Isaiah 30:15 Life Verse

For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel:

In returning and rest you shall be saved;

    in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.

But you refused

Isaiah 30:15NRSV

Isaiah 30:15 ends with “But you refused” or “But you would not.” I want to perform the beginning of the verse, what the Baptists would call my life verse.  “In returning and rest you are saved; in quietness and trust shall be your strength.” I choose to make the last phrase ‘but you would not’ untrue of me. That requires discipline again and again for me to return and rest in God.

Difficult to keep in my mind when I do things like jump out of my meditation and prayer chair to dry off the dog and find superfine gravel dirt all over the front hall and Bob’s bathroom floor from soles of our boots worn to the Nature Center the day before! Here I am back at it. “In returning and rest I am saved.”

We tried to be careful with those dirty soles. Perhaps it is a lesson regarding my dirty soul. Not undue self-castigation here. I so easily depart my knowledge of the Lord. I could have seen that dry off and cleanup event as a way to stay quiet, still, trusting and resting in God: grateful I have a dog in our family, grateful for ability to walk in the Nature Center, resting in the fact that eventually I will be returned to dust yet He will reign forever and ever.

In returning and rest I am saved; in quietness and trust is my strength. I can see that some growth has occurred over the years. I was not angry while cleaning up. In past years I likely would have been. I did, however, return to my prayer chair and ask myself, “Now where was I?” Oh for the day I can carry my prayer chair meditations and practice to the other rooms without flinching or forgetting!

I suppose that is why the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel said “IN RETURNING.” The omnipotent Holy One knew I would be returning. Lord help me always to return and rest in Your tender help and care. Dissuade my tendency to not return with Your power and indwelling Holy Spirit.

My salvation is in returning. My salvation is in resting. My strength is in quietness and trust. So there I have it. When I am feeling not strong, I must go back to quietness and trust in God. There is great wisdom in the concept that when you do not know what to do next, return to the last thing the Lord told you. We are so easily distracted! Like Dug the dog in the movie “Up!” who said “Squirrel!”

I have been working with this verse for many years. Be encouraged by that and know that you, too, can be changed by practicing the Word. Even if that means as the Benedictines say, “Always, we begin again.”

The wind is blowing the wind chimes into constant song. The snow is falling and at times pouring off the roof. The roof line is almost indistinguishable from the sky right now. The candle flickers and I pray you are encouraged to go to God and be with Him. Please do not be the ones “Who would not.”

Austin City Limits

My husband loves to record the show ACL and then watch at our leisure. He often discovers new-to-him musical talent that way. Recently they featured Jackson Browne. We knew him from years ago (think 1978) but had lost touch with his talent. When he sang “Doctor My Eyes” I was reminded of my early walk with Jesus and the pain of seeing others who were suffering. The lyrics are as follows. I have added an almost 5 minute video if you want to hear the song again.

Doctor, my eyes have seen the years 
and the slow parade of fears without crying
Now I want to understand

I have done all that I could
To see the evil and the good without hiding
You must help me if you can

Doctor, my eyes
Tell me what is wrong
Was I unwise to leave them open for so long?

'Cause I have wandered through this world
As each moment has unfurled
I've been waiting to awaken form these dreams

People go just where they will
I never noticed them until I got this feeling
That it's later than it seems

Doctor, my eyes
Tell me what you see,
I hear their cries
Just say if it's too late for me

Doctor, my eyes
Cannot see the sky
Is this the prize for having learned how not to cry?

Trust me, by 1978 I had learned plenty about crying. I also had learned that the Lord does hear our cries. Browne sings “I have done all that I could to see the evil from the good without hiding, you must help me if you can.” And the Word says He wants us to grow up and learn this discernment.

But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

Hebrews 5:14 NIV

He does not give us everything we want. He so often provides just exactly what we need. It was interesting to revisit the feelings evoked by His song and realize how much better I understand the Lord now than I did at the time I first listened to Jackson Browne. God is moved with compassion and He will help us.

