Embracing Angels and Forever

Encouragement is a circle-like hug. You encourage and it comes back in an embrace. Julie encourages me, sticks closer than a brother or sister. She’s sharing my encounter that God arranged that encourages me to know without doubt that His hand is on my art.

Julie Dibble

angelmeme

Hebrews 7:24-25
But because Jesus lives forever, his priesthood lasts forever. Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through Him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf.

Forever?

cinderella

Most of us recall fairy tales where the handsome prince rescues the damsel in distress. Riding together on a white stallion, they live happily ever after. Ever means always, at any time, in any way (www.merriam-webster.com). In other words, forever.
We lose that little girl wonder, though. Cinderella was fiction.
Forever is minimized … not because we don’t believe. It just doesn’t apply to the daily grind. When you change several diapers a day or have poured your heart and soul into writing the past ten years, you tend to focus on the next thing.

pottytraining

Potty-training and publication, instead of forever.
Recently I read Don Piper’s 90 Minutes in Heaven after I…

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Peace – Conscious of Christmas

Is it harder now to find places to sense peace, to be conscious of Christmas?

Most things we do feel like a production, a scurrying, a hurried and hectic undertaking.

I spoke a little too sternly yesterday about all the noise driving me crazy. Another person said they were getting “addled” and I was thrilled to know someone was likeminded.

She quickly told me though, not nearly so much as you.

Yes, I know.

I knew.

Others just waited for the noise to settle down as if they all were resting in a bubble of peace, a comfortable and softly draped wrap of serene.

This week of Advent, the preparation for the birth of Jesus, asks me to consider peace.

On Saturday morning, I stood close to the edge of wooden dock on a misty cold marsh. Large oaks all around and their branches fat from age and layered with growth of bright green fern.

I considered and am still, could this be my church? Is this place and sometimes others I find, the place I am made to worship God?

I assure you it feels quite so.

Free of busy and business, just me and sometimes one or two others approaching whole body and soul a place we are called to by our longings?

A congregation consisting of white birds trying to avoid our cameras and a wide, wide sky?

I’m sure that’s not God’s desire, a solitary island dweller, he didn’t design me to be.

But, oh how at peace I am in the places I get alone with quiet and Him.

To notice God.

I’m different, I suppose, craving quiet and being made anxious by disorder.

He is my peace.

Not my surroundings nor those in my midst.

He himself is my peace.

I’m reminded in the quiet.

Peace that can’t be manufactured, demanded or insisted upon; but, that emanates from within me keeping me calm when all around is so very uncalm.

That’s the call to Christmas, the call to seek peace, surround ourselves in it and get immersed again in the story of the starry night, the Holy Night when peace was born.

“Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth”

The weary me, the weary world rejoices.

Night, divine. A night divine.

The night, the day, the moment divine when peace came near, made itself clearly known.

Still does, I call it ” noticing God”.

“In sin and error pining, until He appeared

and the soul felt its worth.”

O’ Holy Night.

Oh, to be seen as one with worth because of the Holy night, the Holy one, not at all because of what I do or anything I’ve done.

It’s been a tough couple of days with shifts and situations gone awry.

Not sure why things happen, wonder what might could have made it different.

Things that made, make no sense.

I bolted from church last night, it had become too noisy, too busy, too much a feeling like a clamoring for what might make one feel worthy.

I drove under the starry sky back home like escaping.

And I rested once home and woke this morning to read about peace, this week’s Advent focus.

Found myself peaceful, again. It was a welcome, I assure you, to come back to a place of peace.

A friend heard I’d never read a special book at Christmas and so she gifted me last week.

I’m grateful for her deciding to send it my way, gifting me in an intentional way.

I love her for it.

I broke my rule this morning about pencil marks on pages and I underlined and circled the words that spoke peace to me, made me more conscious of Christmas.

More understanding of peace

More conscious of Christmas.

And peace because of Christ.

So, if you’re alive today, sing redemption’s song.

Louie Giglio

Sing your song.

Do your dance, your quiet sway of peace.

I know I’ll do mine.

Cups Full

There’s a saying we say in working in careers made for helping.

There’s a reminder we remind ourselves of, “keep your cup full”.

The belief is we can’t give of ourselves to others if our cups run dry.

Another truth is we can pour and pour and pour into the cups of others; but, we gotta keep at it.

Their cups may have holes in the bottom, like a fast food cup kept to refill with water, the circle in the bottom gets soggy, the drink seeps through then drips onto our laps.

