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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Together

1-4 Hallelujah!
Sing to God a brand-new song,
    praise him in the company of all who love him.
Let all Israel celebrate their Sovereign Creator,
    Zion’s children exult in their King.
Let them praise his name in dance;
    strike up the band and make great music!
And why? Because God delights in his people,
    adorns plain folk with salvation garlands!
~Psalm 149:1-4

“I am only one, but still I am one; I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; I will not refuse to do the something I can do.” 

Helen Keller

The Lord’s Prayer – in the Capitol Rotunda

I attended a poetry reading last week.  The feature poets filled the air with anger, angst, gloom, judgement.  The atmosphere was palpable. What followed attempted to bring hope.  What came after the reading was, I feel, was why we stayed as long as we did.  A young man, rejected by his grandfather, his father, had just lost them both in close succession.  He felt that there were things he needed to say to them.  So he said them in the reading.  

Afterwards, both my husband and I, in separate promptings,  approached the young poet.  We offered different consolations for his loss, and we both felt his spirit lift.

It was worth sitting through all that anger, just for that.  

Do that one thing that God has asked you to do. The man in the rotunda did. You can too.

We must stand. Together.

Together

Because of Him,

Linda

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The King Of Love

“Sometimes you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right.” ~
~ Jerry Garcia

You are my shelter and my shield;
I put my hope in your word.

~ Psalm 119:114

The King of Love My Shepherd Is – arranged by Dan Forrest

Choral arrangement : for you directors of music.

It was a summer sanctuary, where a few faithful gathered.  We were late, and got there in time for the sign of peace, which is still an exercise in rcreativity.  Some flashing peace signs, some shaking hands, some making sure that they were heard.  Then we sat and prepared for the sermon.  

This seasoned clergyman had many personal connections with our congregation.  He was endearing, sincere and hit straight to my heart.  The good reverend reminded us that we are taken (chosen), blessed, broken, and given.  Some of our congregation had a hard time hearing this softspoken gentle man. I sat in the congregation and just wept as I was reminded that I was so loved by God.  The message was reinforced in the special music (which I have included).  When Cindy (the soloist) sang, the witness in my Spirit glowed, flowed and showed. It was reinforced in the Spirit, in the hymns, in the very air.

The entire service renewed me,   This minister works with young people in the jails on our Island.  The one message that they got, over and over from adults in their lives was “You will never amount to anything.”  And they went about fulfilling that prophecy. He is there to remind them how loved they are.  And he brought that message to us, to me, encouraging me in my very soul.

We discussed the sermon during the coffee hour.  We talked about being taken (chosen), blessed, broken and given.  One person asked me how to remember why broken was good. I offered that if an egg is not broken, one cannot use it to bake, to cook, one cannot eat a hard boiled egg unless one breaks the shell.  She liked the practical example of the brokenness, and how that fed into being given.

No matter where you are in the process, you are loved.  By the King of Love, the Shepherd.

Because of Him,

Linda

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Let the Children Come


Children are the true connoisseurs. What is precious to them has no price, only value.” 

          ~ Bel Kaufman

Because you have satisfied me, God, I promise
    to do everything you say.
I beg you from the bottom of my heart: smile,
    be gracious to me just as you promised.
When I took a long, careful look at your ways,
    I got my feet back on the trail you blazed.
I was up at once, didn’t drag my feet,
    was quick to follow your orders.
The wicked hemmed me in—there was no way out—
    but not for a minute did I forget your plan for me.
I get up in the middle of the night to thank you;
    your decisions are so right, so true—I can’t wait till morning!
I’m a friend and companion of all who fear you,
    of those committed to living by your rules.
Your love, God, fills the earth!
    Train me to live by your counsel.

Psalm 119: 60-64 The Message

I live in a special world.  I realize it more and more.  It feels as if my childhood never left me, or was renewed and was restored.  I was raised to believe in good winning out over evil.  I believed the 50’s sitcoms about families because my family was so similar to those I saw on the screen.  

Over the years, I learned what betrayal was.  Mostly from the movies till a certain age, then as an adult.  Betrayed by people I cared about.  Heartbroken when their choices did not include me, crestfallen when I realized just how I did not fit in.  I am sure I have been the betrayer as well. Turning someone in when they put others at risk.  Especially if that “other” was weaker, or compromised in some ways.  A teacher I knew went after a student of min, early in my career.  They tried to make him look as if he was unteachable.  I refused to participate in the campaign.  I was asked to change his grade, my opinion.  I was invited into a meeting about this child.  This talented young boy who did beautiful work in my class.  I stood my ground.  That teacher said they felt betrayed.

I am pretty sure he never knew what happened, and I know I was the best grade on his report card.  I stood by that student, and many more.  Jesus stood by the children.  His select tried to shoo them away when they wanted to come to him, and he said, no, let them come.  

