The Morning Dove

 

Just a simple walk is what I took this morning with our two young dogs. For an August day in Tucson, it was pleasantly decent. Not lovely enough to include a breeze, but in the shade, a temperature that gave you reprieve.

And that’s where it happened.  The dogs sat down for a breather and an incoming adult bird arrived. I heard its wings flutter past me, before it landed on a mid-height branch, making itself at home. A mourning dove. It settled its wings, and balanced itself at a forty-five-degree angle to me. It seemed self-assured, as though it liked its location. In a minute, it began to twitch its tail.  One of the dogs looked up, but didn’t bark. If the other dog noticed, it didn’t bark either. They seemed to knew we were the guests under the sheltering branches and the bird’s right to be there trumped ours.

I spoke in a low cooing voice. “Hello, lady bird. You’re a pretty little dove. Yes, you are. How are you this morning?’

I got quiet and watched her.

More fluttering of her back tail. She remained sideways, not flinching.  Still unafraid. She was beautiful, a soft brown with a black mark on her cheek, sleek feathers, underpinnings of white.

I stared. I was puzzled. She wasn’t but five feet away and she wasn’t afraid. My high pitched voice didn’t bother her, and neither did the dogs.

My head pulled back.  This unfearful dove felt like a gift from God. All week I’d struggled being able to trust Him, for the well-being of my sister in the hospital with an undiagnosed spiking blood pressure condition.

Lord, did You send this bird? What are You saying?

I studied the dove. She’d flown to a safe place on the branch not far above me where I could see her beauty and feel her close by.  She had no fear; she was safe. Safety.  God had Karen in a safe place. I didn’t have to be afraid.

And Peace. I could be at peace.

No, we still don’t know why Karen has rogue blood pressure increases, enough to give her chest pain and two mild heart attacks.  But she’s safe in the hospital and being tested for a diagnosis. The doctors don’t yet have the answer, but our Omniscient Father does.

He’s got Karen. I can be at peace. I can pray. And I can I thank the Lord for how He’s going to help.

In case you think this far-fetched, remember God uses nature throughout the Bible to display his glory or convey a message. An example is Jesus’s baptism in the Jordan River.

“[Jesus] saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. ~”Matthew 3:16

 


Dear Omniscient Father, Please give us the wisdom we need and the gift of peace as we wait for the answer, amen.

 

 

 

 

Tasty Chicken or Pasta Salad

 

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups prepared lean chicken or 2 cups prepared elbow or scallop shell pasta/drained

1 cup chopped celery

¼ cup diced scallion or yellow onion

3-4 baby carrots, slivered

½ cup Olive Oil Best Foods mayo or Miracle Whip, low calorie

½ pkg. onion soup mix, any brand

2 t. mustard of your choice

¼ cup pickle relish, dill or sweet

1 pkg. Stevia ( a gram) OPTIONAL

fruit of your choice:  ½ C. craisins/raisins/sliced and peeled apple/pineapple chunks

½ cup cashews or peanuts

2 hard boiled eggs, prepared & chilled

Season with:  1 t. garlic powder, 1 t. marjoram, 1 t. tarragon, 1/2 t. health salt, 1 t. pepper, 1 t.  lemon pepper

Directions:

  1. Chop chicken into small chunks. Put in mixing bowl.
  2. Chop celery and onion into small pieces, add to bowl.
  3. Slice carrots into slivers, add.
  4. Add the pickle relish, mustard, mayo, and Stevia.
  5. Peel and slice the eggs and gently cut them into slivers and fold them in.
  6. Fold in the fruit and the nuts.
  7. Chill for two hours and enjoy. Serves 4-5.

A Slow Heal

 

James was Jesus’s brother who became a believer after Jesus died.  In his new testament book, he encourages us to pray when we or others are sick.  Check out the beginning verses of his fourth chapter. “Is any among you suffering? …sick? Let him… call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick and the Lord will raise him up.  Pray for each another, that you may be healed.”

Our bodies are unarguably mortal. The older you get, the more you know it. But it isn’t age alone that can attack. We are victim to all manner of earthly diseases, sicknesses and upsets of the universe’s order.

