing what we are doing and most of all who we are doing it for. Not just Christmas, but throughout the year. There is a grand goal, and there will be a glorious finish and joy along the way as long as we walk hand in hand with Him.

I pray that the people I love will love each other......That peace will rule in our hearts and that Heaven will come to earth in the Spirit of reconciliation, which is true love.

May the Bethlehem Star rise in all of our hearts and minds in the form of hope.

May you all have a Christmas filled with the knowledge of Him who gives us strength, and hope and joy.

Amen

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

Friday, December 16, 2011

What can it possibly mean?

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,  “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:13,14

What is it about Christmas that tears our hearts asunder? What is it about this birth that is like no other? So important that it split history....and time in two? Somehow it makes us regret what we don't have and grateful for what we do have. Something in us always hopes for that perfect Christmas, and each of us has a vision in our own minds what that would look like.

The regret of knowing that this will never come to pass is what sends many people off to the Bahamas until it's over. For a hilarious vision of what this might look like see the movie, Christmas with the Kranks.
Every year there is one Christmas album that brings me to tears. It was done by the Methodist church my Aunt used to attend when she was alive and it is called Sing with the Angels. In one of the songs is the probing question:

What could it possibly mean, what could it possibly mean? That God would be here with you and me, what could it possibly mean?

It is such a wonderful preposterous plan, it grabs at our hearts. The thought that God would come down to meet us......

Every year we hear stories about secret Santa's and good Samaritans. People everywhere seem to know that this is the season to display extra kindness. I think there is even something behind the driving forces that keep people year after year flocking to the malls and shopping centers for that perfect gift.

This event was important enough to pull back the ceiling of Heaven and announce this baby's birth.
Angels announced it, and Miracles surrounded it....

However your Christmas turns out this year, know that if you have the Savior, you've already received the perfect gift. There is no one thing more important to celebrate than this alone.....

And if you have it, get down on your knees today and thank Him.

If you don't, then seek Him and know the most perfect Christmas you will ever have. Cause when you have Him, you have it all.

"........and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation,  that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us;" Acts 17:26,27

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Pockets of peace



Sometimes you just have to pull over to the side of the road.....find a little out of the way place and hide out for a spell. Especially at this time of year. It gets pretty crazy. The more people around me speed up, the more I want to slow down. I do this every year. I wear myself out. Not with buying, with doing.....

And this year, I haven't been able to make any plans because I still don't know if I can take the week of Christmas off. It makes it very difficult, expecially when you have to schedule flights. I don't do well with last minute. I want to plan, schedule. Finalize.

This has been an up in the air year. Ever feel like your life is in a holding pattern? Like you're flying around and around, waiting for the control tower to give you clearance to land but they never do?

I surprised myself the other day, when I realized that God is teaching me something through all this. He is helping me get better with this feeling of being out of control.

He has brought little pockets of peace in the chaos, here and there. Times of enjoyment.....laughter....and we thank God for them, every one.

It is really a relief when you finally let go.

You realize that there is peace to be found in that holding pattern above the clouds.

Monday, December 12, 2011

That's my Jesus!


This is the disciple who testifies of these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his testimony is true. And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen. John 21:24,25

Sometimes it is a good idea to let religion go and just meditate on the person of Jesus.......Yeshua. I prefer the Hebrew way of saying Jesus, Yeshua or Y'Shua because it flows. It is soft and yet strong. And when you say it aloud it sounds like a rushing river.

Then there is that wonderful song with words by Bill and Gloria Gaither.....There's Something About That Name:

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus
There's just something about that name
Master, Savior, Jesus
Like the fragrance after the rain
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus
Let all heaven and earth proclaim
Kings and kingdoms shall all pass away
But there's something about that name.

Has someone you love ever asked you what you love about them? Do you see the sparkle in their eyes when you tell them? How happy it makes them? That look on their face is worth more than any amount of riches.

Yesterday I decided to simply meditate on the things I love about Jesus. So, as I settled into the dim morning light.......and my little heater hissed to life, and with the lights of the little shop Christmas tree sparkling in the corner, and my lantern lit, the words of gratitude flowed. This is my unedited list as I wrote it. #754-775

He loves reconciliation and never likes it when people are at odds with one another

He loves bringing diverse groups of people together

He was never at a loss for words while on this earth

He always said just the right thing

He stumped the best and brightest scholarly minds

He always did the right thing, even if it hurt

He always spoke the truth and never backed down from it

He is the way, the truth and the life, all three!