The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.

Psalm 145:8 NIV

I have been reading a book entitled Night Bird Calling by Cathy Gohlke. This conversation was between a young woman being manipulated by an abusive father and abusive husband who said their doings were the will of God. She is talking with an older, wiser, truly Christian woman.

“Then you’ve only known people who take the name of the Lord in vain.” That caught me short. “Jesus called Jews of every social rank. He called women and children and people from Samaria and tax collectors and prostitutes and the down-and-out to Himself. He called unlearned fishermen for the greatest work in the history of the world. He called the humble and the penitent and those who were smart enough to recognize their need of a Savior and to see that need fulfilled in Him. Those people followed Him, surrendered their all to Him, and obeyed His commands. They are the ones who deserve the name ‘Christian’—Christ followers. Anything less, anything Pharisaic and legalistic and arrogant, takes His name in vain. Velma reminds me of the elder brother in the parable of the Prodigal Son—totally unaware that her position in the community was given her.” “Are you saying Velma Richards is not a Christian?” I was astonished by Aunt Hyacinth’s lengthy tirade and perversely thrilled with her defiance. Aunt Hyacinth chuckled. “Well, not to her face.” She grew serious just as quickly. “But I’m saying that you need to recognize the difference between what people claim to be and what they are, and take that into account when you make your decision.”

Night Bird Calling by Cathy Gohlke

Recognize the difference – SEE – the difference between pretense and reality.

Doctor Jesus, we need Your healing for our eyes. We need Your wisdom for our lives. Awaken us from the dream of thinking we know and understand others at a depth. Help us to see as You see and know as You know. Amen.

Sunday Worship

I was playing worship music while working in the sewing room last Sunday afternoon. This song drew me at first by the crickets. Reminds me of summer mornings at Siesta Drive when I used to journal. Me, the crickets and Jesus. Then the opening solo by Brandon. Spoke to me of such transparency and rang true with the desires of my heart.

Oh my goodness. As a child did you ever say ‘ascared’? First time I heard this the lyric sounded like ‘ascared’. Hard to make that transition from not to scared? It cleared up as they went on and the more I listened. Do you tell our heavenly Father when you are ‘ascared’?

Listen I did. Put it on recurring so it played over and over again. I just love singers that can lead me INTO worship. I would listen, pause, worship. Go back to my task at hand, then pause, worship.

The lyrics are on this version. Absolutely love the song.

“In over my head, I’m not scared to get drenched in Your love … I’m not scared to get lost in Your love.” And we know that plants need water along with us! Worship and be drenched.

 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Ephesians 3:16-19

How Roots Grow

The photo at the top is the Juniper tree at Live Oak Park, Berkeley, California. That is the place where Bob and I said our marriage vows over 51 years ago.

My Robert waiting under the Juniper tree with our families for me to wed him. Episcopal priest behind him.

Decades went by. I gave my heart back to Christ in 1976. He gave his life to Christ not too long after that. We worked and worked on our marriage over the years. We have always said, “Divorce is not an option. Murder maybe, but not divorce!”

Fast forward from 1970 to December 2017. We both got the flu. Within 24 hours his became life threatening pneumonia with organ shut-down sepsis. Got him to an ER. He was placed on a ventilator and rushed to a different hospital. Within two days my cough began to break up and I was by his side.

The passage from Ephesians 3 helped me as I walk through the terror of possibly losing him forever.

In 2018 I wrote: “Part of my struggle was yielding to the facts and in stillness letting my wishes die, placing my hope in the plans of the Almighty. I could not see the outcome at all, but I trusted His goodness and His love for both myself and my family. I learned that crucified you must hold perfectly still. EPH 3:16 helped me to trust more. “I pray that, according to the riches of His glory, He may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through His Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love.” I prayed for Bob and our children to be strengthened. I prayed for myself to be strengthened by His Spirit with power penetrating to my innermost being. Yes, crucified you must hold perfectly still. I was not “going” anywhere.”