Lately, I’ve witnessed a flurry of physical and emotional afflictions, not only in my family, but in myriads of others for whom I care. Pneumonia, painful migraines, fibromyalgia, stomach or elimination discomforts, nerve damage, back pain, depression, marital disharmony, heart irregularities, vertigo, surgery and its after effects, vehicular accident injuries, precarious pregnancy, cancer, addiction situations, job injustices, and death of a beloved.

It is all too much.

I take James’s words seriously. “Pray for the sick, that you may be healed.”

I believe the Lord wants to heal those who follow Him or desire to know more about Him though He may call us to heaven (a complete healing), when our time has come. He waits for us to turn to Him, and calls to us so we’ll turn to Him.  Apart from Him, we may as push out to sea in a rowboat, alone, with no life jacket or engine and think we can weather the sun, wind and waves. What ludicrousness!

But with Him, we are helped. He is the Great Physician and all who come to Him are helped.

He gives freely of His many gifts, and tailor suits us to what is best, individually. He doesn’t line us all up and go down the row, giving each of us a bag of survival things like water, magic pills or potions, nor promise to cure our ailments. He is a personal Lord.  He meets your need in a finely tuned and specific manner designed for you. With your good in mind. Nice!

He may heal you slowly. He may make you wait. Don’t think He’s not healing you if your suffering is unbroken. Don’t think He hasn’t seen your affliction if at the diminuendo of your life (which to Him is the crescendo into Heaven) He takes you to Himself. He’s there. Exodus 48:35 says that He named Jerusalem “He is with you.”

If your illness or disorder continues, He’s there.  You may feel no happy in your life, but He’s there. He may be silent for an interim, but He’s there. You may have temporary relief and then the pain returns.  He’s still there.  Or He may lift from you the source of your suffering, the most overt example that He’s there. He’s there is all of it. I wonder if He uses pain and suffering to give us something new, something we’ve not noticed or been exposed to. He doesn’t just want to heal us, He wants us to experience Himself. If per chance illness or suffering is a way to get our attention, it is actually quite a wonderful and unconventional gift.

Recently, I began to have great discomfort with inexplicable acid reflex that made me concerned. Since I’m the recipient of a repaired hernia, removed gall bladder and esophageal replacement, it made me fear that my digestive dysfunction had returned. I was able to find intermittent reprieve, but not a cure.  I asked the Lord heal me, bring me relief. My worse times of the day were evenings.

While in Georgia visiting my daughter, I was watching a trio sing in a Sunday worship service.  I was having reflex discomfort at that precise moment. The singing was so moving, I cried softly.  I asked the Lord to please help me and lift the pressure in my esophagus; I told Him I was at His mercy and without His help, I knew I couldn’t recover. As the trio kept singing, I kept crying. When the last song came, Redeemed, its words melted me, and I begged God to redeem me from my pit. I whispered, “Jesus, please lift this condition from me.” Slowly, I felt a small moving inside, a little relief from the esophagus pressure, then a little more and a little more and I knew it was God’s touch. It felt like how you feel when you’re really sick and wonder how you’re ever going to feel better, when all of a sudden you feel GOOD, ready for a meal or ready to exert some energy. Like that!  I thanked God, and asked Him to forgive me for worrying that this might only be temporary yet praying it wouldn’t be.  It was a slow heal, but a sound one. I still feel relief from the pressure and like myself again. Wow! Though I still have minor issues, I know God touched me. He is there.

I love the song, “I Am the God that healeth Thee,” by Don Moen, and sing it over myself and for others wanting to be healed. It’s on U Tube.

“I am the Lord, who healeth thee.

I am the Lord, your healer.

I sent my Word, and healed your disease,

I am the Lord your healer.

Exodus 15:26, “I am the Lord that healeth thee.”

Psalm 107:20, “He sent His word and healed us.”

 

A Fine Sailor

       I so appreciate having the Lord as my strength and captain in this life.  Without Him to part the waters and direct the ship, I’d be lost at sea. Or capsized and drowned. I’m a very bad sailor. Wearing a life jacket is a fine thing, but it doesn’t protect the boat from crashing into the rocks. Jesus is far more than a life jacket. He’s our pilot.