He has a sense of humor, (illustration about straining out a knat and swallowing a camel)

His great love for people

His great compassion

He never turns anyone away with an open heart, not then, not now

He wasn't afraid to let those close to Him see Him cry, yet.......He survived a beating that would have killed any other man, even before going to the cross

He is filled with passion, never boring

He was and is always in complete control every moment.

He caused a stir wherever He went, He was never afraid to shake up the status quo

He loves animals and nature

He appreciates fine craftsmanship

He wasn't afraid to step outside the cultural norms of the day, like taking time for women and children and people outside of His own ethnic and religious group

He took time for individuals, even though crowds pressed Him at all sides, He never lost His temper with those seeking help.

He saw the need and value of quiet time by the water, or up on the mountain in prayer, time alone with His Father.

That's my Jesus.
Thats my Savior!



picture credit: google images

Friday, December 9, 2011

Lost and found peace.



"When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what are mere mortals that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?" Psalm 8:3,4


that you care for me?

 
Yesterday was a no good, terrible bad day for me. I wanted nothing more than to go back home, tuck myself into a warm corner and pet my cats.

I wasn't getting any warm fuzzies from my work atmosphere. It was several things.

We found out the day before that someone from my group went out on a medical leave. That means I may have to work Christmas week. The week I planned to take off. The week I sacrificed my Thanksgiving for.

So right now I can't really plan anything until I find out.

I was irritable all day. I didn't want to be at work, or really be anywhere but home. Then about midshift as we were recovering from something else, we lost pressure in the factory. When that happens, my hyper-sensitive multimillion dollar tools log themselves down. I saw red on all 3 of my computer screens.......instantaneously.

In our world, as in most of the rest of the world, green is good, red means trouble.

Some days it seems nothing is settled. It is as if everything is suspended.....hanging in the balance. Unsettled.


That is how I felt yesterday, like someone snatched my peace away and I really wanted it back.

Despite how I was feeling.....I had to notice how beautifully the moon was peeking out from the clouds. It was like we were playing hide and seek all the way to my parking lot. It was yellow and full, and as always, it inspired reflection......What is it about the moon that does that for me?

Always awe, with a bit of melancholy thrown in. And always hope.

You can't stare at the sun for long, but the moon invites us to gaze long.

The sun blares forth it intentions.....to give light, and warmth. While the moon does more....she flirts and makes us fall in love. So quietly she comes out that at times we might even forget she is there, but then how stunningly she makes us remember! 

The moon brought me to work and reminded me that God is still in control even when nothing else is.

And this morning I was reminded again as I crossed the parking lot. As I glanced across the parking lot at the tallest crane in the Western hemisphere, where our new factory is being built, there she was again.

Peeking out through the bend in the crane, high up in the sky.

Reminding me that we can build our buildings and make billions of dollars but we can't place the moon just so in the sky.

That's control, that's God!  

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Walnuts and other stuff


I have a thing for walnuts. I can hardly walk by the walnut bin at the grocery store without digging in with both hands. I love how they sound and the texture. I know I would love how they smell too, but due to a genetic weakness inherited from my Grandfather, I have never been able to smell. That's just one more thing in a long list that will get fixed in Heaven.

I had a walnut adventure yesterday, well the cats and I did.

It all started with a package of store-bought cookies. They were mexican wedding cookies, the ones that I decided I wasn't going to make this year. They were okay. In fact, I am ashamed to say, I ate every single one of them. But they were nothing like mine. Now I had an unrequitted craving that wasn't about to go away. I had no choice but to make them.  

I had pecans but I really wanted walnuts. My funny friend knows about my walnut fetish so last Christmas she gave me a sack in the shell, and they were still there in the cupboard. I dug out my nutcracker from wayyyy under the cabinet, since now I mostly buy nuts that Costco has already cracked and packaged very nicely.  It was too cold to go outside so I spread a sheet in my room and let the shells fly!

The cats thought it was a great adventure. They interrupted their morning naps and sprang off the bed like kittens: "What have we here? We don't recognize this thing you are doing on our floor." Somehow a rogue pecan had made its way into the bag so I rolled it their way. They batted it back and forth, but then Sydney smelled food like substance coming from the cracked nuts, so he stayed close by. His begging could put any dog to shame.

