Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Rosh Hashanah 101

Rosh Hashanah

...In the seventh month, on the first of the month, there shall be a sabbath for you, a remembrance with shofar blasts, a holy convocation. -Leviticus 16:24

Rosh Hashanah occurs on the first and second days of Tishri.

In Hebrew, Rosh Hashanah means, literally, "head of the year" or "first of the year." Rosh Hashanah is commonly known as the Jewish New Year. This name is somewhat deceptive, because there is little similarity between Rosh Hashanah, one of the holiest days of the year, and the American midnight drinking bash and daytime football game.

There is, however, one important similarity between the Jewish New Year and the American one: Many Americans use the New Year as a time to plan a better life, making "resolutions." Likewise, the Jewish New Year is a time to begin introspection, looking back at the mistakes of the past year and planning the changes to make in the new year. These are days known as the Days of Awe.

The name "Rosh Hashanah" is not used in the Bible to discuss this holiday. The Bible refers to the holiday as Yom Ha-Zikkaron (the day of remembrance) or Yom Teruah (the day of the sounding of the shofar). The holiday is instituted in Leviticus 23:24-25.

The shofar is a ram's horn which is blown somewhat like a trumpet. One of the most important observances of this holiday is hearing the sounding of the shofar in the synogogue. A total of 100 notes are sounded each day. There are four different types of shofar notes: tekiah, a 3 second sustained
note; shevarim, three 1-second notes rising in tone, teruah, a series of short, staccato notes extending over a period of about 3 seconds; and tekiah gedolah (literally, "big tekiah"), the final blast in a set, which lasts (I think) 10 seconds minimum. Yet we see the Shofar linked tightly to Messiah; His return and reign..
The Bible gives no specific reason for this practice. One that has been suggested is that the shofar's sound is a call to repentance.

No work is permitted on Rosh Hashanah. Much of the day is spent in synagogue, where the regular daily liturgy is somewhat expanded. In fact, there is a special prayerbook called the machzor used for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippure because of the extensive liturgical changes for these holidays.
Another popular observance during this holiday is eating apples dipped in honey, a symbol of our wish for a sweet new year.

Also, theres the Tashlikh ("casting off"). You walk to flowing water, such as a creek or river, on the afternoon of the first day and empty your pockets into the river, symbolically casting off your sins. Small pieces of bread are commonly put in the pocket to cast off. This practice is not discussed in the Bible, but is a long-standing custom. Tashlikh is normally observed on the afternoon of the first day, before afternoon services.

Religious services for the holiday focus on the concept of God's sovereignty.
The common greeting at this time is L'shanah tovah ("for a good year"). This is a shortening of "L'shanah tovah tikatev v'taihatem" (or to women, "L'shanah tovah tikatevi v'taihatemi"), which means "May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year."

You may notice that the Bible speaks of Rosh Hashanah as occurring on the first day of the seventh month. The first month of the Jewish calendar is Nissan, occurring in March and April. Why, then, does the Jewish "new year" occur in Tishri, the seventh month?
Judaism has several different "new years," a concept which may seem strange at first, but think of it this way: the American "new year" starts in January, but the new "school year" starts in September, and many businesses have "fiscal years" that start at various times of the year.
In Judaism, Nissan 1 is the new year for the purpose of counting the reign of kings and months on the calendar, Elul 1 (in August) is the new year for the tithing of animals, Shevat 15 (in February) is the new year for trees (determining when first fruits can be eaten, etc.), and Tishri 1 (Rosh Hashanah) is the new year for years (when we increase the year number. Sabbatical and Jubilee years begin at this time).

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Thanks, but No Thanks

One-by-one most all of my youthful follies have found their way to either the dump heap or the memory bank. I can't say I miss them, but I can say I'm the better for their riddance.

Merriam tells us that folly is:

1) lack of good sense or normal prudence and foresight
2) a: criminally or tragically foolish actions or conduct
b: obsolete; evil wickedness - especially lewd behavior

3) a foolish act or idea
4) an excessively costly or unprofitable undertaking

Funny how others have such a hard time understanding
how you came to be who you came to be, as though you were always conservative (or, conversely, liberal); as though your grey hair and wisdom in age are the same as when you were 13 or 27 or 38. I do it myself. I look at an older person and assume they were always as they are in this moment.

Life's journey often wrings from us those things that fetter and fester - those things foolish and frivolous that are completely profitless. I could list a myriad of my own. Yet today I stand most thankful for being free of:

  • Unrealistic expectations
  • Selfish ambition
  • Alcoholism (more on that another day ...)
  • Jealousy
  • Impetuous decision-making
  • Smoking
  • A tendency towards worry & anxiety
  • Resentments
Some of the folly fell away naturally, over time. Others of it fell away with trial & pain. Yet quite a bit of it fell away somewhat mysteriously, as though God's own hand reached into my heart and plucked out some bothersome item. I dare say, some of it lingers still.