       I know how to row a boat, that’s not it.  I knew my way around the Michigan lake where my family spent its summers.  Sometimes Dad took us to the marina in Mipadeka or the motor boat to buy groceries. (Mipadeka was our rowboat, named by using the first two letters of our names in order: Mike, Pat, Debby and Karen.) But navigating life is quite another thing. Life’s an ocean, wide and dangerous, stormy and deep; some mornings I resist rising from bed, as if that avoids challenges. Life is wary and can bring sudden trials from around a corner.

Some are easy enough to handle, a simple notice about an overdue lost library book. A friend asking for prayer. A doctor postponing an appointment. A warning light in your vehicle.

Others are not. Like waking up with a weird, unidentifiable stab of pain in your back, first on the right, then the left.  What?  Or finding I’ve disappointed or made someone angry, someone important enough to trouble me. A car accident causing injury, yet you survived. Even worse is a diagnosis of a serious disease or condition that was heretofore well hidden in your body.

God is there for us. He’s not an absent friend. He knows. If we’re on his team, he’s not only stepped into our boat, he’s commanding the choppy waters. And well. He’s a fine sailor.  Though I sometimes put myself at the helm of the boat forgetting he’s there, Praise God, I usually come to my senses quickly and relinquish the boat to him. How swiftly he does rush to me, when I pray.  How wonderfully he sends wisdom to solve the puzzle, strength to shoulder the burden, or miraculously lift the load. And in the worst case scenario, even if we feel alone, we are not alone.

“Now it happened, on a certain day that He got into a boat with His disciples.  And He said to them, ‘Let us cross over to the other side of the lake.’ And they launched out.”  ~Luke 8: 22

Dearest Lord, would you remind us you’re in the boat? You launched it, and you’re navigating. Please minister to people we observe with pronounced needs.  Please forgive our sin, for ways we misstepped, or had no vision to see.  Give us grace to make amends.  Please lift the sorrow and pain of life, if that’s possible.  Help us find things we’ve misplaced, or learn to live without the persons or things no longer ours to hold. Grant us wisdom and counsel to respond to others as you would. Bind evil. Please bring healing to our body and mind or loved one’s, enabling us to walk in fellowship with You, to know your peace and be comforted by Your love. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

re mark a ble

 

When I planned yesterday, I hoped for good. I did not imagine remarkable.  Remarkable is worthy of attention, striking.  I couldn’t have known.

Emily, in Our Town by Thornton Wilder, is allowed to return to earth for a day.  She is rattled by what she formerly took for granted but now sees as amazing. “Do any human beings ever realize life, while they live it?—every, every minute?” she asks.

Sometimes remarkable are the once in a lifetime situations.  Other times it is a combination of events that mark our day. Often, it can be both.

Foremost on the docket was the slated surgery of a friend who’d called the night before to ask for prayer.  Over the phone, she and I and her daughter prayed. The surgery had popped up like a fully inflated beach ball released under water.  The doctors said it was urgent to insert a pick line (with a “pigtail”) into her lung to drain fluid and mucus.  But because of her blood clot status, the blood thinners had to be stopped at a precise juncture.  As a brand new medicine, the timing had never been tried before. A maverick and risky balance was needed.  My friend had already had one stroke; she didn’t need another.

The situation rallied me into unceasing prayer.

I put my friend on a personal prayer chain. And importuned God in a way that surprised myself, as if prayer took over and I was along for the ride.  I pleaded with Him with words I knew and words I didn’t.  They tumbled out, were punctuated, loud, and repeated.  But not vain repetitions. Meaningful poetic and pleading words I prayed until peace came. My wind-blown waters flattened and became smooth and still.

In Madeleine L’Engle’s Circle of Quiet at the end, she speaks of the human mind being like a radio or television set.  “With our conscious, surface selves we are able to tune in only a few wave lengths.  But there are others, and sometimes in our dreams we will pick up a scene from a distant, unknown, seemingly non-rational channel—But is it non-rational?  Or is it another language, using metaphors and similes with which we are not yet familiar?”

This was my experience. I remember asking God to apply my prayers to the timing of the surgery.  (I thought it was occurring at this exact juncture. But hospital delays can occur.)