It was great fun. It only took me about 20 minutes and I had a nice little pile. I was surprised how I remembered some things. My Mom and I cracking walnuts on the cold garage floor on fall days. And going out to my Aunt's little country house and picking them off her trees. I closed my eyes and heard the sounds, the voices.....it seemed so far away.

I heard the squawking of the blue jays, and the flutter of their wings as they swooped down. I remembered the brick wall in her kitchen and how she had See's candy in the fridge. And how her sunny yellow bathroom curtains had fuzzy balls on the ends that I liked to touch.

And I remember all those years of Christmas baking and all the smiles of joy as they got their basket of homemade goodies. All of the trips to the store for a forgotten ingredient. And it surprised me how memories of those walnuts hurt. Hurt for those years gone and that they went so fast.

But there is more to be thankful for.......I still have my Mom, and I still have my Aunt. Though many years have passed, there is hope in every moment we all have right now, together.

This morning I broke the rules. I didn't eat a sensible breakfast, I had two Mexican Wedding cookies with my coffee at 4:30 AM, and they were just as good as I thought they would be.

I have not one regret.

Monday, December 5, 2011

We are all invited


But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days. Micah 5:2

For four hundred years, the voice of God was silent......The Holy Spirit stirred no prophet. No one came forth. Israel waited. They waited for redemption, for hope. Rescue. But they didn't expect it the way it came, the way He came.

The light of the world

They knew the prophecies concerning the One who would come.....they studied Isaiah, Micah and all the rest even from birth, and yet when He came, exactly as it was prophesied, many missed him.

Jesus, our hope......the hope of the Gentiles and the Jews, the hope of the whole world.

His heart breaks even now, when He remembers how many missed Him then, and how many will continue to miss him now. For He is not willing that any should perish.

The fact that I have not missed Him is proof of His great mercy. I ask myself why? But then I remember that His mercy extents to everyone. He holds this invitation out to the whole world.......still.

This alone is reason enough reason to live thankfulness in my heart every moment. One lifetime does not hold enough time for the amount of gratitude He deserves, so I am glad He has given me all eternity to thank Him....

Along with the angels.

For now, I will continue my list of small miracles in the every day: #754-764

For the joy that still flows as I decorate this year, even through the difficulties and challenges. The Spirit still flows and circumstances can't stop it.....Halleluiah.

The silly moments of laughter with a best friend who is silly along with me, as we join in spontaneous song driving down the road.

The evening fires, and being to eat outside once again....

The incredible sunrise this morning.

The glided pages of my favorite old Bible, "big red" I call it. I had thought the gold had all worn off the pages, but as the light hit it this morning, it caught the edge of the pages and I discovered it was still there.

Small escapes, little vacations in the midst of chaos that bring back a bit of sanity.

And a big surprise last night. Elaine's Mom joining me in decorating the Christmas tree, the first normal thing she has done in a very long time, and the first time she has decorated a tree in about 20 years.....

Cloud covered Superstitions......(see photo blog today, here)

Birdsong cutting through the chill of the morning.

Cold weather in Arizona......that makes it feel more like Christmas!


photo credit: google images

Saturday, December 3, 2011

When all other lights go out

In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:4, 5

There is no darkness so deep that the light of Christ cannot penetrate it. He is the light, in fact. Light originated with Him. There is nothing in our lives that is so dark, so powerful, so strong, that it is beyond His reach. There is nothing in me that He can't fix!

At times I tend to forget my greatest resource, especially when the darkness closes in around me. In times past my first instinct was to panic or try to figure a way out. Sometimes it still is. I am a bit quicker now to pray first, but many times I still get the order mixed up, panic, escape, with prayer coming last.

Love is patient.

One of the most memorable scenes for me in the  Lord of the Rings  was when Frodo was in that terrible dark cave with that awful giant spider. Let me tell you, as someone with a lifelong fear of spiders there could be no worse scenario for me.

I tried to force myself to watch it on the big screen. Oh, those awful eyes and creepy legs and then coming after him with that awful stinger! My favorite part was when good old faithful Sam came to the rescue with the light of Galadriel, which they had all along. I loved her line:

"May it be a light for you when all other lights go out."

Jesus is that light for us. He is the light of the whole world. In Him is no darkness. When Christ came, His light threw the shadows back on this old world forever. That is the hope of Christmas.

I think of this as I look at my lights out front, on the tree.

All of them symbols of the One and only true light.

And even though Jesus' cousin John was chronologically born first, John knew that Jesus existed long before he did. Was there, in fact at the very beginning of all things.