Have my roots grown since then? I learned so much through that awful experience. Yes, my husband is alive and kicking now. His health has returned. We are going through the Covid crisis with everyone else in the world. We are perhaps more careful than other Americans, having almost lost him four years ago.

My roots? Well I am certainly aware that Bob and I will not last into eternity. Only my relationship with Christ will go that far. We do hope to see each other in the afterlife, but we both understand that relationships there are much different than here.

“Strengthened in your innermost being with power through His Spirit and that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith….” I would not want to lose my husband to Covid or in any other way, but I feel as if I would not be devastated as I might have been in 2018. Having lived through the almost-death and brutal recovery after his illness, I can honestly say that the Lord sustained us and taught us both many things about His love and power.

“Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, AS you are being rooted and grounded in love.” God’s love is beyond my words. He holds, sustains and directs me with His love. When I resist His leading, He disarms me with His love. He indwells me by with power by His Spirit and it is a process to be rooted and grounded in love. An ongoing to the day I die sort of process.

I love this video. It shows what I cannot see below the surface of the soil. It shows the growth in split screen above and below and then goes on to show the up-close root process. How are your roots growing?

Can you imagine yourself being rooted and grounded in love like this kidney bean? Like the Juniper tree in the photo above? Why not watch the video again and ask the Lord to strengthen you in your inner being with power through His Spirit. Ask Him to helped you be rooted and grounded in love. One person noted, “We need to ask for what we want.” Grow us Lord I pray, by Your Spirit and power, in Your time. Amen.

First Fifteen

I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Ephesians 3:16-19 NIV

You may remember I asked you to listen for a word to direct your life this year? Mine came in the form of Ephesians 3:17b “being rooted and established in love.” I have been studying out what that means to me. From library books about trees, to tree and root photos I have been collecting for a few years, to online biology resources.

This morning I listened to this devotional and found a way to share it with you. This is published daily with the premise being to lead you into the first 15 minutes of your day by thinking about, praying to, and worshiping God. I hope you are encouraged and blessed by this experience. I was blessed that the Scripture at the end is Ephesians 3 16-19! Just click on the title Live For Love and it will take you to the website. I downloaded the app for daily (or in my case almost daily) use.

Hope the fifteen minutes was well spent! I know it was for me.

An Almost Immediate Refresher Course in Be Glad

I usually cook meats and foods like sweet potatoes in larger portions than we need for a meal for two senior citizens. We freeze the extras and have ready meals for days I/we do not feel like cooking.

Recently we ate the last portion of Beef Brisket from the freezer stash. Mind you, we do not eat much beef, but brisket became something we love ever since Betty cooked and served it to us in New Mexico. She uses Claude’s Barbeque Brisket Marinade from El Paso, Texas.( I cannot find it here in Ohio so I went so far as to order it from Texas! Yes, it is THAT good!) https://www.claudessauces.com/collections/claude-s-sauces Last week, I found a piece of brisket marked down at Kroger’s. It was a splurge, but I bought it anyway.

We have two wonderful women who come in once every two weeks to clean the floors and tub/shower tiles. I can no longer clean the house in one day, even with Bob’s help. They are a delight and always leave things sparkling clean. They were here Saturday morning. That evening I put the beef in a baking bag to marinate overnight in the refrigerator. Baked it in the cooking bag Sunday afternoon and the house smelled delightful – almost overwhelmingly so!

After the meat cooled I snipped a small corner of the bag so I could drain and save the juices for making a gravy after I sliced down the meat and separated it into portions. Usually I do these sorts of things in the sink in case I make a mess. I was tired and not thinking clearly. I tried to get the juices into a measuring cup on the glass stove top. In short order the baking bag got away from me. The open tip actually began spinning around. Yep, you guessed it! Brisket juice all over the stove top, down the front of the stove, on the floor, down my pants leg, left shoe top. I finally got it aimed and into the pan where I had cooked the brisket. As I hollered “Oh no!!” Bob came to my rescue asking, “What can I do? What can I do?” I had just placed clean rags on top of the dryer. I asked him to get me the rags. I almost slid in the juice while trying to clean it up. I wiped up enough that I would not fall. Called the beagle over.