No doubt I have some prudish earmarks, though prudish I'm not. I so relish being 60, and I can't think of a thing I've given up (or that's been removed) that I would trade for what I have in its stead. It's truly not about the loss but the gain.

No doubt there are many, many people that have not struggled with folly as have I. Then again, that may be their folly: to think they have no folly. Been there. Done that.

Today I look back at the heap and the bank with tremendous gratitude. If I could have it all back? Thanks, but no thanks!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A Steadying Truth

It is good to remember what can and cannot be controlled. What peace embeds the heart that knows Who has the power.

Recession or Depression?

I was born on the heels of the Great Depression. Thus I don't have a vivid recall of those trying days, but I will say that I benefited in their aftermath. My sisters and I learned the value of faith & family, a sound work ethic, resourcefulness & frugality, and how to make do contentedly with little. Fact is, my parents actually married during the Depression and bore two of their daughters during that period as well. Thus hope & normalcy clung tenaciously to the hearts of those that endured.

Today's headlines have people scratching their heads or wringing their hands. It's all rather disturbing, if not altogether confusing. Here's my simple take on the differences between a recession and a depression.

Recession: Credit recedes, as do the people spending it. Cash, if you have some, replaces credit. Banks get stingy. People think twice about a purchase, and make judgement calls between what is a need versus a want.

Depression: No money to be had. No jobs to be found. Malls are empty, as are the banks. Businesses fold. Traffic slows to a stop. People make judgement calls between a need and a must have.

I don't understand why Bill O'Reilly or Larry King isn't calling me to explain this to people.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Head On

I recently shared this piece with a cyber-buddy, which brought to mind the powerful impact it had on me when I first saw the story on T.V. and penned the piece below. Life is full of powerful lessons, and this one is chocked full!

Captain Lindemann - Facing the Storm
123 years ago an incredible natural disaster occurred. For many days the volcano Krakatoa rumbled and spewed steam throughout the Indonesian islands. Sumatra and Java looked on in perplexed wonder. Fear was mixed with a kind of curious awe. No one was too disturbed, nor did they imagine what was to come, including Captain Lindemann of the voyage vessel Loudon.

The story of Krakatoa and it’s Vesuvius-like eruption in 1883 is an amazing story. I watched a new Discovery Channel program about it only recently, but it was the portion involving Captain Lindemann that captured my utmost attention.

The Loudon was traveling with crew and passengers destined for safe harbor when the eruption occurred and the caldera of Krakatoa imploded. While the vessel made it’s way across the Sundra straits, Krakatoa’s cataclysmic eruption made one of the largest noises on earth in recorded time. The blast sent the mountain into the sea, and generated a tsunami so fierce it eventually destroyed 165 coastal villages and killed more than 36,000 people.

The Loudon’s position was directly in the line of volcanic fire, literally. Hot searing winds and tephra – the solid material forced into the air during such an eruption - roared across the seas at near hurricane force. Had it not been for the heroic actions of Captain Lindemann I would not be sharing his story with you today.

Captain Lindemann was a seasoned Dutch sea captain. He’d seen his share of storms, but nothing to equal what he encountered in August of 1883. When the ship began to be battered by pyroclastic fall-out, and electro-magnetic air & ash threatened to burn their lungs he realized the immense peril of their predicament. Perhaps it was a wizened sea-sense, or perhaps something more intuitive - even spiritual - that caused him to take the swift action he did that day. At once he had the ship turned out to sea, further from the shore line. As the gales worsened, he had the crew turn the ship to face the storm. He then had them drop anchor.

Once the ship was positioned he sent everyone below, remaining alone at the wheel. He actually lashed himself to it to wait out, and ride out nature’s fury. He knew what was coming.

Listen to the testimony of one passenger: "Suddenly we saw a gigantic wave of prodigious height advancing toward the seashore with considerable speed. Immediately, the crew . . .managed to set sail in face of the imminent danger; the ship had just enough time to meet with the wave from the front. The ship met the wave head on and the Loudon was lifted up with a dizzying rapidity and made a formidable leap... The ship rode at a high angle over the crest of the wave and down the other side. The wave continued on its journey toward land, and the benumbed crew watched as the sea in a single sweeping motion consumed the town. There, where an instant before had lain the town of Telok Betong, nothing remained but the open sea."

The Loudon withstood Kratatoa’s blast and the Tsunami it produced because Captain Lindemann knew not to turn his back on it. He also knew to drop anchor lest the ship be battered or moved from it’s safe position. He, the crew and the passengers of the Loudon survived because of one man’s courage.

I am captivated by this story.

If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all. Isaiah 7:9

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Minnie Remembers

I first heard this story on Christian Radio. It was delivered by Dr. James Dobson in a voice & cadence that was reviting. But it's Minnie's own reflections that are the true gripper.

If we have a widow or widower in our lives, let's never forget to call them by name and hug them!

