Saturday, September 16, 2017

Feeling Sad about Judas

As we draw ever closer to the harrowing last week and triumphal victory over death, I've been doing a lot of thinking about Judas lately. He's often seen as such a one dimensional character, I felt sure there was more to it than that.

He is so often called "Judas Iscariot" that people often think Iscariot is his last name, so to speak.

It's not.

Iscariot means "the one from Keriot," a small southern town in the lower part of the country.

And all the other disciples seem to have come from the Galilee, which is in the North.

Was it something they called him to tease him?

Did it grate on his nerves, as constant teasing tends to do?  Make him feel "less than", not included?  Did it stick in his throat and fester?

Things that fester have the unhappy attribute of spreading a bitterness in your heart that taints everything.  Perhaps his heart became super-sensitive, taking offense at the smallest thing.

Is that why he stole money?

It couldn't have gotten him anything - Judas would know if he suddenly started throwing cash around, everyone would know exactly where he got it.  So the only thing he could have done with it is bury it, or put it somewhere "safe" for use later, when they got to be big man on campus for the new kingdom.

And then there's the fact that Jesus, Who knew he was money hungry, had selected him to carry the funds.

I think He was giving Judas an opportunity to learn how weak he was, to choose right instead of false security.

I always wonder how 30 pieces of silver could have been enough money to buy a field. Did the money he pilfered go into paying for that field too?  As a potter's field, it wouldn't be good for much else - the potter would have scraped every bit of useful clay from the topsoil to make his pots- if there had ever been any topsoil to begin with.

Perhaps he realized that Jesus knew every penny that should be in that moneybag.

And perhaps there should have been enough to feed the 5000 and then some. If he had piped up and offered the $$ to feed people, would Jesus have multiplied the money instead of the bread and fish? Or done some other miracle that would have blessed Judas and changed his heart.

Every phrase having to do with money became a billboard for Judas.  Many times quotes are attributed to "Peter said" or "John said" - the words about money are rarely so noted.

And their inclusion in the Word is interesting.  Nothing is there by chance.  Every word is there for a reason.

Maybe Jesus was showing us that He warns us subtly when we begin making wrong choices.  His response to remarks about money bears study.  Was He speaking to Judas about his wrong choices?

And then there's the kicker.

When Mary of Bethany brings her precious carved marble bottle of nard to break for the purpose of anointing Jesus, Judas loses it.  All that lovely money - wasted!  He can't control himself.  I hear him in my head, speaking in a derogatory tone - "this could have been sold for a hundred denarii (100 days wages) and the money given to the poor."

Those reporting this incident add as a side note (all paraphrases mine) "Judas didn't give a fig about poor people.  He said that cuz he was a thief."

So they knew.

They all knew.

The question is, did they know before or after?

I can't imagine they knew before. Judas wouldn't have been a beady-eyed shifty character they could all recognize -or he never would have gotten the moneybag in the first place. At the same time, I can't believe that Judas was tight with the other guys. Did they trust him?  Like him even?

Jesus was always taking Peter, James and John with Him for special things.  To raise someone from the dead.  To be transfigured.  Always those three.  Peterjamesandjohnpeterjamesandjohnpeterjamesandjohn. Never him.

So when the nard was poured out and he didn't have a chance at all that dough, he couldn't stand it.  Jesus didn't seem to care about any of the things he thought were important.  This wasn't working out the way he'd thought it would.

Jesus went up on that mountain and prayed all night and the next day He chose him to be one of His special 12 followers.


And Judas thought there would be a lot more...well...prestige in the position.  But it was Peter, James and John who got all that stuff. He did get the moneybag.  And he knew how to take the most out of what he'd been given.

And did.

So when he lost the money, his disappointment made itself known.

And what did Jesus do?

In front of them all, all the people at this feast, Jesus rebuked him.
Put him down.

And all because of a woman. How embarrassing!

He couldn't bear it.

The next paragraph always stood out to me in chilling tones.  It reads, "Then Judas looked out for an opportunity to betray Him."

And even then, Jesus gives Judas more than one last chance.

He tells the whole group that one of them will betray Him.  And  they all ask "Is it me?"

Can you imagine how Judas felt at that moment?

Everyone was saying "is it me?"  He couldn't say that, and he knew he had to.

