Dawn: I only have time for Eternity

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“Praises and canticles anticipate each day the singing bells that wake the sun. Open the secret eye of faith and drink these deeps of invisible light”……Thomas Merton 

Yesterday was a tough day for me. I knew this would be hard, packing up this place has been like packing up part of myself. How do you go about doing that? This little home, the most humble of all the homes God has blessed us with has felt more like home than any of them. It’s been a place of tremendous comfort and joy.

So I packed some and I cried some. By the end of the day I was worn out. But this morning I may have turned a corner into the new Chapter. Maybe I did. It was slight, like a chord change that takes place somewhere deep in your soul. The Holy Spirit speaks in a whisper.

It was hard to walk out into the shop yesterday and see a whole wall blank, but this morning I went out and it was like it’s always been. Today I needed some Thomas Merton so I took his little “Book of Hours” with me. His words breathed life and freshness through my soul like the wind through the pines.

Today, if you are reading this, do this one thing. Go easy on yourself. It’s what I have needed to do and you need it too. Life is hard. Give yourself time to adjust to the winds of change that sometimes blow more fiercely than you anticipated. Get help from an outside source if you need it. Sometimes the body is fine but the weary heart and mind need a physician.

Here is a partial reading for the Sunday Chapter:

“Meanwhile, the most wonderful moment of the day is that when creation in its innocence asks permission to “be” once again, as it did on that first morning that ever was. 

All wisdom seeks to collect and manifest itself at that blind sweet point. Man’s wisdom does not succeed, for we have fallen into self-mastery and cannot ask permission of anyone. We face our mornings as men of undaunted purpose. 

We know the time and dictate the terms. We know what time is. 

For the birds, there is not a time that they tell. But he virgin point between darkness and light. Between being and non-being. 

Here is an unspeakable secret: paradise is all around us and we do not understand. It is wide open. The sword is taken away, but we do not know it. We are off “one to his farm and one to his merchandise.” 

Lights on, clocks ticking. Thermostats working. Stoves cooking. Electric shavers filling the radio with static. Wisdom, cries the dawn deacon, but we do not attend.”  Book of Hours, page 46

I for one, will be present today. Help me to do that, Lord. You have given birth to a new day and that is always a gift. I thank you for today and whatever it brings. Because whatever it is, you will meet me there.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

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Many of the Samaritans from that village committed themselves to him because of the woman’s witness: “He knew all about the things I did. He knows me inside and out!” They asked him to stay on, so Jesus stayed two days. A lot more people entrusted their lives to him when they heard what he had to say. They said to the woman, “We’re no longer taking this on your say-so. We’ve heard it for ourselves and know it for sure. He’s the Savior of the world!” John 4:39:42

All of us long to have our story told, and not just the good parts, the whole story. Somehow I feel like that woman must’ve run away from Jesus lighter in heart, unburdened, free. Aren’t we all walking around with burdens we wish we could throw off? Oh, we share…..but we share just what we want others to know, the whitewashed versions.

Secretly, don’t we all fear that if we told everything, it would confirm the fact that we are all just a little insane? What things do you tell Jesus just after you lay your head on your pillow each night?

Some mornings lately, I feel like I just crashed landed on the earth. Delivered fresh from the jaws of night, coughed up on the shore covered with whale spit, just like a bewildered (but thankful) Jonah. I’ve just retired from a job I’ve been at for 20 years. I am still trying on the feeling of not having a plan. I can’t say I am too crazy about it.

I have a feeling the reason the woman at the well ran away bursting with joy was because she finally got rid of the baggage that was her life. (5 husbands and one live-in boyfriend later) She just met someone who knew her whole life story, recited it back to her in fact. Not only that, instead of shrinking away from her, He gave her a new life of freedom. A second chance. And because of her testimony, many in that town were saved.

My words aren’t many today and that’s okay. I will close with Buechner who says it better than I ever could:

He said, we all got secrets. I got them same as everybody else–things we feel bad about and wish hadn’t ever happened. Hurtful things, long ago things. We’re all scared and lonesome, but most of the time we keep it hid. It’s like every one of us has lost his way so bad we don’t even know which way is home anymore only we’re ashamed to ask. You know what would happen if we would own up we’re lost and ask? Why, what would happen is we’d find out home is each other. We’d find our home is Jesus that loves us lost of found or any whichway.” Frederick Buechner, The Book of Bebb

Lord: Thank you for interceding for us today. You know our needs, our individual burdens and heartaches. Help me to unburden myself and maybe someone else today too. Beat back the darkness in our lives and let Your light shine our my path. Thank you in advance for directing my steps. Amen

The Afterglow

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One day into the New Year and my mind races ahead plunging full speed into it, that is, my mind and not much else. I am already borrowing trouble and worrying about events that have yet to happen, but I am getting better about that. Now when I sense myself doing that, I pull away and find that quiet place in my soul that’s been hollowed out by His Spirit and I try to rest in Him until my mental wheels slow and eventually stop. Most of the time, I have a peace about the coming year.