Children are often treated the way immigrants were treated as they left their own countries to pursue freedom and their dream.  Children are used as a commodity, traded, abused, betrayed.

And still Jesus calls them, no matter how old they are, to shed those things that hurt them and come to Him.  Children are marginalized so very often. Parents don’t think they listen to them, until they hear them playing, pretending to play house, or some other game.  Then those words come out. Then those actions show themselves.  

Children often forgive, no matter what the hurt. My parents did their level best to live the life in front of us that they expected us to live. Every day until they died.  That lesson influenced the way I lived, taught, parented.  I fell short often, but still, Jesus said come, to this ever-child.  His lap is big enough for you too.

What is precious to them is truly priceless. They love you even when you fall short, they loved me when I fell short.  They are true messengers from God.  So are you.

Take a moment.  Let the breeze wash over you, let it blow over your face,  your arms, your whole self.  That is the Spirit of God. Immerse yourself in it, hear His call, be renewed, dear child of God.

Bring Him Home – Les Miserables

Because of Him,

Linda

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When You Can’t, God Can

Ah, Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.

~ Jeremiah 32:17


Advice from this elderly practitioner is to forget publishers and just roll a sheet of copy paper into your machine and get lost in your subject.” ~ E.B. White

My friend who operates a local Christian coffee house often talks of her dream to have just such a place.  She talks about the fact that she had no money, and did not know how to make coffee.  She talks about her sound person being tone deaf, and everyone chuckles.  And they have been chuckling for nearly 30 years.  

There are so many of us involved there that “can’t”.  But when we can’t, God can.  We need to do as E.B.White suggests, and “roll a sheet of copy paper into our machine and get lost in (y)our subject.”  When the subject is the Lord, all other things fall into perspective and our “can’t” turn into can and will and “dones.” 

Nothing is too hard for God, and we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.  I heard a sermon in Maine that reminded me that we need to pare it all down to the simple.  If Jesus tells you to go wash in a muddy river to be clean, go.  If He tells you to wash the muddy paste from your eyes, do.  If He directs you to open a coffee house, invite musicians in and run a poetry workshop where the students far outstrip their instructor, do.  Whatever it is, go and do. God will bless His work as you put it all in his capable arms. He’ll take care of the rest…

Keith Green – He’ll Take Care of the Rest

You know, it ain’t no use banging your head
Up against that cold stone wall
‘Cause noboby’s perfect except for the Lord
And even the best’s bound to fall
Remember
He is the vine and you are the branch
He loves to get you through it if you give Him a chance
Just keep doing your best and pray that it’s blessed
Jesus takes care of the rest
[Chorus]
Yes, the Lord said He’ll take care of the rest
He’s gonna do it
He’ll take care of the rest
He’ll see you through it, yeah
Well, He’ll take care of the rest
The devil blew it
Well, He’ll take care of, He’ll take care of the rest

[Verse 2]
Just think about Moses in front of the burning bush
Barefoot on the holy ground
You know he must’ve been thinking
“Hey, what’s an old dude like me gonna tell ’em of when I go down?” (Go down Moses)
But the Lord said, “Hey Mo, don’t you worry about goin’ down south
I’ll be sayin’ every word that comes out of your mouth
You just keep doing your best and pray that it’s blessed
Hey Mo, I’ll take care of the rest”

[Chorus]
Yes, the Lord said He’ll take care of the rest
He’s gonna do it
He’ll take care of the rest
He’ll see you through it, yeah
Well, He’ll take care of the rest
Old pharaoh blew it
He’ll take care of, He’ll take care of the rest

[Bridge]
Just believe
And you’ll receive
That comfort you need
You just think about all those lonely people you know
They’ve got everything they want but they’ve got empty souls
But He’ll take care of the, He’ll take care of the
He’ll take care of the, care of the rest

[Verse 3]
You just think about Noah
Shoulderin’ his umbrella when there wasn’t a cloud in the sky
All his neighbors would laugh at his pet giraffe
And they would oh-ho, snicker as he passed by
But the Lord said, “Hey Noah, be cool
Just keep building that boat
It’s just a matter of time till they see who’s gonna float
You just keep doing your best and pray that it’s blessed
Hey Noah, I’ll take care of the rest, I’m the weather man”

[Chorus]
Yes, the Lord said He’ll take care of the rest
He’s gonna do it
He’ll take care of the rest
He’ll see you through it, yeah
Well, He’ll take care of the rest
His neighbors blew it


He’ll take care of the, He’ll take care of the
He’ll take care of the rest
He’s gonna do it
Yeah, He’ll take care of the rest
Oh, now Jesus will see you through it
He’ll take care of the rest
Yes, yes, yes
He’ll take care of the, He’ll take care of the
He’ll take care of the rest


You better believe it
He’ll take care of the rest
Only the pure in the heart receive it
He’ll take care of the rest
Yes, yes, yes
He’ll take care of the, He’ll take care of the
He’ll take care of the rest
Hallelujah!
He’ll take care of the rest
Only Jesus can give it to ya
He’ll take care of the rest
He’ll take care of the rest

Because of Him,

Linda

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The Audible

Calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “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 saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?

