Mother's Day

 

 Disclaimer: If you are reading this and you are not my sons nor my husband then please use caution in following my thoughts. Not everyone thinks of diamonds as just rocks. To use my thoughts in determining your own Mother's Day gift purchase could be hazardous to your health. Please use caution.

What does mom want for Mother's Day?

Flowers wilt and dry out and go into the trash can. If you must purchase flowers please get a plant for the garden.

Diamonds are only rocks. If you want to get me rocks then pick them up while out hiking and hunting and bring them home to me. I love garden rocks much more than diamonds. I have already lost one diamond so if anyone ever gets me another one it has to be large enough to place out in the garden so I don't lose it.

I have all the jewelry I want. The wedding ring that never leaves my finger, the cross necklace that never leaves my neck, a couple of arm baubles and of course my engagement ring that sits in a box with it's gaping hole because the stupid rock fell out! (See! This is proof that I do not need diamonds, unless of course you are buying the garden variety mentioned above).

Chocolate is good but it makes me fat. You may purchase some because I really do love it, but please don't spend a lot. Costco has awesome dark chocolate covered almonds for 10 bucks! A MASSIVE BAG!........to be perfectly honest I do not need any as I have a giant bag in the pantry.

I don't really care for spa days, for me a spa day is soaking in my own tub with Epson salts.

Eating out is nice but sadly everyone and their mother (literally) will be out doing that.....you know how I dislike crowds.

Guns are sweet but in truth I really do not need any, after all you guys have plenty to go around. (Note: I have two guns, one was actually a Mother's Day gift and the other was a Christmas present!)

Books are awesome but you all know I have too many of those already although it has always been my belief that you can never have too many books.

Dogs are the best! But when the time comes I will pick my own.........and luvie, remember that you can never have too many dogs either......no idea why people thing diamonds are a girl's best friend.

So what is it that mom wants most for Mother's Day?

She wants to see your smiles.

She wants to feel your hugs.

She wants to hear your laughter.

She wants to know that you are okay.

She wants you to be as safe as God allows (cause she knows sometimes God calls us to unsafe things).

But most of all, more than anything else, more than all the gifts that could be given, she wants you to know and follow King Jesus.

"This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent."

"but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. "

"By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments."

"to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,"

In knowing Him there is assurance of all things that a mother most worries about for her children. In knowing Him there is peace, in knowing Him there is a sense of having accomplished the purpose for which He called me to be a mother.

"He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore."

  So please do not rush out buying things just because it is Mother's Day. Just be okay, love God and do your best to follow him. Give me hugs and laugh with me when time and circumstance permit. The greatest gift I have ever been given is the two fine sons I have. They will always be my two greatest Mother's Day gifts. On top of that blessing I have been blessed with a man who is my friend and companion for over 30 years. What more could a woman possibly want or need for Mother's Day.

 Being a mom is a calling. I have done many things right, but I have also failed in many things. Fortunately God is a great Redeemer of our failures.

" Live the gospel in the things that no one sees. Sacrifice for your children in places that only they will know about. Put their value ahead of yours. Grow them up in the clean air of gospel living. Your testimony to the gospel in the little details of your life is more valuable to them than you can imagine. If you tell them the gospel, but live to yourself, they will never believe it. Give your life for theirs every day, joyfully. Lay down pettiness. Lay down fussiness. Lay down resentment about the dishes, about the laundry, about how no one knows how hard you work.

Stop clinging to yourself and cling to the cross. There is more joy and more life and more laughter on the other side of death than you can possibly carry alone."  From "Motherhood is a Calling, Desiring God.org

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.


Oh My Suffering Friend!

 

 My heart goes out to the suffering ones, people bent low and doubled over by the weight of the things heaped upon them. Souls doing all that they know how, to lay those burdens at the feet of the Yoke Bearer and yet the pressing down is hard, it is constant, it seems relentless and to earthly eyes there is no end in sight. I have a great love for the "hopeless" ones. They are family.

 Hope is an interesting word. We use it a lot. We may pray about things but more often than not we do so having a plan. We may pray about our finances, asking God to help us get out of debt, but we do so with a plan in mind of how we are going to use the funds we know are coming to make this hope come true. We pray for someone but as we are praying we are thinking about all the things we can do to help them out. We are forming a plan, we will try this program or that program, we will take them to this church or that one, we will make appointments with this doctor or that one, we will talk to this person or that one about getting them the help they need.........we are most always working to make our hopes come to pass.

