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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A Birthday Card

Happy birthday, America.  Sigh.  How ya doin this year ? 
Sometimes I wonder.  Have you had a good year?    
We’ll decorate for your party.  I know my little village will put out your flags.  Red, white and blue are good colors to celebrate.
Red stands for blood spilled to preserve our personal freedom. This makes me think of our soldiers.  I sure do want to thank each and every one of them on your birthday. It makes me sad to think how they are treated sometimes. They deserve the birthday  gifts.
We reap the benefits of the soldiers' sacrifices. I hope we all remember this on your birthday, USA. 
I’m thinking of your first birthday,  July 4, 1776.  The folks who helped at your birth were people of faith.  We cannot and should not rewrite your life story to eliminate the faith that was present at your birth. 
The writers of the Declaration of Independence attributed our rights as a nation to the blessing of a divine creator. Maybe we should read your Declaration as part of your party:   
“We hold the Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, 
that among these are Life, Liberty, 
and the Pursuit of Happiness."
Thanks for reminding me of the God part in our Declaration of Independence, USA.
I’m gonna celebrate your birthday by remembering your history, my birthday nation.    
As a matter of fact, let’s get together and share memories every year.  We don't want to forget the foundation which made us great and the people who sacrificed their lives for our freedom. We don't want to forget HISTORY.  
 Something tells me the people attending your parties  need to honor soldiers who help preserve the freedom we celebrate.  Party goers need to understand that faith served as a foundation for our birth . Celebrators need to understand how you came to be, my precious country... the TRUTH behind the hoopla and fireworks.  

Happy Birthday, America.  I hope birthday partiers treasure your memories and don’t forget what you stand for.   
Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
    the people he chose for his inheritance. - Psalm 33:12

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Perfect Art of Passing Time

   I just drove by you.  I waved, but I don’t think you noticed.  After all, you don’t even know me, but I feel like I know you.  

   I see you sitting by your garage on dusky nights when I’ve worked late and I’m trying to get home before dark.  You've pulled your folding lawn chairs under the quilt pattern that displays so nicely on your garage.  You are watching the evening fall.

   With all my might, I wish I could join you.  Somehow, I think you'd pull up a chair and welcome me.  You just seem to be those kind of folks… somebody’s grandparents…somebody’s church friends…somebody’s nice neighbors.  

   I want to watch the evening fall with you.  You remind me of so many special people in my life who mastered the perfect art of passing time.  You have the wisdom to slow down and watch. I’m sure you see so very much.

   My Grandma and Pop pulled their folding chairs to the door of their garage on Shore Road down in Venice, Florida.  I have the yellowed photo of  them sitting there.  I can almost imagine them sitting there, smelling a gulf breeze and watching for  a friendly bird which would actually light upon Pop’s finger.  

  Pop and Grandma waved at cars that passed by.  Honk honk.  There go the neighbors.  So good to see them.

   If it stormed on Siesta Key, my lovely in-laws, Beth and Bert, sat just inside their garage door.  Oh, how thrilled they were to watch the tropical wind whip up!  

  Beth and Bert settled into the sturdy straps of those lightweight chairs and  joyfully watched the parched grass and flowers drink the speedy downpour!  If I was staying with them, they’d call me to the door to watch the beauty of momentary refreshment. -What a wonderful experience. 

   My  mother and father had a special spot at their home by the wooded ravine to practice the perfect art of passing time. They watched the birds,  savoring the shade and the cooler, drifting air.  They could see the cars, but the cars could not see them. They had a secluded, peaceful spot for contented sitting.  Perfect. 

   Thank you to my precious couple beside the quilted shed.  You remind me of the perfect art of passing time.
You also remind me of folks I love who now practice that perfect art in Heaven.  

   I’ll keep waving when I pass by.   I’ll also try to pull up my lawn chair and remember not to let time fly by too quickly.  It's important to savor the moment and practice the perfect art.    

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Saved by the Hug

Aleaha into the church.   Her "Buster-Brown" haircut bounced with each footfall,  bobbing  up and down in shimmering rhythm.

Her eyes sparkled.  When she saw me, they lit up with recognition.  Aleaha doesn't know me well,  but her round toddler face tells me she knows me well enough.  She hugged my knees.  I melted.

Some might say Aleaha is imperfect.  The Down Syndrome label is a heavy load for a three year old to carry.  Aleaha doesn't care about labels, however.