I always thought they said it dramatically, one at a time.  But thinking of Judas, I changed my mind.  If they had, they all would have heard Jesus say "You know it's you (my paraphrase again).  Instead it's recorded that when Jesus told him to do quickly what he had to do, they all thought he went to buy something needed for the Passover.

I think Judas panicked.

It is recorded that the Pharisees did not want to have Jesus killed @ the Passover.

Did not.

I think he ran out of the upper room straight to the Pharisees.

"We have to do it now!  He knows!  He knows!  We have to do it NOW!!"

The pharisees must have scrambled to get enough people together to hold a "court" and a mob big enough to take Him from the apostles and disciples and all His followers, even if they wanted to fight to protect Him. How they must have celebrated in their hearts. "We've got Him now.  We have the power.  Not this ragged Galilean."

So Judas leads the mob to where he knows Jesus will be. When Passover came, the city grew to an estimated million or more people. Remember, the men were required to come to Jerusalem three times a year.  And there were not that many places to buy lodging.  Often the Mount of Olives was a camping place - the families would find a piece of ground to make a fire and cook dinner, to sleep - it lasted a week. And since Jesus didn't have so much as a hole in the ground to sleep in, He would take His disciples with Him to the place across the street from the Temple.

And how heartbreaking it is that Judas betrays Him - with a kiss.

And even then, even then, Jesus gives him another chance.

"My friend!  Why have you come?"

Judas knew He knew why he'd come.  He knew this was his chance to distance himself from this act of betrayal.

And then Jesus asked the mob who they were after.

When they said His name, He responded with "I AM." (the "he" in your Bible was added.)

And they all fell down.

Power went out from Him and dropped them all to the ground. All the cheap ruffians with their clubs and rough ways.  All the guard from the Temple that had heard Him teach and yet could ignore the memories that had so impressed them.

What would you do if you were going to beat up on someone and they turned to you and whoop! You were laid out on the ground?

I should think you would pause and reconsider what you were about to do.

Then Peter chops off some one's ear and blood spurts everywhere and this guy is screaming and grabbing his head - and Jesus calmly picks it up and sticks it back on!

The screaming stops.

The blood stops.

The guy is perfectly healed - no muss no fuss. But with a soggy, bloody garment all could see.

Again, a subject to ponder and a chance to re-evaluate your plans.

But no one even seems to notice.

Doesn't this seem a bit odd to you?

It does to me.

And all I can think of is how Satan blinds you - the further off track you go, the less you can recognize things as being "a bit odd."  And these folks were white-cane-and-dark-glasses blind.

I think Judas had a moment of clarity here..

I think he re-evaluated.

Perhaps he thought to force Jesus' hand and make Him declare Himself king - but surely he would know that his betrayal would disqualify himself from being a BMOC in the new regime.

Was it really because he got in a snit and had a hissy fit? Seriously?

We'll never know.

What we do know is that Judas, indeed, had second thoughts. I think he realized, finally, that Jesus did love him, that He was his friend.  And that he had betrayed very innocent blood.

But, true to form, Judas never humbled himself. He could not repent.  He felt he had to fix it himself.  So he ran to the Pharisees and to show he was really serious, he threw the money at them.  Money!  He willingly threw it away.  Perhaps he thought they'd let Jesus go, and he could undo what he had done.

"Sorry 'bout that Jesus.  I don't know what I was thinking!  But we're ok now, right?"

But the Pharisees laughed at him.  "That's not our problem, buddy - you did it, not us. And what's done is done."

So Judas is left guilty.  He couldn't undo it, though he tried.  He couldn't fix it.  And the ones he thought would value him for giving Jesus into their power laughed at him.

Everyone would know he did it.

Perhaps someone from the twelve would discover and spread it around that he was a thief, too.

There was no place to go, no place to hide.  He'd done an awful thing that he couldn't undo.

Jesus would never forgive him.  Never.

There was nothing left.  He couldn't bear being exposed like that.  He couldn't repent - he couldn't get close to Jesus to talk to him.  Perhaps he tried.  Another thing we'll never know on this earth.

So, he killed himself.

And suicide is always a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Satan whispers incessantly that it's the only way out.  You can't endure it. Your name will be everywhere.  You'll be laughed at and never trusted again.  You'll have to do the meanest of manual labor just to survive.  No new reign and no prominent position. Nothing. No way out.

