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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The Cast Iron Pan

“My kitchen is a mystical place, a kind of temple for me. It is a place where the surfaces seem to have significance, where the sounds and odors carry meaning that transfers from the past and bridges to the future.” 

Pearl Bailey


God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble. 

~ Psalm 46:1


The kitchen was always where the conversations happened, where the food was prepared, tasted, where the dancing was.  There was always a radio(old school) or the record player going.  The dining room was right next to the kitchen so there was plenty of space (after mom knocked out the wall.)There was music from the big band era, and hits from all the others and dancing.
So the kitchen was indeed a place not unlike a temple, for we prayed there too.  A simple grace”Bless us, O Lord, and these, Thy gifts, which we are about to receive from Thy bounty, through Christ our Lord Amen.”
Our kitchen has been transformed several times since then. We live in the house I was raised in (after a few other addresses) and it is still a place of comfort, not enough music, not enough dancing, but a temple nonetheless.  The space is different, but the joy and emotions the same.
There are new surfaces, more practical arrangement of spaces, and the cast iron pan that my father used to teach me how to time a breakfast.The cast iron pan that my folks made sure to let me know was a part of giving us the iron we needed in our diets. The cast iron pan in which I learned to make a pineapple upside down cake for my husband’s birthday.
God is very much a part of our kitchen, right down to the cast iron pan, and there is a certain music to that as well.Today, as you prepare your meals, remember who it is that provides our sustenance, our music, our dancing and give thanks.

And sometimes, Duke Ellington is worship  music!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cb2w2m1JmCY


Because of Him, Linda

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I Go To the Rock!

“Stand before the people you fear and speak your mind – even if your voice shakes. When you least expect it, someone may actually listen to what you have to say.” 
                                              ~ Maggie Kuhn
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”                                                                                              ~ Sam 16:7
    “These uncertain times.”  So many commercials, so many news articles, internet columns, people use this phrase.  In the beginning, I almost understood it, but then I read an article about Jesus being the one we can be certain of.  Every day, every season, every year is uncertain.  We are entreated, as Christians to build our hope on Christ the solid rock.
I will not judge my brothers and sisters who have fallen to fear.  I do entreat them/you to stand and sing, unafraid, this beautiful song.  If they/you are afraid to sing out in public, then go to your prayer closet and have church!Run to the mountain.  He stands by you!
The earth all around us is always sinking sand, and Jesus is always the rock!  In this, I am certain : Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Christ Hebrews – 13:8
As a wise clergy woman once said, “Feast on faith, fast on fear.”
Because of Him,Linda

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Laughing our Way Home

Laughter may or may not activate the endorphins or enhance respiration, as some medical researchers contend. What seems clear, however, is that laughter is an antidote to apprehension and panic.”                                                                                                     ~ Norman Cousins
 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,                                                                                                     ~ Hebrews 12:1
One thing that I appreciate about the pastors that our church has had is that several had a sense of humor.  One loved puns, one loved jokes and gentle loving personal jibes, one incorporated jokes into her sermons (and still does!)  There is something special about not only hearing the word together, singing the word in corporate worship, but laughing together in church.  The laughter helps dissuade us from troubles, pain, concerns and opens us.Opens us to hear, to see, to listen, to love one another in a whole new way.  Sharing tears together can be (and has been) cleansing.  Sharing laughteraffects me all the way to my gut.  Helps me to focus on what comes next in the sermon, helps me to wonder how the speaker knew just where to insertthat laughter.
I am missing that right now, everywhere I look, everywhere I am.  Not enough laughter.  Too much anxiety, worry, concern, even anger and confusion.Today, look for that holy laughter.  I have started you off with this video of laughing quadruplets. (They are now 16!) As you are running this race, don’t forget to laugh.
Because of Him,Lindahttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yo2s8-Ayy5U

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Walk in the Light

“All music is important if it comes from the heart.” 
                                                                                      ~ Carlos Santana
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all[a] sin.                                                                                       ~ 1 John 1:7 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jG-HiPZ3_1E 

Jesus, the Light of the World
It’s a heat wave.  Sitting still is exhausting in this 90 plus heat and humidity.Walking in the light  “in the natural” means walking in the HEAT.  But I see it just a little differently. Even if we are walkingin the shade, we are in the light as we follow His voice, walk in his name.I just love seeing the light filtering through pine trees as we drive through the forest, or walk in the forest.  That sudden joy of being in the light as we go on our way.
Walk in the light no matter where you are walking today.”Jesus the light of the world.”
Because of Him,Linda