Minnie Remembers
By Donna Swanson

God, my hands are old.
I've never said that out loud beforebut they are.
I was so proud of them once.
They were softlike the velvet smoothness of a firm, ripepeach.
Now the softness is more like worn-out sheetsor withered leaves.
When did these slender, graceful handsbecome gnarled, shrunken claws?
When, God?
They lie here in my lap; naked reminders of this worn out body
that has served me too well.
How long has it been since someone touched me?
Twenty years?
Twenty years I've been a widow.
Smiled at.
But never touched.
Never held so close that lonliness was blotted out.
I remember how my mother used to hold me, God.
When I was hurt in spirit or flesh,she would gather me close,
stroke my silky hair, and caress my back with her warmhands.
O God, I'm so lonely!
I remember the first boy who ever kissed me.
We were both so new at that!The taste of young lips and popcorn,
the feelinginside me of mysteries to come.
I remember Hank and the babies.
How else can I remember them but together?
For out of the fumbling, awkward attempts of new lovers came the babies.
And, as they grew, so did our love.
And, God, Hank didn't seem to mind if my body thickened and faded a little.
He still loved it and touched it.
And we didn't mind if we were no longer beautiful.
And it felt so good.
And the children hugged me a lot.
O God, I'm lonely!
God, why didn't we raise the kids to be silly and
affectionate as well as dignified and proper.
You see, they do their duty.
They drive up in their fine cars.they come to my room to pay their respects.
They chatter brightly, and reminisce.
But they don't touch me.
They call me Mom, or Mother or Grandma.
Never Minnie.
My mother called me Minnie.
So did my friends.
Hank called me Minnie, too.
But they're gone now.
And so is Minnie.
Only Grandma is here.
And God!
She's lonely!

Monday, September 22, 2008

A Shrinking World

It's beautiful, isn't it - our earth? No matter where it's viewed from space it is utterly spellbinding; a jewel of the universe.

From the oldest writings of scripture we hear tell of its creation and purpose. Even Job, perhaps the oldest of biblical writers knew of its significance when he proclaims: I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. Job 19:25-26

As a youngster, and even as a young woman the world's size and scope was somewhat unfathomable to me - not to mention the starry realms of solar systems and planets. The thought of traveling to Georgia, much less Italy or Israel was beyond my wildest dreams. I'm not THAT old, but it seems to me the spherical domain of man has become so very, very small.

By the word of the LORD were the heavens made,
their starry host by the breath of his mouth.
He gathers the waters of the sea into jars;
he puts the deep into storehouses.
Let all the earth fear the LORD;
let all the people of the world revere him.
For he spoke, and it came to be;
he commanded, and it stood firm.
The LORD foils the plans of the nations;
he thwarts the purposes of the peoples.
But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever,
the purposes of his heart through all generations.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD,
the people he chose for his inheritance.
From heaven the LORD looks down
and sees all mankind;
from his dwelling place he watches
all who live on earth -
Psalm 33:6-14
That's a pretty comforting thought ... He watches. The smaller the world gets, I dare say He sees it all the better.
I just wonder how small is small enough to have a one-world government, a one-world economy and a one-world religious system. It seemed unfathomable just a few years ago. Not anymore.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Let Them Eat Cake

Grrrrrreat idea!
Now we're talking!

I'm so very proud of my pioneer-family heritage. While I relish the tales of old, they would hardly be complete without a sampling of the companion tastes of yesteryear. So many yummy things have found their way to our familys' list of favorites - and none more than Aunt Helen's Oatmeal Cake.
Likely it was her favorite too; passed on by her own mother (my grandma Annie, shown here) or maybe even her grandmother (my great-grandmother Mary). No matter, and thanks to my sister Barb, the recipe has found its way to my Recipe Box. Today it's being launched into cyber-space!
So, whether you're celebrating Fall or just wanting some great old-fashioned comfort food, this is the best! It goes well as a follow-on to homemade chili (today's menu at Sassy's house!!).

Oatmeal Cake

Preheat Oven to 350
Prepare 9 x 12 Cake Pan (lightly grease & flour)

1 1/2 Cups Boiling Water over 1 Cup Quick Oats; let cool

1/2 Cup Canola Oil
1 Cup Brown Sugar
1 Cup Granulated Sugar
2 Eggs
1 Tsp Vanilla

Mix together until all ingredients are moistened, then ...

1 1/2 Cups Flour
1 Tsp Cinnamon
1 Tsp Soda
1/2 Tsp Salt

Bake 30 - 35 Minutes

While the cake is baking ..

Melt & Cook Slightly:
1 Stick (1/2 Cup) Butter
1 Cup Brown Sugar
1/2 Cup Evaporated Milk or Cream
1 Cup Chopped Pecans
1 1/2 Cups Coconut

When the cake is done baking, and while still warm, top it with the melted pecan/coconut mixture.