And yet, when he died he faced something a thousand times worse than exposure.  He sought out peace on his own terms. He didn't go to the Father Jesus had taught him about for 3 years and ask forgiveness. He remembered only too well Jesus saying the Son of Man would be betrayed - and woe to that man doing the betraying.  "It would be better for that man to have never been born."

The evil one blinded him to repentance, stirring his guilt so much he actually thought it would end with death, and he would have peace.

And got hell instead.

In the end, I think Judas worshipped only himself. His pride couldn't take the blows he himself had dealt - he willingly gave himself to the love of money, which the Word tells us is the root of all evil.  It puts you at the center of your existence, it gives you a false sense of power, it makes you think you need no one and nothing else.

So you do things that, at first, singe your conscience.

And then they don't.

So money, and the person behind it, become what you worship.

And salvation something you laugh at.

And you forget, if you even ever knew:

"It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God."


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The LORD be with you

My great-nephew left today.

He has been living with us the past few years, going to school, falling in love, making a life for himself. Within a short period of time, he had a group of friends from church that I called his "posse", and shortly after that, a girl that lit up his eyes and heart and became his constant companion.

And then he joined the army.

He is in love with helicopters, and can find and fix its problems. And the army needs men who can fix helicopters. Only two weeks from completing Basic, they got 2 weeks off for Christmas. He went to his sister's house for Christmas, and then spent the next week here.

His sister lives in Redlands with her hubby and 1 and 1//2 year old little son.  They have always been very close.

Well, that's not entirely true.  She did not like the little interloper to her family for the first 10 or 12 years of her life.  One Christmas in particular, she was 6 and he had just passed 1 year old, he wanted to see what she got, too - with the endless energy of a toddler, he circled and circled and never gave up. She did NOT want his fingers "all over her stuff!"

After  almost melting down with exasperation, she gathered it all together, to make it easier to guard ,
but still he could reach it.

So... she sat on it.

Mission accomplished.

But I digress.

At the age of 11 her girlfriends thought he was soooo cute -  so she granted a truce.

And then the most wonderful thing happened.

She accepted Jesus Christ into her life.

And her heart grew 10 sizes that day (Sorry Mr Grinch - got you beat, hands down!) From that day on, she and her brother grew closer every day. They hung out together and she counseled him and they shared their hearts.

And still do.

So at Christmas she invited the entire family to come for Christmas dinner.

Of my original family of 4 kids, 2 parents and a grandmother , only myself and one brother are left.

And he, curmudgeon that he can be, refused to go to Redlands - a mere 3 hour drive.

And I could not find it in my heart to leave him alone on Christmas Day.

So my niece had one less person to bother with, and he and I shared a frozen lasagna for a few hours.

And after that I was alone.

But this kind-hearted young man called me on Christmas to tell me about a special present he ordered for his grandmother and me, checked how my day was, and then told me, "Everyone here loves you,"  ending with "Merry Christmas!"

Quite a lad.

Somehow, after his call, the alone feeling left me. (pausing here to clear my throat and blink my eyes a bit - think I got a piece of something in one…)

My usual New Year's meandering is spent deliberating on my word for the coming year, a thought to concentrate on, day by day.

This year, I've decided on "considerate."

I want to put others first with a heartfelt letting go of my "self".

To train my heart to walk with Jesus and pray for my Father's eyes to be my eyes, my hands to be His hands, my heart to belong fully to the love He offers to one and all, and to let it be poured through my hands and heart - daily, without a moment's hesitation, without withholding a second's worth of energy or a teaspoonful of affection.

I want an open heart, open hand, and arms open continuously to anyone who needs a hug   - or can't move fast enough to escape one.  I want to think up the small things that are really big things when put in the proper perspective, and make sure no one ever suffers that "all alone on Christmas Day" feeling on whatever day it happens to be. To look for those little things that mean so much to curmudgeons and  non-curmudgeons alike. And to drop-kick that "me first" attitude that so easily creeps in thru the cracks in the walls of my heart.

In short, to have an attitude that says, "Everyone here loves you."

I'm gonna miss that boy.

Friday, December 23, 2016

A Boomer Christmas Memory

Kids the world over are getting ancy.

BUT they are shining up their halos and trying to be "good" for only a couple more days.

In my family, the kids( of whatever generation) couldn't hack it.  Time stopped. Presents under the tree, from relatives "back East," which, growing up in California, was the whole world, cuz West was pretty much water for a loooong ways away.