I’m beginning to believe less in the need for my cup to be refilled. You see, if I gave only a little of what I’ve been given, it would already be way more than what many have ever known.

Like the woman who chose to empty her perfume at Jesus feet, I pray I’m determined to give all, not just what I can.

I pray I not only worry about my cup staying filled to the brim;but, I recognize the excess of mine in comparison to the lack of many.

This, I’ve come to understand is the only way to survive this helping others I do.

Less me, more them and only Jesus, always as an example.

And sometimes a recipient from others’ holding a little more and pouring out what they have to share with me.

If my legacy includes hope, may it be told in ways that cause others to continue filling the cups with broken bottoms.

Better yet, give them one of yours.

May I be a resemblance of the woman bringing perfume to Jesus or even just a little like the woman called virtuous, I pray.

If only.

“She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭31:20‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Linking up with others, prompted by the word, “only”.

Us and the Angels

She arrived before anyone else, at 10 instead of 12, dropped off in the parking lot and then wouldn’t accept our offer to wait inside.

We walked past and past again unloading our cars, setting up the luncheon and Christmas festivities.

She waited, her notepad propped carefully, her arms balanced on the arms of her rolling walker.

She waited, I began to sense her an observer.

“Was she making notes about her observing of us now?” I wondered.

Today is the fifth day of Advent, the focus on the hopeful waiting for Christ and Christmas.

I painted last night, it was a must.

Because the woman who arrived two hours early was left without a ride home and we were together for more hours as she called those who’d promised to be there and then called again to be met by straight to voice mail answers.

We were together, she and I and another person left without a ride.

We were together in the parking lot of the place where the promised person said they’d meet us.

So, she asked about my children and I asked about hers. This led to asking about my life and then, finally led to asking about Jesus and her telling me about heaven.

You see, she said she died once. The doctor said for 17 minutes. She went to heaven; she saw her family and yet, she said she was given the chance to come back and live.

Now, if you know my job and know this event, you may be thinking, I pray not, “Well, that woman’s crazy.”

I pray you don’t think that, say that.

Ever.

Because, here’s where our talk went next.

After reaching a family member late in the afternoon, we moved from one parking lot to the other and were confident she was on the way to meet us.

Her telling me of heaven continued, she told me about the angels.

She said they are beautiful; but, have no wings and that’s because they’re not nearly as far from earth as we’d assume.

They have no wings because they’re only just a little above the ground.

I looked towards her, she’d rarely looked my way, her conversation a retelling, a divine appointment, I am sure.

I sensed her calling, her calling to be with me.

I, with her, not my normal way.

Because I’m guilty of being grouchy at the end of the day and I’m sorry to admit, I’m the first to accept an offer for someone else to stay behind, handle the loose ends like giving rides to stranded people.

But, not yesterday, I decided to be the one who helped this woman.

Help, not the best choice of words, more like simply being with, seeing it to the end, not so much like helping at all.

More divine, my day had been ordered by God I began to see, see even better looking back on.

I’m sure I was beaming when I told her I painted and that my angels have no wings and most often no expression on their faces.

She smiled only slightly like “Yes” and I looked towards the car to our right, “Is this you ride?” I asked and it was, she answered, how did we miss them pulling in?

Her daughter thanked me, her grandson smiled, said “Hey, Nanni” and we unloaded her gifts and helped her from my car.

I walked over and hugged her softly,

“Merry Christmas.” I said.

She paused and finally, she turned and saw me straight on and open, told me she will be praying for me, that she is going to pray for my angel paintings to become as God has planned.

She meant it, I know.

I thanked her.

Then went home, dark by now and changed from Christmas red outfit to paint splattered apron.

I painted a new layer over the frantic looking wings I’d painted on a new piece, thinking I’d try something new; but, certain it was all wrong.

And now I understand.

Understanding what it means to have God mindful of me, of us down here amongst one another, just barely below or maybe even sitting beside the angels.

“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,

what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?

You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor.”

‭‭Psalm‬ ‭8:3-5‬ ‭NIV‬‬

December

Because, I heard a story about my daddy

playing steel guitar from someone I did not expect to hear so kind a memory.

And because I’ve been letting the lyrics to this song float real easy about my mind and heart somehow.

Make it Through December

Somehow know how my daddy might have felt when he heard it too.

Because my daddy loved Merle like I love Alison.

Cause we all have our reasons and seasons that we might plan on having things be warmer and better…

And oh, it’s gonna be cold enough for coat in Carolina…

So, yeah December

We love ‘ya.