I was reading something yesterday that said none of us are made to stay the same. God made us and everything else  in this universe to change, to transition into something else. New seasons, new growth, parts of us die and are reborn. Change is good. It keeps us alive, on our toes and yet I am a creature of habit and I don’t like being out of my comfort zone. I have found security in my routine, my job, my little corner of the world. But true security is found in Christ and nothing else. As my old Pastor used to say, it’s Jesus plus nothing.

So I take a deep and thankful breath as I look back and see where God has taken us and brought us. And I look even further back and I know I have no reason to fear anything. He has always been there and He always will. That part will never change.

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Sometimes you just need to take a step forward in the fog, and soon things will begin to take shape. You’ll see the splashes of color and miracles along the way if you just keep walking.

It’s the last day of  four 12 hour shifts and I feel a little like how Tolkien so aptly described it when Bilbo Baggins said: “I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.” Yep. That’s the feeling. I am looking forward to being huddled in the shop tomorrow in the early morning darkness folded around me.  I need my battery charged and that’s the best way I know to do it, that and being in nature.

This is a new stage for Elaine, and I want to help her through it. Before, every spare minute was filled to overflowing when her Mom was still alive, especially at the last stages. Now she’s finding big pockets of time and feeling like something is missing. When you have been a caretaker so long it’s hard to know what to do when it’s over. No one ever prepares you for that.

I am ready to close out the week, and start a New Year.

I will end with one of my favorite poems of all time……..

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening 

By Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Advent Idea: A Prayer Closet

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“But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.  And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.” Matthew 6:6,7

This morning I had to hastily arrange a different place to pray because “someone” has a secret project going on in the shop. First I tried my bedroom…..that didn’t work, it was too open. Then I tried another place in the living room and it didn’t feel right either. E said, “Why don’t you go in your closet?” Well, my closet had become a disaster zone since all the Christmas stuff had come out of hiding. But, as I traipsed from room to room feeling kind of disoriented I pushed open the door and entertained the possibility of my bedroom closet.

First, I got a chair out of what used to be Joyce’s room at the Care Home thinking that might work. I had forgotten they had a dog at the place for a while and there were smells, lots of them  on that chair. Briggs the cat wandered in the wouldn’t leave, those smells on that chair were just too intriguing. Remove chair. Sit on floor.

It was actually kind of cozy in there. I could still hear faint outside noises which I find an agreeable backdrop…..keeps me in touch with what’s going on outside. And when I took this picture I had to smile……the baby doll on the shelf in the background reminded me of the baby Jesus, wrapped in swaddling clothes. Actually, it’s my very own baby blanket that my Mom wanted me to have. It’s the one they wrapped me in on the way out of the hospital. All 3 pounds of me. The doll is a Thumbelina. Those of us in the older range of middle-age will remember who she is. I just Googled her, she still comes up!

Anyway, here is the final result. It works……..

I find that any space will do as long as it provides an atmosphere of peace and quiet where you know you will not be distracted or interrupted.

I have been plagued by distraction and unease lately. I sense a big change coming in my life and my soul is not at rest, so I knew this morning it was expedient that I find a place to pour out my anxiety to the Lord. I realized that on some level I didn’t even want to pray because I didn’t necessarily want to hear what the Lord might place on my heart.

And you know what? That is the time you need prayer the most.

Run to Him friends. He will satisfy your every need and quiet every fear.

The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17

Advent: Peace in the Chaos

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Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
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 40:30,31

December 1st is here and it arrived with everyone breathless and scurrying. This morning my heater gave out in the shop so my prayer time was shortened. I know it shouldn’t have been but I am a fair-weather pray-er and it was 50 degrees out there. My blood is thin, accustomed as it is to the sun and warmer temps. So the tree was in the living room all decked out in lights but no ornaments. Elaine has been frantically going from work to the Carehome since her Mom fell and broke her hip. There was simply no time. So this morning I drug all the boxes in and set to work. I had a deadline to meet since her brother was coming and I wanted to be available if I was needed.