After the youngest sib found out the jolly old man wasn't really related and thus had no power over us, we began to celebrate the holiday the Swedish way, which is, to open presents on Christmas Eve, because Christmas Day was the birthday of baby Jesus.


No more running screaming down the stairs at 0600 (or earlier) -  and altho the excruciating wait for the morning light was over, my dad, with a twinkle in his eye, found plenty of ways to keep "excruciating" in view.

After a dinner he ate soooooo sloooooowly, all the dishes had to be washed, dried and put away. No such thing as an automatic dishwasher in antediluvian days, my brother and I washed by hand, dried by hand, put away by hand - and, for one day of the year, no dawdling occurred.

None at all.

Then we had to "go get Grandma."

Now, my Grandmother was made of spun sugar - and steel. I loved her Swedish accent and ancient gingerbread cookie recipe, only concocted at Christmas, and decorated with little silver balls that broke your jaws with their rock hard exterior.

No one can make her gingerbread cookies.

All of us got the recipe directly from her.

And all of us agree: she didn't write down the entire recipe.

And no one has figured out what secret ingredient she forgot to include.

But I digress (a touch of excruciating here - just so you get a bit of the feeling)

She, of course, was in cahoots with my dad on the excruciating part.  My normally spry, up for anything, moving right along grandmother was always having a bad day on Christmas Eve.

Altho her eyes were also twinkling, she limped her way in from the cottage behind the main house, accompanied by the traditional Swedish moan of "Uff da!" with every step.

Every excruciatingly slow step.

Offers of "Let me help you, Grandma" were met with brave refusals of help, and in that Swedish accent I so loved, she would say "no, no, I come. I come."

After Grandma was seated, my dad would say, "Where's Mom?" and the search would begin anew. My mother was somewhere upstairs, wrapping a last minute gift, or looking for one she had misplaced, or whatever ex-cru-ciat-ing idea she came up with.

FINALLY all would be assembled and one of my brothers would begin to read the tags on a present and pass them out.

Trying to add a little speed to the process.

Only to have one or the other of my parents say, "Not so fast! Not so fast! One at a time."

Which, of course, would be met with the traditional chorus of our long, drawn out, excruciated Christmas groans.

And so it would go, until we had turned the pile of presents into ripped off sheets of obviously not recyclable wrapping paper, drawing from my mother the perfected, sad Christmas sigh.

Because we were not a wealthy family. My father worked many Saturdays doing painting jobs for a bit of extra cash.

My mother would always wrap a new pair of sox for each of us 4 kids to make the number of presents seem more prolific. She never agreed with my ungrateful, indignant and disgusted comment of "Moooom! Sox are NOT a real present!"

She would calmly smile - and say, "Yes, they are." And that would end the discussion.

The next generation of kids had, of course, one parent that wasn't used to the Swedish Christmas Eve early-opening-of-presents dispensation, so the kids would come over on Christmas Eve and open their presents from the grandparents and assorted uncles and aunt, and then get a second gig on Christmas morning to open stuff from Santa and/or, depending on their ages, their parents.

The generation after that had yet another parent unschooled in Swedish ways, and this one adamantly against this Swedish hocus pocus…. but got bartered into the position of the kids being able, on Christmas Eve, to open ONE single Christmas present of their choice, but they had to choose a gift from one of the non-parent people.

Which never seemed to be a problem.


And now another generation has begun to appear.

Another non-Swede has been added to the mix.

And it remains to be seen how this one will react.

The excruciating experiences of Swedish traditions 60+ years ago are now, seemingly, stowed away with the ghost of Christmas Past. I don't know if the barter will work with this one.

But I'm pretty sure of one thing:

I'll bet the kids growing up would agree with me 100% that sox are NOT a real present.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Have you ever felt like ...

…you fell off the edge of the earth?

No landmarks…
No footprints left in the dust…
No trails…
No sign anywhere that anyone has gone thru this desolate place…
Not even - thankfully - a dinosaur track…
No bloody trail - not as a Brit would use the b word, not as a medical person would use the word, nor as an unsuspecting explorer on the edge of a cliff carefully perusing his environment, but never
looking over the cliff, where he would no doubt find a swiftly climbing animal/aborigene/escaped murderer  (and again, noting the absence of such a one with thanks!)