Place under the broiler until bubbly.

Let cool. Eat and Enjoy!

P.S. The phrase, "Let Them Eat Cake", dates back to the 1700s. Jean-Jacques Rousseau's 12-volume autobiographical work Confessions, was written in 1770. In Book 6, which was written around 1767, he recalls: At length I recollected the thoughtless saying of a great princess (most likely Marie-Theresa) who, on being informed that the country people had no bread, replied, "Then let them eat pastry!"

Saturday, September 20, 2008

So Much for That

On the horizon of November has loomed the most wonderful adventure: Israel. Since Spring we have been readying for a journey like no other. It's been so much fun pouring through travel materials, biblical history (I LOVE Arnold Fruchtenbaun of Moriel Ministries!), and international weather sites. I've absorbed history lessons and travel tips, and I am well-equipped to site chapter & verse related to each and every biblical site to be visited.

I've collected one amazing leather backpack, a small set of binoculars, a neck-rest for the flight, an electric travel clock, two mini-flashlights, a passport holder, a pair of slip-on Easy Spirit shoes, and several meaty books & DVDs on the Holy Land.

As of Tuesday, we're not going.

Seems the airlines have increased insurance costs by nearly $500 per person, and that on top of another unexpected increase of nearly $100 for ground fees. That means another $600 for me, for Terry and for Brad on top of an already hefty tour cost. That's an $1800 deal breaker if ever there was one!

Guess I'll gear up in my backpack and head out for a long walk in the hills behind the house. The binoculars will come in handy. And, should I get lost, the flashlights will be so very helpful. I'll pretend I'm wandering in the wilderness, though I hope to return in roughly 40 minutes versus 40 years. Who knows?


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Havin' Some Fun

OK ... click here, enter the day & date of your birth, and find out what your "birth-song" is.


Mine happens to be "I'm Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover", which is quite prophetic given my Irish DNA.

Who has the time to think all this stuff up? Oh well ... a little nostalgia and a whole lotta laughter is a good thing.

Never Forsaken

No matter how silent. No matter how dark. No matter how foreign ... He never leaves us. He never forsakes us. He is near. We are never alone.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Living the Meantimes

Likely you've heard Mark Harris' song, "The Line Between the Two". It's premise is that our lives are lived between the dashes on our tombstones. It's not a novel concept or even particularly sage. But it sure does bring clarity to some things.

How often do we read in Scripture phrases such as ...

... in the meantime
... it came to pass
... in the course of time
... at the end of days
... in the fullness of time
... when many days had passed

They are the strategically placed lines between this & that for both noble and ignoble fellows, but they stand there as a reminder to me that not everything happens today, or next week. Sometimes things happen way, way, way upstream. Sometimes the line between the two stretches wide, the reality of the meantime that interjects itself between my promise/dream and its actual fulfullment. It seems there are little lines (dots & dashes) between THE line.

It's a good thing there's a presciption for living on that line. There's also a considerable crowd of meantimers from whom to draw perspective ... Abraham, Joseph, Samuel, David, Rahab, Ruth, Paul - Jesus - to name a few.

Mark Harris says it well:

A beginning and an ending, dates upon a stone
But the moment in the middle is how we will be known
Cause what defines us can be found within a line
Finding reason for our time


And the years go by, how they seem to fly
They’ll all be over soon
When our life is done, did we live and love
The way we wanted to
Cause everyday that we leave behind
Goes on to tell the truth
Of how we lived in the line between the two
The line between the two

Will I walk straight, will I be true
Will I finish strong
Will I stand up for the moment
When I could right a wrong
Because the legacy we leave will never change
It’s how we spend our days

I could live a life for just myself
Or I could live a life for someone else
But I’ll live and die just to hear You say
Well done my son come and be with Me

That's how we live in the meantimes.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Prosperity His Way

You've heard is said: "All that glitters is not gold." Me too. So I sometimes find myself scratching my head, or even speaking to the television when I hear some representative of the Lord summoning riches into their lives, and giving all of us a formula for same. It smacks of rubbing Buddha's belly or Genie's jar.
Have you gathered that I've dragged out the soapbox? Yep.
I read this article and thought some really good points were made that distinguish authentic prosperty from that other, fool's gold. Enough said.
Excerpt: The Real Deal: Biblical Prosperity Theology
by Heidi Swander

