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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There is a Rose

Hope is like a harebell, trembling from its birth,
Love is like a rose, the joy of all the earth,
Faith is like a lily, lifted high and white,
Love is like a lovely rose, the world’s delight.
Harebells and sweet lilies show a thornless growth,
But the rose with all its thorns excels them both.”
~ Christina Rossetti

 
Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades.
    The woman to be admired and praised
    is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God.
Give her everything she deserves!
    Festoon her life with praises! 
~ Proverbs 31: 30 (The Message) 
 
There is No Rose – Kevin Memley
I was invited to a Mother’s Day party this weekend.  Myself and my family.  There was endless refreshment, rooms to move to and from, a stream of comings and goings, gracious host and hostess.  Kids having fun.  All throughout the celebration was the evidence of the love that the host had for his wife.He did all the running, replenishing, refreshing.  Any help he needed, he enlisted.  There was no “Honey, where’s the _____?” 
 
This celebration was for the love of it.  The love the host has for his wife, and the way he extended it to those women with whom she has a relationship.  It was amazing.
Where there some thorns?  Certainly, all roses have them.  And if there is no thorn, then how to approach the beauty without a little caution, gentleness, skill? 
 
This is how the Master Gardener handles us roses.  So much love, so much tenderness, and as one who knows the pain of a thorn.
 
Today, take a look at the thorny women around you, and remember, they are all roses too.
 
Because of Him,
Linda
 
PS. Tim and Deb, I could not find the arrangement we sang, and I went through many.  This one is lovely, no?

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The Infinite

Everything in Nature suggests the infinite. 

                                        ~Henry James Slack 

Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with. Elijah, for instance, human just like us, prayed hard that it wouldn’t rain, and it didn’t—not a drop for three and a half years. Then he prayed that it would rain, and it did. The showers came and everything started growing again. 

                                        ~ James 5:16-18 The Message (MSG)

My back yard is a jungle.  Every so often we actually have a battle with it and win, but things just keep coming back.  Often it is not welcomed with open arms.  The plants that just keep coming back reminding you of their tenacity, ability to re-seed, spread … sometimes that is a nightmare!  Recently, I looked out the back window and saw Jonquils. Jonquils I have not seen in decades Jonquils that my mother planted by the brick fireplace my father built.  
He, chosing a place well away from the house to have a “campfire” and she, beautifying the space.  I remember her planting them.  I remember looking for them among the plants back there over the years and not seeing them.  But this year, the came up and it was like a patch of sunshine.
 
Where are you in your life right now?  Are you overrun by beautiful, but invasive situations?  Are you having trouble seeing clearly?  I know that retirement has brought be a lot of surprises for me, and not all of them pleasant.  
 
Seeing those flowers next to the fireplace brought me joy, a reminder of my parents’ steadfast love and ultimately the reminder that God is faithful and keeps coming back, season after season, sometimes like a bulb that only sprouts and blooms once in spring, sometimes the evergreen, easy to see, constant throughout the year and sometimes even like a dandelion with its beautiful head graying and spreading like the gospel.
 
Choose wisely in whom you confide. Rely on the evergreen’s constancy, keep your face toward the warmth, and keep doing as much good as you possibly can. Years from now, the joy will pop up like the Jonquils and surprise the next generation!
Go Out In Joy
 
Because of Him,
Linda

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Flying High Now

“You’ve got to believe you can win. But I believe respect for the fact that you canlose is what you always have to keep in mind so that nothing surprises you.” 
                                                            ~ Andre Agassi   
 
“If only my words were written in a book—
    better yet, chiseled in stone!
Still, I know that God lives—the One who gives me back my life—
    and eventually he’ll take his stand on earth.
And I’ll see him—even though I get skinned alive!—
    see God myself, with my very own eyes.
    Oh, how I long for that day! 
                                                                     ~ Job 19:25 – 27 
 
This one is short and sweet.  I have been entering poetry contests for about five years.  I have won honorable mention a few times in the one, and recently, I placed second on my first try at another.  That was thrilling!  Second place! And the woman who won first in that category is a dear sister in Christ. I was thrilled for her!
 
