Thursday, March 31, 2022

Water Into Wine

 


When the wine was gone, Jesus' mother said to him, "They have no more wine."  "Woman, why do you involve me?" Jesus replied.  "My hour has not yet come."  His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you."

Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.  Jesus said to the servants, "Fill the jars with water;" so they filled them to the brim.  Then he told them, "Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet."

They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine.  He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew.  Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, "Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now." ~John 2:3-10

Every time we see people as ordinary, we turn the wine back into water. ~Bob Goff, Live in Grace, Walk in Love

Who among us doesn't love a good celebration?  Whether it's a birthday or retirement party, or a wedding reception, we all share the joy of the person(s) being honored at those special events.  We don't see them as ordinary folks in these moments, but view them as precious people worthy of our acknowledgement that they are exceptional, deserving and oh, so loved!

What would this world look like if we didn't reserve our love for others to special days only?  What if we celebrated every person we meet as a child of God, created in His image?  Wouldn't that change our perspectives of our fellow sojourners on this earth for the better?

Jesus didn't have to perform the Miracle at Cana; in fact, He tells Mary, His mother, "My hour has not yet come."  But I don't imagine there was another soul in the world that recognizes Jesus' destiny more acutely and definitively as Mary does.  She confidently tells the servant to simply, "Do whatever He tells you," knowing in her heart of hearts that her son, God's Son, can do nothing less than to celebrate the extraordinary in the midst of the ordinary.

The One who brings great joy to those attending the wedding will also bring, by His death and resurrection, that same joy to the entire human race.  Jesus willingly sacrificed Himself for the sins of the whole world, not because we are deserving, but because God does not see any one of us as ordinary.

We are His beloved children.  And when we resolve to view others in the same way, that's when miracles can happen, just like they did in Cana.

Amen!



Monday, March 28, 2022

Treasured

 


For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." ~Jeremiah 29:11


How the years grow you

Not just in body, but mind

Seeking, asking, knocking

Embracing wisdom revealed

By the One who holds you

And knows the plans He has

Not to harm, but prosper you

Meet you where you are

With infinite, unfailing love

Oh, how blessed you are, child,

To be treasured by the Father!

Amen.

Thursday, March 24, 2022

No Matter the Time

 

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends:  With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. ~2 Peter 3:8


Here we are, almost two weeks after the switch to Daylight Savings Time, and this getting-older-by-the-minute inner clock of mine has yet to adjust to the change.  When I come home from the hospital in mid-January of this year, my sleep schedule is all off kilter, probably due to the continuous intrusions by nurses and doctors to take my vitals and/or confer with me about the state of my health.  It takes patience and determination on my part to retrain my body to stay asleep until 7:00 a.m.

And just as this sensible schedule becomes a set routine, here comes the time change.  Now, my body wants to rest until 8:00 instead of the customary 7:00.  Being more of an early morning person than an I'll-wake-when-I-feel-like-it gal, this is discombobulating for me to say the least.  I realize that unless I set my alarm in order to rise at the new desired time, it's just not going to happen.

So, I've decided to take advantage of the next few days to set that alarm, and hope for the best.  Why now?  My husband, Danny, is currently visiting his son, Giovanni, in New Mexico to attend his graduation from Airman Leadership School.  How great is that?  Why didn't I go, too?  Well, after struggling through the pneumonia, I'm quite a way from being 100%, and traveling would take too much out of me.  As Danny is one who likes to sleep until he just wakes up, I can try to alter my schedule while he is not here to be disturbed by a pesky alarm.

I just hope the few days will be enough to turn the tide in my favor.  That is yet to be determined, of course, but for now, it's the best way I see going forward.

~

As human beings, we are all wired to denote the time of day, the passage of time, and how certain hours in the day mark specific activities.  Not so with God!  His perception of time is an eternal one, far outside the boundaries of human parameters.  Nothing makes this clearer to our limited understanding than Peter's description of this concept in his second letter to Jesus' followers.

God will never be subjected to man's interpretation of time.  The One who never sleeps needs no alarm clock.  All of time, from a day to a thousand years, is interchangeable and beyond our understanding.

I don't know about you, but I'm so grateful for God's omniscience, omnipresence and omnipotence, things we are not meant to comprehend, but to simply believe with trust and reverence.