And noting, I confess, it sounds like a 1942 war movie filmed on some deserted island (like Maui) with Bing and Bob…….and if you don't know who this is referring to, I say:WHAT? you never took a basic B&B romp BW movie class or …ahem…WATCHED SOME CLASSIC SHOW IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT WHEN YOU COULDN'T SLEEP?? (or live in a cave waaaaaay more primitive than Maui?????)

OK, deep breath, tirade completed…

…for the moment…

If you are still with me after all that, I apologize, but when you have cabin fever, tirades, for some reason, seem appropriate - after all, people feel like you did fall off the edge of the earth where the sign is. (you know the place - that cozy little map corner that has a sign when that point is reached - any map worth it's salt has this sign - in flavorful script that flashes red when viewed from the correct angle…)

The sign reads :



Now, personally, I have (thankfully, again) never encountered said dragons, altho I will confess, the people who live with/around me probably have (blush blush). And I agree that cabin fever is no excuse. I am trying to own my crappy attitude and not kick it away, as if to say, "How did THAT get in here?" and "No, it doesn't belong to ME, thank you for asking…"

But alas! The  Holy Spirit of the Sovereign Living God has a flashlight in His pocket that is a little bright for fudging… and my fingerprints glow in the dark in neon colors even without it. So when He turns it on… let's just say, I have nowhere to run.

And I am tired.  Bone weary, cranky, I-don't-want-to-thumb-in-the-mouth tired.

And the afore-mentioned HSOTLG crosses His arms and taps His foot a little…can the Holy Spirit tap His foot? OF course! He's God - He can do anything! So crabby me sits - pouting and shamefaced - before the tapping foot and finally get the guts to look up into His eyes, with tears oozing out of mine tho I am trying not to let them drip, and when my eyes finally blink the blurry stuff out of the way, I''m stunned.

Because the disappointed look in His eyes that I was soooo expecting, and steeling myself to accept - is nowhere to be found! Honest!!

All I can see there is Love.  Capital L love.

And I feel myself being lifted to my feet, and in the tenderest of whispers,  Love says," Let's try again now, shall We?"


*In case the meaning of this Hebrew word has slipped your mind, "Selah" can mean anything from "How about that!" to "Sit quietly for a moment, and ponder that thought…"(I generally favor the latter.)

Monday, June 6, 2016

I'm back again - for now

It's taken awhile to get back here - obviously. My illness waxes and wanes, and right now it's very active. So I've not been posting a lot or doing just about anything.

No sketching - no painting - no blogging.  Even tho the materials needed are right at hand.

I can't seem to gather enough energy for a simple sketch.

It's an odd situation. I haven't been this sick since it first started in 1988. I am surrounded with the tools of creativity, from pencils to watercolors to yarn. I usually have several projects started and ongoing.  I've been borrowing gorgeous travel photos to sketch, of Italy and Hawaii and Japan - I usually keep them a week and sketch them out - this one, of Venice, I've had for a month.  My perspective is wonky and the times I've tried to sketch turn out lousy.

It bugs me.

And now I think God is trying to get my attention.

He's led me to the book The Daniel Prayer, and there's a list of sins to consider prayerfully, quoted from "an old timer revivalist" that are forming a substantial burr under my spiritual saddle. Anne Graham Lotz shares how this old timer person listed these probing questions - essentially to draw a circle around yourself and make sure everything in that circle is pure. She shares how the first time thru she was a little smug.  "I don't do any of those things," she thought. The second time thru she was uncomfortable. The third time thru she was on her knees, crying.

I've been thru once.

And that burr is digging into my heart and spirit.  I can taste that smugness she spoke of.  And I'm wondering where that list is going to take me.

I have  a feeling I don't really want to try a second time.

Job says that "man is born to trouble as sparks fly upward."

And I agree.

I've set off a few fireworks in my lifetime. And they weren't the pretty kind.

I know somehow I've become so comfy in my "Christian walk" that I've probably rationalized some things - and refused to see others.

So, if you are a praying person, please pray for courage for me - the courage to comb my soul with God's viewpoint, to agree with whatever He shows me and to repent with my whole heart.

Because when I get right down to it, I want to know that inside that circle, all is well. That there's no grey areas, no spots where I have compared myself to another sinner and shined up my halo. I want nothing hiding in my heart, no barrier between my Holy Holy Holy Lord God Almighty and the deepest spot in my soul.