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And the Father Will Dance

“Always demanding the best of oneself, living with honor, devoting one’s talents and gifts to the benefits of others – these are the measures of success that endure when material things have passed away.”                                                                                                                                               ~ Gerald Ford  
“I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love. If you keep my commands, you’ll remain intimately at home in my love. That’s what I’ve done—kept my Father’s commands and made myself at home in his love.  
                                                                                                                                              ~ John 15:10
He said things like: “Always lend a helping hand.”  “Work up a lather with the soap to get your hands really clean.”  “Set the table, and then, bread and butter, salt and pepper, sugar and milk, and napkins.”He was proud of his humble beginnings, his Boy Scout, Sea Scout, always reciting “… we must be thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.”
He recited check lists like poetry, sang children’s songs like the hit parade, danced around the house, showered affection on my mother, made sure we went to church, “not because we liked the speaker, but because we were there for God’s message.”
We were not punished, we were disciplined and my father lived the example he expected us to live. And always loved, always heard.Was he perfect? No. He was human, but he really lived up to the things he believed in.
The point is, I was always comfortable in my father’s love, and so it was believable for me to be comfortable in the love of God the Father.  
For those of God’s children who have suffered the worst under their father’s influence, trusting God the Father may be a breeze, because anything was better than what they had, OR the hardest thing in their lives to believe.  And yet, there are folks who have taken that chance, cried out to God, and were heard.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yQrHTWZ-fb4 And the Father Will Dance Over YouI can barely sing this when the choir sings it, but it lives in my veins. Because I know the love of the Father.  I pray this for all of you, and for those who I have yet to meet here on earth.
The Father will dance over you with joy.
Because of Him,Linda

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Where to Sit?

“Yes, rejection and criticism hurt. Get used to it.” 
       ~ Judy Blume
 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.           ~ Matthew 24:35 

Have you been asked to take another seat?  Have you been told that “this seat is saved?”  How aboutbeing invited to sit somewhere, and then have others tell you that they hadn’t planned on you?  TodayI had a breakthrough.  Considering the statement that a dear sister in the Lord made to me helped so much; “We must be unoffendable.”Her explanation was rooted in staying steadfast for the Lord.  That is the first advice I have heard in a very longtime that I can actually move toward.  Not “You have to let it roll off your back,” or “You gotta get thicker skin.”or even, “Oh, is this seat taken?” (although that helps sometimes.)Finally, I have figured out that I should ask the Lord where WE should sit, and believe that he has prepared a place for me.  I have written poems about the rejection, knowing that I am in good company. But never until this moment in time, was I able to apply the “you are never alone” statement with sitting with the Lord.
Today, know that wherever you think about sitting, let the Lord go first. Let the Lord choose. It could be as inadvertent asa bump on a subway car moving you into a seat, or a lurch on the train, or even the  Lord entreating you to be the one to invite someone to sit with the two of you.”surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  Matthew 28:20

Because of Him Linda

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Balance and Prayer

“Tell the truth. Sing with passion. Work with laughter. Love with heart. ‘Cause that’s all that matters in the end.”             ~ Kris Kristofferson 

The Lord will keep you from all harm—
    he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going

both now and forevermore. 

Psalm 121:7-8 New International Version (NIV)  

We saw a movie last night.  It is an independent film, and the music is lovely, especially the piece at the end.  The name of the piece is Balance and Prayer by Terry Adams.  The story is about a stranger who moves into town, and the lives of her neighbors improve, by degrees over the entire time she lives among them.  The things they say change, the music they listen to is brighter,  the way they treat each other is more loving.

All the while, the main character, Wren, receives a bag of mail every single day. The movie is a bit off beat, but Wren does not disappoint, a conduit for all those letters. (prayers)  The song at the end of the movie is very different.  I am still searching for the music, but the words (minus two lines) stunned me.

The song is called Balance and Prayer by Terry Adams and Jim Hoke.

Here are the words I could glean from the movie: (I watched it again and copied the subtitles.)

Balance and Prayer

By Terry Adams, and Jim Hoke

The birds sang at the break of day

Start again, I heard them say

Don’t dwell on what has passed

Away or what is yet to be.

All the wars they will be fought again

The holy dove, she will be caught again

Bought and sold again 

The dove is never free

Ring the bells

That still can ring

Forget your perfect offering

There’s a crack, a crack

In everything

That’s how the light gets in

We asked for signs

The signs were sent

The birth betrayed

The marriage spent

The widowhood of every government

Signs for all to see

(line or two missing here)

But they’ve summoned

They’ve summoned 

Up a thundercloud

They’re gonna hear from me

They’re gonna hear from me

Ring the bells that still can ring

Forget your perfect offering

There’s a crack, a crack in everything

That ‘s how the light gets in

You can add up the parts

You won’t have the sum

You can strike up the march

There is no drum

Every heart to love will come

But like a refugee

Ring the bells that still can ring

Forget your perfect offering

There’s a crack, a crack in everything

That ‘s how the light gets in

I feel that as a world, we are have a crack, and some bells have fallen silent. But when I heard this quintet sing the song, I realized that I am a cracked bell and I can sing, and all of us cracked bells together, can sing in the light. The Lord has got our broken selves, and will keep us from all harm, for He is the Light.