John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’” John 1:15

"I thank you Lord, for being my One true light. You are my sanity, my healing, my joy, my everything. With You I have everything I need, without You I have nothing. Because of You my future is full of hope, never dread. And thank you for reminding me that nothing bad lasts forever, but only for a season, and even that, you are working out for my good."

Friday, December 2, 2011

Love with a Capital "L"


"Do not call conspiracy everything this people calls a conspiracy; do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it. The LORD Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread." Isaiah 8:12,13

In other words, don't fear what the world fears, make sure you are right with God instead. It is good for us to pause and remember, when the world seems full of unrest and chaos.....when has it not been after all?......who is really in control, that what we see on the news doesn't have to fill us with dread.

Isaiah goes on to say that consulting with people who we feel have an inside track on future events is like asking a blind person for a way out of a dark tunnel. Only God holds the future in His hands.

"When someone tells you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living? Consult God’s instruction and the testimony of warning. If anyone does not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn." Isaiah 8:19, 20

If we were standing before the Lord himself, the events of this world would dissolve into nothingness. We would be blinded by the splendor of His majesty, struck as Isaiah was by everything he saw and felt. No doubt we would be speechless, as he was. God knew that He must do something to tear down that wall of separation so that we could approach Him without fear.......So at this time of year, we peer into that manger, that lowly straw-filled cradle that held God. We know that it was for our benefit, not His.

After all, Who would fear a baby in a manger?

Imagine a God who wanted so badly to reconcile with His children that He would appear in a lowly stable......it's the old, old story that never gets old.

That's what I call love with a Capital "L"

I pray for you quiet moments this Christmas, to reflect on just how much He loves us. In the midst of the rushing around this month, pull up a chair and grab a hot drink and watch the crowds rush by.

Smile at the peace that reigns in your heart........smile at the fact that you carry His peace wherever you go, always.

photo credit: google images

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Beating back the dark


This morning, I huddled in the crisp, cool darkness of the morning. I spilled out my worries. The same ones He always hears. I drew names out of my heart......

I whispered them and as I prayed I imagined them floating up.....up.....up toward that Throne.

The only One who matters, heard them.

Received them.

Then, after the spilling out of my cares was done. I figured I needed the serious praying posture. The head down and knees bent variety.....and no words except praise for Him who is worthy. Filling the silence I thought of the verses in the Bible that describe Isaiah's vision:

"In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:

“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”

At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.

There in the silence, I could almost hear it.

I discovered once again, that the best way to beat back the darkness is with praise.

It's the one thing I have found that never fails.


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Joy in the morning


As dawn colored the sky this morning, I couldn't help but think that God knew that we would need such a greeting to start the day, and close it too.

Through all the worrying that goes on after dark,
all the tossing and turning.
The mulling over of everything we should have done....

or have left to do.

This I pray for all of us today.
That in all the rushing around of this season,

that we treasure each other and the time we have together.
Help us to have open and honest conversations....
not rushed.

Conversations that bring light and healing to hearts and ears.
Help us bring relief in our actions and a presence of calm.

Help us to be eager to bring relief to anxious and weary eyes.
Help us Lord, to enjoy each other's company, knowing that though the river
of time never stops.....

That rather than just swimming furiously
or allowing it to carry us swiftly downstream,
we can stop and sit on the shore
for awhile.

Shoulder to shoulder,
quietly watching the beauty of it
flow by.

Thank you Lord for the joy that came yesterday as we decorated the house.

It shimmers with You!
Amen

Monday, November 28, 2011

Showdown in the Desert


The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. Isaiah 9:2

I struggle with this post today. How to get into words what I feel this year? This particular advent? Each year I ask myself the same questions. What did it mean then, and what does it mean today? How can anyone truly understand the wonder of the Living God coming down to earth as a baby? This is why we are celebrating, after all.

Yesterday I saw a sign at a Scottsdale shopping mall describing Santa as "The man of the Season." Really? I guess for some he is the man of the season, but not for me.

Sometimes.....many times, in our walk of faith we come to a place of decision. That is where I was yesterday. It was difficult to pray. I sat in silence, my heart feeling like a stone. I was struggling. It was a battle I was facing and I had to ask myself a serious question. It was a showdown in the desert. I

Jesus had one too. And He won.

After prayer I came back inside, pacing. Lately I have noticed anger.....resentment bubbling underneath my surface, ready to flare at little meaningless things. I know where it comes from. And I also know that it was a Spiritual battle not a physical one I had to fight.

