Old Shell, New Shell

“Gratitude is riches. Complaint is poverty.” 

                                               ~ Doris Day 

Jesus, now well on the way up to Jerusalem, took the Twelve off to the side of the road and said, “Listen to me carefully. We are on our way up to Jerusalem. When we get there, the Son of Man will be betrayed to the religious leaders and scholars. They will sentence him to death. They will then hand him over to the Romans for mockery and torture and crucifixion. On the third day he will be raised up alive.” 
                                             ~ Matthew 20:17-19  
     I have been immersed in Jesus movies, talk of Jesus, Easter anthems and hymns. The only thing I keep wondering is how Jesus got from the tomb through the rock.  Did he burst the rock like a volcanic lava floe?  Did he simply pass through in less than the time it took to take a breath?  Did Jesus sit up and walk through the opening that the angels left for him?
     I am not obsessing.  Well not really.  Well, maybe a little bit.  Just in search of an image that captured this incredible act, punctuating the act of love that brought him there. There has been much Hollywood footage that supposed how the tomb became vacant, but no one can explain or know just how.  All they can do is affirm the scripture.
      This Easter has been a journey fraught with exposed nerves, some snappy reactions, real and imagined pain.  Focus has been on the knowledge that transition is the process and moving out of an old shell is not an easy task. And that there is a new shell!
I have heard the metaphor used in life change situations.The hermit crab holds on to the new shell to help give it purchase to pull out of the old. For a time, it is between shells. The front end cleaning, checking for food, etc, the back end still in the shell.  It is an interesting, precarious and somewhat risky situation to be in, and yet it happens over and over with great success.
Whatever change you are facing, know that God is with you, the shell is what you will leave behind, and the new shell will be just right for your new growth … until it is time to shed it completely and go home.
     Because of Him,

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The Fabric of Our Lives

With that, Peter, full of the Holy Spirit, let loose: “Rulers and leaders of the people, if we have been brought to trial today for helping a sick man, put under investigation regarding this healing, I’ll be completely frank with you—we have nothing to hide. By the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the One you killed on a cross, the One God raised from the dead, by means of his name this man stands before you healthy and whole. Jesus is ‘the stone you masons threw out, which is now the cornerstone.’ Salvation comes no other way; no other name has been or will be given to us by which we can be saved, only this one.”

                                             ~ Acts 4:8-12

“It is always difficult to identify the many threads that make up the fabric of a life’swork.” ~ E. Donnall Thomas

     We see threads, a damage in a favorite sweater, a tear at the knee, an unraveling… We bring our broken clothing to a master knitter, a tailor, one who knows garments like no other. That expert touches the cloth, tenderly, looks with a loving eye, pronounces the way to repair.

     Of course we are those broken garments, loose threads a-hanging. The master weaver sees the garment whole, and proceeds. Knows what must be added, what must be taken away, and just how to artfully patch the impossible.

     The Holy Spirit holds it all together. 


(Just love this…old commercial…the fabric of our lives.)

Lord, you hold me together, no matter what I shred.  You take those tattered ends

and make something beautiful.  Praise Your Holy Name

Because of Him,


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Let’s Have Fun!

Fun has sacred dimensions.” 

        ~ Adriana Diaz

Investigate my life, O God,
    find out everything about me;
Cross-examine and test me,
    get a clear picture of what I’m about;
See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong—
    then guide me on the road to eternal life.

