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There was a man standing on the corner of the street last week with a sign that said, ‘God loves you.’ — I am sure it is theologically incorrect in some way, but I was so glad for the reminder. Afterward, I sat in the Kroger parking lot listening to Kathleen Battle sing ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ on my cellphone, while the sky turned every imaginable shade of sunset color. Ruben drove me around in the car for a long time that evening, chasing the dying light.

The next day, I wrote a dear friend about how someday those rainbow colors would never die: I would see them forever in the heaven of seeing my Saviour. She wrote me back about how her children had saved all their money to give their pastor a special present, and how the joy on his face was one of those small things that make it worthwhile to be here, while we are.

I found out that another dear friend passed away this week. I have not known many losses in my life; and this one has been particularly painful. For I keep thinking of how many opportunities I lost to make those small gestures of love which are like a sign that says ‘God loves you’. This friend was especially thoughtful about those gestures. He doesn’t need such a sign now; but it would have been a comfort to me to have stood on one of the corners of his life, holding it more often. For that is one of the comforts we have while we are here.

In the face of death we know more than at other times how harsh life can be. My friend of the special pastoral present says that we wrap ourselves up in love, like a blanket. Some days our calling seems very inconsequential. Our calling is only washing dishes, dusting, clearing clutter, making beds – dealing with sick children, running load after load of laundry, making 99 trips to the grocery store. But we are weaving a blanket with all these things to wrap around our loved ones: a blanket they will always be able to hug tighter around themselves the colder it grows. We are standing on a corner of their life they will always remember, holding a sign that says ‘God loves you’. We are making a rainbow for them out of the light of an earthly hour, so that even though this is only Kansas, they will know a little bit of what it is like to go home.

One thing have I desired, my God, of Thee:
That will I seek: Thine house be home to me.

(Amy Carmichael)

This is not really a post for playing ‘catch up’, and I’ve stayed in touch with most of you anyway. Susan and I still send each other quotes about our eternal home: I sent her the above recently. I expected that I would find ‘home’ again — that glimmering reflection of it, like light from a candle house cast up on the walls — waiting for me quite naturally here in this lovely home in Indiana: for the house simply stood here and was a real home the first time I walked in. But since moving in there has been one thing after another — one of those things being my approach to homemaking itself — preventing any sort of settledness; and as usual, I’ve not been very well; and somehow like Gollum’s ‘precious’, my idea of ‘home’ is always slipping through my fingers. I was able to do some things like laundry and dishes on our anniversary that I hadn’t done in quite some time; and Ruben told me what a comfort it was to him have me standing at the stove cooking his dinner, with laundry running in another room, again. I remember that sort of comfort — coming into the house and hearing my mom up in the kitchen when I was little, after she had been sick for a few months; and it was odd to realise that anyone finds that adjustment of the world into its rightful place in my movements.

Recently, watching the light cast the few remaining shadow leaves over patches of color and texture around this kitchen, I remembered that comfort of my childhood in my mother’s routines again. And I realised, returning back over my memories of a number of places, that a place feels like home to me not because the walls themselves become so familiar, or because I have hung up familiar things on them; but because of the familiar movements of light I have often traced on the walls. I can try to create ‘home’ out of my own raw materials — things I have managed to hang onto from previous places, a certain regularity of motion, the ephemeral scents or sounds of cooking or running laundry — but ‘home’ is the little, hourly ‘place of our own’ in the abiding love of another. And it is the Lord’s movements in my kitchen, the faithfulness of His daily routines, that gives me that comfort now.

It was poignant and precious to realise that though I may never leave behind anything substantial to mark my pilgrimage on the earth, while I am here, my own routines are in a small way that sort of ‘home’ for someone I love. That seems — in a world torn by wars and rumors of wars, and earthquakes, and diseases, and divorces, and upheavals and distresses and uncertainties of all sorts — worth being.

Happy New Year everyone!
I read this article recently and wanted to share it with you. It was written by Pastor Ken Pierce who used to be my mother-in-law’s pastor before he relocated to Mississippi. It’s about yearning for our eternal home.
The Quiet Protest Blog

A week ago Saturday we noticed some egg shells in the barnyard. We didn’t think much about it at the time. I thought that maybe our Banty hen was laying in the woods and maybe our dog had found one of her eggs. A friend gave me my little Banty hen last month and I named her “Little Dove”. She’s an Old English Game Hen and prefers to roost in the rhododendron next to the chicken house at night instead of going into the hen house with the other hens. She comes into the open pen during the day to get food. She’s still shy around the other chickens and keeps to herself most of the time. She’s getting more used to us but still stays around the chicken house instead of coming down to the house during the day like our other chickens do. The chicken pen adjoins a pole building where we used to milk our goats. We put their chicken feed in there when it’s raining so their food stays dry. Since Little Dove was too shy to go into the chicken house to lay in one of the nest boxes, I put a wooden box filled with hay in the milk room for her to lay in. I found some golf balls at a second hand shop and put them in the nest because hens prefer using nests that are full of “eggs”.