We know we’ll make it through.

Joy Finding

We have the same reason for joy as they did way back then.

I pray I’m intentional in my choice to let Christmas be all about Jesus. Here’s the truth, I believe, the joy stealers don’t rest at Christmas, there’s no reprieve from those set on negativity and strife. And then there’s unexpected sadness that makes no sense and seems to happen more at Christmas. Or maybe in our seeking to be joyous, we’re thrown off by its unfair interruption.

I’m not sure. I only know that we each can choose joy and like someone told me yesterday, I was caught off guard, “your face seems happier.” And I had prayed earlier that God would put someone on my path, literally wrote this in my journal,

“God send someone to my path who needs to know about your grace.”

This person who told me she saw a difference in me, I said to her, smiling over her words, “I’m getting better at understanding God’s grace and it’s no longer a striving thing, I am not working so hard for something that requires nothing of me, God’s grace.”

My day started this way yesterday. How can I not proclaim the joy as I circled prayers today, some still praying and this one given an asterisk for answered?

I consider it joy.

You know that joy when a longing you’d gotten a little disheartened over slips in and comes true in a way unexpected?

That’s the joy and joys I’m keen on noticing now.

If it takes writing them down or slowing my morning to be certain I give them their due, my time and attention, I am more aware because of doing so.

I think of my grandma’s little hands, her practice of keeping her “memorandum” book and I look towards the jewels she meticulously pinned into bright ornaments, I see her joy in her art.

I see joy, find it here.

Most especially when it comes in a way surprising me, a way that speaks truth to our Father’s all-knowing.

Like an angel I suppose, saying hold out for it and hold on sure but tenderly to this hope, your joy is coming.

You shall bear the light of this truth, that when you believe what you can’t see, you will get to see it come true.

Bear light of it just like young Mary, a mother unprepared and untouched by man, bearing the Son of Man, light of the world.

Remember the time another Mary and her sister Martha chose to believe?

Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”  John 11:40

I’ve not known joy quite so miraculous as the risen dead, still I’ve known the joy of Jesus coming through, on my behalf, the behalf of those I love.

Known the joy found in what we believe will be true.

Jennifer Dukes Lee shares her thoughts about how to “Prepare Him Room” and a story that is oh, so very relatable, the task of Christmas decor and how we should simply rest in the beauty of our homes, stamped and shaped by our hearts.

Visit here:

http://jenniferdukeslee.com/prepare-him-room/

Linking up with Kelli LaFram, at Quietly Through

http://quietlyreminded.com/2017/12/07/confess-sins-quietly-thursday-link-20/?ct=t(RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN)&mc_cid=68c27bf7bd&mc_eid=8fccf10d46

Hope First

I forgot what we did the Christmas we were last with my mama.

It startled me, my forgetting and then I remembered.

I remembered the beauty, her beauty that day.

I reflected on how things felt tragic and unusual; but, so very special.

Tomorrow begins Advent, something I know so very little of if you consider scripture and scholar as basis for my knowing.

Tomorrow begins with hope and hope is meant to cause our contemplations, to give notice of our waiting.

I’ve arranged my Advent cards, not the place before, not the grand garland the width of our fireplace.

Instead, a corner dimly lit and a chest of drawers I got from my mama’s. The top of it cleared to be adorned with hydrangea stem stained mason jars, now containers for bright tiny ornaments.

The backdrop, an abstract ocean piece painted by my daughter, the cards looped with copper wire and positioned in a peak and valley sort of way.

I’ll glance that way, have been since I couldn’t let be til it was done and finished late night last week.

It’s a simple arranging of Advent decoration.

More hopeful than before it seems. No daily task of studious examination of each day’s card.

I’ll not do this this year.

Instead, I’ll love its entirety.

I’ll enjoy it as is.

This Christmas, I pray and prayed this morning.

“Remind me of you, Jesus”

“May I remind those around me of you.”

May my gentleness be evident, so much so evident, one may sense

The Lord is near.

I texted my cousin, the one who gifted me with the Advent Cards, a surprise two years past.

Told her I loved her, wished her traveling mercy and grace.

She thanked me, said “oh, thank you dear Lisa for being in my life.”

And strange you may think, my strange reply I replied

to which she answered, “Amen”.

Let it be, Jesus. Let it be Jesus in me, my December prayer. Me

So, the first Sunday of December says be still.

To consider hope.

To gaze upon our pretty spaces and places and find it there, in our midst, our hope.

Our hope that was born in a place hidden and curious, but long ago ordained by God.

