Thursday, December 31, 2009

Runaways

Stampede = a wild headlong rush or flight of
frightened animals,
or a mass movement of people at
a common impulse


The subject of a stampede conjures up memories of yesterday's cowboy pics, when Roy Rogers or the Cisco Kid was either instigating, or attempting to extricate themselves from one. And there's always Ben Cartwright & sons - Adam, Hoss & Little Joe - on the Ponderosa, where stampedes became common fare for those that head 'em up and move 'em out - and for those of us that loved Bonanza.

When I asked my sister what came to mind with the word "stampede" she said, without hesitation, "A Rogue Elephant". Now that's an image!

I understand stampedes now occur at Target Stores, no longer confined to the open plains.

Ah yes, the drama of the stampede.

Just the other day I heard a term that brought the subject of stampedes into clearer focus. The term? Runaway Thoughts.


Have you ever had them? I have. They're commonly associated with fear, worry or angst, and they threaten all that is peaceful within us. Try as we might, they populate our dreams or prevent sleep altogether. They distract our attention and affections, interrupting good meals, good movies, good conversations. The mind is wound tight. It springs to flight with thoughts heading off at a furious pace in this direction or that.

Come to think of it, there's not much about stampeding thoughts that's good, much less healthy.
At best they're an annoyance. At worst they're a plague. They scare the bearer and onlooker alike!

So what's up with that anyway? How do our thoughts break free of their peaceful pastures to run rampant?

No doubt there are myriad reasons, but my guess is that there are common instigators in our midst. They may include habit, or a need to control, or a lack of self-value, or an over-active imagination, or a reaction to threats real or imagined, or a wobbly faith, or ....

I suppose it doesn't really matter how or why they occur so much as it matters how to deal with them before or after they show up. Perhaps a trip back to the Ponderosa will help. Let's consider what the cowboys (and cowgirls) do with their herds (in this case, herds being thoughts).

  • Prevention. Ensure the herd is crazing in safe pasture - protected from wildfires, predatory foes, and the blight of winter or the scorch of summer.
  • Round-ups. Periodic scrutiny of what's happening.
  • Stock-taking. A thorough inventory and a realistic assessment of the herd's condition.
  • Culling. Removing the sick ones (in this case, thoughts) so they don't infect the others.
  • Veterinary care. Applying medicine & nurture to the hurting ones.
  • Range Riding. Making certain the herd doesn't go beyond the fence-line.
  • Grange activity. Aligning with others that share herding initiatives. Including the
    occasional grange dance and pie bake!
We demolish arguments and every
pretension that sets itself up against
the knowledge of God,
and we take captive every thought
to make it obedient to Christ.
2 Corinthians 10:5

Do not be anxious about anything ...
but in everything, by prayer
and petition, with thanksgiving,
present your requests to God.
And the peace of God, which transcends
all understanding, will guard your hearts
and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers,
whatever is true,
whatever is noble,
whatever is right,
whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely,
whatever is admirable—
if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—
think about such things.
Philippians 4:7-8

...in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies
as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—
this is your spiritual act of worship.
Do not conform any longer to
the pattern of this world,
but
be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Then you will be able to test and approve
what God's will is—
his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:1-2

Now the Lord is the Spirit,
and where the Spirit of the Lord is,
there is freedom.
And we, who with unveiled faces
all reflect the Lord's glory,
are being transformed into his likeness
with ever-increasing glory,
which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

2 Corinthians 3:17-18


May our thoughts be as our hearts
- steadfast and at peace -
in the coming year, and all those that follow it.

A blessed 2010 to all!


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Hand of God

Some posts far exceed any I could have brought today. Some stories need no embellishing to make them better or more compelling than they are at face value.

This is one such story - the best that Christmas has to offer, and a reminder that Immanuel - God with us - has made His-story (history), and ours, so very personal.

'Hand of God' Seen

Tuesday , December 29, 2009

AP

Mike Hermanstorfer was clutching his pregnant wife's hand when her life slipped away in a Colorado hospital on Christmas Eve, and then he cradled his newborn son's limp body seconds after a medical team delivered the baby by Cesarean section.


Minutes later he saw his son come to life in his arms under the feverish attention of doctors, and soon he learned his wife had inexplicably come back to life.

"My legs went out from underneath me," Hermanstorfer said Tuesday. "I had everything in the world taken from me, and in an hour and a half I had everything given to me."

Hermanstorfer's wife, Tracy, went into cardiac arrest and stopped breathing during labor on Thursday, said Dr. Stephanie Martin, a maternal fetal medicine specialist at Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs, where the Hermanstorfers had gone for the birth of their son.

"She had no signs of life. No heartbeat, no blood pressure, she wasn't breathing," said Martin, who had rushed to Hermanstorfer's room to help. "The baby was, it was basically limp, with a very slow heart rate."

After their miraculous recovery, both mother and the baby, named Coltyn, appear healthy with no signs of problems, Martin said.

She said she cannot explain the mother's cardiac arrest or the recovery.

"We did a thorough evaluation and can't find anything that explains why this happened," she said.

Mike Hermanstorfer credits "the hand of God."

"We are both believers ... but this right here, even a nonbeliever — you explain to me how this happened. There is no other explanation," he said.

Asked about divine intervention, Martin said, "Wherever I can get the help, I'll take it."