Just knowing God is with us, no matter what the time of day or night, is more than enough for me.

Amen!

Monday, March 21, 2022

Happily Ever After

 


When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.  When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. ~1 Corinthians 13:11


Pictured above is a Christmas tin rescued from my mother's attic.  Of course, the tin isn't valuable in and of itself; it's what's inside that is priceless.



Allow me to introduce your to the "Little Animals," as my brother, Bill, and I call them many years ago.  I can't begin to describe the countless hours we spend playing with these when rain or cold kept us indoors, except to say they always brought joy to our hearts.  The adventures upon which these beloved toys embark reflect our creativity, our love for a good story, and keep our imaginations working in overdrive.  

My only regret?  That I never went up to the attic when granddaughter, Virginia was younger so I could share the magical, enchanting world of the Little Animals with her.

I believe wholeheartedly that the games Bill and I play as children plant the seed of what would later become the idea for my book series:  The Glade Series and Adventures in The Glade.

Here is Hootie, the prototype for the character of Reverend in my novels.


He is given to me as a birthday gift from my grandmother when I'm probably two or three.  Dearly loved, and played with more than the other animals, Hootie truly shows his age, not unlike some of us.  He is the undisputed patriarch of this motley clan, always a reliable fountain of wisdom and advice when other animals needed it.

And there isn't a one of the Little Animals who don't need Hootie's sage stability in their lives, especially the Gang of Five.


Mischief seems to be something they can't help but cause, not in a malicious way, but misadventures pursue them like the plague.  Note that three of these rascals, the squirrel, the fox and the raccoon, also appear with frequency in my books:  Racer, Wily and Cleverhands.

While the latter animals are the permanent children in this rag-tag family, others range in age in our minds as teens, young adults, older adults, and father/mother figures.  Bill and I create a small-town community where everyone looks out for one another, and helps whenever they can.  What an idyllic world we see through our innocent and immature eyes!




Yes, I'm convinced that the role playing in which we engage at a tender age helps us to make sense of and bring order to the unpredictable world over which we have no control.  The adventures of our Little Animals gives order to chaos.  There are no unhappy endings, only happily ever after ones.

As Christians, we know we'll encounter times of trouble and trials, sadness and disappointments on this imperfect earth.  But these are only temporal, just as the fixes the Little Animals find themselves mired in from time to time.

Because we know the rest of the story.

And it ends happily ever after.

Amen!

Thursday, March 17, 2022

I Cannot Let You Go

 


Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, of nakedness, or peril, or sword? ~Romans 8:35

I cannot let you go
I will not see you perish
Everything, I'll try
And pray on moving knees
Trusting God who honors
Heart, mind, spirit
Trusting that safety
Is within our reach
If only we believe
The Lord has overcome
The evil come upon us.
Child, He holds you
In His arms of grace
He will not let you go
I may fail and fall
But God prevails
He cannot let us go.

Amen

Monday, March 14, 2022

Moments and Memories

 


Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. ~Psalm 51:10

The photo above is of my mother's bedroom when my husband, Danny, is there to oversee some removal of furniture (Mom's dear friend and housekeeper, Rosa, and her family do get some beautiful and meaningful pieces, and we are so happy for that.)  Practically empty, right?  It seems like our clean up tasks could be in the closing stages.

Then, my brother, Bill, and his daughter, Rebecca, arrive at the house with the express intent of claiming other items and emptying the attic.  Oh, boy!  This once barren room is suddenly chock-filled with boxes and bags through which I must sort, deciding what to keep and what to discard.





While it is wonderful to meet up with memories for the most part, there are so many emotions swirling in my heart and mind as items I haven't laid eyes on in ages are unexpectedly brought to light.

I do rediscover items that I had lost hope of ever seeing again.  A high school poetry journal; sketch books containing art that isn't half bad, year books, a journal from my trip to the British Isles while in college, letters to my folks from those days of higher education, and even more cards and letters from loved ones who have gone to be with the Lord.  No, I didn't take photos of these at the time as I was busy saving and purging, but will peruse them at leisure.  And, hopefully, I can share some of the contents with you.

However, here are just a few of the crazy things that I thought were worth saving, storing with Mom and Dad, at age 18 before I left for college.



Yes, I was a cheerleader and a captain of the team in high school.  But why did I even think this garish figurine is worth saving? Ugh!  Into the trash, it goes!


