Hello Again!

We were on vacation and I have been trying a medication change. Put together I not only did not write, I did not even post that I would return in a week or so.

What was I thinkin’? Not much evidently! Close friends told me to take a break. Somehow I thought I could press on. Oh well.

In case you have not been to the Atlantic ocean lately, here is a sequence of sunrise photos for your enjoyment. Bob said I would have to get up early if I wanted to see the sunrise. I was up before he was that one day. It was the ONLY morning I got up for the entire display!

5:37 AM Yes, Mercury, Venus and I do not know what else shining up there!
5:45 AM Can barely see planets now
6:20 AM Wondered will it rain here today? {It did not}
Another 6:20 image further to the left
6:26 AM Here she comes!
6:29 AM There she is accented with a Pac Man smile
6:36 AM

And then it became too bright to photograph or write on the deck!

In the last photo you can see the gulls began to awaken and scream over the sea. Soon the pelicans would begin to patrol in troops seeking breakfast.

I hope the 7 sunrise photos amused you. I was delighted to break our usual routine and see the ocean once again. I stand and praise as in Nehemiah,

And the Levites—Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah and Pethahiah—said: “Stand up and praise the Lord your God, who is from everlasting to everlasting.”

“Blessed be your glorious name, and may it be exalted above all blessing and praise. You alone are the Lord. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.

“You are the Lord God, who chose Abram and brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans and named him Abraham.

Nehemiah 9:5-7 NIV

So, too, may the Lord God call you out of enemy territory and name you as His own. I pray you will follow wherever He leads you, just as Abraham did. Amen.

Humor All Around Me

In February the gas station built a fortress. There were 60 bags in a block. The piles of blocks numbered at least 12. They were getting a start for mulch sales.

There were snow piles in the shade. Ice on the ponds. One pond had a black swan alone while there was a pack of 6 white swans clustered together.

We drove through the unremarkable city of Plain.

Driving down the road we passed a hearse on a tow truck. “Hmm,” I mused and asked Bob, “Does that make it twice dead?” Then I remembered the first verse below. The second verse is glorious!

And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, 28 so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.

Hebrews 9:27-28 NKJV

The sign read, “Right on red arrow after stop.” I was bewildered as the lane only went left.

A man pushing his cart down the lane in Home Depot. I was waiting for new bedroom blinds to be cut. His phone announced, “Continue east on 125.” I cracked up! Either he had already arrived or was very, very lost.

In early March we were driving and I saw parched, dead, brown gray stubble in fields and yards. It was not a corn field waiting to be plowed under. Perhaps grass in a dormant stage?

Then suddenly in April there was green, green grass splashed with neon yellow dandelions and if someone had splattered neon paint. Bees are so grateful as are other pollinators! Please don’t kill all the dandelions!

Well, perhaps not the all important pollen source they were reported to be? https://www.gardenmyths.com/dandelions-important-bees/ says the following …

“I spoke to one of the researchers at the Honey Bee Research Center, University of Guelph and asked him about the bees first food.

“Around here, zone 5, Ontario, “their first important food source is tree pollen. Long before flowers become important, honey bees are in the top of trees collecting pollen. Maples, elms, poplars and willows are important as a first food” and they flower before dandelions.

“They gather dandelion pollen when other pollen is not available.”

Some trees are wind pollinated and produce a lot of pollen. They also have a very concentrated source which means bees don’t have to fly long distances between flowers to get it.”

Bob Walks Lucky

Almost every morning at 8 AM Bob walks Lucky. As they went around the retention pond recently they came across these lovely deer.

As soon as he got home Bob said, “I have something to show you!” And shared those two photos. Moments later, a neighbor texted me saying, “I was taking a picture of the deer and look who entered the frame.”

We live in a fun neighborhood!

Often while walking Lucky Bob is listening to Morning Prayer or a devotional blog. I think these verses fit these photos perfectly!