Tracy Hermanstorfer, 33, was getting prepped for childbirth at the hospital Thursday morning and her 37-year-old husband was by her side when she began to feel sleepy and laid back in her bed.

"She literally stopped breathing and her heart stopped," her husband said. Pandemonium erupted as doctors and nurses tried to revive her with chest compressions and a breathing tube, but nothing worked.

"I was holding her hand when we realized she was gone," Hermanstorfer said. "My entire life just rolled out."

Doctors told him, "We're going to take your son out now. We have been unable to revive her and we're going to take your son out," he recalled.

After the Cesarean section, some of the team rushed his wife to the operating room while the others attended to Coltyn.

"They hand him to me, he's absolutely lifeless," Hermanstorfer said. The doctors went to work on Coltyn as Hermanstorfer held him, and soon he began to breath.

"His life began in my hands," Hermanstorfer said. "That's a feeling like none other. Life actually began in the palm of my hands."

Martin said Tracy Hermanstorfer's pulse returned even before she was wheeled out of the room and into surgery. She estimates Hermanstorfer had no heartbeat for about four minutes.

Hermanstorfer remembers getting sleepy and closing her eyes in her hospital bed, then awakening in the intensive care unit.

Friends have asked if she saw a light or had other experiences described by others who have survived near-death experiences, but she didn't.

"I just felt like I was asleep," she said.

When doctors told her what happened, "I'm like, 'Holy cow, was it that bad? Wow."'

Source: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,581444,00.html?test=latestnews

Sunday, December 27, 2009

This Road Leads Home


You will not mind the roughness nor the
steepness of the way.
Nor the chill, unrested morning,
nor searness of the day;
And you will not take a turning to the left or to the right.
But go straight ahead,
nor tremble at the coming of the night.
For the road leads home.
(Mrs. Charles Cowman)

It is a sorrowful thing that some among us have no good memory of home - be it the home of their youth, or the home of today.

Intended as a place of refuge and nurture, it has often been anything but. Souls meant to thrive before the hearth's fire become scorched instead. Home, then, is not a place to be desired. It becomes an elusive, far off thing - the subject of fairy tales and fancy. Perhaps it becomes a thing loathed.

Today it is another home I imagine - one in which I've yet to dwell, or you either. We have visions and dreams of it; yet it's far-off nature and other-worldliness necessitates our ignorance. Even so, we long for it; that place of true refuge and nurture. It is not fancy. It is fact - and a promised one at that!

Up rocky slopes and through verdant valleys ... along pleasant pathways and through fearful forests ... beside still waters and across raging rivers ... near splendid seas and across endless oceans ... we make our way.

Compelled and steadied, we are ever upon the route - the pathway - to that place. We think we go willingly and eagerly, though we know that sometimes we go reluctantly, or with trepidation. We tell ourselves we'll sit to rest; just a little while. But our hearts know we have no such intention. Our real desire is to set up camp and take not one further step.

Rarely do we get to choose which way the course will go, and frequently we are tempted to take a detour in this direction or that - and further tempted to run around or quickly through certain stretches. Sometimes we long to make the journey itself our home. Yet we know it is not.

At the end of the day we shall arrive there. Home. It is where we long to be yet rarely want to go. Methinks that's because the road - the route - is not to our liking. Yet it is the way, for the road leads Home.

.
.
I guide you in the way of wisdom and
lead you along straight paths.
When you walk, your steps will not be hampered;
when you run, you will not stumble.
The path of the righteous is like
the first gleam of dawn,
shining ever brighter till the full light of day.
Let your eyes look straight ahead,
fix your gaze directly before you.
Make level paths for your feet
and take only ways that are firm.
Do not swerve to the right or the left;
keep your foot from evil.
Proverbs 4:11-12, 18, 25-27
.
.
Thomas said to Him,
"Lord, we don't know where you are going,
so how can we know the way?"
Jesus answered,
"I am the way
and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father
except through me.
John 14:5-7
.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Light's Out

.
Signing off for Christmas week;
a week both warm & fun.
I'll be making memories,
and honoring the Son.
.

MERRY CHRISTMAS

.
And Remember ...
Wise Men Still Seek Him!

.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

In Passing & Pausing


As I gather up and feast upon the precious new memories of this Christmas season, it's not without a reflection (or ten) of those of my childhood. Among my favorite memories are ...

Searching for Rudolph.

I fell for it every year; or at least every year until I was old enough to know better.

On Christmas Eve, just after dark, the olders would lead me out the back door to walk the same stretch of sidewalk behind our home we'd walked many a year prior; ostensibly to search the night sky for Rudolf and the host he headed.

Naive and unwizened as was I, they'd (these colluding olders) steer me this way and that. Our sojourn was dotted with their convincing exclamations (dare I say
taunts): Oh where could that Rudolf be? or You don't suppose Santa got lost, do you?

After a pre-planned span, someone would point to the night sky, and to the dot of red there. More exclamations:
It's Rudolf! I see Santa's sleigh! (How was I to know it was a radio tower; the same radio tower light they pointed out EVERY year?).

We'd scurry home, hoping to catch a glimpse of Claus at best, the tail on Rudolf's (or Donner's or Bitzen's) hind end at least. Imagine my shock and utter delight to discover a bundle of goodies had been left, even though I'd missed the bearded one. Again!!


