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 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 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 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.


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 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 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'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 at the fact that you carry His peace wherever you go, always.

photo credit: google images