I know Satan's tactics. It was between him and me now. I was determined that he would not win. Can I just say to anyone who thinks that Satan isn't real, that he isn't absolutely bent on our destruction, just look at our world today. That my friends, is not the work of God.

What He created was and is perfect. Take the human element out of this world and you would be left with the same perfection as in the day of creation. Still and always, good. But thankfully, there is a good human element in play as well. All around us there are those who hold back the tide. And let's just call it what it is.....evil.

I realized yesterday morning, that if I can't handle one old, stinky bad tempered woman, yes I did say stinky. We are going on week six of no shower. She gets absolutely hostile and angry when Elaine suggests she take one. So we just keep spraying air freshener and lighting candles throughout the house.

If I can't handle this situation, then my faith means nothing. I am a fraud as a Christian. I may as not sing one Christmas carol. You see, that was and is the battle. Yours might be different, but we are all in one once we claim the name of Christ. It is not about flesh and blood at all. 

"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places." Ephesians 6:12 

It is an old battle and nothing new. Yesterday I determined that God and I together would win it. Peace will reign in this home, in my heart. I will lay my struggle down at the feet of Jesus. I will let the Spirit take over instead of trying to fight it on my own.


"Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live." Romans 8:12

Once I made up my mind......peace flooded into my heart. That is what advent means to me this year. It means peace, it means victory, it means we may have battles, but Jesus has won the war for us!

I continue my count today with renewed gratitude........Decorating with joy for the season.......A best friend who understands and shares my burdens in prayer and conversation.....Christmas lights that work.....Snowman doormat....new heater in prayer room.......talks by the firelight......Morning chill......a call from my Aunt last night.....laughter when all else fails......Sleigh with stuffed Christmas babies that always make me smile.....#743-#753



Friday, November 25, 2011

Queen of the Mute

My Mom and I are the reigning queens of the mute button. I must give her top billing since she has actually worn the color off her mute button, and I haven't even come close....yet.

This mute button issue has made others in the same room with us very annoyed at times. When my brother is over he takes control of the remote so he can have a direct line to any channel that Cops might be on. But sometimes my Mom gets control and when she does, it's war.

His complaint is that she isn't quick enough on the draw for when the shows come back on. He hates missing the first few seconds of whatever it is they are watching. If it's a breaking news story I can understand it, you'd hate to miss the first few seconds of that. But the most you can miss on Cops is, "Put your hands where I can....."

Anyway I digress. At home I let Elaine keep control over the remote. I don't want the responsibility of the thing. The cats and I settle onto my chair, (a term I use loosely since they always try to squeeze me out of it), and also, we have much the same taste so I will watch whatever is on until I can't keep my eyes open anymore.

We are not really TV people anyway, we could shut it off for days and not really miss it. We have in fact. Elaine's parents on the other hand, were TV people. Still are. Now that her Mom is living with us it is really interesting. When she gets the remote, you never know what you will hear from the next room. The other day she had the Spanish channel full blast. Also, with Alzheimer's, she forgets what the remote is for at times.

One time Elaine was in the shower and her Mom handed the remote control through the curtain and said, "The phone is ringing and I don't know how to answer it." And she switches the remotes so that none of them will work, and then furiously punches the button and complains that, "I can't get this thing to work."

When they lived in their own home and we would go to visit, they would be sitting in the living room like mole people shades tightly drawn and TV hot to the touch from running Judge shows in a continual stream. I had no idea they had that many. It was extremely depressing to say the least.

And of course now that the Christmas ads have started I may have to take the remote until the New Year. Elaine is pretty good about it. All I have to say when they come on is....Mute, mute! And she does it, usually.

And finally the biggest reason this year that I may have to take ownership of the remote, whereby controlling when and how fast I can mute is this woman right here! She wins top billing in my book for most irritating TV ad personality.

The crazy Target lady. (Bless her heart)

She may just be the reason that my mute button is completely worn down by the end of the month.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful to be Thankful


"So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness." Colossians 2:6,7



........If I had an altar I'd kneel at it today, but since I don't I will make an altar right here at work in my heart. I am thankful to be thankful today!

Even though I have to be at work, I know there are many who need jobs, who would give anything to be here today. In fact, I was all ready to grumble about being here, but I feel like the Spirit is doing flips inside my heart, so I think I will just go with it!