"Here in America, prosperity theology sells!" So says Pastor David Barnhart in his new book, Living in the Times of the Signs. It's true! There are so many church movements today that are busy telling Christians how independently wealthy God wants them to be that they have kept the church of God in the dark about essential teachings that they desperately need in these end days in which we live. In fact, prosperity theology is steeped in New Age philosophies that are abhorrent to our Holy God.
Barnhart also rightly deduces that, "The focus of prosperity theology is SELF. What is in it for ME? It's central message is, 'How to get God to give you everything you want.'" Is that what living life for the King of kings who died in my place is all about?
Honestly. Think about that question for a moment. Time's up!
Paul told Timothy that, "Those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows" (I Tim. 6:9,10).
But I'm here to bring you good news today! God has a prosperity theology! I'm not making this up! There are two specific things we can do and if we do them, God promises to prosper us. Are you ready?
Number one: Meditate on God's Word Joshua 1:8. God commanded Joshua, as he was leading the children of Israel into the Promised Land, to meditate on the Word of God day and night and promised him that if he did so, God would make his way prosperous and successful! Who knew? Psalm 1:1-3, Check it out: If our delight is in God's Word and we meditate on it day and night, then God says whatever we do will prosper! This flies in the face of the contemplative prayer movement that is leading the charge in the Emergent Church.
According to Webster (wow ... yet another Merriam fan!), the word "meditate" means, "To reflect upon; ponder . . . to engage in contemplation." Okay, I know, I know. The word "contemplation" is sending shivers up your spine since I told you about contemplative prayer as the Emerging Church defines it. Don't let them mess with your head.
Here's what "contemplation" means according to Webster: "To ponder or consider thoughtfully."
Please note that in both cases, meditation and contemplation require you to think -- specifically about God's Word in the context of our discussion. This is the polar opposite of contemplative prayer as the Emerging Church defines it and others into "Christian mysticism." They would tell you to stop thinking about anything!
Number two: Pray for the peace of Jerusalem Psalm 122:6. God commands us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and then promises that those who love Jerusalem (a signpost for Israel and her people) will prosper! Another aha! moment. Do you pray for Israel? She's in sore need of our prayers today. She's surrounded on all sides by those who would like to see her people obliterated. Do you understand that Israel is still the apple of God's eye and that He won't abide those who do her harm? Keep up with news on Israel so you know more specifically how to pray for her. We have a brochure that may help you: 20 Ways to Bless Israel.
Exciting news, isn't it? There are some things you can do and, if you do them, God promises to prosper you! Wow! One thing, though: Nowhere does God say His sending you prosperity will necessarily be financial. Read through those passages again. See what I mean?
What are some other ways He may choose to prosper you? There are endless possibilities!
  • He may bless you with good health.
  • He may bless your ministry with those who come to know Christ, and you'll get to spend eternity with them!
  • He may bless you with children.
  • He may bless you with joy, peace, and contentment.
  • He may bless you with money but never so that you can simply be independently wealthy and live in lavish luxury.
While we are here on this earth we have a job to do -- winning souls to Jesus Christ for eternity -- and God is all about getting that job done!
“The abundant life is comparing God's character, faithfulness and ability with my particular circumstances and believing that God's character trumps my circumstance.” (Catalyst)

Monday, September 15, 2008


There's an old metaphor about one's going against prevailing opinion or thought. It connotes a solitary struggle; a difficult passage. To swim against the current can even be dangerous.

Many years ago, my family enjoyed visits to & picnics at the Green River Gorge (yes, THAT Green River of serial murder infamy). As a teen, often my friends would accompany me as the gorge picnics afforded great eats (my mom's potato salad is unequaled), and many swimming opportunities.

Merriam tells us in definition #4 that a gorge is: a narrow passage through land; especially - a narrow steep-walled canyon or part of a canyon. The Green River Gorge was, then, aptly named. Sheer rock walls fenced the icy river below, and required a mountain goat-like descent to the canyon's floor below.

When at last our descending reached nearly to the bottom we'd make our way to a perch some 30 feet above it. There we'd peer over a rock out-cropping to our destination down below. Yes ... to access our favorite swimming hole a jump was required. Let me tell you, the icy mountain water of the Cascades foothills bit harshly! But that didn't stop us. It actually heightened the adventure.

In we'd go. Screaming. Laughing. Taunting.

Just beyond the calm pool - our simming hole - was a series of rapids that could be dangerous if one didn't navigate properly. They were, however, the only way out of the river.

So we'd dive and swim, tumble through the rapids, clamor our way out of the river, and start it all over again. Dive, swim, tumble, clamor. Dive, swim, tumble, clamor. It required both physical and psychological strength because you first had to go WITH the current, and then AGAINST it if you hoped to exit the river.

How like life was that experience.

When I ran across the following quote I was immediately struck by yet another - similar - metaphor:

"Swimming against the current is difficult and painful. Once upon a time, a man swam against the currents of his time. He ended up hanging in glory on a cross. He gives us hope. Swim!" Josel E. Gonzales, Nomadic Thoughts

I no longer have any desire to jump off 30 foot cliffs (or 2 foot cliffs, for that matter) into icy cold water. But often I have an overwhelming urge to go against prevailing currents in my quests. Sometimes it requires I go WITH them awhile until I can reach that place where it's good or safe to go AGAINST them.