The Fireplace Nativity

I don't recall there ever being a fire in our fireplace. It stood at the end of the living room, and often played back-drop to family pictures - princess-clad prom girls and their awkward beaus among them. In fact, each of we four girls had many a wedding photo captured with that fireplace face in them.

It was a gathering place, in oh-so many ways.

At Christmastime mother would line the fireplace with Douglas Fir boughs and then set about the charming task of positioning the family Nativity within it's enclosure. For hours on end I would sit on the tiled hearth to observe that scene, whisked away by my imagination and the strong need to lift and closely inspect each scene member.

The Poker Gang

OK, so good Christian families don't gamble. BUT ... in an era pre-dating Uno and Trivial Pursuit, my family's Christmas afternoon pass time was playing poker - - this amidst the clamor of mother & crew puttering in the kitchen nearby.

There were penny and nickle bets, and often someone would lose a heaping sum of $2 as others bemoaned their plight.

It was my great pleasure to move from lap-to-lap so I could sort & stack the chips (or eat some of the goodies they'd selected), or to glean a hug from an uncle or brother-in-law. But mostly I loved the laughter and the mysterious babble behind it. I can hear them still:
Ante up! Hit me. I'll call you.

Uncle Elmer

Everyone has one, a favorite relative. Mine - and I dare say the entire family's - was Uncle Elmer.

Elder brother to my Dad, he'd suffered what has come to be known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in the first World War. He lived out most of his days in a soldier's home; a sanitarium of sorts. Kean of mind and heart, his disorder's manifestations were lost on me! That's him on the left in the photo, next to another brother, Ed (and yet another favorite uncle).

He was a funny little man that smoked unfiltered Cheste
rfield cigarettes in rapid succession; his fingers permanently stained the color of tobacco. He also had false teeth which, to my great delight, were the source of much entertainment. So quick you'd miss it if not intent upon staring, he'd click them in-and-out. I begged him over-and-over to perform his most unusual feat, and he never disappointed or complained.

Mostly Elmer was warm and kind, with a twinkle in his eye I've yet to see in any other mortal. And when he'd laugh ... his entire body scrunched up and bent a little, even as his face crinkled. It makes me laugh just thinking about it..

Dolls

I never tired of them, my dollies. I had but a few, yet they were my very own little family; and I their mother. I was probably about to enter my teens before I stopped asking for them at Christmas.

In this scene with me (age 8), is my first Barbie-type doll. Unlike the sophisticated Barbie, she was a little sandy blond-haired girl, and just my age - a true mini-me, complete with her own pajamas and a few dresses. .


The list could go on and on; so many are the collectibles among my Christmases past. But I'll stop here to give thanks to God for the richness and goodness of my days as a child. That is perhaps the best of my memories, and among the best of His gifts to me.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Why A Star?


I will love the light for it shows
me the way, yet I will endure
the darkness because it
shows me the stars.

Og Mandino

They mesmerize us, stars - at least when we're aware they're there. Up there.

In vast, profuse array they are the stock-in-trade for astronomers, navigators, astrologers, and romantics alike. How we cherish the night sky!

As I read through a rather interesting commentary on Bethlehem's star, I couldn't help but ask myself: Why a star?

For what possible reason might God have summoned one - and just one - as His celestial compass by which Magi and shepherd alike would make their way to Bethlehem - and doing so nearly two years apart from each other, no less? What star could not only define a specific place on earth, but actually lead someone there?

Why not some other means of guidance, like a whisper upon the wind, or a talking camel, or an advancing chariot of fire. Why a star?

Theories, conjecture, and myth abound where Bethlehem's star is concerned. Many fancy it to have been a comet or a meteor. Others believe it to have been a supernova, or some strange planetary alignment - a galactic phenomenon. Among all these are those that make herculean efforts to debunk any such biblical relationship between the heavens and Heaven's Own.

Others tell us those explanations simply cannot be; that for a star to have burned from Persia in the Far East all the way to Bethlehem - all the while leading its followers along that definite course - simply doesn't line up with theory, much less science.

Remember, this star appeared every night for several months. And, though our Christmas sensibilities would deny it, it came to rest over Mary & Joseph's house; not cave or barn - probably when Jesus was about two years old. So, long after the shepherds had returned to their fields, the Magi were continuing on their star-ordained trek.

Could it be that star was no star at all but, rather, the very Glory of God - His own Shekinah?

Rarely can I answer my own questions, and this is no exception. Suffice it to say it is a mystery among the many I ponder. Yet somehow this leading - this proverbial starlit GPS system - resonates truth. We see it or, rather, Him throughout the scriptural narratives. Our earliest introduction comes with God's unique method of leading His people on their desert sojourn - going before them as if a compass; coming behind as if a protective force. We see it - His glory - in much the same way again and again as we read further.

Why a star?

I don't know.

What I do know is that, just as with His first coming so it will be with His second. And whenever I look up, my salvation - Immanuel - is near.

What good news; what great joy!