Have a Blessed and Happy Thanksgiving from my home to yours......and don't forget to smile at everyone you see from now until the New Year. You never know what load someone might be carrying.

images from google

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

With a Grateful Heart


I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder...G.K. Chesterton

Because of my dear sister in law who lost her battle with cancer, (but won the war, for she waits for us in Heaven) I always give thanks for my health. This morning something reminded me of a bad flu I had and I realized that there are many this Thanksgiving who would give anything to feel good.

I can't imagine waking up day after day feeling sick, but there are many who do. I thought this the other day on my walk/run. The air was clear and cold. That particular day I felt like I needed to hear life and not the IPOD. Sometimes you just have to. I felt the blast of cold air through my nose, the tingle that makes the nose run.....I felt my lungs about to burst, pushing air through, my heart beating faster and faster.

It was life and life was good.

And I am so thankful for things and people who are life-givers and not life-takers. People who are quick to laugh, to bolster me up with their faith, who speak life and joy. Who build up and not tear down.....how I thank God for you!

I am thankful for the Christian music that uplifts......turns me towards God and makes me lift my hands, my heart, my eyes towards Him.

And I am thankful for realizing that despite some fleeting thoughts earlier this month, I could never pass the holidays by. For the first time in my life though, I do understand those who fly far away, or at least want to. And then the thought, maybe that was a gift too, because I didn't understand before. 

With people living in different places, it seems like someone close is always getting left behind. I was tired of the heartache. I still am. I don't want to wait for Heaven to have everyone in one place, my heart rebels against it. And then there is work. I always have to pick which holiday I want off. But then my heart wells with thanks because I have a choice, and a job. So many right now don't.

Thankfulness bloomed then in my heart and I realized that I could never really be one of those that ignored Thanksgiving or passed on Christmas. They are lodged too deep in my heart and I can't let either one pass without a celebration, for there is so much to celebrate and be thankful for this year......

as every year by God's wonderful grace.

Also, be sure to check out my new blog, Lori's Views. It's more photos and less words. I am really excited about it!  I am still tweaking things up a bit so thank you in advance for your patience.... 

image of cabin  from google images

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The blessing of fellowship


Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:25

Yesterday Elaine and I went to see a dear friend who Pastors a church. He was a friend even before he was a Pastor, but we used to meet at work for prayer and Bible study. It was so good to catch up. By the time we heard all his problems ours felt much smaller.

We sat there for 3 hours.....until he got a call to pick up his daughter at school. The time had flown so fast we scarcely noticed it.

What a blessing it is to have dear friends to fellowship with. Like iron sharpening iron, we are strengthened by each other. He told us of what pain he has suffered over his next to youngest daughter. The one he never expected it from. He also said that lessons he has learned from going through that has helped him deal with issues in the church.

The hardest lessons to learn......Letting go.

He had to learn to let his daughter go, and sometimes to grow a church, you have to let some people go. A very perplexing lesson when you are in a small church and you are trying to grow it.

Sometimes God uses those we love the most to teach us the hard lessons of letting go. Sometimes it makes no sense. Sometimes we feel that the most Godly thing we could do is to grab on tighter. But God's ways are higher than ours, always.

And it makes sense when you think about it.

He used the One closest to Himself to change the world.

Monday, November 21, 2011

I dreamt of snow flurries.......


I have always said, snow can make a scene of beauty out of a dumping ground. It transforms what it touches, like God's Grace when it reaches us. In Isaiah, the book I have always thought of as the Christmas book God says: “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. – Isaiah 1:18


While I didn't wake to snow flurries, I did awake to the patter of raindrops........I sighed and rolled over, "no watering today." Always a concern in the desert.

As I went out for my morning walk/run the streets were wet with wonderful puddles. Another thing to thank Him for. As I passed by the gate I saw the cars already lined up at 6:30, a stream of cars jostling for position in queue.

I thought of myself, since I will be one of those later on this week.

I thought of the people in those cars.......have they felt the touch of God's snow white Grace?

As the world is gearing up for the Holidays, I pray that we might slow down instead. Downshift our lives. I pray more than anything for peace during this Thanksgiving, and throughout the Christmas season. That our lives and hearts and souls will be knit together in love.

That we may love each other as One in Him.

I am thankful first of all today for Ann's calling it to my attention. The counting of the gifts. As I read more from her wonderful book: One Thousand Gifts, and I thought of a few people who I know that would embrace and live the message.....who just may find one tucked under their tree this year.