 I am beginning to see and believe that real biblical hope is when there is no plan, there are no more resources to use, no more places to go, there is nothing, not one thing that you can do to bring your hope to pass. Every single thing you have done to try and make it come to pass has come to naught, or even worse it has made things harder. There is not one thing you can do to bring back what has been lost, to restore things to how you most want them to be..........To be in that place when all you can do is take in one more labored breath, wipe away one more set of tears, kneel once more at the feet of the Yoke Bearer and cry out Lord, have mercy. It's a terrible place to be in, and yet it is a safe place to be in, for when there are no human hands to help, there is no earthly way to change things, there is no place to run to for assistance, there is no money coming, there is no cure, there is no hope...we find hope in the knowledge that there is a Savior, there is One who knows, who sees, who hears our weak cries. And to be His child, to be in His hands, to await His mercy, to trust in His outcome is the safest and surest place in the entire universe to be...........to be without earthly hope is not an easy place to be but a sure and certain Hope is found there. His name is Jesus.

 I know you want things to be better, you want the ones you love to be okay, to know that they will have days of sunshine and peace and prosperity, that they will be happy, loved and accepted, that the bank account will have enough to pay the bills and fill the table and maybe once or twice enough for a little extra treat. To feel some relief from the relentless grief and sorrow that burdens your heart so! It doesn't seem like too much to ask for, it's what I want most too. I can't promise you that all this will come to pass here on this earth. I pray it will, I am sure enough to believe there will be moments when these things are so, but I just don't know if we will ever reach that place where we can sit and look around us and watch the ones we love just laugh and smile and dance in the sun and live happily ever after. Not here on this earth anyway.

 But the truth of the matter is we both know, this isn't our home, and we don't want it to ever be their home either. To call this world home is to say that everything here is the best it will ever get, and we both know that ain't so. Maybe our dancing comes later, and maybe the moments we have here from time to time are just practice for when the dance is forever. When we reach that place, when the last prayer is wept out into tear soaked fingers, when the time comes that our weak and shaky legs will not lift us up off the floor even one last time, when the moment comes that we pass from this place into the next........it will be there before Him that we will dance, that everlasting joy will spring forth, that our tears will be forever replaced with laughter, it will be there that we will find once and forever that elusive happiness that we have chased all our days. And it is there when we will see and know how He has used our sorrows, our oceans of tears and our weaknesses for His glory and for the good of us and the ones we love. And as we all, from every tribe and nation gather about Him, we will look around at the multitude of faces and we will see the ones we have agonized over..........and we will count it worth every moment of fear, every moment of loss, every step of suffering that we have come to this moment.

 We are not of this world, we are in it. As we run the race, may we take note of the many ways He bless us, the gifts of grace He grants and when we cannot see may we hold fast to what we have seen in the past. “If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” And as we move forward, sometimes in what feels inch by inch, may we keep our eyes ever on Him, the Author and Finisher of our faith.

 He is enough. Hold on my friend, hold on.....we will hold on together! Rejoice for our hope is in Him and in Him alone! He is enough!

Romans 15:13 - Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.

Psalms 126:5 - They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.

  In closing I just want you to know that you are beautiful! Your soul shines like the rising sun as it peaks over the Sandia Mountains! It is colored in beautiful shades of yellow, gold and orange with white beams bursting out into the sky!. I see Jesus in you, I see Him in your suffering and in your laughter.

 It's gonna be okay, we will reach that distant shore, and He is faithful, the ones we love so are going to reach it too! See with His eyes, it's so hard I know, Lord knows that I only catch a glimpse from time to time, but strive hard for those glimpses of grace. He is working, in all this mess in which we now stand He is not sleeping!

 Dance when you can, sing as much as possible!  Rejoice in the sunrise, give thanks in its setting, behold the flowers and inhale their scent, listen to the sounds of children playing, read His word, pray like there is no tomorrow, even if the only prayer you can summon is "Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy." Thanksgiving is so often in the very small things, the often unseen things. Preaching gospel to myself and to you!

I love you my friend!

It’s hard to stand on shifting sand
It’s hard to shine in the shadows of the night
You can’t be free if you don’t reach for help
You can’t love if you don't love yourself

There is hope when my faith runs out
Cause I’m in better hands now

It’s like the sun is shining when the rain is pouring down
It’s like my soul is flying though my feet are on the ground
So take this heart of mine there’s no doubt
I’m in better hands now

I am strong all because of you
I stand in awe of every mountain that you move
Oh I am changed, yesterday is gone
I am safe from this moment on

There’s no fear when the night comes ’round
I’m in better hands now

It’s like the sun is shining when the rain is pouring down
It’s like my soul is flying though my feet are on the ground
So take this heart of mine there’s no doubt
I’m in better hands now

It’s like the sun is shining when the rain is pouring down
It’s like my soul is flying though my feet are on the ground
Its like the world is silent though I know it isnt true
Its like the breath of Jesus is right here in this room

So take this heart of mine there’s no doubt
I’m in better hands now
I’m in better hands now




Forgiveness

  I was sitting quietly, trying desperately to pray about some things that weigh so heavy on my heart today. Old wounds reopened, salt poured in. I so very much want to rage against it all. I don't understand it. I am angry and I am hurt and I so very much want to engage in battle, to rend and tear and strike out, to demean and to belittle, to use all those skills that I was once a master of, to utterly break someone, to steal their manhood and their pride and turn it to dust and ashes. I want to mock, to ridicule.......I want to repay an eye for an eye......or let's be brutally honest here. I want to do the human thing, an eye was taken, nothing less than an eye and an ear and an arm will do in return.