Because of Him,

Linda

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I Can Only Imagine

“We are told that people stay in love because of chemistry, or because they remain intrigued with each other, because of many kindnesses, because of luck… But part of it has got to be forgiveness and gratefulness. The understanding that, so, you’re no bargain, but you love and you are loved. Anyway.”  ~ Ellen Goodman

The father of a righteous child has great joy; a man who fathers a wise son rejoices in him.~ Proverbs 23:24NIV

This beautiful song, the fruit of a misguided father, a mother who left, a son who found the Lord.  This from the movie description: “Growing up in Greenville, Texas, Bart Millard suffers physical and emotional abuse at the hands of his father, Arthur. When Arthur becomes terminally ill, he finds redemption by embracing his faith and rediscovering his love for his son. Years later, Bart’s troubled childhood and mended relationship with his dad inspires him to write the hit song “I Can Only Imagine” as singer of the Christian band MercyMe.”
Only with love, and forgiveness will we be able to have a heart that is right with God, our families, ourselves.  The reward?  Jesus. Give Him your brokenness, your relationships, your heart, once more.  Song and lyrics below.
Because of Him,Linda
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_lrrq_opng I can only imagine what it will be like
When I walk, by your side
I can only imagine what my eyes will see
When you face is before me
I can only imagine
I can only imagineSurrounded by You glory
What will my heart feel
Will I dance for you Jesus
Or in awe of You be still
Will I stand in your presence
Or to my knees will I fall
Will I sing hallelujah
Will I be able to speak at all
I can only imagine
I can only imagineI can only imagine when that day comes
When I find myself standing in the Son
I can only imagine when all I would do is forever
Forever worship You
I can only imagine
I can only imagineSurrounded by Your glory
What will my heart feel
Will I dance for You, Jesus
Or in awe of you be still
Will I stand in your presence
Or to my knees will I fall
Will I sing hallelujah
Will I be able to speak at all
I can only imagine
I can only imagine hey ya ahSurrounded by Your glory
What will my heart feel
Will I dance for You, Jesus
Or in awe of you be still
Will I stand in Your presence
Or to my knees will I fall
Will I sing hallelujah
Will I be able to speak at all
I can only imagine
I can only imagine hey ya ahI can only imagine yeah yeah
I can only imagineI can only imagine ey ey ey
I can only imagineI can only imagine when all I will do
Is forever, forever worship You
I can only imagine 

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Classics

“In order to excel, you must be completely dedicated to your chosen sport. You must also be prepared to work hard and be willing to accept constructive criticism. Without a total 100% dedication, you won’t be able to do this.” 

~ Willie Mays
 
I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’[a] or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” 
Revelation 21:2-4 
 
I have a friend who follows trends in fashion. She is a designer, a good one.  Each time something new comes forward, she seizes it, learns it, 
improves on it, sells it.  If it requires new equipment, it is purchased.  If it requires learning a new technique, she learns it.  She is a model for
industry.  With one exception:  as she goes, she discards much of the supplies for a design that was maybe two trends ago.  It is not that the equipment in no longer in good use, or that she does not sell it. She moves on, having mastered that particular technique. So, when I asked her for something that I loved that she did, she told me that she no longer did that, and so she couldn’t help me.
 
My mom always told me that certain accessories, certain outfits were classics, they would never go out of style, and that my wardrobe should have
those classic items in it on some level.  And she was right.  My friend is heavy on the “new” and light on the classics in her field.   She invests her dollars, her time, herself in excelling.  She discards some things along the way.  Like Willie Mays, we must be dedicated, we must excel, we must prepared to work, able to accept constructive criticism if we are to get to the mark.  As brides of Christ, we must do the same.  The goal is heaven, the joy will be living with God, no more tears, (uh oh) no more sorrow, no more death.  Jesus remains the same, the way to get to Jesus remains the same, living out our lives for God remains the goal, and when God says, behold I do a new thing, I don’t think God is talking about moving all the classics out. Praise, worship, obedience, the Word, these are all classics in our spiritual wardrobe, and always part of achieving our goal. Be careful what you sell for the sake of a new trend, by asking the Grandest Designer of all.
 
Because of Him,
Linda

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I Will Follow

“Deep in their roots, all flowers keep the light.”
Theodore Roethke
 
 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 (MSG)
 
I read the traditional scripture first. (below)  I almost glossed over it because I have heard it so many times.  Then I read the one above, from Eugene Peterson’s The Message.  I love the picture of a salvation garden.  I did not plan to put these two pieces of print together, but when I saw Ted Roethke’s quote, and read the scripture, I was so happy that they showed up at the same time. 
 
Last night I was reflecting on some regret in my career, and my husband quickly told me to stop, that focuses on what I considered my (suspected) failures was going to ruin my life. Then I thought of all the students with whom I have a relationship, still.  I probably taught over 6,000 kids in my career, and many of them are still in touch with me.  That gave me life, and great joy.  Focusing on the former gave me darkness, focusing on the one who gave me the latter, gives me great joy, and helps my anger to “straggle along int he rear.”
 
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,
James 1:19 (NIV)
I Will Follow – Chris Tomlin 
 
Because of Him,
Linda

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