       ~ Psalm 139:23-24
What is fun for you?  I had to think about it.  Fun is writing poetry with my students and them waiting for me to read it.  
Fun is taking an unexpected ride at an amusement park and that feeling of letting go.  Fun is trying something new even 
when I am embarrassed.  Fun is seeing the hand of God where I would never have expected it.  Fun is laughing with the choir
over something we all understand. Fun is the enjoyment of a simple cup of coffee with a friend and the joy of anticipation, knowing
we will laugh, cry, share together.   Fun is the road to a friend’s house and the joy of the journey, knowing where I will end up.
Fun is teaching a lesson I have planned and seeing where I have made funny errors that the kids respond to, so we both end up 
Trusting God to show you, 
trusting God to know you,
Following his lead,
relying for every need.
passing the next test
trusting for the rest…
There is something holy in the letting go.  It is so hard for me.  To just let go and have fun.  I was having a very tough day,
I texted my daughters to ask questions that were kind of silly for me to ask, but the bottom line is, my younger 
daughter took me for ice cream.  Just before we got out of the car, this song was on K-Love 
Love Take Me Over
Steven Curtis Chapman
She said, “I love this song, come on mommy, car dance with me.”
(thinking -no)
“Come on, you will feel better”
(thinking – there are people standing in front of the car, they will see.”
“Come on, you can do it.”
(resigning…car dancing for the rest of the song)
I felt so much better! Dancing with my daughter in the car to that song?  Heaven!
So I invite you to dance in your seat when you hear this!
Have some fun today, in Jesus’ holy name.
Because of Him,

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Bold, Loving, Sensible

“It’s not where we stand but in what direction we are moving.”
                              ~ Johann von Goethe
That precious memory triggers another: your honest faith—and what a rich faith it is, handed down from your grandmother Lois to your mother Eunice, and now to you! And the special gift of ministry you received when I laid hands on you and prayed—keep that ablaze! God doesn’t want us to be shy with his gifts, but bold and loving and sensible.
 2 Tim 1:7

Ice queen

For L.H.

You blew into the room,

The unlidded daggers bore the word “Liar.”

The accusation not well researched,

not warranted. Explanation not received.

Your eyes perforated my soul,

released the dam of my tears.

Retreating to the basement

a shoulder found, soaked,

soaked, soaked.  Sobs wracking,

breath in short supply.

Retreat to a couch and some comfort.

Laid so low.

Strength restoring.

Molasses in January had nothing on me.

Public humiliation your strong suit

I provided evidence,

your reluctant contrition

was never enough.

Like a shard from the ice queen’s

core, splintering and lodging,

you left me cold.  You leave me still.

It must be lonely being made of ice.

Come to the waters,

come let me show you,

The way that He loves

The way that He knows you.

Let go your frosty robe.

Allow your troubled heart to let go.

Let go of the myriad of icy splinters.

There’s room

right next to mine.

You are forgiven.

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Breathing Easy

“I could never be cynical, not that I think there’s anything wrong with cynicism. I think it can be quite funny at times. But I just feel so grateful to be alive.” 

                                                         ~ Drew Barrymore 
    God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love.
1 John 4:17,18
      Beloved,  watch this video first.
Woman breathing for the first time after receiving a lung transplant.
     Though she does not remember much of what happened before or after, Jennifer remembers that first breath. I watched her hands, move out and back in, and then, both hands up as if praising God. I cried and cried while watching this, and after watching this, and after watching it again.  
     The thing that struck me is the breathing in.  Breath is so very precious, and all I could think of was how safe I felt in my earthly father’s arms, and feel in my husband’s arms..  Safety is a rare and precious commodity.  
       This woman, Jennifer, is breathing on her own with brand new lungs (that a donor donated) for the first time, and her body knew what to do, even in the state of consciousness that she was in. All I could hear was the last line of this most beautiful anthem, which I have shared with you before.
My Shepherd Will Supply My Need
      The breath of God fascinates me. I am reminded of my own children’s breath when they were babies, and how sweet it smelled.  I remember breathing in the scent of my own mother’s skin and being comforted by it.  I am reminded of being able to breathe easy after a harrowing experience.      
     I put myself in her shoes for a moment, and then I saw myself in my first marriage, coming home after nearly a year of abuse.  Home, breathing again, for the  first time with a new understanding of my life and just how blessed I was to survive.
Jennifer’s follow up story is filled with many joyful moments and she acknowledges the miracle of her new life and breath.
Jennifer, follow up video.
Today, stop and take a deep breath.  No, take three, in through the nose, out through the mouth.  Breath the Lord in, let Him fill your lungs with joy.  Praise Him, just like a child at home.
Because of Him,

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Have a Little Talk With Jesus