Then everyone will see the
Son of Man
coming on a cloud
with power and
great glory.
So when all these things begin
to happen, stand and look up,
for your salvation is near!
Luke 21:27-28

... the angel said to them (the shepherds),
"Do not be afraid. I bring you good news
of great joy that will be for all the people.
Today in the town of David a Savior has
been born to you; he is Christ the Lord."
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly
host appeared with the angel,
praising God and saying,
"Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men
on whom his favor rests."
Luke 2:10-14

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Prince of Peace

It happened just this week. My soul stirred within me. It was disquieted and in need of calming, but at that very moment it remained silent, alert. My ear was bent; so, too, my heart.
.
I'd been listening to someone deeply troubled - an unbeliever - as they poured out their wearied thoughts to me. They were, at present, buffeted by a long & bitter storm; one that had lashed them with wind & driving rain, bone-piercing cold. It had come in waves. Their voice was lackluster and weak; their own soul disquieted.
.
Tears stung my eyes, and words escaped me.
.
How I love this one, and I longed to be of comfort. Truth be told, my encouragements seemed little more than meager morsels. I could find no blanket to warm them; no food to nurture them. My mortal ministrations were limited almost entirely to the listening ear.

.
Yet after a time, from my mouth came this utterly foreign statement: Yours are conflicts I know all too well, and until I surrendered to the Prince of Peace they were conflicts unending.
.
I'd given no direct invitation, but the response was swift: Thank you, but no thank you.
.
Afterwords I thought to myself: You silly ninny; what were you thinking? That was a bizarre way of comforting someone, and an even more bizarre rendition of the Gospel. Where'd that come from, anyway? Prince of Peace?
.
It was an odd thing to have said, or at least odd for me. It arrived on my lips out of the blue; not my typical choice of words or use of terms. Prince of Peace. Why had I selected it from the many other choices contained in my heart?

For a long time my disquietude refused it's own comfort. I hurt for the troubled one. I taunted my own disturbed soul for having spoken so enigmatically.
.
A short time later, at church, I found myself utterly speechless as the message unfolded. You might know, it centered around the joy & hope offered solely in the Prince of Peace!

At once I had the sense that it was more than a message, at least for me. It was God's way of confirming the words I'd spoken, and further confirming their power - His power - to bring peace to the troubled one, and to all.
.
Truly there are better comforts, better gifts than meager morsels.
.
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on His shoulders,
And He will be called ...
... Wonderful Counselor
... Mighty God
... Everlasting Father
... Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6
.
Peace I leave with you, My peace I give you.
I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled
and do not be afraid.
John 14:27
.

Friday, December 11, 2009

In the Course of Time

In the course of time ...

And it came pass ...

After many days ...

In the beginning ...

At the end ...

There it was again in my morning's scripture reading; that bridge between what is and what would be. It reads differently in various places, but it's meaning is the same nonetheless. Some things take time. Some things - if not most things - entail a process.

By definition, Merriam tells us that a course is the act or action of moving in a path from point to point; or a path over which something moves or extends. It's both a verb and a noun. It's both an action and an object. I like that; a word that multi-tasks!

What I don't like is the span's implication - the space or time between what is and what is to come. Oh, I like it well enough for someone else alright; or, for that matter, God. After-all, hundreds of years can pass quickly in the scriptures; years that flow, seemingly without notice, between versus two and four, or fifteen and sixteen.

It's when the object of action - the course of time - affects me that it's not so endearing.

Yet it's been with the passage of time - in the course of my own living - that I have come to value the treasure of spans. More so, I value what is wrought in their passing. Put another way: the journey is (or has the potential of being) as remarkable as arriving.

The challenge to me - particularly as a younger believer, but even now in my gray-haired, supposedly more mature state - is how best to live during and along the courses. I dare say and even confess that my inclination is towards clamor, or impetuousness. Thus the reason behind the challenge.

From clamorous to quieted, the course is always the same ...:

"Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth."
The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Psalm 46:10-11

I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like me.
I make known the end from the beginning,
from ancient times, what is still to come.
I say: My purpose will stand,
and I will do all that I please.
Isaiah 46:9-10

Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteousness shine
like the dawn, the justice of your cause like
the noonday sun.
Be still before the LORD
and wait patiently for him
Psalm 37:5-7

Your beauty should not come from outward
adornment, such as braided hair and the
wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes.
Instead, it should be that of your inner self,
the unfading beauty of
a gentle and quiet spirit,
which is of great worth in God's sight.
1 Peter:3-4

In the course of time, of course.
.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

It's a Wonderful Life


The children have long gone from our home. Even so, a holiday season does not arrive without a volley of wonderful memories, and many of them etched to my heart in the form of our favorite Christmas movies.

There's just something about donning flannel
jammies and munching warm buttered popcorn while nestled in the comforts of home. It's rare I find my way to a theater, but this ... this replaying of yesteryear's entertainment "bests" is a must-do at my house. We could sure use a Frank Capra in today's movie making business!

No doubt you have your own movie memories, but I'm wondering how many recall these oldies but goodies?

It's a Wonderful Life
Miracle on 34
th Street

The Bells of St. Mary's
White Christmas
Babes in
Toyland
Little
Women



A Christmas Carol
The Bishop's Wife
Anything Shirley Temple



I've added some personal - post-children - favorites of my own in recent years; films such as ...

The Polar Express
The Nativity Story
The Muppet Christmas Carol
Prancer
The Chronicles of Narnia

I've decided it's OK to enjoy the cartoons, even at 61!

How about you? What's on your Christmas viewing agenda this year?

Monday, December 7, 2009

What Wise Men Do


What a compelling reality: wise men seeking Him ...

The first time I saw this sentiment on a Christmas card it captivated me. I mused on it then; I muse on it now. On the one hand it's just a twist on words; clever. On the other hand, it's anything but just a twist. It's a powerful reality.