In the meantime, I had to distract myself. I shoveled dirt out of holes for a cactus and rose bush, was given a cancellation appointment to get my nails repaired, and visited my stepfather across town.   I stopped at a thrift store to distract me more and found a card lover’s garden: professional quality greeting cards at Ben Franklin roll back prices: ten cents each.

The afternoon arrived without a surgery update except for notice it’d been delayed three hours. No matter. God lives in eternity, not bound to this world’s schema. I believe prayer can be retroactive and fast forward.

I finished my lunch.  An awaited for text about the surgery came like a telegram: SUCCESS!  Details to follow.  Thank you, Jesus!

Fighting an infection, I took a nap. But I had a mid-day counseling appointment and set the alarm. But it did not sound. I slept on. I awoke with a bolt two minutes before I had to leave. God had awakened me.  My pastor gave me counsel I desperately needed for an impasse.

Having left the house so quickly, I forgot my phone.  (I miss subbing jobs without it.) But I hadn’t been in the door five minutes when a job came forward for me.

My husband cooked a fabulous Thai noodle dinner, and on the last bite, the doorbell rang.  There had been no confirmation that my high school piano student was coming, but here she was.

Sunset came and with it, the stellar realization that this day had been remarkable.

Are all days full of the stunning?  No, of course not.

But I subscribe to the premise that each day has the remarkable in it.  All we have to do is pay attention in Word and prayer and in comes God to remind us He loves us.

As a girl growing up in the Methodist Church, one of the songs we always sang in the service was the Doxology.  I still love it.

 

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Praise Him all creatures here below!

Praise Him above ye, heavenly hosts.

Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

Amen.

 

Self Care

Sometimes life demands things of us we don’t feel fit to give. The choices of others might draw us into an eddy. We would drown, if we let it. It may not be the choices of others, but life itself–an illness, an accident, a crisis that arrives at our doorstep and there we are. We have answered the door and cannot say, “I’m not home.”

We must face it. Action of some type is required.

There are, thankfully, many ways to assist, support and care for others. On any level, however, care taking is not for the weak-hearted. And if we neglect to take care of ourselves, we can experience what my daughter said is called “Compassion Fatigue.”

Recently, in reviewing some older Facebook posts, one soothed me. It was a list, “20 Things to Start Doing” from a Pintrist domain.  I wish I knew the identity of the author. Without her permission I cannot post the list, but the following ideas helped me most:

  •  drink more water and green tea
  • eat lighter as the day wears on and start with a big breakfast (using more natural foods)
  • go to bed earlier
  • increase flexibility by stretching
  • do yoga or meditation
  •  find ways to live in a tidy place
  • go outside a lot more

I commend this author’s stellar list.

I love lists. Writing them is empowering for me.

Maybe it is because without them, I flounder.  I get lazy, postpone and waste my time.

Also, with a list, I can check things off.  This motivates me. And if I don’t get around to making my list early in the week,  it’s never too late.  I sometimes write a list on Friday of what I already DID and then check off the boxes one by one.  It feels great.

Best of all, though, a list empowers me to be inspired.  One idea generates another.

This author’s “20 Things to Start Doing” inspires me to practice these seven things, and from them I chose meditative/prayer time as a keystone. Coincidentally, my pastor encouraged the same, months ago. Said to not pray out of obedience or duty, but make it our day’s central piece. When I do, I’ m given rest from the care taking. I read God’s texts, and His thoughts become mine. I am not alone. He cares for me.

Lists aside, self-care is important.  May you be inspired by an idea that puts you in the hammock of God’s mercy, there to rock and soothe your soul.

 

“Cast all your cares upon Him, for He careth for you.”  ~1 Peter 5:7

Ten

I love the concept of ten.  Ten is the number of completion or perfection in the Bible.

A good friend just sent me a post on Facebook by God Fruits that list the 10 Things God Wants you to Know.  They include some of the following since I cannot copy them without copyright permission: He will give us rest.  He will answer us.  He will not fail us.  He will provide for us and be with us. These are so wonderful to know.

This inspired me to write my own list of 10 Things We Can Count On from God.

