Second Stringers

To no one’s surprise, for this entire advent season, joy shot from Scriptures for me, but like never before. Okay, maybe I noticed them before, but this year they felt like a whole new ball game. Maybe it’s just me…

Rarely comfortable as a starter, I’m a strong second stringer.  So is it any surprise less popular verses struck me so strong?

Thanks to Handel some identify a line or two of these verses with Christmas (and Easter). Me too.

But this year the preceding and following lines sacked me daily as I read and read again.

I hope these snippets continue sparking everywhere all year around:

“Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress… The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.”

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And He will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. …”

Isaiah 9:1 & 2, 6 & 7 (NIV)

“For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.”

John 3:16, 17 (NIV)

Peace, people.

 

Featured Image courtesy TheWay.com

Header image courtesy Pixabay

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More Clarity

17 December 2017:

Same day, same time next year:

 

The heavens declare the glory of God;
    the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Psalm 19:1 (NIV)

 

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First Snow

Just the right
Amount of white
Till the sun rose
Above the treeline
Then back to wood work!

 

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NIV)

 

Images (c) 2018 RapturePractice! Publications

 

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Mistaken

It’s not something I prefer to talk about, but I may have mentioned I deal with some tremendous sadness. Now and then it can seem like too much for me. Sometimes I like to say, “Hey, let’s stop the pain train.” Even when I’m trying to be funny, I’m usually serious about that.

I hate to admit it (but hey, it’s just us here), sometimes I want to just quit – though that mostly happens before coffee.

The trouble with quitting is

1. I still don’t know how, and
2. I can’t imagine explaining to God how I couldn’t trust Him any more.

My life’s main accomplishment has been to prove how easy it is to drift off-course, to lose sight of even the nearest, biggest, most important goal.

Seriously, from the time I was about three for thirty-odd years, I often felt I was a mistake.
Circumstances and developments can seem like too much, but at least now we recognize and understand PTSD.

My personal game-changer happened when I was thirty-something. I rediscovered that I love God. I’m not talking about sitting in sanctuaries where my family met every Sunday, First Friday or Holy Day, nor the beautiful buildings filled with art that I fawned over as a child. I mean I cried out to the Creator of the Universe, God. He answered me and He showed me He had never actually left me.

He stayed with me and since then God consistently proved to me that relationship with Him is the best way through this world.

Today I’m all about appreciating that God does not make mistakes. Not even the devil (evil, et. al.) was a mistake. (How else would we appreciate God’s goodness?)

More than ever before I appreciate that I’m actually co-piloting my journey. Like most everyone else I know, I will likely continue to diverge – occasionally often. Yet, I can unreservedly trust that God, my Pilot will continue to make continuous adjustments, redirecting me back to His intended route. And He does it constantly for me and innumerable other souls, all the time.

So, I can sum up my whole point today in three words:

I’m. No. Mistake.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5, 6 (NIV)

 

 

Video, Mistakes by Influence Music  

Images courtesy Pixabay

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Before Snow Falls – Walk #23

New treasures every day.
We only need refresh our focus.

A comfy home that is hard to leave.

20181129_184232

Crafty loved ones who share

Sunshine on a brisk morning

Gold in the most unexpected places

Silver burst

Cole, a brother when I forget I am not alone.

“The Mighty One, God, the Lord, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to where it sets. From Zion, perfect in beauty, God shines forth.” Psalm 50:1,2 (NIV)

All images copyright (c) 2018 RapturePractice! Publications

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Humbly Humane

When summer began Hero, the 18-month-old steer was essentially wild.

One of his first encounters with man was to be roped and his testicles cut off. Back with his mother he likely forgot about his loss that day. He never seemed to forget about the evil ropes of doom and wanted no part of the upright beings at the ends of the ropes.

If he wasn’t already bigger than me I could still easily imagine how he felt, so I respected his space.

Before long he connected the rope creatures with food and water. During the next winter he would come running to the gate at feeding time.

Come spring his mother, “auntie” and “cousin” went away “to live on a farm” leaving him alone in the pasture. Afterwards he gradually became more open to humans.

After hanging around the vegetable garden fence all summer Hero became so comfortable with me he would gingerly nibble from my hand. I came to laugh at how he intimidated me the first time I power-walked the pastures. He pranced along with me, as if coaxing me to frolic with him.

Not long into summer the steer started begging for attention while I groomed the horses. The day Hero literally nosed my arm so I’d brush him too my internal red flags went up.

Hero is not a pet. Cole actually fussed at me for naming him (yeah, he didn’t read that post either). Unlike the horses who summer with us and then return to their people’s pastures for the winter, the steer will relocate to the freezer this year.