 I hate feeling like this, I hate when that old me rises up. She loves a good fight, she is very good at returning evil for evil. I don't like her at all, and yet I yearn to embrace her today. The battle rages as I try to pray.

  I hear the battle cry in my heart. My cause is righteous, my hurt is real. I want to lash out, strike back, and I bounce like a ping pong ball between outrage and despair. We have come so far, through so much sorrow, it just isn't fair. People can be so awful, so ugly, never understanding the power of their words or just how much damage they can do, and sadly sometimes not even caring. It's not fair. I pray and I pray and I cry......why Lord?

 And as I pray slowly and quietly a song begins to play in my head.

" It’s the hardest thing to give away
And the last thing on your mind today
It always goes to those that don’t deserve"

   Oh Lord, I really do not want You to play that song for me today. Please not today.........and it plays on..............and I cry at the words.......

 "It’s the opposite of how you feel
When the pain they caused is just too real
It takes everything you have just to say the word…"

  I do not know if I can say it Lord. Is thinking about it sufficient for now? Is working through it enough for the moment?

"Forgiveness"

 
"Forgiveness"

   And I remember the words I read just last night, of the servant who owed his lord a vast sum of money. so much money that he could never repay, how that servant kneeled before his lord and begged for time to repay the huge debt.........and the lord forgave him. Stood him right up and said go, you owe me NOTHING. It's all forgiven, its all wiped out, the slate is clean. Every last penny has been accounted for.

  And the man went away. I bet he was dancing! I bet he was leaping and dancing and celebrating! He had been in debt so deep that he would never ever dig out, and in one small moment every single bit of it was forgiven and he was FREE!

 And then he came across a fellow servant who owed him a few bucks. He demanded his payment. It was his right to do so, this man OWED him! "Pay me right now or its off to jail for you!" he said. The man begged for mercy but he would not hear him and sent him away in chains.

 When the lord heard of this he was very upset, had he not forgiven a huge debt, a debt so large that this man would never have been able to pay it, and now here this servant was demanding the life and freedom of a fellow servant for a few bucks? Needless to say the lord did not deal nicely with that servant who refused to forgive his brother.

  I once owed a debt that I could not repay. Were I to do all the good works in the world for all of my moments and all of my days from the very first until the day I die I would not be able to make a dent in the debt I owed. I once owed a debt that I could NEVER repay. I was doomed to die, the chain of that debt wrapped around my soul, a chain I could not escape from, a chain I rightly deserved for my failure to pay the great debt I owed.............and He forgave it, He paid it all, every last piece of it, He paid the debt for my sins, struck the chains that held me in bondage and made me free.

 And here I sit with a desire in my heart to see another bound in chains and beaten and imprisoned until he has paid every last piece of the hurt he has inflicted............how dare I. I have not the right. Instead I should be shouting out LORD, LORD, SET HIM FREE TOO! Set us all free!

  The song played on........and the tears continued to fall as I listened to it......


 " It flies in the face of all your pride
It moves away the mad inside
It’s always anger’s own worst enemy
Even when the jury and the judge
Say you gotta right to hold a grudge
It’s the whisper in your ear saying ‘Set It Free’'

  Oh Lord my pride, my foolish pride, and the mad inside, it is so very difficult, surely Lord You understand why it is so difficult? You know the price, you know what this cost, what it might cost...... Lord I want to be the jury and the judge though it is not my right to be, it just seems so unfair, it seems so wrong, surely I have a right to hold a grudge?

 And the song plays on.......

"Forgiveness, Forgiveness
Forgiveness, Forgiveness"

" Show me how to love the unlovable"    Oh Lord please show me!
"Show me how to reach the unreachable"  Oh Lord please show me!
"Help me now to do the impossible"   Oh Lord help me!

 And the song plays on............and I am conflicted between my righteous outrage, my hurt, my sorrow, my pain........and the still small voice that asks me to define who is broken........I am broken........he is broken.......we are all broken.....

 And the song plays on...........................................................................

 "Forgiveness, Forgiveness"

" Help me now to do the impossible"  It's not possible, you just do not understand the magnitude of what has happened, nor the cost we will pay because of it? Were you to know perhaps you would weep along with me.......or worse perhaps you would not care at all what you have done.......it isn't possible.......it isn't possible.......with man it isn't possible, but with God all things are possible.

And the song plays on.....................................................


 "Forgiveness"

It’ll clear the bitterness away.............................Oh Lord I want it gone!
It can even set a prisoner free...........................Oh Lord I want to be free, but I want the ones I love to be free too!
There is no end to what it’s power can do..........I believe Lord, help my unbelief!
So, let it go and be amazed...............................I want to Lord, help me, help me! I let it go and I snatch it back again! Lord help me!
By what you see through eyes of grace.............Oh Lord Your grace, I so need Your grace, I am weak and injured, I am so very tired and weary. Lord help me to see with eyes of grace instead of eyes of anger and wounded pain.


