Have You Met El Roi?

The month of January Anchor Devotional was written by Jane C. Sveska. On January 13 she made note of one of my favorite names for God, El Roi, God who sees.

“God sees everything. He sees us throughout every minute of every day. If we did not know what a loving, patient God He is, this would be terrifying news to us!”

Anchor Devotional January 13, 2022

I have often used Hagar’s name for God in my prayers.

She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.”

Genesis 16:13 NIV

You are the God who sees. Yes! He sees everything! Even my slight momentary affliction. Even the desperate cries of someone caught in the throes of illness like my friend Mindy who is still trying to function after being in a coma for weeks. When I have trouble finding words for prayers, besides the Holy Spirit coming to my aid (Romans 8:26), I can pray “El Roi, do you see this? Do You see?” And I know that He does see and is moved with compassion.

Hagar was amazed that she was still alive after seeing the One who saw her. I am amazed that I can know this Holy Father who sees and is moved with compassion on my behalf and on behalf of others whom I pray for.

Anchor Devotional continues

“From Hagar’s story, (Genesis 16:7, 21:17) we know that God sees us, hears our cries of desperation, and speaks comfort to us through His written Word.”

Jane C. Sveska

Lord, do You see the people reading this blog? Of course, You see them. I pray You will bless them and help them to know You as the God Who Sees them and loves them. Amen.

“But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me,”
“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before Me.”

Isaiah 49: 14-16 NIV

Mended Slaughtered Peanuts Characters

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas Lucky decided she did want to play with toys. The Snoopy and Charlie Brown dolls were under the Christmas tree on the floor. Before we moved they had been seasonally upon the mantel with the Linus tree.

You might recall she decided they looked like fun and began chewing on them. That is a feat for a dog with few teeth. The vet had pulled eleven of her teeth before we adopted her from the shelter. She had ruined her teeth trying to chew her way out of a cage when she was held for breeding in Kentucky. (See Killer Dog? https://wordpress.com/post/treasures-in-plain-sight.org/7223

Eventually she chewed a hole in Snoopy’s neck and we had to remove it from her. Then she went after Charlie Brown. As his stuffing began to fly we took that away also. Could not let her get to swallowing that stuffing and a needing a vet visit. I pondered whether I should mount the heads on the wall like a trophy hunter would? For a time they were just in the office closet. She knew right where they were, but could not reach them. Some friends even told me that Kohl’s was selling them again right at Christmas for about $5, but I never made it there to purchase new ones for her.

I did buy her a rope toy suggested by Chrissy. She called it floss – basically strings knotted to form a rope. Lucky mostly licks it but occasionally gets to chewing at it. Eventually, after the holiday busy-ness calmed down I wanted to mend Snoopy and Charlie Brown for her to enjoy. I could not get their necks under the sewing machine needle, so I had to sew them up by hand. Lucky was delighted when I returned her toys to her!

It took her a while, but eventually, you guessed it, she had another hole in Snoopy’s neck. Bob removed it when he saw the stuffing flying. She has been making herself busy working on Charlie Brown’s shorts. I told my friend Lucky thinks Charlie changed his name to the name of her possible disease, so she is attacking his groin. Got at least a giggle from her! She loves Lucky.

How many times will I mend those? No telling. Snoopy now has another row of stitches in his neck. She is a sweet dog even though she has a streak of that stubborn beagle-ness in her. We have our stand-offs over issues besides toys.

But hey, who cannot love a dog who was mistreated, rarely barks, bawls us out if we leave her in the kennel and go out (think when she gets her flea drops). She is gentle and kind. The only thing she likes better than us is food, treats, dishes with gravy, etc!

Yes, I give thanks to the Father for bringing this dog to us during the pandemic. She certainly cheers us more than she aggravates us. Right now she is at my right leg while Bob dismantles the sitting room preparing for the painter later this week. She is watching him carefully as he places picture frames on the other side of my desk. She just ventured out to see where he went. So curious!

Sleepy beagle shedding as usual!

Stunned by Bad News

I have a friend who was recently stunned by bad news medically. A serious diagnosis that has no cure. I have tried to encourage and walk with her through a months-long process of getting to this point. The diagnosis is not even certain as it is one of those autoimmune things that defies diagnosis by mimicking so many other illnesses. So what can I offer her next?

That night as I was preparing for bed and praying for her I suddenly remembered when I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia many years ago. At that time there was much less known about Fibro and Bob and I were pretty much on our own to figure it out. I read everything I could. I tried to learn about this mystery illness. First, however, I had to cope with the weeks and months of getting back up on my feet again. We were a family of four with 2 young children and one husband working full time and often on call. I needed to function!

I hope to spend some time the next couple weeks blogging about what I discovered that helped me during those dark days. The night she shared the news with me when I got in bed to read on my iPad there came a flood of coping ideas. I typed with one finger until I thought I might need to get up and write at my desk!