1   He is in charge and I am not afraid of tomorrow.

2   He invites me to put my trust Jesus, failing that I have not pleased Him.

3   Heaven is mine,  through a life lived in Jesus.

4   He provides stellar insight into Himself through His written Word, time warp resistant.

5   He is the rock solid ground beneath me. Around me, life shakes, under me, stability.

6   His news always has good in it, His news is gospel.

7   He sustains and helps me when I am weary or ill.

8   His love is a constant, whether alone or in company of others, His love is best.

9   He gives me the honor of exchange conversation, in prayer.

10  I can awake every morning knowing in Him I have a brand new day.

What is your list?

Fred

Fred by Deborah Thomas

I get a kick out of the name Fred.

“My name is Fred, they call me Fred.  When I get tired, I go to– ‘DUH’……(long pause, waiting for the listener to say the answer)…BED, Fred!” the students yelled the answer and laughed at the doofus way I sang.  Then I’d continue the song with a new word that rhymed with Fred… “My name is Fred, they call me Fred.  My favorite color’s always–duh…..RED, Fred!”  And the kids would laugh again.

A favorite teaching exercise, I’d make up all kinds of words that rhymed with Fred, to extend the song, then invited them to come up with one.  It was a hoot.  I remember using dead, head, lead, Ned, Ted, shed, wed.  I wish I could sing you the tune, it was so cute.  I think it was from Sesame Street some years before–do you know it?

My grandpa told me I had an uncle Fred whose hair was red.  Ha ha!  Mother always wanted one of her children to have the red hair, but that didn’t occur for another two generations—I have two grandchildren with red hair.

In high school, a new student arrived in concert choir.  ‘Freddy’ had the red hair, gorgeous bouncy red hair. I admired herShe was an accompaniest like I was, only a much better one.

Fred in the Sesame song. Uncle Fred. Freddy in choir.  All make the name Fred a friendly one for me.

I bet you have a name or two you especially like and with good reasons.  I heard tell that God will give us a new name in Heaven. How fun.  With the imagination He has, how beautiful our names shall be!

I appreciate He knows me by my given name and my name to come.  He’s familiar with my inner self. “You have searched me and known me, O Lord; You know when I sit down and when I stand up; You discern my thoughts from afar….You are intimately acquainted with all my ways.”  (an American translation from The Complete Bible)

Recently I misplaced our address book.  I wracked my mind for memory traces of its whereabouts and prayed for revelation.  But they were hurried prayers, prayers on the run and the book’s location remains an enigma.  When I read these scriptures, I realized the Lord witnessed me at the exact moment I misplaced the book. He see me sit down and stand up, so He has to know what I was thinking when I laid that book in an odd place. I’m on a trip right now, clear across the country.  God discerns my thoughts  a thousand miles from that book.  If I give Him my time, and draw close to Him, I believe He will reveal the secret of where that book is hiding.

What is a name you enjoy and why?

Can you draw close to the Lord and let Him tell you a secret?

Smart Counsel

Smart Counsel

Per chance, I found a poignant book called: My Lord and I- Daily Meditations, by Harry Tippett in a thrift store some months back.  I was smitten, given it was a cross-hatched 4.5 by 6 inch thick book, and published in 1948, the year of my birth.  Its entries are nothing of regular nature.  It’s a pearl. I relish each reading, albeit not all entries are just for me.  You know what I mean.

But on my August birthday, I was hoping for a gem.  I wasn’t disappointed. Its title of Jesus Our Counselor was followed by Eccl. 9: 11 “The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.”

To wit, this could mean that no matter how quick, strong, wise or skilled a person, it is not these that God blesses, but rather He bestows in time and through His own choosing what will happen.

And on this note, I’m at peace.  We live in crazy times, a world with crumbling order, terrorism gone wild and denial of its threat thereof, race relations under attack, corruption in highest levels by-passed, it would appear, by our justice department.  Harsh statements, falsehoods, accusations, misleadings are the deluge— how shall we be saved from this state of affairs?

I bewail a lack of integrity in but a few leaders today. Can the Lord intervene and do something miraculous?  Of course!  “Time and chance happeneth to them all.”  Yesterday in a sermon, I learned about Don Piper who was killed in a head-on collision in 1989.  A passing by pastor was directed of the Lord to stop and pray, but was told the driver of the car was dead; they tarped the gruesome car, waiting for authorities to come remove the man.  The pastor went into the car, and prayed for the deceased Mr. Piper. After an hour, he ran out of things to pray and began to sing, ‘What a Friend We Have in Jesus.’  Suddenly, a voice joined him.  Mr. Piper rose to life!