The law of the LORD is perfect,
reviving the soul.
The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
Psalm 19:7

Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still;
teach a righteous man
and he will add to his learning.

The fear of the LORD is the
beginning of wisdom,

and knowledge of the Holy One
is understanding.

Proverbs 9:9-10

The story of the Wise Men is my story; your story. While it's quite likely our sagas do not feature robes & crowns, camels or desert sojourns, they are nonetheless embarked upon at the giving of a summons. Who among us sets out to find something we don't know is missing?

As I scan my youth as far back as I can recall, I realize now (though not then), that I had been seeking from the earliest of my days. His summons was discernible even though my seeking was little more than wanderlust (no focus).

The summons is given to all, but it's heard only when it's sought - even when we're not exactly sure what it is we're seeking.

No seeking. No summons. No wise trek.

For some the process has entailed a long, arduous and costly endeavor, often around and through and beyond dangers that would impede. For others it's been a wondrous journey beneath starlit skies. For some it's been a mixture of both, the bitter and the sweet of our personal testimonies.

Ask and it will be given to you;
seek and you will find;
knock and the door will be opened to you.
For everyone who asks receives;
he who seeks finds;
and to him who knocks,
the door will be opened.
Luke 11:9-10


Let us be forever wise and seek Him - be it towards, or on that day when at last we find what it is we seek, so great a salvation; or in all the days that follow.

Afterall, it's what wise men do.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Do You Hear the Bells, They're Ringing ?


Born from tragedy and the turmoil of the Civil War, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow composed the words to "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" on December 25th 1864.

As with any composition that touches the heart of the hearer, "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" flowed from the experience of Longfellow-- involving the tragic death of his wife Fanny and the crippling injury of his son Charles from war wounds. "My heart was hot within me, while I was musing the fire burned: then spake I with my tongue" (Psalm 39:3).

When Longfellow penned the words to his poem, America was still months away from Lee's surrender to Grant at Appomattox Court House on April 9th 1865; and, his poem reflected the prior years of the war's despair, while ending with a confident hope of triumphant peace.

Longfellow and, I dare say God Himself, would be honored to hear this stirring rendition.

I HEARD THE BELLS - LYRICS

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

I thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head:
"There is no peace on earth," I said,
"For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men."

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men."

Till, ringing singing, on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,
Of peace on earth, good will to men!

Friday, December 4, 2009

This I Believe ...


About to turn 13, this young one is a lively and lovely (and so very funny) family member that never ceases to amaze and engage. The depths of her heart have been visible since her infancy, but more-and-more we see the riches there; and never more so than in the un-edited piece that follows.

Celtic in origin, the name Rylie (Riley) means courageous. It is an apt title for a girl who's middle name is Hope. She is the quintessential embodiment of both!

She is my beloved granddaughter, Rylie Hope.

For Thanksgiving, she let the world know:

THIS I BELIEVE ...

I can live because I have beliefs.


My beliefs help me live, but if someone had no beliefs, they would be a zombie. This I believe ... happiness is the structure of life. If your life can be structured around happiness, like mine, you can actually live life and be successful.

With happiness you can have an imagination.

This I believe ... that without happiness, the mind is sad and becomes dead, and with no imagination or creativeness.


The power of he imagination is used for everything. I believe imagination makes people happier because I enjoy using mine. I use my more creative imagination for writing stories or even talking to someone. I even make up some words (*). But without an imagination, I believe that makes life extremely difficult.

Another belief I possess is to have kindness towards others, and to be peaceful. When you are kind and do good things to others, you can make friends. Friends can bring happiness, which I believe can be the structure of life.

The best friends are friends who give happiness and don't take it. They are a good influence and don't do bad things which influence upon you to do bad things.

The two beliefs - happiness and kindness - are linked to the soul structure, and keep us living.

Without happiness we become angry or sad and depressed, and are no longer kind.

Without kindness, we cannot be happy because there is no one to make you happy when you're not kind. So you must have happiness and kindness to live life.

This I believe.


(*) This will not be a lost fact to those that know me!!!!

.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Eternal Season of Gift Giving


"Being justified freely by His grace. . ."
Romans 3:24


Such a glorious reality and yet it is often swallowed as if a heavy boulder, if even it's swallowed at all.

What is it about we mortals that wants to (knowingly or unknowingly) undo what has already been done? Why is it that we insist we've achieved our own salvation, then boldly demurely proclaim how we've heroically humbly managed to keep it?

Some gifts are simply too precious & priceless to grasp. Imagine being
given the Hope Diamond, and then explaining how it wasn't really a gift at all, but something earned, achieved. Or, worse, adding or taking away from it's incalculable worth by hammering a new facet to it. Just a little tap.

I must confess: I do it. Well, I do it for awhile anyway ... at last or until a sweeping touch of grace reminds me anew that what I've been given is not pedestrian. It's otherworldly and innerwordly; and so great is it's value I couldn't afford it if even I worked day and night my entire life to get it, or even to keep it. My "add to"s or "take away"s do little more than blemish both the gift, and The Giver.

How grateful we - believers - can be that gifts such as this One cannot be lost, stolen, returned or thrown away. We are the gift given to Him, and He will never underestimate the cost or the value. Your worth and mine is infinitely precious.

To us ... He, and all that is wrought by, through, in and for Him (for us) is the gift that truly does keep on giving. No false advertising there!