One thing my friend had shared was about a neighbor couple who both got Covid after being exposed to extended family at Christmas. Neighbor woman is recovering. He was hospitalized. He finally was released from the hospital and two days later he died at home. When you have your own terrible news, the grief of others can put you in a tailspin. Where your heart would have been empathetic before, now their dark and dismal splashes over into your dark and dismal. Suddenly it can all be too much to take. From similar experiences, I learned to try to guard my heart.

Above all else, guard your heart,
    for everything you do flows from it.

Proverbs 4:23 NIV

Send a sympathy card, but be certain to keep your matters from flowing into the streams of others. Grief can come with illness. I will write on that another day.

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

1 Peter 5:8-9 NIV

Another struggle is when the “What if’s” and “If onlys” try to take over. Fretting and worry over the future and the past are like a lioness with her kill. You do not want to get in her way! Some call it “stinkin’ thinkin.” I experienced it with things like, “What if I cannot continue to raise my children?” “How can I be a good wife to Bob if I am weak and in bed all the time?” “What if pain takes over my life?” We are told to be alert and sober minded, aware of our thoughts.

The New Testament has advice on that. If you will do this it will save you from untold trouble.

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 NIV

Rather than swirl in a centrifuge of negative thoughts trying to push them down and forget them, I eventually found it helpful to list those thoughts. To examine them in the Light of Christ. It takes effort to become aware of your thoughts. Especially in this society that does not value self-examination. No one knows my thoughts except me and God. He is omniscient. “Nothing is hidden from Him with whom we have to do.”

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

Hebrews 4:13 NIV

Uncovering my negative thoughts takes much power from them. Learning how they make me feel is powerful, too. When I start getting ‘that way’ I now can often recognize where the discomfort is coming from and put a stop to it. I have to do the work. God enables me but does not accomplish it for me. I do not serve a fairy godmother who will whisk away every negative thing from me.

Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.

Psalm 105:4 NIV

In the struggle after a shock knocks you down, that struggle to get your feet under yourself again, I cannot stress how important it is to turn and face the Lord. Determine to stay with Him, come what may. Hold His hand.

Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.

Psalm 73:23 NIV

Guard your heart. Take your thoughts captive to Christ. Turn and face the Lord. Hold onto His hand. Does that seem like too much to do? The ideas can be put on a 3 x 5 card and practiced when you have nothing else pressing. Over time, with practice they are certain to keep you from getting worse mentally in the midst of bad news.

Holy Eucharist Prayer C & Nova

“God of all power, Ruler of the Universe, you are worthy of glory and praise.

Glory to you for ever and ever.

“At your command all things came to be: the vast expanse of interstellar space, galaxies, suns, the planets in their courses, and this fragile earth, our island home.

By your will they were created and have their being.

So begins this form of the Eucharistic prayer. It was often called the form most like the way St. Francis reverenced creation.

Bob and I recently watched a PBS special entitled NOVA The Universe Revealed Big Bang. You might be able to see it on your local PBS station. I am no scholar in astrophysics, astronomy or planetary studies. I am not versed in dating events in the universe or our galaxy. I am convinced we have an amazing Creator!

The program shared theories from various experts and images collected by the Hubble telescope along with NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and the European Space Agency’s (ESA) XMM-Newton space observatory. It all made my heart go directly to the Eucharistic Prayer C. The creation is beyond my comprehension and evidently also beyond my wildest imaginations!

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.

Psalm 19:1-6 ESV
A full view of DEM L249. Located in the Large Magellanic Cloud, DEM L249 is believed to be a remnant of a Type 1a supernova, or the death of a white dwarf star.  (Image credit: NASA/ESA/Y. Chou/Gladys Kober)

I rarely think of things like death of stars, yet above is an image of that happening.

You are the Lord, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you.

Nehemiah 9:6 ESV

Here is an image from January 21, 2022. “The spiral arms of the galaxy NGC 3318 are lazily draped across this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. This spiral galaxy lies in the constellation Vela and is roughly 115 million light-years away from Earth. Vela was originally part of a far larger constellation, known as Argo Navis after the fabled ship Argo from Greek mythology, but this unwieldy constellation proved to be impractically large. Argo Navis was split into three separate parts called Carina, Puppis, and Vela – each named after part of the Argo. As befits a galaxy in a nautically inspired constellation, the outer edges of NGC 3318 almost resemble a ship’s sails billowing in a gentle breeze.”

You can access this image and many. many more for yourself at https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/hubble/multimedia/index.html

Have fun exploring with the outer space explorers at the site below. If you put in NASA Hubble images, then instead of clicking on All just click on Images you can enjoy the view of amazing things they have found!