My golf balls worked. The next day my husband saw Little Dove on the nest. She laid an egg in the nest. Some of the other hens liked the new nest box too and used it that day. That night I gathered the eggs and left two of them in the nest box with the golf balls hoping it might encourage Little Dove or another hen to go broody. But the next morning the two eggs were gone as well as the four golf balls! We found a broken shell in the yard outside the chicken house and we later found the four golf balls scattered behind the hen house. One had even been gnawed on. The golf balls had not only fooled the hens but some predator as well!

We moved the nest box and golf balls into the chicken house since we didn’t want to train them to lay where it was so unsafe to go broody. We set a Hav-a-Hart trap behind the chicken house that night. The next night nothing came around but the following night we heard a disturbance in the chicken house. Our first thought was that something had gotten Little Dove outside. When my husband reached the chicken house, Little Dove was still there in the rhododendron. When he opened the chicken house door, feathers were flying everywhere. Two hens were off the roost squawking frantically. A raccoon had been caught in the trap behind the chicken house. It seemed odd that they would be so upset since the coon was in the trap and not the chicken house. The next day Bill noticed that some golf balls in the nest box were missing. Two had been taken across the floor into a corner. One was gone. Something else had been in the hen house with the chickens that night and had found a hole where it was planning to take out the golf balls one by one. I’ve heard stories about weasels wiping out a whole flock of hens in a night. They can squeeze through very small spaces. Or it might have been a rat. We were thankful that whatever it was had been frightened away by Bill and hadn’t harmed our hens. We slept with our bedroom window open so we could hear the hens if they were in distress. Bill tightened up the chicken house even more, putting rat wire in spaces he thought something might try to enter. We caught another raccoon behind the chicken house the night before last and Bill killed it. We leave the chicken door and pen open during the day so the hens can go in and out to lay eggs. Yesterday Bill found a five foot black snake in a nest box which we put in a pillow case. He took it some distance away and let it go.

The golf balls are still in the nest box and Little Dove has been going into the chicken house now to lay her eggs. If she goes broody now she’ll be in a much safer place.

All this has made me think about our fierce enemy, Satan, and how helpless we are without God. It has also given me a greater appreciation for our Great Shepherd who never slumbers or sleeps as He watches over us night and day.

Psalm 121
I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

The LORD is your keeper;
the LORD is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.

The LORD will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
The LORD will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.

I read this poem last week and thought it was good food for thought and reflection.  Especially since we are in the middle of the school year and all cooped up together in the house during the winter cold.  It can be tempting to try and steal a precious moment alone.  I never thought of this in the context of our relationship with our Heavenly Father before.  It quickly changed my perspective.

At the Door

by Eugene Field

 

I thought myself indeed secure,

So fast the door, so firm the lock;

But, lo! he toddling comes to lure

My parent ear with timorous knock.

 

My heart were stone could it withstand

The sweetness of my baby’s plea,—-

That timorous baby knocking and

“Please let me in,–it’s only me.”

 

I threw aside the unfinished book,

Regardless of its’ tempting charms,

And opening wide the door, I took

My laughing darling in my arms.

 

Who knows but in Eternity,

I, like a truant child, shall wait,

The glories of a life to be,

Beyond the Heavenly Father’s gate.

 

And will that Heavenly Father heed

The truant’s supplicating cry,

As at the outer door I plead,

” ‘Tis I, O Father! only I?”

Of course, I don’t think for a moment that God would linger to admit His own children into His presence.  But, it does put into perspective how loving and kind our Heavenly Father is always to us.  How can we then ignore the pleads of a child who wishes to be in the presence of his earthly parents?

Habbakuk 3:17 Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: 3:18 Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. 3:19 The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places.
 
If you are weary, lonely or  heavy laden , perhaps in pain physically or emotionally, then you will take comfort from these beautiful words written by the prophet Habbakuk, inspired by the Holy Spirit. How often do we doubt. We think things look hopeless. We feel that our lives are shrivelled up and fruitless. We cannot see a way of escape. But God….
  