 The prisoner that it really frees is you................Lord, might I be so bold as to ask for my freedom, the freedom of the ones I love who were also hurt.........and the freedom of the one who did the hurting?

 And the song plays on..........................................

 "Forgiveness, Forgiveness
Forgiveness, Forgiveness

Show me how to love the unlovable
Show me how to reach the unreachable
Help me now to do the impossible
Forgiveness"

I want to finally set it free.................Lord I do want to set it free, Lord I want to see You make this into something beautiful!
So show me how to see what Your mercy sees...........Lord show me Your mercy!
Help me now to give what You gave to me.................Lord help me to give what You gave to me!
Forgiveness, Forgiveness

    Lord help me, I know that You bring beauty from ashes, I know that You take the broken and the awful and You make them into beauty. I know You redeem the hard things and You bring good from the bad things we endure. Lord I believe.

 Lord bring Your mercy.

Two Women...........

The plight of two women is what haunts me. Two women whose faces I have never seen and who I cannot describe even one feature.  If I were to see them face to face I would not recognize them, and yet they haunt me.

 They are women trapped in a goldfish bowl, they scream, they cry out but the world outside the bowl in which they reside moves on, oblivious to their plight, their screams go unheard.

 It brings back memories of another woman long ago, who felt as if she were trapped in a goldfish bowl of violence. She was alone in her fear and in her pain. She used to sit at the window of her home on a beautiful sunny day and look out, and watch the people going about their lives oblivious to her plight.

 As she was face down on the floor and the punches and kicks were falling upon her, she would find herself thinking about how that old couple next door are probably sitting down to dinner, a very pleasant dinner where she asks how his day was and he regels her with stories and she laughs and laughs…..and they both are oblivious to the cries from the fish bowl.

  She sits in the corner of the room as he holds the shotgun to her face; she’s long past fear now, just resigned to the facts. As he raves and shouts and threatens, she sees the lights of the cars going past and thinks of the people going to and fro. Some are going out to eat, some are on their way home, their radios are on, and they are bopping in time to the music, oblivious to the scene going on inside the fishbowl.

 She was set free one day, by someone who loved her, someone who finally managed to see through the thick glass of the fishbowl she lived in. But who will set these two women free?

 Perhaps they are free already, perhaps they have paid for their crimes with their lives, perhaps for them the nightmare has ended and the goldfish bowl that trapped them lies shattered in a pool of their blood. The thing that haunts me most is that I will never know.

 You see, these two women, these brave two women reside in Al-Raqqu, Syria under the leadership and oppression of DAESH (also known as ISIS). They risked their lives to show the world what life inside the goldfish bowl of Sharia law under DAESH is like. They carried hidden cameras under their black tents; they did so in spite of the fact that had DAESH noticed this, had they been caught, they would have been subjected to a most terrible death.

   As you watch their video you notice that you cannot see even the slightest bit of skin on any of the women. They are covered head to toe in black, like some great tent that enfolds about them and they look sort of like those PACMAN ghosts in the old video game, a blob with eyes peeking out.

 Their video shows them moving about the city, dressed in their tents. They speak of terrible things, of killings and beatings and of fear and oppression. Amongst all that it seems rather strange to me that one of the most powerful parts of the video is nothing more than a beauty supply rack containing hair dye. A harmless enough item, used by women all over the world, and yet in this video it too represents the oppression they live under. Depicted is a rack of hair dye filled with a variety of colors and each and every box has the woman’s image blacked out. A rack of multi colored hair dyes and they all look identical. A box with a black shape that did represent a woman displaying the color hair of the dye but is now just a black blob.

 What kind of man is threatened by an image of a woman on a hair dye box?

  In the world in which these two women reside death is a constant companion. Executions are the norm. Heads displayed on the spikes of the fence that circle the roundabout are common. Nothing to see here folks….just heads on a spike….move along......don’t forget to stop and buy your hair dye.

 Here women oppress woman, with gangs of DAESH women going about the city enforcing Sharia and checking on their sisters to make certain they are in compliance. To be found out of compliance can be a very costly mistake.

 Here persons who are gay are thrown head first off the tops of high buildings. To be honest they are perhaps the lucky ones as some of the executions performed in this place are brutal, terribly brutal and to be launched from a tall building head first is perhaps a mercy.

 Here in this place where these two women reside, there are slave markets. Men go there to purchase women and little girls. Women and little girls who have been ripped from their families, many watched their families brutally murdered, are sold to the highest bidder.

  I think of these women often. I wonder if they are still alive. Do they hold onto hope or is all hope long since been lost?

  At the end of the video one of them says “I long to take off the niqab and the darkness that cloaks us for good.”…………..”to be able to go out in the street without being scared.”……………..”nothing matters more than freedom.”