Aleaha is busy and bound for perfect places.    Her smile, her eyes, and  her cherub grin are perfectly suited.

We met in the nursery during worship service.  She and I settled in with the puzzles below the speaker which allowed me to listen to the service.

Pastor was praying.  I thought I'd follow suit by clasping my hands and bowing my head. My heart is pretty tender these days, however. It didn't take long for a tiny tear to splash haphazardly on my cheek.

I felt her little hand first - sweetly brushing my arm.  I opened my eyes to see her gazing up at me with all the perfect understanding of a saint.  She said nothing, but hugged my arm with her tiny grasp.  Her eyes were full of wisdom and she smiled at me with a special tenderness.

I was saved by the hug of this perfect angel. God knew what I needed.

As always, His plan is perfect and so is Aleaha.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

John 21 - A Fishing Lesson

I'm so sorry I've been gone for awhile!  Check out my "Crooked Path" article to find out what keeps me from blogging.

Who would not want to read John 21, however?  In the midst of trouble and interruptions, when we can do nothing but just try to keep working and move forward....Jesus shows up.

Check out the disciples at the beginning of this Chapter.  They've experienced a visit from their Savior.  BUT goes on.

The disciples are back at work fishing -- trying to get by in confusing times.  Little did they know they were going to get a fishing lesson from Jesus.  

Remember - Jesus will "show up" in our mundane days of work, too.  Watch out for Him and don't miss His lesson. 

Here's what happened on the fishing trip:

Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, 
but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
 He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”
"No,” they answered.
He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in 
because of the large number of fish. -- John 21:4-6

Wow! When we least expect it, a blessing will come.  Watch closely for the blessing...and watch closely for the Savior.  Jesus will open your eyes to his presence.  Just look what happens next: 

Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” 
As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” 
he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) 
and jumped into the water. 

Peter ran immediately to get close to his Savior.  That's not such a bad idea.  Even at your desk at work, you can nestle in Jesus' arms.  How?  Keep a Bible verse tucked in your drawer.  Open it up....There you go.  Remember He is with you.

Jesus wants an intimate relationship with each one of us.  In the Word of God, this is often symbolized by Him eating with His disciples.  In John 21:12-14, Jesus pulls his loved ones about Him for a nice little picnic.
Don't ever forget the invitation is there for you to gather at Christ's table.

Oh, what nourishment He can bring you!  Food for the body!  Food for the soul!  

12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.”
None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” 
They knew it was the Lord. 
13 Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 
14 This was now the third time Jesus appeared 
to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.

When we sit at Jesus table, He will speak to us, just as He did to Peter.  Pause for a moment and pray for Jesus to speak to you today.  He is asking you the same questions He asked Peter.  

What will your answer be? This will make all the difference in the world when it comes to your fishing...

15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, 
“Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” 
He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. 18 Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted;
 but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, 
and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” 
19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. 
Then he said to him,“Follow me!”

Imperfect Paths to Perfect Places

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.They will soar on wings like eagles;they will run and not grow weary,they will walk and not be faint. -- Isaiah 40:31

   My dearest readers,  I've missed you for the last couple of weeks.  I can sum up my absence in one word: Life.  Life isn't perfect and neither are we.   Life  includes trips to emergency rooms, problems, challenges, work, play, chores , delays, deadlines (which I sometimes miss) and heartache.
   Life calls us to muddle through and, sometimes, with God's help, life calls us to soar.  

The Imperfect Path to Perfect Places

  It was getting late and the bugs were out.  I swatted mosquitoes with abandon. I was on deadline and the stones had to go in.  The shovel sliced the damp ground and I scooped my dirt pile.  At least the constant rain helped me loosen the soil.  
  I dragged the concrete  stepping stone to the edge of my hole and "plopped" it in unceremoniously.  --Another stone of  twelve done. I sighed with relief and  looked back on my stepping stone trail. 
    I had to laugh.  The stones were set in haphazard fashion.  There was no clear plan here -- just a crooked trail.  Oh well,  the job was done.  I could get to the barn, even if the route curved in an awkward way.
     Isn't that the story of my life?  Yep - I'll admit it.  I make mistakes along the way.  My trail is definitely not perfect.  
   I love the fact God uses imperfect paths and imperfect people.  He uses unplanned pain, unintentional mistakes and faulty folks to accomplish ... well, good stuff.
   My path may not be perfect, but I give it all to God,  Thanks for straightening me out, God.  Thanks for putting up with my imperfections and helping me soar to perfect places.