After all the excitement it took some encouragement to assure Lucky it was okay to come lick this up. She was entranced by the exquisite flavor. I mean that dog stayed there licking and polishing that floor the entire time I was working to clean up my mess. In the past I nicknamed myself, “Little Molly Make-a-mess.” So apt. Remember when I quoted Hanson as writing, “We also focus on our own mistakes and flaws – and on the feelings of guilt, shame, inadequacy, and even self-hatred that get stirred up.” I had begun with internal self-castigation and shaming. And then I was glancing down at that dog.

Having just read and then re-read the selection by Rick Hanson, I knew I had several choices here. I could choose to be glad or spiral down into negative, dark thinking. As I stripped off my clothing in the laundry room it hit me that this could have been so much worse had I not cooled the meat before I began. I washed by new slacks right then, but the oil stain remained from the brisket juice. Washed them again. Have not checked that status yet.

Dressed in clean clothing, I went back to cleaning up the stove top, stove front and floor. That dog was still amazed at her blessing from on high in the form of brisket juice. Much more juice than she would ever be given otherwise! She was delighted!

For the first time I used the Lysol cleaner from the other house to clean the stove and mop this portion of the floor. It would cut the grease better than water with vinegar and a drop of Dawn as recommended for regular use on this type of flooring. I used the sponge mop that I prefer. And I was able to do it! Even after bending over to wash the front of the oven door.

Draining the catch pan and measuring cup I got enough juice to fill a 2 cup measure and then a bit more. I began to slice the meat. Got about halfway through when my hand began to rebel (Arthur-Itis is not my friend!) Bob finished for me. Love that man! His help is invaluable.

Measured out portions and had a large dish for our meals this week. Likely too much so will freeze some of that also. Three other portion bags for freezing. While making the gravy Lucky sat on the rug in front of the refrigerator, likely hoping for “More, please!” The gravy worked just fine without the part on the floor. In actual fact, it was better than if I had made the mess in the sink where I likely would have lost more of the juices from cooking right down the drain.

Later in the evening the dog kept going back to that portion of the floor. She does not get the fact that I mopped it. Perhaps she prays for me to make another mess. Larger. Soon. Until then, she will need to be content to lick a little bit of gravy off my plate after dinner. Last thing we need is a chunky beagle!

What might have ruined an evening became an occasion for rejoicing with the Beagle, seeing that even when I make a mess it is not a catastrophe, just a mess. I am even more grateful for our cleaning women and their abilities to make our home sparkle. I was able to “Be Glad” even though things did not go as I planned.

Hours of Lessons

My sister gave me a book entitled “Just One thing” by Rick Hanson, PhD, a neuropsychologist. If you are not an Amazon book buyer it is available through newharbinger.com. I have randomly read portions of it. It was published in 2011 and says all rights reserved, so perhaps I should only share portions? Not certain how to go about this legally.

I recently read the chapter called Be Glad one evening and then to an online group I try to meet with monthly. These women are advanced in their spirituality and self-care. Hanson presents some ideas for practice that helped us think of things we have overlooked.

He begins by talking about how our brains are wired since creation to be aware of negative things around us. He teaches how difficult it can be to stay positive in this negative brain soup (my term. ) He writes, “As a consequence, we pay a lot of attention to threats, losses, and mistreatment in our environment – and to our emotional reactions, such as worry, sadness, resentment, disappointment, and anger. We also focus on our own mistakes and flaws – and on the feelings of guilt, shame, inadequacy, and even self-hatred that get stirred up.”