Who in this world would follow such a God directive, to pray for a dead man?  To believe it mattered?  Instead, we gauge the worth or progress of something by outward appearances, or numbers, am I right?

The author Tippett:  This emphasis upon worldly advantage has captured modern thinking…our measurements of value…often gauged by mere bulk or numbers.  Counting noses in God’s work has been frowned upon by Heaven ever since the days of the numbering of Israel against His express command.  We triumph in majorities and hold contempt for minorities.  We honor men who boast, “Is not this great Babylon that I have built…by the might of my power?”  Dan. 4:30.  This veneration of size and truckling to power…{is called} megalomania, the craze for bigness.

But Jesus was never overawed by size or majorities.  The temple of Herod was the greatest pride of the Jewish church.  The priests were dismayed when Christ predicted its destruction.  In the teachings of the Master, mountains of difficulty give way to simple prayer, and “out of the mouths of babies and sucklings” He ordains strength.  End quote.

My former pastor’s young daughter recently took issue with the gender bathroom controversy.  On her own but with her parents’ permission, she gathered signatures and sent them to the state legislature to protest the allowance of the cross gendered to enter the bathrooms at her elementary school. She petitioned for a bathroom of their own.  She sent it to her legislator and now, the legislature is voting on a law that will make all persons use the bathroom of their birth.  This child has been invited to come speak to the legislature about her concerns. Is not this phenomenal? I rejoice to see how the Lord is using this young girl to accomplish His ways on earth. If the bill is passed, this child’s name is going to be on it!

Tippett: “He ordains strength.”  Psalms 8:2.  All through the Bible, greatness in worldly evaluations is in sharp contrast to the humble heart and teachable spirit Christ lauds as Heaven’s true cloth of gold.  [It is}…not the cause with the greatest financial backing nor the leader with the best education, nor the artisan with the swiftest skill—none of these are necessarily signs of favor with Heaven.  “Not by might and not by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord” is the formula.  End quote.

I believe that when we pray, we invite Jesus’ counsel. It doesn’t get any smarter than that.  May’nt this be a way out of the current bungle of politico?  His plans are remarkable; He directed a pastor to stop and pray for a dead man, a child to gather signatures of protest. He directed me to pray for my mom’s rescue from death often.  I prayed with a friend and then on my own as I drove to my sister’s side, not knowing she was having a fibrillation attack.  I called out to Jesus by name when I was nearly hit head on with my babies in the car with me.  He so wants our prayers, prayers for others, prayers for our needy country. Time and “chance” belong to Him. Pray, pray hard.

 

When did Jesus send you a directive to pray and what was the result?

Blue

 

 

Anybody feeling blue today? “I feel blue, you would, too. If each plan that you had done fell through,” goes the Ricky Nelson song. I can hear its melody in my head. Loved his singing voice.  And Bobby Vinton sang, “Blue, blue, my world is blue…” Maybe it is the most popular color sung about.
I have a melancholy personality and can turn blue from one hour to the next. But it comes on gradually usually. And it takes more than one thing to make me blue. I have to gather four or five eggs of discouraging issues and then it arrives. Thankfully it is short term since I do things to chase it. I take a funny sounding herb to enhance my mood and it works every time, St. John’s Wort. Laugh all you want to, it really works. Psychologists say that anti depressants have St. John’s in them. I exercise, swimming is my favorite but only on my bad hair days. I pray, read something in the Bible of inspiration. I talk to a friend, my sister is an instant pick me up.  I sing a peppy song or play the piano.  You can use a CD player, just as good.
All around us is blue. So it’s not supposed to symbolize depression at all. Water reflects the sky and each ocean or lake or pond has a shade of blue all its own. And of course, there is the sky.  What about that sky?  Is this not one of God’s most amazing glories.
I think probably sky blue is my favorite blue. And another way I perk up. I look at the blue sky. “Blue skies lookin’ at me, nothin’ but blue skies, can’t you see?”

 

What do you do when you feel blue?