No wonder. It's hard wired.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


Cloaked in the wraps of God's tender care,
Often I'm touched by the quietness there.
Sealed with affection for life's fleeting days,
Humbled and challenged by His loving ways.
Covered in power and His feathered wings,
This is the place where heart & soul sings.
Nestled & pressed against His firm breast,
Often I come, if only to rest.
Lifted above and beyond what I know,
Here I find even the darkness aglow.
Pressed in my hand is His graven seal,
And only near Him does it even seem real.
Quiet & still & hushed by His heart,
This is the place where miracles start.
Seeping amidst the mortal mundane,
Heaven sends moisture, God's healing rain.
Cloaked in the wraps of His tender care,
Nothing can harm me, nothing can scare.
Silenced & warmed by His tender touch,
Here is the life of the rich and the much.


I've begun to put away some of my summer wear. I've also decorated here-and-there with fall foilages. Pumpkins have shown up, as have a few scarecrows. Nights are a bit nippier, and morning light is tardy.

Time to put away the cream colored scribbles from my last e-home and drag out a colorful, fresh array for this new season. I love new seasons.

I can hardly wait for Christmas!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Eau de Lysol

Spic 'n Span. Tide. Cleanser. Windex. Clorox.

These are the Saturday scents that harken back to my earliest memories. Even now I associate them with my mother. They meant WORK long ago. They mean something quite different today. She was a whirling dervish when it came to clean, my mother. She spit-shined floors with the same devotion that she primped my hair. "Order" was the order of her day.

Well, I guess you might know that I've inherited her ways, or some of them at least. I'm not so inclined to the spit-shining level, but I sure do like order. I whirl a bit, but I don't derv. Saturdays earmark discipline. It is the day that everything returns to its rightful place.

Funny how that concept makes me appreciate God's Sabbath. I'm not a law-keeper, so Sabbath-observing isn't a regimented routine for me. Even so, I often feel so very close to the Lord when at last the domestic instruments are put away for another day, another Saturday. There's just something altogether lovely about order. It is good.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Dreaded Thought

It occurs to me that the Presidential campaigning process is soon to end. Phew! It's been a long, tiring seige that has taken most T.V. channels, magazines and internet sites hostage. I, for one, will be relieved when at last the die is cast.

Then again the thought that it's going to start all over again for the 2012 election process pains my brain. Oh ... no doubt we'll have a few years to rest before then, but probably not. These elections of 2008 have been nearly two years in the making. I can see how the next ones could be much, much longer.

Did I say New Guinea is looking like a pretty decent retirement destination for us?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Tincture of Joy

For those days when the lights appear to have dimmed; days when sorrow encounters joy.

May we never forget that most sorrowful of days, September 11, 2001.

There is a place where hope remains!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Wailing and Waiting

This is Jerusalem. It doesn't look like much from this one view but - my-oh-my - it's a picture worth far more than a thousand words. It is worth One Word!

In this scene we are viewing the Western Wall; the Wailing Wall. Those are the names given it by well meaning Christians and/or secularists. The Jews know it simply as "The Wall". For them, no further explanation is needed.

A little background ...

The Wailing Wall is the remains of the great Jewish temple, which had stood for close to 500 years. Herod began rebuilding and adding on to the temple in approximately 19 B.C.E., and the total work was not finished until fifty years later. The temple itself was destroyed by the Romans only a few years after its completion, circa 70 C.E.

It is thought by Jews to be the most sacred of places, because the temple itself was thought to be the place where God resides on earth. Praying at the Wailing Wall signifies being in the presence of the Divine. Jews from all countries, and as well as tourists of other religious backgrounds, come to pray at the wall, where it is said one immediately has the “ear of god.”

Though the Wailing Wall has been considered the holiest of places on earth for Jews, it has also been the source of grief and war. During the crusades, Jerusalem was held for a short time by European crusaders. It belonged to Spain, then to Turkey. During Spanish occupation, Judaism was a punishable offense, because Catholics mistakenly attributed the death of Christ to the Jews. When Jews were not being exiled from Jerusalem, or put to death, they were certainly not given access to the wall.

In the 16th century, Jews regained access to the Wailing Wall to pray and assemble there. This permission was granted by the Arab Sultan, Selim, who is also credited with finding the first archaeological evidence that the wall existed, buried under refuse.

Relative harmony in worshipping at the wall persisted until the 19th century. Then, Jewish leaders wanted control of the Wailing Wall and attempts were made by both Muslims and Jews to purchase it. Eventually, Arab leaders kept control, and forbid Jews to gather there. This was a source of much pain to the Jews, to be denied access to their central religious site.

Jews were again not allowed to visit the wall from 1948-1967 when it was in the Jordanian section of the city. After the Six Day War, the Western Wall became a place for national rejoycing and prayer, as the last accessible relic of the last Temple.

It's incredibly moving to see how much of this ancient site still exists. Moreover, it's beyond belief that its importance raches right up to touch us today.