At around the 4th time going through both the Easter and Christmas portions of Handel’s Messiah, it was finished, bedecked in all it’s glory. I had fun doing it. I felt pretty good considering I slept fitfully as usual and awoke at my usual time of 2:00 am. When I saw Elaine briefly later at noon she said, “Why didn’t you come in my room, we could have had coffee and talked.” Seems we were both awake at the same time.

Sometimes, Advent comes whether we are ready or not. But ready or not, it’s always a blessing.

And this road we’ve been on has been so long. Ever since her Mom has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s to now, it’s been about 10 years. I think of everything that has happened since and it’s staggering that Elaine’s been able to do it all and work too.

It’s late and I really need to go to bed. My brain feels like scrambled eggs. And my dear niece is turning 13 tomorrow and soon I will see her.

And it’s life and death and the cycle of it all……And He is here and if not for Him in the midst of everything, where in the world would any of us be?

My “War Room”

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 “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you………” Matthew 6:6

I have yet to see “War Room” but I plan to soon. Miss Clara has her closet I have heard. And me?  I have this little shop which has become so very dear to me. I guess you could say it’s also the birthplace of this blog. When I determined to take the first portion of my day out here back in 2009, I didn’t know what would come out of it, I just knew it’s what I needed to do.

I can’t begin to say how this one simple thing has enriched my life. I miss it on my work days when I can’t come out here. On those days, my car turns into a “prayer closet.” Of course we all know we can pray anywhere, that to me is the essence of a relationship with God, that we have this ongoing communication with our Heavenly Father, anywhere at any time.

But there is something to be said for having a central place to go when you need to be alone with God with only the silence as your backdrop.

I love being out here surrounded by all the buckets, storage bins, paint, projects, Christmas decorations, you name it.

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“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Ephesians 6:12

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And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people…….Revelation 5:8

It’s a miracle isn’t it? That we have this gift, the knowledge that God Himself hears our every prayer, that every little whisper is captured in His bowl for all eternity. Every word we speak will be saved, every word is treasured………My bowl isn’t exactly gold, it’s a Longaberger ceramic.

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After my Birthday I took the names of everyone who posted on my timeline and placed them in this bowl. Each day I draw a name, and then I add whoever else God brings to mind. And sometimes, I am just silent for a while.

Sometimes I like to think of what’s going on in Heaven right at that particular moment. I like to think of Jesus interceding for us, for He is you know……

My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.  I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. John 17:20-23

The world is outside…….but in here it is well with my soul. The world batters us, and like shipwrecked survivors we come in out of the cold…… we cling to the promises because we know the gates of hell are powerless against them.

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I encourage you to find that quiet place. Carved out a little niche somewhere, just for you and God. I promise you won’t regret it.

Until next time……..

The Art of Resting

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There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God;  for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience. Hebrews 4:9-11

This morning I have been reflecting on just what it means to have a “Sabbath rest.” Jesus did many “works” of healing on the Sabbath. He also walked many miles on Sabbath days. He didn’t follow the traditional Jewish Shabbat of not lifting a finger and he was sharply criticized for not “honoring” it the way the Jewish religious community thought He should. But honor it He did. Each Sunday, we celebrate all over again that He rose from the dead on that day. I can’t think of a better way to honor the Sabbath.

Each person must decide in their heart how best to do that by looking at the examples found in Scripture. Some people decide not to shop or go to stores. For me, it’s more important that I spend some quiet time reflecting, and resting my mind (and body) thinking about what it all means. To carve out a special day is a Holy thing. It’s a way of saying, “This day is different from all the rest.”

It’s hard sometimes to slow the mind down. Harder for some than others. One way to do this is by refusing to think about the task list I have set up for the next day. Another of my favorite ways is by taking a walk. When we went on our recent road trip, I took a walk one morning on a meandering path along the beach. All along the way, someone had left some memorial stones. If I had been distracted I might have missed them but I am so glad I didn’t. It was a Holy walk.

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Jesus is, in fact our very own Sabbath rest. Without Him, there is no rest. He is rest personified.

Happy Holy day to you all…….leave your burdens outside the door. Still your mind and know that you are part of a miracle.

The world is outside……many voices clamoring for attention and the headlines all seem to be screaming. But……the Lord of the Sabbath is still here.

 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30