  Oh my sisters, I see you in the fish bowl, and yet I am helpless to do anything. I have no power, no money, no means to free you! Rest assured my sisters, what I can do I have done. I have cried out again and again to my elected officials and I have prayed, I do pray, I will pray!

  Oh Lord of mercy, Lord who heard the blood of Abel crying out to You from the ground, see Your daughters caught in slavery, in oppression, who live their lives in fear trapped under black tents, trapped in a place that should not even exist upon this world. Oh Lord see them! Deliver them! Come to them in their dreams with words of hope and life!

 Oh Lord how the blood of this place much cry out, if Abel’s blood cried out then the cries rising up to You from this one town in Syria much be thundering, ear-piercing, tumultuous and loud enough to wake the dead. Oh Lord hear them, hear the cries of the blood that screams from Raqqa and hear the cries of these women enslaved in this horrible system of oppression and fear.

 And Lord, if it is possible, let the world hear the cries of the blood, let the world hear the piercing cries of the blood of slaughtered innocents rising up to You.

 Oh Lord have mercy upon these two brave women, and upon all the oppressed living in that terrible place. And not just that place Oh Lord, but to each and every soul who feels unseen, who lives under the threat of violence and death, who knows hopelessness…Oh Lord save. As You once saved me Oh Lord…….save them.

 

"We want the world to know," they say.

 

Read their story

http://www.expressen.se/nyheter/womens-secret-films-from-within-closed-city-of-islamic-state/?cmpid=youtube

 

 

 

 

 

 


The Ides of March

 The old saying "beware the Ides of March" is from the story of Julius Caesar. A seer had warned him that he would come to harm before the ides of March and on that very day as he walked to the theater he passed the seer and mocked him,  saying "the ides of March have come" , and the seer responded "Aye, Caesar; but not gone" and later that same day at the Theater of Pompey, Julius Caesar was assassinated. His assassination was a turning point for Rome leading to civil war and was the beginning of the change from Roman Republic to Roman Empire.  

  March signifies a turning point in our calendar of seasons, from winter to spring, typically taunting us with beautiful warm days, the budding of trees, the bursting forth of bulbs from the ground and all their promise of flowers and yet in betwixt the warmness and promise of new life come the buffeting winds of March, said to come in like a lion and to go out as a lamb. Yet often, here in New Mexico they come in as a lamb and go out as a lion. Today promises to be such a day, with winds of up to 50 mph and clouds of dust, dust that hovers over the city of Albuquerque and over the Sandia Mountains creating a dingy yellow veil that dims the view and hides the beauty.

   Sometimes turning points are heralded by loss, be it the assassination of a leader as it was with the nation of Rome, or the howling winds that signifies winter's anger at being driven back into the shadows by spring. or the times of loss, death, pain and suffering within our own lives that so often leave us stripped naked and broken crying out for a rain of grace from God.

  Sometimes they are heralded by moments of great joy, and gifts, the blessing of marriage, or the birth of a child, a new job, a new friendship, a new road to walk down and the hope of new life found in Christ, Times that leave us in awe of the beauty and wonder of life and how very precious it is.

  In both can come a rain of grace, and a turning point, the moment when you realize how small you are, how helpless and broken and powerless you are. The moment when you realize that you are not in control of anything at all.......and that moment when you realize the it is God and God alone who changes things and Him and Him alone who controls. That moment when you realize that all that is good comes from God, and that He holds in His hand all that you hold dear. And that moment when you realize that He is trustworthy, and that He loves you, and that You can rest easily in that knowledge, no matter what is happening, no matter if you are in the midst of harsh winds of sorrow and loss or basking in the sunlight of good gifts and great blessings.

  I ponder these things as  I look out this morning through my patio window and watch the big metal whirly gig turning in the light breeze, it marks the grave of the big white dog, the one who taught me so much about God and about life and about worship and hope. The one who taught me how to live in the moment and dance with joy. I miss her.

  March is an anniversary month for us, anniversaries of celebration and of remembrance. On the 6th of March we married, my love and I and this year was our 31st. And on the 12th of March our daughter in law left us, jumped straight into the arms of Jesus 3 years ago. Anniversaries of joy and of sorrow. Both were turning points.

 Marriage was one of the biggest turning points in my life apart from Christ and it stands right next to the birth of my children as a major point of change. It was change for the better, and it is where I first began to learn the art of putting others before my self. It hasn't been an easy lesson to learn and it is one I still forget from time to time.

 Mel's death was also a turning point, a time of great sorrow and loss, of guilt and regret, of helplessness and a pain so deep I felt near cut in two. From the ashes of that came the time of searching, seeking, and trying to find beauty in the everyday, beauty in the midst of sorrow. Slowly I learned how to practice gratitude, how to find something for which to be thankful each and every day, sometimes moment by moment. Sometimes it was just a flower, or the antics of a dog, or the sun rising over the mountains, and sometimes it was the bigger things like family and friends and new life found.