Just like a deer that craves streams of water,
    my whole being craves you, God.
My whole being thirsts for God, for the living God.
    When will I come and see God’s face?

Psalm 42:1-2 CEB

Lucky and Noodle

The winter weather broke and we were going to sleep with the windows open. On that warm evening there many dogs out of doors and they had lots to say. Lucky was uneasy with all those canine voices. She looked out the window with her paws on the sill. Had trouble making sense of it. She laid on the floor next to my side of the bed, under one of the open windows. Seriously restless.

Finally she decided the only safe course of action was to scoot 1/2 way under bed.

Later in the night when I got up she was on her sleeping pillow as the other canines had retired to sleep and were no longer causing a racket.

Lucky has not yet met Noodle, but we have a Great-granddog puppy! Baby Corgi! Congratulations Lizzie and Drew!!

I think my favorite name for her is pinky toes!

When she is awake she has loads of energy. When she is asleep she is out cold. There is a little eye make-up on one eye and a faint black stripe down her back. She is quiet vocal and for now has a tiny bark. With her personality they are going to have their hands full!

I can’t wait for her to get all her shots so Lucky can meet her!

Uh Oh

Trees are blooming here in the Cincinnati area. On a recent trip to downtown I pointed them out to a friend who is sight impaired. Even she was able to see them carpeting hillsides and valleys. Later that night we were driving home and in the street lights I saw white trees and immediately thought, “Oh look the trees are covered with snow!” Ha! I was so wrong. It was 45 degrees and I was simply seeing the Bradford Pears reflecting the street lights. The joke was on me. If you are not familiar with Bradford Pears they are also call Callery Pears. They have become invasive in Ohio and likely other parts of the USA, too.

“Unfortunately, the majority of the Callery Pear that you are seeing, or smelling, were not planted, and you will continue to find more and more of them every year that were not planted by people, but instead, spread by birds and animals. While the tree lawns in cities are littered with trees that were planted, you can basically stick these trees in any kind of soil, and they will grow. What is even more disturbing is to find these trees popping up in otherwise untouched wilderness areas, far away from where anyone would have originally planted one. Once they are established areas, they begin to choke out native plant species and become thick, deep rooted stands of trees that are frustratingly difficult and expensive to control.

They are invasive to the point that the Ohio Department of Natural Resources added the Callery/Bradford pear to the states invasive species listing in in 2018. In 2023 it will be illegal to buy or plant this species in Ohio. This is a good move; it is just about 20 years late. The ones planted are spreading exponentially and are causing serious problems if not kept in check. Though originally thought that they did breed to not bear fruit, they do. Birds gorge on the plentiful, but low energy fruit then dropping the seeds in their waste everywhere and the next tree takes off creating an endless and devastating cycle. Callery/Bradford pears are weak structured with steep “V” notched branches that are prone to breaking off in ice, snow, and windy conditions. They will get to roughly 10 to 15 years old and then start falling apart. The other issue is the waxy leaves decompose very slowly causing headaches in landscape and street tree settings, as well as compost piles.”

https://wayne.osu.edu/news/callery-pear-beautiful-tree-thats-causing-stink

Pearls

 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”

Matthew 13:45-46
Purported to be the largest pearl ever found

So what do you value the most? The parable says this is what the kingdom of heaven is like …. Do you value the Kingdom and your relationship with the Trinity above everything else? Would you give everything you have to get this pearl?

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.”

Matthew 6:33

Jesus said the above after telling the people not to worry about clothing or food or anything else. If we are willing to seek Him, the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, we will have everything else we need.

St. Isaac of Syria, from the 600s, continues to influence Orthodox spirituality today. He is known as one of the greatest spiritual writers of the Christian East. His writing was suggested to me in 2009. Remarking on this parable he wrote:

A swimmer dives into the sea naked, in order to find a pearl.

A wise monk journeys through life, stripped of all that he has, to find within himself the pearl, Jesus Christ, and finding him, he no longer seeks to acquire anything else beside him.