And more news is coming! “On Monday, Jan. 24, engineers plan to instruct NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope to complete a final correction burn that will place it into its desired orbit, nearly 1 million miles away from the Earth at what is called the second Sun-Earth Lagrange point, or “L2” for short.”

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?

Psalm 8:3-4 ESV

Friends of Silence

This newsletter came to my inbox. I wrote to the author and asked permission to re-post it. She graciously consented. With my new quest to understand rooted and grounded in the love of Christ, this seemed the perfect offering for one day on this blog. Plus, I love the tree artwork from Shutterstock! “Now Let Us Welcome…January 2022″

Early in the new year some friends, who for a long time in the pre-pandemic world had met and worked together on leading retreats that touched on “nature and soul”, gathered on Zoom to contemplate a return to this work. The following reflection is based on what I shared as we began our meeting.


“Now let us welcome the new year, full of things that have never been.” This quote by Rainer Maria Rilke, with its echoes of wonder and unbridled anticipation, is appreciated by many of us. I have always liked it; though my enthusiasm for the expressed sentiment is curious, because the imperative to welcome all things is a fierce one. Rilke is also the poet who wrote, “Let everything happen to you; beauty and terror.”
The call to boldly set sail into a year full of unknowns is particularly piercing in a dark time, when the unimaginable has befallen everyone. We are now considering returning to hosting and leading in-person retreats. Yet we only dare to plot a course knowing that the map may dissolve entirely as we leave the harbor. In such a time, planning anything is an act of courage and defiance.


Most days now I visit the long stretch of wildish woods that stretches along the Potomac River near my home. It is part of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park, which runs 184 miles from Washington DC to Cumberland, MD. There is a tree, a sycamore, which stands along the river bank a little downstream from Packhorse Ford.

This tree is gnarly, shaggy, and thick and has been there for a very many years. In summer, the wide leaves capture the sun, rustling dreamily by the river’s murmuring progress. In winter the twisted branches make intricate, knowing patterns in the air. Near this tree indigenous people once trapped eels and fish in the shallow water; a canal was dug and mules trudged along towing flat-bottomed boats loaded with coal, flour, iron and limestone; and by this tree in the late summer of 1862, men died in the water while fleeing the Battle of Antietam. All the while the tree bore witness to these and other mysterious events, the roots reaching forever through the dark, moist soil, connecting with myriad lifeforms and the subterranean community of other trees.


Sometimes, when peering into the unknown sea of a new year, it is possible to remember that there are living beings who have stood watch in thin places for eons, tightly woven to what is timeless and transcendent. Perhaps they are the lodestars by which to travel to other deeper and wider horizons.
They point us far upstream where the essential work of spiritual and soulful transformation begins. We need them if we are to be the apprentices and servants who might help reconnect our species to an animate Earth and the vast family of breathing beings who are patiently waiting for our return. Perhaps with these more than human guides we might dare venture onto that unknown sea and begin the possibility of a voyage to a home in the unfolding story on the far side of all that we know and are now.

Who can guess what that world on the other shore will be? The new year is full of things that have never been.
Watch this space for announcements, hopes, and plans for in-person retreats among the trees and wild, sacred spaces of Rolling Ridge and Still Point in 2022.
-Lindsay McLaughlin

May 2022 unfurl hope for each of us as we try to reconnect with the Lord through retreats and travel to thin places. May we grow and flourish in Him even as the pandemic rages on.

Chapman Harbourg

I was listening to this song and this video was on. I was stunned. Had to sit down and watch it twice! The sculptor is Chapman Hamborg. When he finishes the clay sculpture my thought was “Perfect!” And then he goes on to covering it and adding what looks like plaster cast material. In side I was going, “Oh no!” On his blog he talks about this video. Then I hope you will watch it for yourself. Maybe twice!!

Bethel Church and the School of Ministry have both played a big part in my life. My two older brothers and my wife have all attended the ministry school. Since the age of fourteen I have been making trips to Redding to visit Bethel. What an incredible place! I have never seen so many people in one room overflowing with love and passion for Jesus. Spending time in that environment always had a profound impact on my family and myself.

Bethel Music has played an equally big part in my life. I really connect with their heart for worship: authentic, raw and passionate. I have had countless moments connecting with God through their music, whether it is during a church service, or on my iPod dancing through fields. Their music leads me out of whatever funk I am in and into the presence of Jesus to have fun with Him. I am always listening to music as I draw, paint or sculpt, and I find worship most inspiring to listen to while creating. As God is the ultimate artist I feel the most creative when I am connected to Him.

With all that to say, you can imagine when I was asked to sculpt Bethel Music’s next album cover, how overjoyed I was! I was beyond excited to collaborate with Bethel Music in this way, and felt overwhelmed with God’s love for me. It felt like He was telling me ‘”I choose you, Chapman.”