We have to realize that we cannot earn
or win anything from God;
we must either receive it as a gift
or do without it.

Oswald Chambers

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tutoring

I've been fussing.

As I continue my reading in the book of First Samuel, I am troubled (again) about the sons of Eli, and now those of Samuel. How is it the boys raised in the shadow of such mighty men of God could become so incorrigible?

And the LORD said to Samuel: "See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears of it tingle. At that time I will carry out against Eli everything I spoke against his family—from beginning to end. For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons made themselves contemptible, and he failed to restrain them." 1 Samuel 3:11-14

When
Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as judges for Israel. The name of his firstborn was Joel and the name of his second was Abijah, and they served at Beersheba. But his sons did not walk in his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice. 1 Samuel 8:1-3

A similar fate attaches itself to the sons of other Bible greats too. We read their stories and we are mystified by the rebellion and treachery they often represent. One of the first to come to mind is Absalom - David's son - who schemed of killing his own father in order to take his throne, his power.

There is the matter of free will, and certainly Samuel could have doused his children with lavish love and consistent guidance. His sons could simply have rejected all that was good and decent in their home. In Eli's home we know that's not the case.


Yet I wonder ... Where Samuel's sons are concerned, is it possible Samuel learned his own parenting skills (or lack of them) from Eli? Remember, Hannah turned the little boy - roughly four at the time - over to Samuel for tutoring in the ways of God. Did the young Samuel witness Eli ignoring his sons for the greater delight of equipping a prophet (Samuel's call)? Was the serving of God more important (or heady) than the rigors of parenting? Could it be that Eli, and then Samuel in turn, truly believe their mission/ministry warranted abandoning their children?

My questions are rhetorical. In truth, I ask them without truly desiring an answer or explanation, or to affix guilt. Wondering is like that. It has beneficial side-effects in that it leads me to take stock - inventory - of my own life. Do I do as Eli and Samuel, or Isaac, or David, or ???

In some ways I hope the answer to that question is a resounding, "yes!". Afterall, isn't the seeking of the Lord with one's whole mind, heart & soul a worthy pursuit?

Yet ... in other ways I hope it's a bellowing "no way!" - not if my husband, or children, or grandchildren are the ones left in the wake of my spiritual junkets. How slippery is that slope that has some pursuing the things (ministries, miracles, significance and/or recognition, etc.) of God over God Himself.

Besides, it's not exactly what Jesus had in mind when He summoned His followers to leave it all behind (Luke 18:29). Letting go is not synonymous with abandoning responsibility. Raising children is surely that, if not a great privilege.

Sometimes the greatest ministry is of the fly-fishing sort, or the baking of cookies ...

As I once heard a wise preacher say:
"What's important for children to know is more often caught than taught." I wish someone had told that to Eli and Samuel.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Response to The Call

Samuel was lying down in the temple
of the LORD, where the ark of God was.
Then the LORD called Samuel.
Samuel answered, "Here I am."
And he ran to Eli and said,
"Here I am; you called me."

Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD-
The word (Jesus) of the LORD
had not yet been revealed to him.

Then Eli realized that the LORD
was calling the boy.

So Eli told Samuel, "Go and lie down,
and if He calls you, say,
'Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.'

Then Samuel said,
"Speak, for your servant is listening."

1 Samuel 2: 4-5, 7, 10

I'm going to do my best to connect some dots that have probably long been connected in your understanding. They are new to my own ... or, at the very least, refreshed from a different angle.

Samuel the Prophet is, perhaps, one of the greats among those noted by name in scripture. We learn of his remarkable, yet humble beginnings in the book that bears his name, First Samuel.

It's from that same book we learn of his call. It's a call that every believer of all time has heard; some while young, some well into their senior years.

Yet there's an incontrovertible fact that ... If one isn't listening, the call either cannot be heard, or it's heard but mis-understood, mis-applied.

It begins well ahead of the listening ...

Eli (whose own sons ignored their own call - a matter we could describe & assess for days on end ...) knew the young Samuel was being sought of God. Why? How? What did he understand about Samuel that he didn't about his own sons?

He rightly directs the young boy to listen to God; not to his own or to someone else's voice. He didn't provide a list of "ten next steps", nor did he build some monument or altar to glorify Samuel for having been called of God.

He directed the boy to God's voice (His word, aka Jesus).

Until that moment, Samuel had been listening to and tutored by Eli. Something was changing ... and Eli, to his credit, directs Samuel wisely.

In obedience Samuel does what he's told. The rest is history.

How simple. How humble. Listen to God and obey Him.

I wonder how much grief (or folly) we could spare ourselves and others by simply directing them to do likewise?

Don't mis-understand. I love teachers, preachers, commentators, journalists, bloggers. There's a wide world and a wide array of wonderful, thought-provoking stories or teachings or demonstrations of God's ways. None of them equal The Word.

Sometimes the simple gets by us as we seek out the complex, the sensational.

Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

History Speaks of Him From Whom All Blessings Flow

I couldn't have penned a more appropriate post, or a more worthy proclamation myself.

History speaks for itself, if only we listen.

Thanksgiving Proclamation

State of New-Hampshire. In Committee of Safety, Exeter, November 1, 1782 :

ORDERED,THAT the following Proclamation for a general THANKSGIVING on the twenty-eighth day of November [instant?], received from the honorable Continental Congress, be forthwith printed, and sent to the several worshipping Assemblies in this State, to whom it is recommended religiously to observe said day, and to abstain from all servile labour thereon.