But because of the negativity bias of the brain, most of us go way overboard.   Which is really unfair. It’s not fair to zero in on a bit of bad news and ignore or downplay all the good news around it.

Rick Hanson, PhD

I love that he called it “unfair!” So we need to work our way out of the bad news, negativity and emphasize the good news or “the bad news also primes us to be untrusting or cranky with others.” I am certain that none of my readers are ever cranky with others. Just ask my husband, Bob, to find out how often I can be cranky!

And as your growing gladness naturally lowers your stress, you’ll likely get physical health benefits as well, such as a stronger immune system.

Be Glad, Just One Thing, Hanson

Who doesn’t want a stronger immune system? Okay, you there, yes, you. You can stop reading now and keep your lousy immune system.

Reading this more than once and then typing out the entire selection this morning has given me hours of lessons to use. One blog in the near future will demonstrate how I was able to use this material almost immediately.

As we age and are unable to do things we used to take for granted I am praying that these lessons about “Be Glad” stay with me for future use and enjoyment of all the things I am still ABLE to do!

Hanson added

Sometime every day, before going to bed, name to yourself at least things you are glad about.

Rick Hanson, Just One Thing, Be Glad

My pastor says five things first thing in the morning, three at bedtime, the point being just DO IT. Teh Psalmist said to praise God seven times a day (Psalm 119:164) Paul tells us repeatedly to rejoice. Find reasons to rejoice in the Lord. ALWAYS. But do you?

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, 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 and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anythings is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.

Philippians 4:4-8 NIV

The following is an endorsement for the book.

Every Moment Holy Quote

I was in a situation the other day where acute and chronic pain were doing a dance. Frenetic tap dancing I would say since I do not truly understand tango – and tango seems to be a love dance. One area calls for attention and then acute throbs. First one recedes and another pops up. Like pinball pain, ding-ding-ding, someone hits the flipper and it catapults pain here there and everywhere. What to do when this occurs? First try to draw close to God as He soothes and even at times relieves the situation. I know from experience that trying to determine how I caused this is a futile waste of time and energy.

Realized I was agonizing over my situation while journaling and had failed to do my pastor’s challenge to FIRST THING every morning write 5 gratitudes. Oops, I entertained flesh over discipline there. So I stopped and began to write the five. Then with compassion admitted I do not feel well. Confessed it is hard to focus on the Lord and “Hard to focus on anything” when I get like this. Asked for guidance.

Turned to Jesus Calling devotional by Sarah Young on my iPad. “I want you to learn a new habit. Try saying “I trust You, Jesus,” in response to whatever happens to you.” It goes on to say I am to view events from the perspective of God’s universal and sovereign control, letting fear lose it’s grip. (See Jesus Calling, January 4).

Then I realized that warfare has been raging here for a couple days. (Why do I not recognize it as soon as it begins?) So I was careful to pray the armor of God and Blood of Jesus over me. I journaled, “The matrix of life spins and unfolds. I am held in Your hands. Centered in You nothing can touch me. Hide me in the shadow of Your wings.”

Show wondrously Your acts of loyal love,

O Savior of those who take refuge at Your right hand

from those who rise up against them.

Keep me as the apple of Your eye

hide me in the shadow of Your wings

from the presence of the wicked who destroy me,

those enemies against my life,

they that surround me.

Psalm 17:7-9

Then I turned to a new favorite gift that Dan sent me a few months ago. “Every Moment Holy”, Volume 1, A Liturgy for the Feeling of Infirmities.” Liturgy used with permission.

Art by Ned Bustard, also available for purchase at same site
"We were not made for mortality but for immortality;
our souls are ever in their prime,
and so the faltering of our physical bodies
repeatedly takes us by surprise.

"The aches, the frailties, the injuries, the
impositions of vexing disease and worsening
condition are unwelcome evidences of our
long exile from the Garden.