A place surrounded by a starry sky you and I’ve most likely not seen the likes of.

May I never lose that wonder.

May I ever hope for the wondrous wonder of Christmas, of Christ.

May I linger unlabored there.

Looking upon reminders of my hope.

And memories recalled and cherished even more, strangely hopeful now despite the sorrow that accompanies them.

It’s all wonder.

It’s hope and it’s grace that’s brought me thus far, to here, to now to celebrate Christmas untainted by sorrow and more painted in soft colors of hope.

Hopeful.

“The sun will no more be your light by day, nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you, for the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory.

Your sun will never set again, and your moon will wane no more; the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your days of sorrow will end.”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭60:19-20‬ ‭NIV‬‬

You as well, I hope and pray are

Hopeful this Christmas.

Be Near

I googled my daddy’s name to be sure of the number.

Today he would have been 75 and it occurred to me to remember the traits of his I hold near.

  • Quiet
  • Unambitious
  • Introspective
  • Handsome
  • Sharp dressed
  • Hair in place
  • Thoughtful
  • Musician
  • Gardener
  • Introvert

Then I thought of gentleness and the most often gentleness of my daddy.

The times he’d not let the demons and worry and work draw him towards drink.

These are the traits I hold near and I pray through genetics, heredity, and stories I have passed them on well.

Today is December 1 and I’ve opened the stiff leather binding to new pages of a new journal.

May December be about Jesus, I pray and may His gentleness in me be evident to all.

May the Lord be near me and be near.

Love your daddies, friends if you have them. Talk to them about life and love and lessons. Store up those treasures you will surely hold near.

Yay!!!! Did not exceed 5 minutes this time! Linking up with other writers here for Five Minute Friday! What a good start to December this feels like. 🙂

http://fiveminutefriday.com/amp/

Flying Parallel

What happened yesterday, I consider spectacular.

Spectacular in a way I almost think I shouldn’t tell a soul.

What happened yesterday was God reading the stories I was writing and somehow coming in and being the Sovereign editor.

A day that was typical, work issues, family thoughts, waiting and wondering and hoping, writing “trust” in ink again on my palm.

I couldn’t for the life of me figure out the whole time conversion of when my son’s plane was to land. I decided to focus on work, to walk to the post office, to pick up lunch.

I walked towards our front door and opened it, looking down.

“Oh.” I stopped.

“Oh.”

I touched the tummy of the bird fallen on our brick. It moved slightly, one leg twitching as if somehow it had folded into itself and couldn’t get unfolded.

“Does that happen?”, I wondered or is it worse than just getting tangled on landing?

Someone saw me, I told them I didn’t know what happened or why the bird had fallen, unable to fly now.

She stood at a distance watching my worry over the bird, walked towards her car and added hopes, that maybe it will be okay.

I cupped the bird in my hand. It resisted at first and then moved its body in a cautious hop to a wobbly standing position.

I’ve never seen such beauty up close, the wings in its back caught the afternoon sun and caused a golden sheen. Its little eye was still and focused forward, almost seemed resigned in some way.

As much as I love birds, I had never held one, never touched its spindly claws, never caressed a creature so supple, so sublime.

I held the bird in my hand, my day interrupted by its falling.

Back on its little feet; but, afraid to move, I waited.

I’ll go, I decided. I’ll walk to get the mail, pick up my salad and I’ll see when I get back if the sparrow has flown or fallen back down.

My phone in my hand waiting to hear he’d landed, I walked and decided already, this bird falling to the ground and my noticing has a purpose.

I decided, a foreboding or foretelling of either hope or hardship.

Still, I accepted that I’d return and I’d accept what I found.

Which was the bird on my porch, still standing, slightly moving, maybe had waited for me to see, I believe this could be.

Water, I thought. I’ll get a little water in a jar lid and I’ll set it down in front of its feet.

But not interested, it shuffled just a little towards the steps and then flew, low at first and then up and away.

“Oh.”

Later, I decided to leave work early. I had yet to hear that my son’s plane had landed in another country, a place I can’t get to.

It was too much for me to figure out if I was wrong about the time or if, oh, I don’t know what if.

I had three stops to get the contents of the mission project bags. Each Christmas, our church contributes to bags that are dispersed to prisoners. I needed 100 more pre-stamped envelopes. I had planned to get those tomorrow or Friday since I go to the post office anyway.

Instead, I told myself to finish, to at least have all of my supplies, then the job of putting them together will be all that’s needed.