  Although turning points in life are scary, in Christ they can and do lead to growth. The most significant turning point that any soul can reach is that one where you see Christ for who He is and bow the knee and call Him King. For He is our Hiding Place when the hard winds of life come, when the winds buffet so very hard that you can only huddle in a heap as they strip you bare and leave you bereft, for without Him they will leave you bereft.....but in Him, in Him, you will never be stripped of hope and He will never leave you. He is a Wall that blocks the winds, and prevents the strong grit and sand from stripping you of life.

 He is; "a shelter from the storm” (Isaiah 32:2). “In the cover of your presence you hide them from the plots of men; you store them in your shelter from the strife of tongues” (Psalm 31:20).

“For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock” (Psalm 27:5).

“You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble” (Psalm 32:7).

And He says to you, “O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the crannies of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely” (Song of Songs 2:14).

  So on this Ides of March, I give thanks to the One who has preserved me through it all, and who daily renews my soul with hope for tomorrow and who showers me in His marvelous grace and who provides for me and shelters me from the harsh winds of life. In Him I need not worry about that ancient saying "beware the ides of March" for He holds me in His hand and nothing can befall me without His approval and if He approves He will see me through it and He will bring about my good and His glory in it.

   As I write these words the birds are singing in the trees, the peach tree blooms are vivid pink, the crab apple tree is blooming and the daffodil and tulips are rising from their dark graves with the promise of color and life to come. The old white dog lays in the morning rays, belly up to the sun, basking in the warmth. The little black and white dog takes a rare moment of rest and sleeps on the patio just outside my writing table. The whirly gig over the big white dog's grave turns slowly in the breeze, and for now the bells are silent, the wind mobiles stirring only slightly. Soon the hard winds will come.

 But I am content. I am in that place called Enough. Let the winds come..........He is with me.......and He is enough.

http://www.crystalinks.com/IdesofMarch.html

 

A Fallen Soldier

Write a tribute to a fallen soldier,

A simple task it might seem,

For I did not know him,

He was not my soldier.

And in the writing of it

I came to know him,

I saw my soldier in him,

He was an Infantryman.

Young and bold and brash,

With a smile that lit up the room,

Even though it was just a photograph

Wow it must have been something to see

that smile up close in person.

He had a young lady who loved him,

And a little baby boy that made him smile so big

I saw that smile in all the photographs I found

While researching who he was.

While attempting to know him

That I might tell others who he was

And how he died in our service.

That little boy of his is growing up fast

I have never met him in person

But I see him often in the photos his mom posts

The first time I saw him he was in his father’s arms,

Such a big smile on his dad’s face,

You could see the love and pride written there.

The next photo was of the little boy,

All alone on the beach,

Sitting in the surf, playing,

As a heart shaped wave encompassed him,

Gently it wrapped around the child

Playing in the surf.

There have been many others

The boy laughing, playing, smiling

The boy with the lizard

The boy with his mom.

And then today there was a new one.

The boy kneeling before a tombstone

His head is bowed

Perhaps he weeps

Or perhaps he prays

Or perhaps he is simply reflecting

All I see is his back and his bowed head

And the tombstone of his young father

Who had such a beautiful smile

Who was an Infantryman

And my hearts breaks

For the boy,

For his father

For the loss

And the pain

For the war

That keeps on taking

And taking

And taking

It seems the full price is never paid.

Bless the boy Lord,

Bless him all his days.


    

   I was once called to write a tribute for a young infantryman named Kalin Johnson who died on March the 8th, 2011.Writing tributes requires research, and in that research you often find photos and stories from the families that will really break your heart. The fallen warrior becomes more than a name, and you begin to see their life, their loves, their hopes and dreams, and you see up close and personal the sorrow they have left behind.

Sometime after writing Kalin's tribute  I was blessed to come to know his young lady and to watch via social media the growth of their young son. I wrote a lot of tributes for the fallen, and so many of them are forever engraved upon my memory, but there is something special about Kalin Johnson. I wrote this poem for Kalin and for Logan. It was inspired by a photograph of Logan in front of his father's tombstone.

Rest in peace Kalin Johnson. Although I never knew you in person, I shall never forget you.

The original tribute:

https://www.facebook.com/notes/military-wall-of-honor/united-states-army-private-first-class-kalin-christopher-lee-johnson/10150424058715244?hc_location=ufi

A memorial page in his honor:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/In-Memory-of-Kalin-Christopher-Lee-Johnson/132397586833189?sk=wall




Desperation

   Today I read the story of the woman with the issue of blood. A story so very rich in meaning and in grace and a story requiring some knowledge of the laws of that time, and what this condition would have meant for this women who had suffered for twelve long years with this issue of blood.

 The story: Luke 8:43-48 English Standard Version (ESV And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and though she had spent all her living on physicians, she could not be healed by anyone. She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, and immediately her discharge of blood ceased.  And Jesus said, “Who was it that touched me?” When all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds surround you and are pressing in on you!” But Jesus said, “Someone touched me, for I perceive that power has gone out from me.” And when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling, and falling down before him declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.”