One day we will approach this wall without tears or wailing when, at long last, we "go up to Jerusalem to worship the King."

All talk of dividing this city will cease, once and for all!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

If It's Tuesday It Must Be Ross Day

I've heard that confession is good for the soul. I've actually experienced that goodness over the years, so it is with no reticence that I confess I'm getting old. Somehow that isn't completely comforting to my soul, but it does have a modest benefit in terms of honesty and authenticity.

I doubt my confession is terribly startling to those of you that know I'm now 60 even though I'm not at all sure age has anything to do with being young or old. We all know people that are old at 30; others that are young at 80.

So how do I know I'm old? What, exactly, derives this confession from me? It's not because of ...

  • the color of my hair (largely grey beneath the wonders of modern salon coloring)
  • the wrinkles etched as crevices on my face and hands
  • the ache in my lower back
  • the inability to eat more than 28 calories a day without gaining weight
  • squinting to see
  • straining to hear
  • the nightly journeys to the potty
  • being too warm all the time
  • frequent annoyance with old people
  • frequent annoyance with young people
  • frequent annoyance with middle-aged people
  • sticky note reminders everywhere
  • coupon clipping
  • saving used tinfoil

No, I dare say none of those things are convincing enough to affirm my oldness. So what it is then?

It's Tuesday, and I have to go to Ross. Now that's old!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Making Way

Make Way for Fall

Sages bloom and trees grow lush,
Summer has been gently hushed.

The density of August heat,
Has now begun it's sure retreat.

Homes adorned in falls' array,
Glad that seasons pass away.

Laughter rides on gentle winds.
Children are outside again.

Welcome orange, gold and red,
All is well, it can be said.

Just as summer bids adieu,
Fall hails hope; it's fresh and new.
Open windows, open doors.
The grace of life on us He pours.


Sometimes I watch in utter amazement the happenings of the day; some things mundane, some things mighty, some things mysterious. I listen to this one and that attempting to make sense of it all, and few more vociferously than those who assault the faith of our fathers. Seems this noble land of religious freedom and tolerance is dotted (flooded?) with folks that would have us believe that those freedoms and tolerance extend only to people that don't harbor any sort of biblical agenda. Mmmm

Well, I could easily do another soapbox mantra, but I think I'll let our friend Job have a say. In spite of his confusion, he often hits the nail squarely. His Q & A sessions are filled with insight.

Take it away Job ...

The Question:

Job 28: 12 " ... where can wisdom be found? Where does understanding dwell?

13 Man does not comprehend its worth; it cannot be found in the land of the living.

14 The deep says, 'It is not in me'; the sea says, 'It is not with me.' 15 It cannot be bought with the finest gold, nor can its price be weighed in silver. 16 It cannot be bought with the gold of Ophir, with precious onyx or sapphires. 17 Neither gold nor crystal can compare with it, nor can it be had for jewels of gold.

18 Coral and jasper are not worthy of mention; the price of wisdom is beyond rubies. 19 The topaz of Cush cannot compare with it; it cannot be bought with pure gold.

20 "Where then does wisdom come from? Where does understanding dwell? 21 It is hidden from the eyes of every living thing, concealed even from the birds of the air. 22 Destruction and Death say, 'Only a rumor of it has reached our ears.'

23 God understands the way to it and he alone knows where it dwells,
24 for he views the ends of the earth and sees everything under the heavens. 25 When he established the force of the wind and measured out the waters, 26 when he made a decree for the rain and a path for the thunderstorm, 27 then he looked at wisdom and appraised it; he confirmed it and tested it.
The Answer:

28 And he said to man, 'The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding.' "

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Big "If"s

Whenever I run across one of these "if"s in the Bible, I stop for awhile. They are scattered throughout the Old Testament and New, and they give me pause when I consider that even God has conditions for certain things.

Oh how we long for peace and blessing. If we abide in Him we just might apprehend that for which we long. But I'm thinking about the frequent times I've had a tantrum instead.

Give me the "if" of blessing over the "but if" of trouble any day!

Deuteronomy 11:13 So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today—to love the LORD your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul- 14 then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and oil. 15 I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied.

2 Chronicles 7:13 "When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

Leviticus 26: 3 " 'If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, 4 I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees of the field their fruit... 14 " 'But if you will not listen to me and carry out all these commands, 15 and if you reject my decrees and abhor my laws and fail to carry out all my commands and so violate my covenant, 16 then I will do this to you: I will bring upon you sudden terror, wasting diseases and fever that will destroy your sight and drain away your life".

1 Samuel 12:14 If you fear the LORD and serve and obey him and do not rebel against his commands, and if both you and the king who reigns over you follow the LORD your God-good! 15 But if you do not obey the LORD, and if you rebel against his commands, his hand will be against you, as it was against your fathers.

1 Kings 3:14 And if you walk in my ways and obey my statutes and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life."