Thinking especially of Heidi today and those who suffer in one way or another. May we all take strength in the God of our Salvation and look to him with joy even in adversity.

Happy New Year everyone!  I thought this topic was a fitting one to start off the new year. May it never get old! This quote is from a recent Grace Gems.

By C. H. Spurgeon

“You yourselves, as living stones, are being built into a spiritual house for a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 2:5

God builds a palace for Himself in heaven, made of ‘living stones’. Where did He get them? Has He brought forth the richest and the purest marble from the fine quarries of Paris? No! Christians, look to “the hole of the pit where you were dug out of, and to the rock where you were cut from!” You were full of sin. Far from being stones that were white with purity–you were black with defilement, seemingly utterly unfit to be stones in the spiritual temple, which would be the dwelling-place of the Most High God. And yet, He chose you to be trophies of His grace!

Goldsmiths make exquisite jewelry from precious materials; they fashion the bracelet and the ring from gold. But God makes His jewels out of base materials. From the black pebbles of the defiling brooks–He has taken up stones, which He has set in the golden ring of His immutable love, to make them gems to sparkle on His finger forever. He has not selected the best–but apparently the worst of men–to be the monuments of His grace!


That quote made me think of this hymn.

How Sweet and Awful is the Place

Tune Here

How sweet and awful is the place
With Christ within the doors,
While everlasting love displays
The choicest of her stores.

While all our hearts and all our songs
Join to admire the feast,
Each of us cry, with thankful tongues,
“Lord, why was I a guest?

“Why was I made to hear thy voice,
And enter while there’s room,
When thousands make a wretched choice,
And rather starve than come?”

‘Twas the same love that spread the feast
That sweetly drew us in;
Else we had still refused to taste,
And perished in our sin.

Pity the nations, O our God,
Constrain the earth to come;
Send thy victorious Word abroad,
And bring the strangers home.

We long to see thy churches full,
That all the chosen race
May, with one voice and heart and soul,
Sing thy redeeming grace.

The kids and I have been reading a commentary on Leviticus written for children in our morning bible study.  A couple of days ago we read about the Feast of Trumpets.  In this section the book is explaining the Old Testament celebrations and how they point to Christ.  Since the New Year is almost upon us I thought I would share this section with you.  I had not contemplated the Feast of Trumpets before and wouldn’t have come to this wonderful conclusion on my own.  What a wonderful blessing to live in this modern age where commentaries for children are being written.  And even more wonderful of a blessing to be able to teach my children and learn along with them in a straight forward, simple manner! 

The Feast of Trumpets was on the first day of the seventh month–New Year’s Day.  The blowing of the trumpets on that day was, however, just a shadow of another day, a greater day, the Day of the Lord, on which the trumpet blasts of angels would usher in, not a new year, but a new age.  “Blow the trumpet…sound the alarm…Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming.  It is close at hand” (Joel 2:1) “Woe! Woe! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the trumpet blasts” (Revelation 8:13), the trumpet blasts sounded by the angels.   “At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.  And He will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect…No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven…Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come” (Matthew 24:30-42)  On that last day, the Day of the Lord, those who believe in Him “will all be changed– in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.  For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised…and we will be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:52).  On that day “the Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.  And so we will be with the Lord forever” (1 Thessalonians 4:16).  The Feast of Trumpets was just a shadow of the reality of the great and terrible Day of the Lord and the return of Christ, when the angels will blast trumpets which will shake the heavens and the earth (see Revelation 8&9).

 

I’m sure I’m very slow and dull at grasping these pictures of Christ in the Old Testament.  And so, I am very glad when I come across one of these shadows of Christ and am able to see it.  I hope you will be blessed by it too!

I know it’s a busy time of the year and most of us won’t have time to be posting much in the days and weeks ahead. May you have a blessed Christmas with your families!

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. John 1:14

My Life is but a weaving                                     

between my Lord and me;

I cannot choose the colors

He worketh steadily.

Oft times He weaveth sorrow

And I, in foolish pride,

Forget He sees the upper,

And I the under side.

Not til the loom is silent

And the shuttles cease to fly,

Shall God unroll the canvas

And explain the reason why.

The dark threads are as needful

In the Weaver’s skillful hand,

As the threads of gold and silver

In the pattern He has planned.

B.M. Franklin

August 2017
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