Thursday, December 17, 2015

A word (or two) about Christmas

Haven't been here for awhile - ummm...that's sort of obvious, tho,isn't it? Sorry folks! My illness waxes and wanes, and right now, it's waxin'.  Or, as those in the know describe it, it's in a "flare." That means that all my symptoms are doing a wax job on my body, too - I should be one shiny, slick human when this lets up. Plus, I've caught the local bug that's going around everywhere. It's been a week now, and shows no signs of letting go, especially the cough. Because my immune system took a hike 20 years ago, I get pneumonia a little faster than the population.

It's hard to be sick around the holidays, isn't it?

Since most of those who read this blog are chronically ill too, I think the LORD has us out in a lifeboat bailing water.  It's hard to see all the excitement and busy holiday fun stuff 3 feet away and know it's too far to go.  So many things I miss - making cookies, decking the halls , decorating a Christmas tree.  I miss having Munchkins crawling around and laughing and big family dinners and family jokes - you know the kind, the ones no one who didn't grow up with you has a clue about - and the not-so-polite-loudly-commented-upon things that kids say at the precise moment that everyone in the room falls silent, only to be stored in the family memory bank and brought out at the holidays.

And when that child grows big enough to blush, their indiscreet moments are resurrected with teasing twinkles and general laughter.

In my family, out of the 6 folks we started out with, we have dwindled down to two.

My one remaining brother and I have buried all the rest.

And all in December except the one in January.

So starting on December 24, in 1964, my father died. The 15th when my mom was called Home in 1996. December 31st, my oldest brother died in 1997. And then my baby brother in January of 2003 at the age of 45.

My sister in law, who has been my bestie since we were 14 years old, and I have taken to going out for dinner on the anniversary of their Home-going,when possible, and toasting the coronation of our family members with clinking glasses full of water.

The absence of those cherished souls, their voices muted until we, too, fall silent on earth and begin praising in the midst of the angels, still makes the heart ache.We celebrate the annual event as a coronation day.   It helps, but nothing can mend the hole in the heart upon their Home-going.

The sharp, jagged edges of the hole smooth out a bit, but nothing will mend it until we, too, wake up and breathe celestial air, no doubt to hear someone start laughing and telling all those stories of family folklore. Hmmm... I wonder if you can get embarassed in Heaven...

And, at this time of year especially,  I think our hearts grow lonely for those who beat us Home. We see windows as out of a Kinkade painting, the warmth and light streaming out beckons us. Oh my  - it looks so cozy in there... and snippets of laughter and joy slip from doors opened in welcome, of families safely in, of cold and loneliness kept out.

Then God had humans begin the tradition of  the lovely decorations of Christmas lights, to remind us of the One Who is Light, and in Him is no darkness At All.

At All. 

As the first night fell after my Mom went Home, 2 of my brothers drove me home from my 3rd brothers house.  I sat in the back seat, watching all the Christmas lights on homes.  It had been one of my mother's favorite things to do - driving around  to "see the lights."  It was something the two of us did every year.

Just she and I.

And at that moment, I almost couldn't bear it. I felt my heart tear.

So I said to Jesus, "Lord, she loved this so much, so very much. And I can't take her to see the lights, ever again, She'll never see them again."

Quick as a wink, His whisper came to me: "What your mother is looking at right now makes those lights so pale in comparison.  She is so full of joy, she cannot hold another drop."

So...if you, too, are seated at a table with empty chairs and missing voices, with a  fresh and jagged hole in your heart, or one smoothed out a bit, but a hole nonetheless, talk to Jesus about it.  He lost His earthly father - He knows what that feels like. And He had the added pain of knowing He had the ability to heal Joseph, but His Heavenly Father said, "no." I cannot imagine having that power, and being unable to use it as that one you love slips away. 

I have written a lot of Christmas poems - under the picture above is a link to the poetry page. The implications of that miracle are seldom talked about - how could God have slipped His great heart into a tiny baby? It always takes my breath away, to realize that Jesus put away all of His power, all of His ability to be omnipresent, not just for 33 years, but forever. In essence, Jesus gave away His  freedom, so that we could be free.

How all of heaven must have held their breath at the moment He was clothed with a body, to see the actual heart of the Living God, wrapped in human flesh.