And I prayed thanks for:

#732-742: The joy of taking pictures......raindrops in the night.....fresh coffee to get me started......fires at night, along with conversation that goes with it.......visits with old friends.......dreams of snow flurries......warm clothes when wind bites.....warm oatmeal cookies......people who believe in me.


photo from google images

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Onto the green.....


In everything give thanks........"Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:18

As I walked outside this morning, I glimpsed one of those magic Arizona sunrises that I knew I had to capture. I got my camera and drove across the street to the golf course, where the golfer's church, their form of Sunday service I suppose, was just about to commence. The announcer's voice.....the morning lineup of who would tee off....

I thought, I could just about get used to this kind of service.

I don't know if God was with them, but He was certainly with me.

Thank you precious Lord, for giving me the eyes to see You.

And this.

Amen

Friday, November 18, 2011

The door of peace


 Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. John 14:27

Every day we have a choice. Which door will I walk through? That of the Spirit or that of the world? In every circumstance a door of choice lays before us. Some people don't even realize a choice exists, they just react, and react badly. I have realized my own capacity to veer wildly off the path, leave the way of peace in the dust and choose to react the way the world does.

I am amazed and ashamed at my own capability for white hot rage, or resentment that sticks like a burr in my heart. One minute I am praying in the Spirit and in the next instant I am ready to lash out......At what someone does, or says. This is the human condition, and one Jesus knew well. It's one of the reasons He came. He knew we were hopeless and helpless without Him. Without His Spirit indwelling us, working through us and in us, we don't have a snowball's chance. (you know the rest)

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit."

Friends, this is a battle. And thankfully it is a battle that Christ has already won. I don't have a chance of winning it on my own. Many times I still try. 

Today, moment by moment, choice by choice I can choose to lay down my weapons and walk peacefully through the door of the Spirit.

Come with me.

Pray for me and I will pray for you, okay? 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Free Gift

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8,9

News leaves me cold these days. We are, all of us, inundated with information.....most of it useless. How did we get to be a society, a people, so influenced by culture and what it says. I don't care about any of it so I scan over the headlines as quickly as I can. It makes me weary, nothing changes, only the faces of the latest celebrity of the minute, the hour, the week.  

I skim past them, glancing at headlines, stopping every now and again as I shiver at the violence, destruction, loss that is now part of our normal. At what shouldn't be, but is.

I stay just long enough to know what is going on in the world. And I am reminded of one thing:

 What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
Ecclesiastes 1:9

But faith is one thing that never gets old. It gets renewed again and again. Increases in power, with constant use. It is stretched but never can be broken beyond repair. It stays gleaming and shiny new as that moment when we first grabbed onto it. Whether it was out of desperation or hope as slim as a spider's thread......it was real.

The other day in a book I was reading one of the characters said, "I just can't believe, I don't have that gift of faith." That is when I remembered again what a gift it really is. To believe. To have faith in what we can't see.
It is something we could never do on our own.....for even the act of believing comes from God Himself. Otherwise we could never do it. But He holds it out to us each day. And I believe, I really believe that though He will never force it on us, He holds out hope that we will accept it.

And I don't believe it is too late until we take that last breath.

Thank you Father for such a wonderful gift. 

Need Blogger Expert!



My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth! Psalm 121:2

(And sometimes He uses people)


Does anyone know how to change template on blogger without a lot of hassle or know how? Despite the fact that I work in a technical field, this is by far not my expertise. I want a wider template that will allow me to display my pictures bigger rather than dinky size!

I am trying to avoid sitting in front of the computer all day running through tutorials! Any help would be appreciated.

Yes, I am being lazy.....

Much to do today :-)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Encouragement from a prison cell

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:9,10

The whole book of Ephesians reads like a prayer of Thanksgiving. Paul is writing from a prison cell, yet this book is enfused with so much joy and hope it is impossible to read it without your spirits lifting. No longer going from place to place putting out fires and encouraging the church, he has endless time in which to write about a future filled with hope in Christ.

It's all about knocking down the barriers that once separated us from God and each other. Jews and Gentiles, once the most segregated and divided of peoples, now are brought together as one in Christ Jesus......

"But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ. For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us." Ephesians 2: 13,14

Sometimes our circumstances can lead us to feel like we are in a prison cell of our own. And we see no end to it. My best friend sees no end to her caretaking responsibilities right now. She feels as if she has been robbed of her life. She told me yesterday all she keeps hearing is my Aunt's voice saying, "The caretakers end up dying"......and now it haunts her like a refrain she can't get rid of........The caretakers die......the caretakers die, the caretakers die. I do my best to comfort her, encourage her.