 First we need to consider what this condition would have meant to this woman and how it would have impacted her daily life.

Leviticus 15:19-22 states:

  • And if a woman have an issue, and her issue in her flesh be blood, she shall be put apart seven days: and whosoever toucheth her shall be unclean until the even.
  • And every thing that she lieth upon in her separation shall be unclean: every thing also that she sitteth upon shall be unclean.
  • And whosoever toucheth her bed shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even.
  • And whosoever toucheth any thing that she sat upon shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even.

  So consider the above, consider the society that she lived in, and consider that she had suffered this condition for 12 long years. Every person she touched would have been unclean, everything she touched would have been unclean. In the society that she dwelt in her condition would have caused her to be treated very similar to a leper. As she works her way through this great crowd of people every person she bumped into, everything she bumped into, would be deemed unclean. She touched the tassels of the robe that the Lord Jesus was wearing, making it unclean.

 She works her way carefully through the huge crowd, her heart pounding wildly within her chest. She is taking a great risk today, but she is certain, she is hopeful, she is desperate. Twelve long years of torture, to live amongst a people and yet always be apart from them, to be in plain sight but not seen, to have people that she had known all her life avoid her, avoid all contact with her. Yet she has heard of this new teacher, heard the stories of how he touched lepers and cleansed them, how he brought sight to blind eyes, even how he had raised a dead child to life! This must be the One for which they have been waiting! It must be! And he is compassionate, he is different, for what Rabbi would ever touch a leper?

 She weaves through the crowds heedless to the mutterings and cries of outrage as she bumps into people. She falls to the dusty ground and crawls through the legs of the masses, reaching out through them to barely grasp the fringe of his garment. Immediately she feels a rush through her body and she sits back on her heels as the crowds carry Jesus away. She stands to follow at a distance. He stops and turns and looks through the crowds shouting out "who touched me?" Her heart pounds within her chest, she has dared touch a holy rabbi's garment, she has made it unclean! What will he do to her for this terrible affront? But then she sees something in his eyes, and she has felt her body cleansed and healed so she timidly steps forward and falls at his feet.

 "Master, I have heard the stories, of how you have stooped to touch lepers, how you made them clean, how you brought sight to the blind and I have been unclean with a blood issue for twelve long years, I have yearned to be part of my family again, to feel the touch of human hands, to be clean......so I knew if I could only touch the hem of your garment I would be free." She trembles, it is possible that he will chastise her, that her uncleanness is too much, that she has caused great offense....but then he smiles and says "daughter, your faith has made you well, go in peace."....Daughter! He called her daughter!

  Perhaps it did not take place exactly as I described it, but I wonder oh friends do you see the wonder of this story? Do you see His great compassion for the outcast? Can you feel the desperation of this woman? Can you see how sad and heartrending her condition was to her? Can you imagine being in the midst of society but being outcast? Being deemed unclean? Unable to attend worship, unable to touch the ones you love nor feel their touch upon you? To spend all that you have to seek healing and all for nothing?

  And I wonder if you can see this Jesus, the One who sees us, He sees us in our brokenness, He sees us in our uncleanliness, in our desperation, in our broken and frantic attempts to heal ourselves......He sees us and He is willing, He is willing for us to reach out and touch the hem of His garment and be whole.

 A desperate woman, who has spent all she has trying to buy hope, and purchase healing, all for naught, crawls out in faith and touches the hem of the Master's garment........and finds healing, hope, and peace. She comes unclean, and outcast, she walks away a daughter of the King.



 


  

The Silence From Heaven

These dark nights,

These dismal days,

When I cannot sense Your presence

I know You are with me,

But I cannot feel it

I seek You but You do not respond

I cry out but You do not speak

And then it becomes so difficult

To even cry out

Difficult to seek

Prayer is a labor

And apathy seeps in

Lord you know how I hate apathy

And yet here it is

Right there in my soul

Help me to remember

All the times past

When I felt so alone

Yet You were there

I just could not see

Nor feel

But I believed

Faith is the substance

Of things hoped for

The evidence of

Things not seen

I know this truth

Yet to feel You

Makes me so alive

And to not feel You

So dead

Lord reach down

And touch my soul

That I might feel

Your presence.

Break my heart

With the things that break Yours

Crush the apathy

For it is better to be pushed down

By the sorrows of others

Than to feel nothing

Such a divided soul I am

Crying out that the burden is too great

The suffering too much

Oh to not feel for the sufferings of others!

And yet when it leaves me

I am lost without it.

Oh Lord return to me

Rip out this human heart

And restore to me Yours.

And then come along side

And bear the yoke with me

One more hill

As my son would say.