“Be true to yourselves and be useful to the journey.” 
~ Sidney Poitier
Overlook an offense and bond a friendship;
    fasten on to a slight and—good-bye, friend!
       ~ Proverbs 17:9
     The other day, I went shopping for a few items to prepare for guests we were having.  The new couch, comfortable and multi-functional.  The mood of the room we are working on is Alaska-like.  I picked a sparkly pillow to suggest the Northern Lights and a throw with soft sparkles throughout to add to the theme.  I got them home and my husband found that the pillow was damaged in a way I could not see, and he pointed out the color and size issues with the throw.  I was crushed at first, but I was excited that he would be going back to the store with me as he has an excellent eye for design, color, texture etc.  My usual self would have gone to the register and explained all the things that were discovered about the items.  But this time I merely went to the register and said, “I need to return these, they just did not work in the room.”
     Done. No unnecessary explanations, no story telling, just took care of the job and went about our shopping.  (As a footnote, we found the perfect sheets, and blankets with a suggestion of light, and a good match for the couch pillows!  He has got a great eye!)
      The same thing happened on social media. A post was posted that pierced my soul.  Through. Direct hit.  Reeling from the pain.  A second reply finished the job.  But, rather than respond or react, I chose to let it go.  I chose to pray and not engage.  The folks that posted it truly to not know me, they meant no harm to me personally.  (I am just that sensitive and in this case, I was sensitive to the Spirit and just did not answer.) They were just upset and expressed that.   
I returned to another task at hand and understood Jesus’s mother Mary just a little better when the scriptures affirmed that she “pondered things in her heart.” So did I, and I will continue to pray for the pain that caused these folks to speak out in the way that they did.
     I know what I did!  I had a little talk with Jesus.
This is the way I learned this old gospel song, Have a little talk with Jesus.
This is the way I feel it:
Have a Little Talk With Jesus
Because of Him,

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Thoughts and Prayers

“The very greatest things–great thoughtsdiscoveriesinventions— have usually been nurtured in hardship, often pondered over in sorrow, and at length established with difficulty.” 
                                                                                ~ Samuel Smiles
For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.
                                                                                 ~ 1 John 3:11
     How many times have we offered our “thoughts and prayers are with you.”?  For me this means that I am taking the time, no, making the time to talk to the Creator of the universe on your behalf.  To plunge you, your situation, your hope, your loss, your gain, into the marvelous light.  Sometimes it means that I am reminding the Creator of his promises, and that you are the recipient of those promises.
     At the end of it all, I remember the Mitford series by Jan Karon and I pray the prayer that never fails:Thy Will Be Done.  I am making the request known and acknowledging that in the end, that God’s will, which we cannot begin to fathom, takes precedence.
     So many try and guess, in the moment, what that will be. So many point fingers when their prayer is not immediately answered and throw their hands up, not in praise but in exasperation or frustration because what they thought was God’s will, has not come to pass, and their (and our ) vision is limited, but…
     Recently, in the past 48 hours, there was, on social media a picture of the inside of an emergency like vehicle, pristine, sparkling clean and untouched, and beneath it was something about “first shipment of thoughts and prayers delivered to Parkland.”  Beneath it, just a few words from a respondent to the post, “how very insensitive.”    I got all ready to react, not respond when I took another look at the vehicle; there was some truth in the statement.  
      Thoughts and prayers are not visible, and what better way to physically represent them on earth, than to send them in an emergency vehicle.  “Linda, you are really stretching it here.”
        Yes, I am.  Because we have a much better vehicle for delivery, the Son of God, our advocate with the Father, who is working always, hearing the prayers of the people, whose timing is perfect.   No one like the idea that teens are so distraught that they are communicating their intent, and procuring a weapon and planning on just how to use it.  To reduce frustration to an insult was more than I could bear.  
     Just as one vote can stem the tide, one prayer can make a difference.  In Dr. Seuss’s Horton Hears a Who it all comes down to one little who not making a sound… and then “Yopp!”
and the sound breaks through.  Just like our prayers.
     Today, take some time … let your thoughts become prayers for those in leadership all over the world. Then lift them in prayer, along with all those broken folks (all of us and then some) whose thoughts turn dark with despair.  Pray that God’s will is to put someone in their path that stems the tide. Someone that makes a difference.
Thoughts and prayers are the most powerful beginning we can make.
Because of Him,

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