This Icy Night

“Yes, I now feel that it was then on that evening of sweet dreams that the very first dawn of human love burst upon the icy night of my spirit. Since that period I have never seen nor heard your name without a shiver half of delight, half of dreams” 
                                                                                               ~ Edgar Allan Poe
 
Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up. You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does.
                                                                                                ~ 1 Peter 5:8-9
 
In so many ways, this is an icy night of the spirit. Forces are acting in concert with hatred, people of all walks of life are having their acts of hatred recorded with much more frequency than acts of love, acts of kindness, acts of healing. There is no office untouched.
 
When I read the quote from Edgar Allen Poe, the first name I heard was “Jesus”. Jesus who loves us so deeply no matter our behavior, Jesus who melts all ice and can warm the coldest heart.  Jesus who has plans beyond our wildest, sweetest dreams.
 
These words of Peter’s, dressed in modern language really drives home the point that we are NOT alone.  The world would have us think that, but we are not.  So today, wrap yourself in Jesus and go forth into Halloween and the coming days dressed in his name. Spread the love.
 
Because of Him,
Linda
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Today, Today, Today

“Do your best and then let go of the result–and just be thankful to be able to continue.” ~ James Taylor

 
 Then he told them what they could expect for themselves: “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat—I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? If any of you is embarrassed with me and the way I’m leading you, know that the Son of Man will be far more embarrassed with you when he arrives in all his splendor in company with the Father and the holy angels. This isn’t, you realize, pie in the sky by and by. Some who have taken their stand right here are going to see it happen, see with their own eyes the kingdom of God.” 
                                              ~ Luke 9: 23-27 
I have been joyful of late because I can see an improvement in my poetry.  Looking back, I see that my first two books could use some work, the poems need some more revising.  Then I remember the words of my beloved professor:  “This is a snapshot of where the poet is at the time.” 
Then I can stand and appreciate what it took to get to the stage that those books became reality.  When I saw the scripture this morning, and the quote from James Taylor, it affirmed that I must continue to simply do my best, and LET GO of the result.
I have long been a fan of James Taylor.  His road has been scarred, as have many of our roads, with decisions that nearly killed him. He found a new road, and let go of the old. He found Jesus.  The Jesus he sang to so long ago in “Fire and Rain.”
I looked at the lyrics of this tune, and saw the Lord in it, leading the songwriter/singer/musician into today, into a thankfulness to be able to continue.
Lord, take my gifts, and use them, just as they are. Grow them in you, and help me to get out of the way.  Today, and every day.
Because of Him,
Linda
Today Today Today
Today, today, today
I’m finally on my way
The time has come to say
Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye
The bird is on the wing
The bell is about to ring
The big girl she’s about to sing
Today, today, today
The world will open wide
And I’m running with the tide
It’s time to cut this side
And I must not miss my ride
Somehow I haven’t died
And I feel the same inside
As when I caught this ride
When first I sold my pride
The way ahead is clear
My heart is free from fear
I’ll plant my flag right here
Today, today, today
Songwriters: TAYLOR JAMES

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The Aloha Factor

“God is aloha… We do not do good only to those who do good to us. One of the sweetest things about the love of God, about aloha, is that it welcomes the stranger and seeks his good.”

                                                                                   ~ Abraham K. Akaka

 

Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high: 

                                                                                   ~ Hebrews 1: 3

There is a list of folks who no matter how hard I try, I cannot like let alone love. They vex me. Some for a moment, some for decades.  I made a list of them years ago, and one by one asked God to love them through me, as I could not.  And one by one, they have faded from the list with only a couple left to go.  When I read Abraham Akaka’s quote, I reframed the way that I saw these folks.  No matter what their intent, they are God’s children, no matter how their words sting, God loves them, no matter what pain they cause, the pain they might be experiencing is what makes them cry out.

So I will keep praying, and keep giving them back, and believe in the aloha.  How do you handle those folks who vex you? Today, lift them up to the one who has already died for their sins, and ours.

Lord, thank you for being the aloha, the breath of life.  Today, breathe afresh on those who vex me, and those that I vex.  Help us to be kinder to one another.

Because of Him,

Linda

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Only Jesus

 How? you ask. In Christ. God put the wrong on him who never    did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God. 

                                                           ~ 2 Corinthians 5:21
 
“Our lives are given meaning by our actions— accomplishments made while we are here that extend beyond our own time.”  ~ Maya Lin 
 
Image result for bird protecting its young
 Have you ever taken the blame for someone else’s actions?  Perhaps to protect a loved one? Save them from harsh judgement, the law, or worse?  Have you ever thrown yourself over your children, in the face of danger, giving no thought to your own safety?
This is what Jesus did for us. He volunteered for this mission, and saw it through.  What he did for us mattered, for eternity.
Surely in our every day lives, we can live toward a goal of making a difference, one action at a time.  And doing it in the name of Jesus is the best reward because it takes the “fame” and pressure off of us, and lets us join in, in the legacy of Jesus.
Only Jesus.
Today, be kind, to others, to yourself. For Him.
 
Because of Him,
Linda

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“Each of us brings to our job, whatever it is, our lifetime of experience and our values.” 