Daily Readings with St. Isaac of Syria

I believe the first thing we stumble over in this pursuit is naked, or stripped of all that he has. We are simply way too attached to our things. If you were from Ukraine right now you would either be putting your life on the line for your country or running for your life with few, if any, possessions. Are we willing to turn loose of our hold on possessions so we might grasp the Lord firmly as our source of life and reason for living?

Have you forgotten –

Naked I came from my mother’s womb,

and naked I will leave this life.

Job 1:20a

The saying goes “You can’t take it with you” but what if you turned loose of the all-encompassing life-draining drive for power and possessions now? It is unlikely you will move to a barren wasteland and become a desert father or mother. You could however focus your life upon the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. You could pursue this pearl of great price and find treasure you never suspected was available to you in 2022. Never will the question be answered in your own heart unless you experiment with opening your hand, letting go of the tenacious grasp of things, so you can grab hold of the Lord.

Do you have a Halloween store near you? Once when I was having difficulty turning loose of my teenage children the Lord had me buy a rubber hand like the ones below.

I took it home and easily cut off the red line of ‘blood.” I placed it palm up on my dashboard. The Lord had said I could turn my kids loose to Him or He could pry them out of my hands. Every time the car hit a bump those fingers would vibrate and wiggle. Yes, it was a clear object lesson for me and it made me laugh to boot. God has such a sense of humor!

Perhaps you need to visit the local part supply store and get a hand for yourself? Turn loose of a few obsessions first, trusting that He is able to be in charge of those. Then a few more things. Then a few more, filling your time and mind with His word and presence. He is able to inspire and help you with this if only you will ask.

Yield to Him and find out what He has in mind.

Psalm 1

Like a tree planted by streams of water …..

Oh, the joys of those who do not follow evil men’s advice, who do not hang around with sinners, scoffing at the things of God. But they delight in doing everything God wants them to, and day and night are always meditating on his laws and thinking about ways to follow him more closely. They are like trees along a riverbank bearing luscious fruit each season without fail. Their leaves shall never wither, and all they do shall prosper.

Psalm 1:1-3 Living Bible

We recently got away for a few days. It was so refreshing just to get out of town and break up the daily routine. Whew! When we arrived at our room it was gloomy, early evening and beginning to rain. We did not notice much outside our windows except for a pond/lake. The next morning I could not wait to get outside when I saw this!

I had already been thinking for a few days about Psalm 1 and the tree planted by the streams of water. Been wondering how to write about that tree theme and there it was!

Blessed are those who trust in the Lord,

    whose trust is the Lord.

They shall be like a tree planted by water,

    sending out its roots by the stream.

It shall not fear when heat comes,

    and its leaves shall stay green;

in the year of drought it is not anxious,

    and it does not cease to bear fruit.

Jeremiah 17:7-8 NRSV

The willow tree! Her lower branches almost touch the water.

There was a willow tree that grew on the edge of Kuhner’s field. I played there when I was growing up. Daffodils, a stream and a willow tree. Land snails that left me their discarded shells. I was close to heaven there. I used to play under the branches of the willow assuming that no one could see me. Hidden there in her long wavy arms my imagination was allowed to be still or run wild. The tree did not care which I chose.

Bob and I have been fascinated for decades how the tendrils and buds on the willow turn yellow before other things are giving a hint of spring to come. Now I am in room 303 and out our windows are 3 willow trees planted by this water.

From my journal: “Wood ducks and Canada geese vie for position on the water. Those ducks glide past as if propelled by some force other than themselves. Lord, help me relax and let You propel me today. Help me not to talk too much. Hush me from giving suggestions. Let me just look, watch, ask You for ways to follow You more closely. Increase my trust in You I pray.”

And yes, those trees sent out lots and lots of roots! Look at the opening photo (top of page). Not always easy to see the path of tree roots, but these are easily delineated in the strange winter grass that almost looks like moss.

We arrived in rain. Enjoyed a day of sun and our last morning there was SNOW! I did not venture out to get a shot of snow on the willow buds.