M. WEARE, President.

By the United States in Congress assembled.

PROCLAMATION.

IT being the indispensable duty of all Nations, not only to offer up their supplications to ALMIGHTY GOD, the giver of all good, for his gracious assistance in a time of distress, but also in a solemn and public manner to give him praise for his goodness in general and especially for great and signal interpositions of his providence in their behalf ...

Therefore the United States in Congress assembled, taking into their consideration the many instances of divine goodness to these States, ...

... Do hereby recommend to the inhabitants of these States in general, to observe, and request the several States to interpose their authority in appointing and commanding the observation of THURSDAY the twenty-eight day of NOVEMBER next, as a day of solemn THANKSGIVING to GOD for all his mercies: and they do further recommend to all ranks, to testify to their gratitude to GOD for his goodness, by a cheerful obedience of his laws, and by promoting, each in his station, and by his influence, the practice of true and undefiled religion, which is the great foundation of public prosperity and national happiness.

Done in Congress, at Philadelphia, the eleventh day of October, in the year of our LORD one thousand seven hundred and eighty-two, and of our Sovereignty and Independence, the seventh.

JOHN HANSON, President.
Charles Thomson, Secretary.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Come Out

Jesus called in a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!"

The dead man came out,
his hands and feet wrapped
with strips of linen,
and a cloth around his face.

John 11:43-44

Pastor used this passage in a recent message given at church. I can't honestly tell you what the message was about just now, but I can tell you I was mesmerized by a fact, a truth that crystallized because of it.

How many people do you suppose were buried alongside our friend Lararus? And how many of them might also have had the same name? Afterall, we know of at least one other so-named - the beggar we find cradled in Abraham's arms post death (Luke 16).

So, why didn't every Lazarus "come out" at what certainly must have been a loud call? Why only the particular Lazarus that Jesus summoned?

This isn't meant to be a trick question. Afterall, there is no right or wrong answer.

What's on my mind is how singular, personal and intimate is God's knowledge of us.

The name of Lazarus, whether common or uncommon in his day, was associated in Jesus' mind with one man: the one He loved. Certainly He loved the others, just as He loves all mankind. But this one man - this particular Lazarus - He'd known before time began, before creation.

He also knew that this Lazarus would indeed "come out"; that he would obey the voice of His Lord and Savior. Afterall, the sheep know their Shepherd's voice and will obey no other.

Whether there are countless Kathleens named since the dawn of time, I am certain that my name (and the name of every Christ-follower) are likewise known, likewise precious, likewise purchased from among men.

I needn't fear death or some post-death torment, for my Lord has already bid me "come out". It's the ultimate freedom He purchased for me, and which I accepted many long years ago - a freedom I can't add to or make any better than it already is any more than our dead friend Lazarus could have. It is finished!

No grave will hold me either!
.
.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Critical Interception


" ... asking God to fill you with the knowledge
of his will through all spiritual wisdom
and understanding ... in order that you
may live a life worthy of the Lord ...
growing in the knowledge of God ...
For he has rescued us from the dominion of
darkness and brought us into the kingdom
of the Son he loves ... "
Colossians 1:9-14 (parts)

Knowledge - the fact or condition of knowing something; acquaintance with or understanding of; being aware.

Wisdom
- accumulated philosophic learning; knowledge; ability to discern inner qualities and relationships; insight; good sense.


Discernment/Understanding - the quality of being able to grasp and comprehend what is obscure; skill in discerning.
.
Just yesterday I was having a discussion with someone that was, to say the least, hot under the collar about something done to them. It was both a real and a perceived injustice; their name besmirched by another. Feathers filled the air.
.
The angst and indignation was a familiar refrain: a justified (and justifiable) complaint had been lodged against the errant party - their nemesis. How could they?!! The very hearing of it stung, mostly because I've worn both sets of shoes. You know: fire, ready, aim!
.
Pondering the matter further, the whole concept of discernment versus wisdom gripped me. Could it be that I can have all the facts (knowledge), and even the tincture of wisdom, but altogether miss the greater meaning because of a lack of discernment?

.
I think so.
/
Solomon himself makes such a good object-lesson on is this subject! Smart and wise beyond compare; and without equal - but he just didn't get it on some level!


By itself, information is ... well ... just information. Until it's filtered (the scientists are bound to shoot me for that one) through wisdom's sieve it's often dry, disjointed.

.
Moreover, unless the two - knowledge + wisdom - congeal with discernment, they are very likely to give rise to wrong conclusions. The bottom line then becomes suspect. Wrong placement = wrong conclusions, a wrong bottom line (the accountants in our midst will nod their approval). Feathers, feathers everywhere!

.
Remember, it's me I'm talking about here. I know none of you would do such a thing.

.
I could say so much here and, quite likely, you could too - - thoughts on gossip, or in dealing with one's enemies, or how best to handle conflict ...
.
Or _ _ _ _ _

.
But today I'm thinking about something Oswald Chambers has to say on the matter. It's something I need to hear, and hear again, and again, and again. It calls on me to take the high road where knowledge is concerned; a road made straight and firm only with discernment.