 

I felt as if I could see the talent and inspiration in his eyes. Wow! Can barely imagine what it would be like to have his skill to create in 3-D.

Give God all of your heart and see what comes forth!

Speaking of Things Rooted

No idea what I was going to write, so here is a re-post of Dan’s take on tree humor based on this poem.

Trees
Joyce Kilmer - 1886-1918

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the sweet earth's flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

I cannot stop laughing about that one!! see Dan Cooksey’s blog at https://danandbettysplace.blog/author/corralesdan/ Another Monday

Giant Tree and Roots

During his life in California my father-in-law, Dragomir Dutina, was a volunteer and supporter at Shinn Historical Park and Arboretum. The photo above is my husband, Robert, standing at the roots of the massive Moreton Bay Fig Tree which grows there. If you are ever in Fremont California you might want to stop by there 1251 Peralta Blvd., Fremont, CA.

Regarding the Moreton Bay Fig Tree Wikipedia says Ficus macrophylla, commonly known as the Moreton Bay fig or Australian banyan, is a large evergreen banyan tree of the family Moraceae native to eastern Australia, from the Wide Bay–Burnett region in the north to the Illawarra in New South Wales, as well as Lord Howe Island. Its common name is derived from Moreton Bay in Queensland, Australia. It is best known for its imposing buttress roots.

The Shinn family imported many specimens for their home garden. This one is SO impressive. Wouldn’t you think by the photo that this tree has massive underground roots? So why all the visible big roots? Have you ever visited a gothic cathedral with ‘flying buttresses?”

Washington National Cathedral

Again Wikipedia says: Buttress roots are large, wide roots on all sides of a shallowly rooted tree. Typically, they are found in nutrient-poor tropical forest soils that may not be very deep. They prevent the tree from falling over (hence the name buttress) while also gathering more nutrients. Buttresses are tension elements, being larger on the side away from the stress of asymmetrical canopies.[1] The roots may interwind with buttress roots from other trees and create an intricate mesh, which may help support trees surrounding it. They can grow up to 30 feet (9.1 m) tall and spread for 30 metres above the soil then for another 30 metres below. When the roots spread horizontally, they are able to cover a wider area for collecting nutrients. They stay near the upper soil layer because all the main nutrients are found there.

Wait! All that show and massive growth is because of shallow roots? Well, maybe not because it says if 30 metres above the soil perhaps 30 metres below the soil, too. 30 metres, 98 FEET. “They prevent the tree from falling over while also gathering nutrients.”

Have you known Christians who sport large canopies (hear many words about God) but perhaps their root system seems flimsy? Have you noticed buttress roots about them? I knew people who were proud that they could recite all the books of the Bible. I always wondered how they did at actually LIVING one verse. Living any one verse is harder than it seems.

Many of us try to show others our faith with large financial donations, bragging, and flying buttresses made of arguments about faith, strong convictions about God’s judgements and meanings. I think St. Francis had it right when he said, “Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words when necessary.”

I pray along with Paul that ‘out of His glorious riches God may strengthen you with power through the Spirit in your inner being …and you, being rooted and established in love, may have power to GRASP how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, to KNOW this love that surpasses knowledge.’ (Ephesians 3:16-19 NIV)

Out of His riches God can help us to know these things. Give Him your hands so He can give you the power to grasp these things. Once you have hold of it let Him show you how to use this power and knowledge. If you forget and the knowledge slips out of your hands, go back and ask Him to help you again. Oh Father, that we might bring delight to Your heart through these actions. I pray it all for your glory. Amen.

Like Dragomir’s great-grandson hold firmly to the roots of love in Christ

Free Range

The grocery package says free range eggs. But aren’t they eggs from free range chickens? Or did the eggs roll around on the ground wherever they pleased? Yikes.

Taking another drive last week in the adjoining counties we came across chickens, and then more chickens. I love the white one strutting below. Made me wonder how do you control these free range chickens? Can’t exactly get the sheep dog to round them up at night!?!

Searching on line I posed the question “How do I raise chickens in my yard?” Here is a link if you want more information. https://backyardpoultry.iamcountryside.com/chickens-101/how-to-raise-free-range-chickens/

Basically you want a roost of some type to protect your chickens from predators at night (think coyotes, foxes, dogs). Let them out in the morning and they will quickly learn to return to the roost at night if you use the same bucket or container everyday to give them feed in late afternoon or evening. Then you close up the pen. The link goes on to talk about eggs and shells and poop as fertilizer. Feel free to peruse that information.

Wherever your roaming may take you today, be on the lookout for chickens in the front yards, side yards, ditches, etc. And remember that Jesus loves you and protects you like a mother hen. Return to Him for protection and sustenance. Be careful not to roam too far from Him.

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.”