     ~Mark 8:36-37 (The Message)

“Work within your restrictions. Some things you can do better than others, some things you can’t do as well,” he once said. “So accentuate the positive.”

     ~ Chet Atkins 

Amazing Grace

Our restrictions.  They number many.  We are human.  But you knew that.  Being human there are many things we can do.  But we can do them better leaning on the everlasting arms.  Jairus went to Jesus and asked him to heal his daughter.  When news reached him that his daughter had died, Jesus told him to not be afraid and to trust him.  That was Jairus’ limitation.  He could not do anything else. His choices were trust, or do not trust.  Jairus chose to trust Jesus.  His daughter was restored.


We are asked to preach, or speak, and just before we get up, the Holy Spirit prompts us to change something, or add something.  We can cling to what was planned, or take a step in faith and listen to the Holy Spirit.  Then watch God work.  This happened yesterday in church. Our pastor shared that the Spirit prompted her to change something.  She defined it by using a football example  called an audible (

What is an audible? Usually, the quarterback will call an offensive play in the huddle. But when he gets to the line of scrimmage, he might decide to change the play because of the way the defense is lined up–this is called an audible.) .Our pastor changed up the play.  What happened then was that something I was carrying, that was laying heavy on my heart since I retired four years ago, was released.  I knew that God had another plan.  I let go of that human restriction and had felt so much lighter.


Today, listen for that “audible” as you head into your workday at home or otherwise.  Chet Atkins built a career on accentuating the positive.  Working with studio musicians, young up and coming musicians, people who held him in high esteem, and people who competed with him just because they wanted to.  Chet stayed the course, by amazing grace. We can too.


Because of Him,

Linda

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Creativity: Take the obvious, add a cupful of brains, a generous pinch of imagination, a bucketful of courage and daring, stir well and bring to a boil.”                           ~ Bernard M. Baruch


 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

                         ~ Luke 11:13

When our children were little, I remember reading about her mom who gave her own children pots and pans to play with on the floor while she was cooking.  She would let them have the peelings of vegetables and a wooden spoon to mix with.  Eventually, they showed interest in cooking, and one went on to great success as a chef.  I thought this mom was a little off her rocker at the time, just because of the noise! But I saw her point, and looked for my own ways to encourage our children. We had international architecture blocks, crayons that were  representative of all colors of skin called People Colors. (https://www.lakeshorelearning.com/products/arts-crafts/crayons-colored-pencils/people-colorssup-sup-crayon-pack/p/LC360) Our girls were thrilled to be able to find crayons that had the actual color of their skin and their friends. We involved them in many activities, music, Vacation Bible School, sports, writing, art activities.  They have become interior designer and fiber artist/bookseller and continue to use their talents for the good of others.


I remember a story about a set of parents who gifted their child with something that had been used by his older brother for destruction.  And the message that the younger brother received was, “we expect you to do the same thing your brother did.” Fortunately, the young man got help and relinquished this destructive gift and that step changed his life.  Our God gives us only good gifts, and we are blessed to work with His children (no matter their age), using those gifts as what God intended.  Good gifts, used for the good of the kingdom.


The gift of the presence of the Holy Spirit is much misunderstood, but for me it is that glimmer, that prompting, that urging to take an action, pray a prayer, redirect my thoughts.  It makes the difference for me between hurt and help in many instances.  Like floating in a sea of God while I am walking around. It is the steam that arises after following that recipe above.  
Breathe it in.  Trust that God is prompting you.  Don’t lose your love. God will show you how to use it creatively.

Because of Him,

Linda

All Soldiers of the King – Phillip Bailey

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Holy Spirit, We Welcome You

“No matter how far life pushes you down, no matter how much you hurt, you can always bounce back.” 
                             ~ Sheryl Swoopes

 … so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

                           ~ Ephesians 3:17-19

Our service yesterday at church was stellar. The sanctuary was so inviting, so warm, and so vibrant.  Everything about the service spoke of the Spirit of the Almighty God.  The Holy Spirit was all over that church.  From the most introverted person I could see exuberantly gesturing with affirmation with both hands, to those unashamedly weeping for joy, to giving God a clap offering, it was a “full of the Holy Spirit” service.  

We had one teen baptism followed by the confirmation of our youth.  There was all kinds of Holy Spirit music, there was a feeling of unity, fellowship, the love of God.  Needless to say, I could barely sing, as the tear ducts were very busy flowing with the evidence of the Spirit.