"Even so, may the inescapable decline
of our bodies here not be wasted.
May it do its tutoring work, inclining
our hearts and souls ever more vigorously
toward Your coming kingdom, O God.

"While we rightly pray for healing and relief
and sometimes receive the respite
of such blessings, give us also patience
for the enduring of whatever hardships
our journeys entail."

Five stanzas remain. You can purchase the entire liturgy for $1.00 from Rabbit Room at https://www.everymomentholy.com/liturgies#free. Scroll down the page to Individual Liturgies for Purchase, Liturgies for Sorrow and Lament. In drop down window “A Liturgy for” select Feelings of Infirmity. Place in cart. Pay one dollar.

How does this help? My attention and focus have now moved from helplessness at my dilemma to looking to Jesus. When the acute jumps for attention this day I can say, “I trust You, Jesus.” I am reminded that Scripture is still true.

Even to your old age and gray hairs

I am He, I am He who will sustain you.

I have made you and I will carry you;

I will sustain you and I will rescue you.

Isaiah 46:4 NIV

And then this passage seems to respond as my heartfelt prayer.

Even when I am old and gray,

do not forsake me, my God,

till I declare Your power to the next generation,

Your mighty acts to all who are to come.

Your righteousness, God, reaches to the heavens,

You who have done great things.

Who is like You, God?

Psalm 71:18-19 NIV

And I hear this song of worship that brings me to stillness.

Fun with the Sun

Know what these are?

Ohio is notorious for gloomy winter days. Not much sun to boast about. Dan and Betty even moved to New Mexico because they have so MUCH MORE sun, year round! One delight of living in a new house is discovering where the sun and moonbeams enter at different times of year. When we do have sunny days it is great fun to capture and play with the beams.

On that note, Bob ordered us two kinds of prisms right around Christmas. One had two spheres with cut patterns on them. Amazon describes them as: “Clear Glass Crystal Ball Prism Pendant Suncatcher 40mm Pack of 2.” The other is a Sumnacon Photography Prism Crystal Glass Triangular Prism Full Rainbow Color Spectrum Best for Photography (6″).

Oh my we are having fun with these! This morning Bob reported a 6 foot rainbow on the floor of the great room. Here is our bedroom a bit later in the morning. Ignore the laundry basket, shoes, paint chips and electronic chargers. Just enjoy the play of the moving prism!

Oh! What a beautiful day!

You made the moon to mark the seasons, and the sun knows when to set.

Psalm 104:19

Blow up Characters and WOW! Look at That!

With Omicron variant of Covid on the rampage we have once again taken going for a drive as our best amusement.

Okay, pet peeve here. If you own some of those blow up characters PLEASE put in a light bulb bright enough to actually illuminate the character at night. So frustrating to look at the blows ups and not really see the design!

Have you noticed how sad and might I even say deflated the characters look when they are not blown up? We were taking a drive around the county and saw a rooster and chicken pecking amidst the deflated characters in the yard. Made me wonder if they cause any damage with those beaks and spurs?

We also saw an amazing bird that I was not able to photograph from the road. It was so wonderful that Bob drove a mile to find a turn around so he could see it too. I said, “It might not wait there for us!” Whew! still there, though we did not see it at first pass. Had to turn around again and go direction we were when I first spotted it. High in a tree it perched. Shades of gray over large shoulders and back. I believe it was a great gray owl.

Grey Owl Meaning? One online source said: “Seeing a grey owl represents the mystery, and trusting that everything will work out even if you don’t fully understand it. The universe is working on you under the surface, and this is a time to trust in the bigger picture.”

So if you have blow up characters and chickens perhaps you can enlighten me?

If you have an owl who visits your property regularly you just might live on Bootjack Road in Clermont County.

The one we saw looked even larger!

For more information on these amazing owls go to https://ebird.org/species/grgowl

And that reminds me. In high school I had an art teacher, Mr. O’Neill, who painted on rocks. I have had this in or on my desk ever since!