                                ~ Sandra Day O’Connor
 
Meanwhile, live in such a way that you are a credit to the Message of Christ. Let nothing in your conduct hang on whether I come or not. Your conduct must be the same whether I show up to see things for myself or hear of it from a distance. Stand united, singular in vision, contending for people’s trust in the Message, the good news, not flinching or dodging in the slightest before the opposition. Your courage and unity will show them what they’re up against: defeat for them, victory for you—and both because of God. There’s far more to this life than trusting in Christ. There’s also suffering for him. And the suffering is as much a gift as the trusting. You’re involved in the same kind of struggle you saw me go through, on which you are now getting an updated report in this letter.  
                              ~ Philippians 1:29
 
I am so thrilled with the Bible Study in which I am a member.  The ladies are from diverse places, economic status and backgrounds. We sit, united in Christ, sharing our journeys and affirming the ways in which we bring the message forward.  Speaking only for myself, this group has taught me a great deal about being unified as a body.  I know I mentioned the amazing prayer time we shared two weeks ago, this week we meet again, and I look forward to the testimonies and in seeing the ways in which God has knit us a little closer.  
     Barriers are melting away and acceptance and strength are the new building blocks.  As you live out your day, days, weeks, months, years, etc, keep in mind that the Creator of the Universe shows gardeners how to care for seedlings until they are ready for the garden, the yard, the outside.
     Look to God for your spiritual nutrients, try and let go of old mindsets as God gives you new vision, as God does spring cleaning in your heart, mind and spirit. And remember to allow the love of God to reach you.  Allow yourself to feel loved. And as you look at the scars that life has left behind, praise God in the midst of them. They are reminders of the survivor and victor that you are!
 
Thankful for the Scars – I Am They
 
Because of Him,
Linda

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So’s Your Uncle

“Do not the most moving moments of our lives find us all without words?” 
                                                                 ~ Marcel Marceau
 
And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels. 
                                                                ~ Ephesians 6:10-11 
 
Silence is a great weapon.  It stops conversations, starts them, changes them, makes one reconsider the words that they have just spoken. Sometimes, it is just one word.
I have an uncle who, when I was younger, seemed a bit unapproachable, reserved.  My aunt loved him and often said that he reminded her of my dad. (My dad was a wise, well purposed, God loving man who lived the example he expected us to emulate.  I know I was raised in an atypical home now.  Dad was not perfect. He had his falls, (faults too), as do we all.  His words counted because of his faith.  He truly had a heart for God and for living his life in accordance with the law of love.) 
I have watched my uncle for decades.  He worked with a consulting firm that depended on management for important input on decisions affecting the quality of their customers’ companies. His words had to count, because they made a difference in whether or not a company improved. I watched him cry at the loss of a colleague, become angered when the company’s solution did not match up with the way he saw it, tap his feet at the sound of smooth jazz, conduct a choir. He, like my dad, always erred on the side of success for the customer.
In his retirement, his wisdom is something others rely on, and those who don’t agree,  respect it.  My uncle is always doing good, always striving to make it better, and his input is liberally peppered with love.  He has grown even more loving and ever more in touch with his Creator, who he serves.  Sometimes, his most important speech is one word. The word we must all use when dealing with the weapons of Satan.  The word, that “The Silent Movie” gifted to a man who used no words as a rule in his profession as a mime.  I have included that word for your enjoyment, and, to  make my uncle smile.

 

Marcel Marceau – The Silent Movie
Thank you Uncle Ted.  You make a difference every day. This song’s for you!
Be Strong in the Lord
 
Because of Him,
Linda

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Loving Our Imperfections … and Prayer

The most freeing thing is to like your imperfections.” ~ Mary Tyler Moore

 

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 

Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

~ Galatians 5:22-23

Here is the same verse, in Eugene Peterson’s The Message:

“But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.

23-24 Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way. Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good—crucified.”

I love the way that The Message handles this scripture. Truth be told, I just love the music of the King James version, but the explanation makes me slow down and really read the scripture, and let it seep into the cracks in my soul, like a soaking rain, slowly, completely.

The women’s Bible study that I am involved in had a lesson on prayer last week that shook our foundations as a group. We, one after another, took the hands of the person next to us and listened to their prayer requests, then we prayed. We prayed as if our lives depended upon it.  The fruit of that is already sprouting up like spring crocuses!  I cannot wait to see these ladies of so very different background to share our testimonies!

Today, think about the things that you consider to be your imperfections, your shortcomings, your heart felt  cries, and give them up in prayer, to the Lord who loves you so very much.  The glow in the mirror will surprise you.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L218XwnsUzs

Love is All Around

Because of Him,

Linda

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Love is a Verb

Love is a verb.” ~ Clare Boothe Luce

So realize that the Lord your God is the true God, the faithful God who keeps covenant faithfully with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations, 

~ Deuteronomy 7:9

I do not know what caused his death.  I only know that he passed suddenly last Friday.  The news went out in several ways. Our friend’s husband had passed away.

We planned our day around getting to her for the few moments we could share our condolences, hugs, smiles, tears.  I worked with her for years, my husband’s history was longer – they knew each other since elementary school. He fashioned a home made card for her and we went. It was a miserable, rainy, cold, foggy day. We got there early enough to have lunch at a local eatery.  

As we approached the funeral home, the parking places were filling up fast. The line was already forming inside.  After about a half hour, we got to our friend. She was already exhausted, but so glad to see us. She took real time with each and every person who came. That is who she is.  Love is a verb.  And the results of that verb lined the room, the hall way and wrapped around the lobby of that funeral home out into the parking lot. The lot was full and people were parking on the street, around the corner, down the road.

This couple made love an every day occurrence, shared it with their sons, their family, their friends, their co-workers, strangers. I don’t know how she made it through the day, or how she will make it through this hard time, but I do know she is bolstered by the God she loves and those around her whom she loves and who love her.

Today, tell those you know and care about that you love them.  It makes a difference, 

it is love… in action.

This song makes me think of how we might sing to God about what God has done for us, and how we might sing it to a loved one.

Because of Him,

Linda

 

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