The clerk asked what I needed and then asked me to count behind him.

“See if you get 30,” he said.

I reached for the stack, the envelopes usually stamped with our flag and “Forever” underneath.

I smiled and counted along with him.

I thought to tell him about the bird and how I was waiting to hear that the plane had landed.

Instead, I kept it close.

I smiled.

“Oh.”

Got into my car and kept moving on. I’ll get the tree, I’ll make wreaths for the front windows. Christmas is my favorite, this will help.

Then, the message came. “Just landed, the flight was longer than I thought.”

“Oh!”

I’m hesitant to share this story I consider spectacular.

I guess if I had a book to ask it be included it would be the one that talks about when God winks or it might be good for Reader’s Digest or at the very least, I decided it must be recorded here.

I started my morning yesterday very afraid inside, afraid of what might happen or not, a recurring theme in my story.

I thought of asking for prayer; instead kept it inside and remembered I’d already cried and cried quietly to Jesus in prayer.

Sometimes it happens this way, the way He shows us He knows in spectacular ways.

God is everywhere, don’t forget to notice. me

We’re worth more than we know to Him.

Worth more than the sparrow and to me, He knows that’s a whole lot because I sure do love the sparrows, the bluebird, the cardinals and the dove.

“What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭10:29-31‬ ‭NLT‬‬

A Blessing Simply

Yesterday began with creamy oatmeal, warm in my lap and just a touch of the crunch of peanut butter.

I believe I shall have this today as well.

Made a pot of soup later and had a whole house quiet til afternoon.

“It’s a blessing,” he said, as I questioned whether I’d need a jacket to walk the dog.

The temperature just right and he’d come in from the country place where his parents lived before they died.

I ventured out and walked all the way around. We met three little girls who were new to the neighborhood and bouncy with their bubbliness “a dog!” I heard one say.

So, I eased him over and had him sit while I guided their tiny hands, one at a time to pet him. They smiled big dimpled smiles, one with chocolate on her cheek and their hair was all tousled and let be.

We walked on and I unleashed him on the trail, he started into a little trot and I walked slightly ahead then called him to come back.

As we turned back to the main road, I saw them there, their backs bent and their faces close the ground. The rhythm of their work so simple their eyes never rose to meet us.

An empty lot, a new home unoccupied and the lawn already laid down in pieces, someone had smoothed the pine straw in a sort of kidney-shaped border amongst the pines.

A few more feet we walked and I saw the determined face of the wife, not the husband. Her long gray hair fell over her face, her hand smoothing it behind her ear, I thought her eyes will see us; but, she carried on with her picking up and dropping into a bucket.

Not a sound, not a word, no invitation for how are you or what a pretty day, obliging conversation.

I thought of their tranquility as I walked on, thought of their solitude and silence, together.

The task at their hands wasn’t their responsibility, but a choice.

As if all the pine cones had been picked up from their yard already, just around the corner and they sought and found another place to do the work of their hands, the work of a simple life.

We came to the place where the three daughters now live and seeing us from far off, the oldest must have planned it just right as they skipped towards the end of their driveway to see the dog again.

Fascinated by his softness, their voices soft and admiring, I allowed them a little more time to be little, captivated by their sweet faces and the joy of their conversation.

We headed back up the hill, the big Lab relaxed into a saunter and I thought wow, he was right, it’s a blessing, this day.

This simple day.

The evening came and I thought of them again, the couple uninterested in us, singing the song of solitude, of silence, a simple life.

Then lyrics found their way in and the thought of this season, a simple season of love and grace understood more clearly, held much closer to an embrace. I thought of Alison Krauss and went searching because I remembered her wanting something simple like that.

Simple Love

A love song seemed fitting, more than enough, so I sang it.

Yesterday was simple, in its solitude. I believe today I shall find it too, grace, mercy, peace, and love. Find it unexpectedly when not looking or not so a surprise in my seeking.

Because yesterday had room to breathe, it was made of open spaces and things just fell into them without agenda. And God gave me grace and since I’d decided, not sure why, it didn’t seem an intentional choice, to rest from berating myself for what not done; or the agony of the fear over never being done, I was open.

Open to mercy, to love, then came peace.

“May God give you more and more mercy, peace, and love.”

‭‭Jude‬ ‭1:2‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I’m linking up with others here: nitaojeda.com/2017/11/26/imm-november-12/

Jennifer Dukes Lee spoke so much truth here, thank you seemed like never enough:

http://jenniferdukeslee.com/dont-get-know-time/