I have gotten two things out of this process, at least two short ones:
  • My poetry has improved, been stretched by this process.
  • I celebrate those who enter, as it is taking a great risk to do so.
What are you trying to get better at?  How are you actually going about achieving that? For me, it is studying the masters, attending a workshop, reading and writing every day.
     Job was not writing poetry.  But he did have a clear goal in mind.  What is your goal? No matter keep your eye on the Lord.
Theme from Rocky
Almighty God, help me to keep my eyes on you, study others that are experts, pray that you bless them even more,  and help my efforts to give you the glory. Amen.
 
Because of Him,
Linda

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Through All of It

The work an unknown good man has done is like a vein of water flowing hidden under ground, secretly making the ground green. 

                                                                                                                                                        ~Thomas Carlyle
 
Your life is a journey you must travel with a deep consciousness of God. It cost God plenty to get you out of that dead-end, empty-headed life you grew up in. He paid with Christ’s sacred blood, you know. He died like an unblemished, sacrificial lamb. And this was no afterthought. Even though it has only lately—at the end of the ages—become public knowledge, God always knew he was going to do this for you. It’s because of this sacrificed Messiah, whom God then raised from the dead and glorified, that you trust God, that you know you have a future in God. 
                                                                                                               
~ 1  Peter 1:18
 
Though All of It – Colton Dixon 
 
Today, I offer you the beautiful lyrics of Colton Dixon’s song, “Though All of It.”  Read the lyrics while you listen.  Let them sink in. No matter where you are in this journey, God is right there with you.  God is your way in, God is your way out.  Take that step of faith and trust.
 
Because of Him,
Linda
Though All of It – Colton Dixon

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In Flanders Fields

“We shall not sleep, though poppies grow /In Flanders fields.”

                                                              ~ John McCrae

 
18-23 But God’s angry displeasure erupts as acts of human mistrust and wrongdoing and lying accumulate, as people try to put a shroud over truth. But the basic reality of God is plain enough. Open your eyes and there it is! By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can’t see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of his divine being. So nobody has a good excuse. What happened was this: People knew God perfectly well, but when they didn’t treat him like God, refusing to worship him, they trivialized themselves into silliness and confusion so that there was neither sense nor direction left in their lives. They pretended to know it all, but were illiterate regarding life. They traded the glory of God who holds the whole world in his hands for cheap figurines you can buy at any roadside stand. 
                                                                          ~ Romans 1:20-23
 
My husband and I watched Parts one and two of A.D. The Bible Continues (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A.D._The_Bible_Continues) this past weekend. 
Each new director takes the story of Jesus from a different stance, a different emphasis.  This was no exception.  What I particularly loved was the scene where the Roman guard were awakened by a bright light, and a large, armored angel standing over the tomb as light burst forth from behind the tomb, through the stone, growing larger and larger until the seal was broken, and the angel lifted the stone alone. As the light continued to shine, it became evident that something supneratural was happening.
(The Resurrection scene)
From that point on, the only two people who believe are Jesus’s mother Mary, and Mary Magdalene. That is until Jesus visits the upper room.  How difficult it was for the apostles to comprehend that Jesus really meant that he was coming back, that he was rising from the dead.  His mother knew the truth of his word and held her ground, with Mary Magdalene. 
     As I read the poem below, I felt the tugging of the Holy Spirit reminding me to stand up for Jesus, to shine His light every day, to rise up against the enemy with the most powerful weapon we have, love, driven by truth and the Light of the World, not wielded as a club, but with conviction and confidence, to honor Him, and those who have gone before us in the fray.
Because of Him,
Linda

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
    That mark our place; and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
        In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
        In Flanders fields.

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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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