.
God never gives us discernment
so that we may criticize,
but that we may intercede.
Oswald Chambers

Saturday, November 21, 2009

It's Time

Even with the passage of 45 years, the day's events have not paled, nor has their sorrow.

Oh, but I'm so far ahead of myself. Let me begin again.

The aroma of morning in my mother's house was always inviting, and never more than on Thanksgiving Day. Something savory heralded the holiday, and i
t always included the collective scents of simmering giblets, nutmeg & cinnamon, homemade bread, baking turkey, and something I could never quite put my finger on. No matter. It was the aroma of the familiar and the familial.

The year was 1964, and I was 16.

Family always arrived early: my sisters and their husbands and children; my uncle and his lady friend, Mrs. Foley; and sometimes others too. This year included my then boyfriend/now husband, Terry. The house was happiest when it was filled to the rafters, especially when the little ones scurried under foot.

It had been a long year, 1964 - and Thanksgiving arrive
d with somber hues and tones. Our hearts, filled to the brim with gratitude for all things blessed, were also filled with something less joyful: dread. For many days we'd been stealing ourselves for the inevitable.

For well over a year my father - daddy - had warred fiercely with an enemy called leukemia. It's virulent, relentless and pitiless assault made no show of retreat. But oh what a battle daddy gave it! As if armored and mounted, he rode headlong into the foray; sometimes daily. Battle weary and battle scarred, he never gave up fightin
g. I can't recall him having even a moment of complaint or self-pity.

But by Thanksgiving it was obvious that daddy's days of warring were nearing their end. Frail, bruised, pale ... just taking a breath had become a day's labor.

As the holiday unfolded a light snow began to fall
. It was unusually glorious, and I remember, even now, having such conflicted feelings about it. My initial thoughts were of bundling to go sledding, while my secondary thoughts were of how cruel it was that such beauty would mock my family; mock me.

Daddy lay quiet on the couch throughout the day as family gathered and gabbed and giggled, and dinner was served. He could hardly sit now, and his periods of wakefulness had lessened. As dinner ended, I sensed from the hushed whispers that something wasn't right. Seems he's taken a turn for the worse, and an ambulance had been summoned. Mother's worried face told the story, as did her call to action: It's time.

To this day I remember following behind that ambulance by car, the gently falling snow blurring the red rotating light of the ambulance, and muffling it's siren - the surreal and the serene co-mingling. My heart pounded, not certain if it was fear or hope that compelled the thumping. I longed to hurry, then longed to slow it all down.

My father would never again return home.

Once hospitalized, Daddy remained with us a few more days, until December 4, when at last he stepped into the presence of his Lord, Jesus. He went gently and quietly during the early morning hours ... no doubt the time he'd have risen to head out for some good trout fishing.

One evening, shortly after he was admitted to the hospital and while he was still lucid, we girls were summoned. My father had called
us together to say goodbye. With courage, tears and great heart he spoke of his love for us, and for our mother. He was ready, and he wanted us to be to as well.

Thanksgiving conflicts me still. Yet somehow I've come to appreciate the grand legacy attached to it. What tears it engenders are tears of pride, of precious memories, of thankfulness. What better way to begin the counting of blessings.
.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

43rd Anniversary


NOVEMBER 19, 1966
.
Kathleen Wells wed Terry Flanagan
.
From the very beginning of our fun-filled and zany high school days there was great passion and ease between us. How I treasure it's having given birth to our marriage ... and then to children ... and then grandchildren ... and now the beautiful Fall of the lives that are uniquely ours.

Along the way there was many a challe nge and many a blight, but our endurance won out - and so too our passion and ease. Your company is the best I've found on earth.


I love this poem. It's the promise you gave me just a week ahead of our wedding, when both our silly 18 year old heads were swimming in seas of doubt (yes, we should have listened, but I'm so-o-o glad we didn't!). On so many levels it was, and is prophetic.

.
Out In The Fields

by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

The little cares that fretted me,
I lost them yesterday

Among the fields above the sea,

Among the winds that play,
Among the lowing of the herd,
The rustling of the trees,
Among the singing of the birds,
The humming of the bees.
.
The foolish fears of what might pass

I cast them all away

among the clover-scented grass,

Among the new-mown hay,

Among the hushing of the corn,

Where drowsy poppies nod,
Where ill thoughts die and good are born-

Out in the fields of God
.
.

.
.
.

My enduring love, Mr. Wiggles.
.
Happy Anniversary, in the fields of God.
.
Your Mrs. Wootie.
.
.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

What's With Those Words?

A confession: Whenever I visit a blog site that has a security code associated with leaving a comment, I typically come away giggling.
.
Who do you suppose sits on the security counsel that decides which code to give? In my mind's eye I see the Wizard of Oz.

Check them out. Here's just a few that are included with my own personal interpretation of them. No doubt you'll never see another one without a giggle of your own!
  • Promb - The dance that fell far short of the dream.
  • Blibnar - The language spoken by Mork.
  • Zelluber - A device that lubricates zells.
  • Stintzi - A performing lizard.
  • Helpub - A clinic that serves ale.
  • Fletsyze - A German curse word.
  • Cirztip - A bad ending to a good story.
  • Gortrance - The entrance to Al Gore's home.
  • Zebeener - The greens I'll fix with bacon.
  • Aepnoard - A ditsy chimpanzee
  • Melga - A character from a Tolkien story.
  • Upsunz - What happens when you're too sassy.