The church has been pushed down by so many things in the past few years.  We are bouncing back.  Bouncing back from so many experiences, hurts, illnesses, losses, pressure.

Yesterday I could not express exactly what I was experiencing in words.  But today, readying the scripture, I have got it!  We were being filled with the fullness of God. Nothing replaces in person worship for me.  The unity we share in the Spirit of God weaves us together as a body.  And yesterday was an incredible affirmation. 

We dressed in red and celebrated Pentecost! Even the cake for the confirmands was strawberry! 

Today, I pray you experience this full measure of joy in your lives. And if you haven’t been to church in awhile, consider taking the risk and going back in whatever way you feel comfortable.

This chorus came to me from a friend in England.  Something I have never heard before.  Wow.

Holy Spirit We Welcome You

Because of Him,

Linda

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Make Me An Instrument of Thy Peace

In God, whose word I praise,
    in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
    What can flesh do to me?

                      ~ Psalm 56:4


“More than an end to war, we want an end to the beginning of all wars.”  
                 ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt
We watched two documentaries about war yesterday. One was about the Korean Conflict, the other was about World War 2.  No matter what your feelings might be about the military, these men and women served our country, continue to serve our country in times of war and peace.  They face many of the same challenges that our forefathers did, and each generation hopes at the end of such conflict that it is the end of all wars. 

For me, it begins in families.  Families who live and work together.  Conflict in the family sets one up for conflict, period.  Many overcome the conflict in their families, going on to help others in the same place.  Healthy children, children with all manner of challenges, husbands, wives, sisters, brothers, God’s children grow up and bring their family with them everywhere they go.  Even in the family of God there is conflict. There are people who overstep their boundaries and violate others.  Their space, their minds, their bodies.

There are those of you who say that these things should not happen in a church, and yet, in a church, there are people. People who bring their family experience with them wherever they go.  My dad chose to rise above the dynamic in his family, and he always went “home” to visit the folks and honor them.  He took his commitment to God seriously, and more than talk about it, he lived it. So did my mom.  That gave more power to their words than any lesson they could “tell” us, “teach” us. They lived the life in front of us that they expected us to live.  

That is what gave, and gives me hope.  That there are people who made choices to live the healthy life that they expected their children to live and that those children pass that along to their own.  

Our family is not without conflict.  We try and keep conflict outside our doors, and when we are involved, we try to respond rather than react.  OH MY.  So hard.  So, so hard, especially in these last five years.

We must be instruments in our families, in our churches, schools, communities, jobs.  We must attempt to respond, not react.  (big  job for me) We must choose love, root ourselves in the joy of the Lord and live.  Every time we allow ourselves to be offended, adapt someone’s words to mean something else, react…we are giving Satan an in, an opportunity to destroy.  Today, on this day so important to remember those we lost in conflict, in way, let us cling to the Prince of Peace and love those that God puts in our path.

Lord, make us instruments of your peace.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sc0BORDHnGo
Lord, Make Me an Instrument – John Rutter


Because of Him,
Linda

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Friends/Dance Partners

Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. God’s righteousness doesn’t grow from human anger. So throw all spoiled virtue and cancerous evil in the garbage. In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life.

                  ~ James 1:19-21″What success I achieved in the theater is due to the fact that I have always worked just as hard when there were ten people in the house as when there were thousands. Just as hard in Springfield, Illinois as on Broadway.” 

                  ~ Bill “Bojangles” Robinson

Bill Robinson and Shirley Temple were more than dance partners here:

They were good friends.  They were lifelong friends.  That was what Shirley knew.  She did not understand age difference, race difference, any difference other than that they were friends and he listened.

“Bill Robinson treated me as an equal, which was very important to me. He didn’t talk down to me, like to a little girl. And I liked people like that. And Bill Robinson was the best of all.” ~ Shirley Temple Black


He taught her how to dance by feeling the beat, not by counting, not by looking at his feet.  She took his hands and learned his routines just that way. I love that she recognized that Bill treated her like an equal.  These two friends, danced their way into history for reasons that are so important to many.  Shirley Temple and Bill Robinson did not have “being the first” (interracial couple, child/adult dance partners) when they started out. They were friends and friends for life. They both worked hard early and late in their careers.
As believers, we are the child, taking the hand of the Lord and learning the steps, letting God’s example, gentle instruction lead the way.  Robinson and Black kept anger out by being “copacetic” and “Little Miss Sunshine” until the end of their days.  They both championed efforts for what they believed in.  That began in their hearts, blossomed in their friendship.

Let us look toward our dance partner, our shepherd, our gardener, and work just as hard for one, as we would for thousands.


Because of Him,

Linda

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