Jeremiah 22:3 This is what the LORD says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of his oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the alien, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place. 4 For if you are careful to carry out these commands, then kings who sit on David's throne will come through the gates of this palace, riding in chariots and on horses, accompanied by their officials and their people. 5 But if you do not obey these commands, declares the LORD, I swear by myself that this palace will become a ruin.' "
Matthew 19: 16Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, "Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?" 17"Why do you ask me about what is good?" Jesus replied. "There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments."

Luke 17:6 "If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it will obey you.

John 14:23Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24He who does not love me will not obey my teaching.

John 8:31 Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

Friday, September 5, 2008

Stuff Enough

I have a lot of stuff! It's not blog-conducive to begin inventorying here all that comprises the stuff that I refer to. Suffice it to say that it spans a large range of stuffery.
  • Big stuff
  • Small stuff
  • Fuzzy stuff
  • Round stuff
  • Tall stuff
  • Purple stuff
  • Edible stuff
(Dr. Seuss and Merriam could be related).

Perhaps my two largest stuffagories are shoes and books. Each seems to have a life of its own in closets and bookcases. Funny ... it occurs to me that one fuels the head, the other fancies the feet. I've got both ends covered!

I have few misconceptions about my stuff. I learned long ago it isn't really mine anyway, so I hang onto it loosely. Afterall, stuff goes as easily as it comes, and sometimes more so. I've lost a lot of stuff in my life.

But here's the deal:

1 Corinthians 6:19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20you were bought at a price.

You mean to say that I AM NOT MY OWN? Yes siree! That's what it's saying.

My own self ranks among all the other stuff in my life. It may sound trite, or obvious, or even foolish. Then again, it makes both me and all that other stuff incredibly valuable. What I am, have and do takes on new meaning.

No wonder stewardship is such a profitable, recurring theme in the ancient texts.

Thank God I'm not just stuff to Him.

Ephesians 2:10 For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Up the Down Staircase

Years ago I relished a wonderful work by Bel Kaufman, "Up the Down Staircase". The exact details have long ago escaped me, but editorials memorialize it. In part they tell us the book is: "... the funny and touching story of a committed, idealistic teacher whose dash with school bureaucracy is a timeless lesson for students, teachers, parents ..., and ... evoking a vivid picture of teachers fighting the good fight against all that stands in the way of good teaching".

Words like idealist, dash, timeless, evoking, good fight ... hardly do justice to the book itself, but it'll give you some reference point for our unique, and often quite individualistic journeys up the down staircases of life.

Seems odd, doesn't it, that a two-way venue like a staircase could be marked distinctly as "down only"? I've stood at the bottom of many of them, scratching my head as I ponder how best to navigate upward when prohibited from any "up" activity. Between where I am and where I want or need to be lies a seemingly closed route. Unless, of course, you opt to travel up that down staircase.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Protesting Sassy Style

Today I dragged the Soapbox out again. Or, rather, Terry dragged it out for me.

I sent a decidedly "pointed" letter to US Weekly Magazine. They have joined a growing number of liberal media with their most recent edition - a piece they'll release Friday with scurrilous headlines for Sarah Palin holding her infant son (intimating she's a liar), and a laudatory piece for Barak and his bride (they're in love). Smarmy (according to Merriam: of low sleazy taste or quality) ? You betcha!

My annoyance (a modest understatement) was first instigated by Terry. Mr. Calm & Reasonable sought me out this morning as I prepared for work. In no uncertain terms he said: "US Weekly Magazine is not welcome in this house, even if someone else packs one in. They've crossed the line!"

His fervor wasn't actually hurled at me; he just wanted me to know how truly offended he was at their audacity. I soon joined him.

Check it out:

Anyway, in said "pointed" letter I made US Weekly a promise: I will never, ever again purchase their magazine, and I will do my level best to influence others to do likewise.

That promise begins here.

The Soapbox stands at the ready, provided Terry doesn't get to it first.


P.S. After tonight, we like this picture much, much better anyway.

You go girl!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Laboring on Labor Day

It all began with the closet under the stairs. You know how it is: one project leads to another, that leads to another, that leads to another ....

And so it was today.

We are just now marking our 3rd anniversary in this particular home. It seemed as good a time as any to clean and organize the under-stairs closet, overhaul the laundry room, and paint the kitchen.

Can anyone say BOLD! I got pretty gutsy in choosing a color that is quintessential Arizona. It's a cross between mustard and caramel, and I'm already loving it. However, I don't exactly like the looks of it on my permanently stained fingernails.

I must also give Terry his props. He's been on board all day (although I had to agree to breakfast at Cracker Barrel as part of the negotiating process), beginning with the tedium of priming over the old kitchen paint. It was then up and down the ladder for the better part of the day. I like to think of myself as being well-prepared and highly efficient, but there's just no way to make a painting project anything other than messy.

Nothing like a little labor on Labor Day ....

Or a lot of labor followed by a chair snooze!