The truth is, the hope Paul holds out is real. Present circumstances are just that. They will not last forever. We must grab every scrap of joy we can, and yesterday we had a good day. With Christ, each day is enfused with hope. Without Him, we have no hope at all.

So I am thankful for the good moments we had yesterday, and looking forward to more today, holding each one up to the light and giving thanks to Our Father, who has given His Holy Spirit in generous measure, to do above all we can ask or think.

Going to see the movie Puss in Boots yesterday, it was truly delightful. I was surprised at the amount of adults in the theater without kids, and everyone was laughing. Sorting through old slides of camping days, I volunteered to do this for my Dad...such wonderful memories. Being able to gather with the Body of Believers yesterday, to remember what it all means and celebrate what Jesus did for us. Being able to take our neighbor, who turned 88 to lunch yesterday, and then gathering later for cake and enjoying some laughs. Being able to enjoy some rain, and getting back into my exercise routine.......#726-731


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Going Deep


Sometimes I wonder why I am content to wade.........and I wonder how my life would look if I dared to go deep with God. I have gone deep before so I know how it feels. When things are good and I feel like I have things under control I tend to stay in the shallows. I read my Bible and pray, but just enough......


Then when I get desperate, I submerge myself in Scripture........Prayer........Calling out to God.....fasting.....And of course, He is there. He always answers. The truth hits home, for when are we ever not desperate in this life?

When do we not need Him? I wonder how my life would look if I truly lived by the Spirit's leading. If I listened to that quiet voice when it beckoned more often. 

What is it that prevents me from walking that close, that intimate with my Heavenly Father?
I guess it really comes down to fear of where He might lead, what He might ask....So much so, that I forget all the blessing that He assures me would come with it.

Then I remember that was the first sin of Adam and Eve.......He answered, "I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid. 

His love for the children of His creation led His steps to the Garden,

To the Cross.

He even went so far as to fill us with His Spirit so that we may never be without Him.

Shouldn't that be enough to convince me of His love? That where He leads I need never fear?
Yet sometimes I still fear. This life is full of it.

And still His Grace is with me, walking where I walk.

And someday, in that face to face place called Heaven we will walk again without fear in the Garden.

No separation, ever again.

The future is bright my friends.



You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. Psalm 16:11

Friday, November 11, 2011

Always the Same

Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:7,8


 
God could have made every sunset and sunrise the same.....but He didn't. I wanted to show these one after the other to show how beautiful and how miraculous each one is all on its own. They never happen just the same way.....



I'm not sure what these little birds are, but they were very entertaining. They raced to the retreating waves to dig for sand crabs, then they would race to escape the waves when they came back in. Sometimes they would get caught and have to fly out of the way. They didn't like getting wet! A lazy seagull waited, watching them with interest. He tried to steal their spoil when he noticed they had something. Lazy guy.




This is the sunset I captured, racing breathless to the sea right before it sank beneath it's depths on the other side of the world on our last night there. As my lungs burned and I tried to catch my breath, I watched as another work of art was displayed before my eyes. It was like watching a prayer.....



And I got a bunch of these pelicans flying right above the surf looking for their breakfast......

Since the beginning of time, when God set it all in motion, these events have played on. Sometimes we are so mired in the circumstances of life and the stress that surrounds us that we don't notice, yet still they keep unfolding....just like God's grace.

It is encouraging to me that whatever happens in my life, Jesus always stays the same.

All photos taken in Moss Landing, California by me

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Art of Being


 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. Ephesians 4:1-6



He held us captive, with his antics.


As he went through a whole routine of bathing and grooming, he seemed to know we were watching.


He even gave us a big smile for the camera......


Then he hid his eyes......

As we all watched, enthralled, I was struck by how a group of strangers became friends for the whole time he put on his show. We were unified in our adoration of his antics, his free spirit.

The simple beauty of watching one of His creations just being him (or her) self.

At peace in his world.

And for awhile, we were at peace in ours.

He gave us a gift, this little guy did.

I asked God, if I could keep it, that peaceful feeling I felt on the shore. He said, "Yes, there is plenty of peace where that came from just as long as you rest in me, child.
.........just rest in me.

So today I am taking a lesson from the otter, and rest in my place in Creation, just relax in the waves.

Just be.  

(click on pictures to make larger)