It gives me the chills
 Which is why I write poetry, and why a lot of it is about Christmas.  Oh look!  Here's one:

I find within a longing to return,

To somehow crawl back

To the Christmases of my youth -

To smell again the straw-filled manger scene

And hear the child-known lowing of the stable cow,

To have my eyes stretched wonder-wide

By magic lights and sparkling beams

From tinselled, star-crowned pines.

But more, I long for a toddling, trusting faith

To sense the Spirit-hush of birthing Gift,

To hear the God-babe's newborn cry,

To join the threadbare, trembling shepherds

Kneeling at His feet.

I want to lead the Magi in,

See their delighted faces glow

And watch tears stream down weathered cheeks

To fall on shimmering cloaks.

Oh! Let me bow beside them there,

Prostrate before this Promised King

And worship, filled with awe,

While angels sing.

If I don't get back here again beforehand, I wish you a Christmas filled with awe and wonder.

Monday, September 7, 2015

I've not been around for body decides to tank every once in awhile, and then God calms everything down for a bit. So I'm back from a recent calming, and enjoying just being here.

Autumn is showing signs of moving on in here in the desert.  Not fully yet, but hinting at it. 

I love this time of year.  At sundown the thermometer sinks below the 100 mark, making the out-of-doors area a pleasant place to be.  The sunsets are phenomenal, as if God were finger-painting in wild abandon.  The clouds seem iridescent as their gray-feet blush pink.  The hummingbirds take one last lingering sip and retire for the evening.

And then the bats come out to play.

At first they seem like just tinier birds - but no bird can stop on a dime and do a 180 to catch a moth who wandered into the wrong bit of air. They whirl and swirl and stop your breath with their acrobatics - I find myself whispering a "Yay!!" to the wheeling and diving dervishes.  I want to cheer them on, these maligned animals who are simply doing what God created them to do. Especially when I remember that they are responsible for  the removal from the air of my arch-enemy, the mosquito.  Makes me shiver just to think about it.  Go for it, guys, enjoy a great dinner tonight and suck those little guys up like a vacuum cleaner!

And then - poof! - all color is gone from the clouds - except the gray looks gray-er and the creeping deep blue of night begins to saturate the sky.  Lights come on in houses, windows glowing with that amber light that makes everything look cozy.

My favorite aunt loved this time of day too, and I often think of her - and miss her dreadfully. When my mother died, she called to offer her services if ever I felt the need for some mothering. We slowly lost her to Alzheimer's - a horrible disease that steals the comfort from relationships and leaves the victim befuddled and easily frightened.  She coped as long as she could, with a standard set of questions designed to carry a conversation as if she actually remembered who your were.  It broke my heart to hear of her decline - a breaking I had endured several times before as I lost family members, one by one, to age and death..

But this one was different. It was a brutal losing.  One inch at a time.

Her son cared for her to the last, as faithful a heart as ever was.  He itemized her life, page by page, until everything was numbered and discarded and the important things saved as much as possible.

I have always thought that newly owner less possessions were among the saddest things left on earth. Objects of most importance to someone are suddenly, once again, just "things." They drift in the cosmos and eventually vanish - unless someone remembers their importance and out of a sentimental moment, snatches them up and again assigns them value.

I am so grateful that in my time on this earth I have been so very blessed with my family members.  I have friends whose family ties are painful in the extreme.  In contrast, I have waltzed through my life with wonderful people, kind people, loving people, who taught me that others were more important than the bug you have under your saddle.  One half of my family were bitter and lonely - and heaven protected me from them by a few thousand miles, leaving all the warm, fuzzy ones to surround me with kindness, encouragement and love.

When my time comes to go Home and rejoin them, I hope what I leave behind will be a memory that cocoons the soul, perhaps a joyous laugh, an encouraging word in a difficult time.

The one Man Who ever said He'd rather die than live without us -and proved that by His death - with that death bought me as fearless an exit as is possible from this life. I am so grateful He found a way to push through my self-sufficient ego and fill me with Himself. He changed my life from black and white to color, changed my heart from having room for only me, to embracing Him and letting Him do any future driving to any destination He chose - and to my great surprise and delight, He chose joy.

In addition to which, He added hummers and bats and Quail and chipmunks and sunsets and cool evening zephyrs that dance in the branches of trees and swirl through your soul.

We serve an Awesome God.