My photo above taken indoors and the chandelier light is reflected on the window (oops!). What a difference in weather!

You can see those willow tendrils in these photos. “Their leaves shall never wither. Never having fear or anxiety.” Yes, Lord! I want to be like these trees. Help me to trust You and drink daily from Your Living Water. Help me to delight in You and meditate on Your word day and night. Make me deeply rooted and grounded, established in Your love. (Ephesians 3:17)

You Lord are my hope and my salvation. Help me become a tree to Your glory, a living testament to Your power at work in 2022. Help me delight in doing everything You want me to do.

Insisted

Then the man brought me to the gate facing east, and I saw the glory of the God of Israel coming from the east. His voice was like the roar of rushing waters, and the land was radiant with his glory.

Ezekiel 43:1-2 NIV

Last time we went to Niagara Falls on the Canadian side, I insisted we go behind the falls again. There are hallways there that let you stand right behind the falling water. The water moves at about 150,000 American gallons per second. The sound is glorious! It does not matter that from behind it only shows in grays and white. I’ve found no other experience like it in this world. On this video the sound is somewhat distorted as the water falling is so loud! Sadly, as is usual in our lives there are human voices competing for the experience of being heard. Perhaps play it twice; once with sound and once without, yet listening for His word to you today.

Listening, a powerful force we each have, yet few use. Do we truly listen to others or simply formulate our response as they speak. Do we listen for their heart and intention or guess what they are going to say then interrupt, not letting them even finish a sentence?

How about in our faith life? Do we think we have all the answers? Are we truly listening for the guidance and wisdom of God for ourselves? Too often I think we are like the people in the desert with Moses.

When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance and said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.” Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.”

Exodus 20:18-20

They no longer wanted to experience God. Our refusal to go to God ourselves has made for terrible sin in the world. There has been an awful rash of crime in America by churches groups that come under the sway of one person or a small group of persons then fall into sin because the people do not seek God themselves. The people just go along like deaf lambs.

How can we claim intimacy with Jesus if we never spend time alone with Him? The risen Christ wants to live in and through you. Will you allow that? I believe some denominations have grieved the Spirit of God by claiming the indwelling was just in the past. Unleashing that mighty power of the Spirit in each Christian would unleash the power of God for salvation and redemption that no governing church body could rule unless they were acutely in-tune with His will and His purposes. Even then, the leaders might not rule but only cooperate with the work of God. At times that scares leaders to pieces, so they clamp down on control measures.

“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 through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power …” to grasp and to know this love that surpasses knowledge and be filled with all the fullness of God. Can you imagine the roar of His voice if we would let ourselves be filled with this living water? Indeed, just as in Ezekiel, the land would be radiant with His glory.

Speak, Lord, we are listening.

Various Quotes

I make notes as I read and come across things I want to use in this blog. When I go back to review them I often wish I had expounded with a few key words to prompt myself. Nevertheless, the quotes usually move me even if I do not recall the original impact they had upon me.

Many of my quotes come from Gratefulness.org. I get a daily thought from them. They draw from across faiths and races and countries to find the best ones to use. I am always amazed at the similarities among faiths and peoples irregardless of the differences!

When we trust our creativity we encounter a supreme kind of enjoyment – an amazement at the natural unfolding of life beyond our ordinary way of looking at things.

Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche

Like I was saying, an amazing unfolding of life beyond my ordinary way of looking at things!

In August of 2018 (as now) I was struggling to adjust to a loss of strength and stamina. Chronic pain has a way of draining you. What you took for granted yesterday may prove to be quicksand today. How to adapt to this ever-changing landscape? I was sent the following quote that day.

Loss makes artists of us all as we weave new patterns in the fabric of our lives.

Greta W. Crosby
Early morning in Winter

Saw family doc about pain. I am okay with Tylenol dose I am taking. She has referred me to pain management doctor. I will try my best to keep weaving new patterns from the pain changes.