       I have found the Christian life to be one of valleys  and hills and high mountain tops. On the hills He is a constant presence, as if He were walking right there with you as a friend, on the mountain tops His presence so strong and holy that you cannot even stand before it but must fall on your face and tremble at His power and majesty, but then there are the valleys where you find yourself walking, seemingly alone, crying out to Him, Lord where are You? I have walked many hills, stood upon many mountain tops and trudged through many valleys. He never leaves you. Even in the valley, even in the silence He is there. Trust Him.

 Many wrongly assume that His absence is because something has gone wrong, this is not the case. In truth He is not absent at all, He is merely silent. Think of Joseph, sold into slavery, wrongly accused, imprisoned......I imagine he walked through some very deep valleys. Yet all the while God was working, moving, building and bringing about a great work.

   I feel the valley today, it's not a deep one, but it is there. Prayer comes hard right now, everything is a struggle, for some time now I have felt His presence so strong, so sure, so certain, and today scares me a bit. How long Lord? How deep this valley? I pray it is but a short one, perhaps a day or two. None the less, enough has passed that I know my Redeemer. He has not left, He has not stepped out, He is but silent for a time.

http://www.faithgateway.com/when-you-cant-feel-god/#.VsyYH-TSnIU


February Warmth and the Promise of Spring

February warmth seeps into my bones,

Bright sunshine, gentle breezes on the western wind.

Trees budding, birds frolicking, rabbits everywhere.

The promise of spring is in the air!

 

I feel it down deep in my bones,

Something budding in the warmth of the sun

The urge to run black earth through worn fingers

Anticipation of the delight as plants burst forth from the hard worked ground.

 

Evenings on the back porch, relaxing

Dogs at feet, beloved by my side

Watching in awe as the mountains turn pink

In late evenings setting sun.

 

Spring is coming soon,

I feel it in my bones,

The hope of life renewed

The promise of warmth and light.

 

Bursts of color as flowers spring forth

Desert willow alive with color

Dancing in the evening breeze

Peach tree blossoms on the wind.

 

Garden bursting forth from ground

Fresh tomatoes, perfect squash, home grown cucumber

Green beans springing up their tall poles

Spicy peppers row upon row.

 

My heart  yearns for spring

And the promise of life renewed

And the sure hope of harvest

As spring turns to summer.

 

February warmth seeps into my bones

Bringing promise of spring

Promise of life

Promise of hope.

 

Come spring come!


Lessons From the Trash Heap

  Just a few miles from my home stands a tall mountain, a man made mountain. Today I stood upon that mountain built by heaps and heaps of discarded items covered in dirt over and over again, rising up from the desert floor, a mountain of waste.

  As I looked around me at all the things that people had brought to the top, things no longer wanted, things broken, things that had lost their shine and appeal I considered how it must have been in the beginning, when eyes were first laid upon that prize. I could almost hear the voices as they shopped, the justifications for why this thing was important and why they simply must have it.

" This will look so nice on me, I will feel pretty, it compliments my eyes.", "I have worked hard and I deserve this reward.", "This will look so nice in the living room."......and on and on and on.

 We humans are always seeking something, some shiny thing, some purchase that can once and for all fill the empty hole within our hearts. New furniture, new kitchen appliances, new clothes, new electronics, the latest fad, the perfect toy. I cannot count the times where I have yearned for something, thinking of how useful it will be, how much it will change my life, how much my children will enjoy it, and I have justified a thousand reasons why it was wise and right to buy it.

 And yet there I stood upon a mountain of these things, broken, rusty, our little pickup truck full with our own contributions to this growing mountain.

 Things never satisfy for long. There may be the moments of happiness you grasp onto as you behold this new acquisition but it will fade. The thing will degrade over time, it will become worn, or in some cases it will lose its appeal and become just another item to hang your coats on or to slide underneath your bed. At some point it will end up on some mountain of trash, buried beneath the dirt, forgotten, broken, useless, just trash.

 I still crave things, I think we all do. I still get caught up in the shiny things sometimes. Like that new SLR camera I have really been wanting, and the justification I tell myself about how awesome my photos will be if I could only have a real camera instead of one on my cell phone. And things in themselves are not wrong, we need couches to sit upon, if our stove breaks we need a new one, and it is good to wear nice clothes if one can afford them. I guess what struck me as I stood there on top of that mountain of trash was the excess of it all, an enormous mountain of cast off things.

 I have chased many things over the course of my life, all of them in that crazy elusive pursuit of happiness. During that often disappointing chase I was found by Jesus and discovered the real key to contentment and life. Happiness will always be elusive and dependent upon the shiny things, the weather, relationships, finances and other fading things, but Jesus is joy personified, He is peace in a person. The pursuit of Christ is far more valuable than the pursuit of happiness and in pursuing Him you will find in most cases you are happy. It won't be the things that can break that make it so, it will be the knowledge of Him that makes your heart sing! He remains the only thing that can and does fill the hole within the human heart forever.

 The key to happiness and contentment is far simpler than most imagine. It is in Christ.

 Things break, things tarnish, things lose their appeal.....but God and His Word stand forever.