And how about this?  A Brownie handbook that Mom must have saved, because I never made it into the official Girl Scout ranking.  Why was this preserved?  I can tell you, in all confidence, that the contents would be soundly condemned by this woke/gone mad world.  And the world is worse for it.

Do you remember these?



Decorating bottles was all the fad in the early 70's, clipping words/phrases from magazines (do they even exist any more?) to adorn battles with words that describe you.  Perhaps, these were a precursor of today's popular vision boards?  No matter.  Except for the photo, this memory is history.

I still have a long way to go in order to organize the important parts of my past, and purge what I certainly don't need going forward.  Some things from our youth do retain their goodness and worth, while others, in our maturity, seem silly and infantile.

And I truly believe that we need to petition God, on a daily basis, to create in us a clean heart, one not tarnished or blemished by the past, but one ready and willing to obey Him and see the world as He would have us to.  By the same token, we need to pray that He renews a right spirit within us, on that knows that temporary objects can never win over the eternal.

Nor should it.  Ever.

As we all traverse the season of Lent, may our heartfelt prayer be that our Lord will wash us clean of our past, and daily renew and revive that spirit within us that brings glory and honor to His name.

Those are the moments and the memories we should treasure.

Amen!

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Full of Promise

 


The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.  Instead, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.


Her long locks

Unfettered, wind-swept

With every move she makes

Full of promise, dreams

Not yet realized

Yet, in time, fruition

Will live to tell the tale

Of longing locks, leaning

Into past and future

Moments in the now

Will fall with full abandon

When God gives her

The keys to the kingdom

Pledged from time's beginning

Good until time's end.

Amen.

Monday, March 7, 2022

Entertaining Angels

 


Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels. ~Hebrews 13:2

Day by day, hour by hour, moment by moment.

We watch, in horror and disbelief, the atrocities of war being perpetrated upon the sovereign nation of Ukraine by the Russian military, commanded by the unhinged and power-driven dictator, Vladimir Putin.  I know we are all inspired by the courage of the Ukrainian people; their resolve to fight this enemy and preserve their freedoms is modeled bravely by their own President Zelenskyy.  Even though he faces multiple threats of assassination, this man has chosen to stay in his country and fight alongside his military and civilians.

Oh, how I despise the hesitancy and foot-dragging I see in our current administration when it comes to actually helping the people of Ukraine!  Afraid to be accused of an act of war?  Really?  What has Putin already done that the whole world acknowledges?  Does the phrase "war crimes" ring a bell?  And is it truly a problem to send fighter jets through Poland?  Aren't we a savvy enough military power to figure that out?

But, no.  Let's reinstate that self-defeating deal with Iran, with the Russians acting as brokers.  Let's refuse to drill for oil in our own country, and beg the bad actors who despise us for more oil production.  Worst of all, let's continue to fund this heinous conflict by purchasing said oil from Russia - her economic bloodline.

In the meantime, hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian citizens are fleeing their war-ravaged nation, many of them heading for their neighbor, Poland.  I see on the news the crowds of women and children being processed upon their arrival, but refugee camps and shelters wont' be the final destination for a vast number these displaced people.

Why?  Because hundreds of Polish families have agreed to take these refugees into their homes.  Can you imagine the comfort and peace of mind that offers to those who fled their country, their loved ones, leaving everything familiar behind?  I can only imagine the relief on the faces and in the hearts of the women, children and elderly as a Polish family rolls out the welcome mat without a moment's hesitation.

I'd like to think that, were I in the same situation, I would do likewise.

Welcoming strangers.  Treating them as friends.

Entertaining them as if they were angels.

In the midst of the chaos and upheaval, I like to think that the generosity and kindness shown by the Polish people brings a smile to God's face.

May He richly bless each and every soul affected by this cruel and needless conflict.

Amen!

Thursday, March 3, 2022

Daffodils

 


Then God said, "Let the plants grow from the earth, plants that have seeds.  Let fruit trees grow on the earth that bring their kind of fruit with their own seeds."  And it was so. ~Genesis 1:11


In the thaw

I come to be

When the cold

God bids to flee

For in the warmth

Of promised spring

Every hope

And heart will sing


Amen!




The Lord's Rest

  Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. ~Matthew 11:28 I cannot begin to convey the excitement and an...