I think over again my small adventures, my fears, those small ones that seemed so big, all those vital things I had to get and to reach, and yet there is only one great thing: to live and see the great day that dawns, and the light that fills the world.

Old Inuit Song

What in your life is calling you, when all the noise is silenced, the meetings adjourned … the lists laid aside, and the wild iris blooms by itself in the dark forest … what still pulls on your soul?

Rumi

That quote I noted as “Why I Write.” To capture my experiences with God in words, to try to tell you what life with the Trinity is like for me, that is what pulls on my soul. Ben Palpant teaches writers to “get comfortable with words like your fork.” After age 6 or so most of us don’t give much thought to how we use our fork. Just can we get it to our mouth? I want my words to get to your heart, your soul, your mind. I want words that will transport you to a deeper, richer place with holiness.

I also make notes as I notice things when we are driving around. “Low-lying black clouds were shifting in thick, grotesque shapes across a fat full moon.” Too bad I had no photo for that one! Perhaps reading it again you can make the photo in your mind?

How about driving home during a winter dusk I saw “Blood red sky through the trees. V8 juice with swizzle sticks.” Again, have to make your own picture in your mind.

Hope your day is enjoyable!

Asleep in the Boat

Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”
He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.
The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”

Matthew 8:23-27 NIV

I recently sent my friend, Kathy this icon from the Printery House, Conception Abbey. The title is “Storm on the Sea of Galilee” based on the verses in Matthew 8, Mark 4 and Luke 8. I have an 8 x 10 image of this icon on my office wall. Here is the link if you are interested in ordering one.


https://www.printeryhouse.org/ProdPage.asp?prod=A04

The Episcopal diocese of West Missouri has a page about how to pray with an icon. “Icons bring us into prayer, or conversation with God, with our eyes wide open. An ancient practice, praying with icons involves taking into our heart what the image visually communicates. Rather than focusing on what is seen, we focus on what is seen through it – the love of God expressed through God’s creatures.” https://spirit.diowestmo.org/2022/01/a-way-to-pray-icons/

Shortly after I mailed it to Kathy, the Haven Today Winter Newsletter arrived in my mailbox. It contained an article by Dan Warne called “Rest as a Daily Rhythm of Dependence.”

The idea isn’t that we shouldn’t work hard, but that we should remember that it’s okay to rest, knowing that it’s a gift from God and he will keep the world turning until sunrise.

As someone pointed out, Jesus himself modeled this for us when he slept in the boat in the storm. The disciples were frantic and scared, but the God who made the sea was taking a moment to rest his tired, human body. He had power over the storm, and because of that when we walk with Jesus, sometimes the best way to imitate our Savior and express our reliance upon him is to rest knowing he is in control.

El Faro speaker Dan Warne

Here is a link to Dan’s ministry in Cuba https://www.elfaroderedencion.org/home

Even the winds and waves obey Him. Oh readers, take heed to this Master of the Universe, your Savior and King. Mind his instruction and directions for you. He is Lord and knows what you need. Rest in His love and power. He cares beyond your deepest understanding.

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 3:17b-19

This brings to mind that prayer/poem I had only heard snippets of until recently.

Thy sea, O God, so great,
My boat so small.
It cannot be that any happy fate
Will me befall
Save as Thy goodness opens paths for me
Through the consuming vastness of the sea.

Thy winds, O God, so strong,
So slight my sail.
How could I curb and bit them on the long
And saltry trail,
Unless Thy love were mightier than the wrath
Of all the tempests that beset my path?

Thy world, O God, so fierce,
And I so frail.
Yet, though its arrows threaten oft to pierce
My fragile mail,
Cities of refuge rise where dangers cease,
Sweet silences abound, and all is peace.

- Winfred Ernest Garrison

He is able to keep us, on land or on sea with love and power beyond our comprehension. Thank the Lord we can be recipients of that love and power on our behalf without having to understand and comprehend them! Help us, Father, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ and to KNOW this love.