For two years I have recited the rule daily: never get attached to the livestock. Even so, something endears me to these bigger beings. I now feel sad when the lonely steer runs to the gate every time he sees me – too much like an 1800-pound puppy.

There were times in my life when I could relate to that steer. People hurt me, separated me from my loved ones and then left me alone and lonely. For a long time I too was very careful of upright beings.

Like the steer and most people I too learned that not all humans will hurt or harm us. Still we must watch for ropes – the things that can bind or hurt us.

Jesus knew about ropes – ignorance, fear, intimidation, greed and plain ol’ meanness. He knew about suffering for someone else’s sakes. With His life He demonstrated the best way to live is to forgive those who hurt us.

I want to use my life like that.

Oh, and thank You, God, that I’m not a steer.

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven… For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Luke 6:37, 38 (NIV)

 

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Already Been So Long

I’m not done here yet, Baby Bother, but I sure long to see you and talk with you again.

Richard Mark

November 30, 1957 – March 18, 2014

 

“So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord… Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 5:6 & 8 (ESV*)

 

 

*By permission, English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

 

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Retired. Right?

I can’t actually be retired when I daily work more now than I ever have. Oh wait, I’m talking about retired phones.

Part of the mystique of how I manage my life with such modest resources is first, trusting God my provider for everything. Then, showing my gratitude (while I dream about having a 50″ TV, tablet or new laptop I could put to good use – soon), I employ 3 cell phone devices.

My life is not really as complicated as that may sound, but my resources are limited. To maintain a very good credit score (despite many setbacks – jes sayin), I pinch every penny till it screams.

Electronic devices are an investment, so I take great care researching before funding something that can so easily be lost or destroyed. For example, I take into consideration I rarely watch television. I can’t stay up that late for programming in our area that I care to see. I actually use my 32″ flat screen as a computer monitor and both houses utilize old-school indoor antennas. Yep, Cole uses rabbit ears.

Since we only pay for cable internet service I am thankful for Hulu, Netflix and CBS-on-line to keep me attuned to life outside the ranch.

So every couple of moves, after changing carriers I also upgraded devices and “retired” my previous phones. This means I continue to use them for almost everything except talk and texting. Most apps work fine without cell service and some without a WiFi signal.

This will work even better for me once we hard wire the router into my cottage – past the metal roof and siding. Until that happens (hopefully this spring) I make do with a repeater. I can also leave my comfy little nest to work in the main house while Cole works in town. SchnauzerOne and ChueyTwo appreciate the company.

Yes, though Samsung recently released the Galaxy A9 and the Tizen OS, my vintage S3 (from 2012) brings me hours of digital and audio books, radio, weather and news.

But wait there’s more. I use the retired 2016 Samsung Galaxy Core Prime (a knock off) for Social Media, including the WordPress app, Gmail, Google calendar, alarm clock and banking.

This all frees up my current knock-off phone which is connected to the local knock-off  server (mobile virtual network operator – MVNO) for less costly talk, text, video chats and photography, of course.

Except for the GS3 this all extends battery life between charges. No worries, I acquired 3 extra GS3 back-up batteries and an outboard charger while they were available.

 

While a new iPhone X R 8, a Tablet or a Kindle Paperwhite would be nice, I thank God I may look rather impressive (at the senior center) when I’m actually making the most of what He gives me.

“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”” Hebrews 13:5 (NIV)

 

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Frozen Fog

I’d wished the bedraggled flower stems would blow away.

Hours later in the morning light,

Frozen in fog they were breathtaking.

As I marveled I saw frozen breath swirling,

And imagined God laughing with me.

 

“His way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and clouds are the dust of his feet.” Nahum 1:3 (NIV)

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Nooners and All-Nighters

I’ve been marveling over the paths that brought me here and all the turns my life took.

Take heat for instance: I had some doubts about staying in the cottage after processing wood with chain saws and hand tools the first two years. But the new hydraulic log splitter is a game changer. Getting Cole’s attention and assistance is easy when power tools are involved.

Also, I don’t often check the news as I prepare to leave the cottage. Instead, Cole and I catch up on the way to do chores.

Processing firewood we alternate one operating the splitter while the other stacks the split wood. Eyeing smaller logs we’ll holler over the motor, “that’s an all-nighter,” –  a cut from the trunk of a younger oak, ash, walnut or birch. We watch for logs that fill either of our stoves allowing just the right airflow to burn for six-ish hours.

Naturally, we also watch for nooners – small or half logs that burn hot for two to four hours. These are great during our work days.

After two back-to-back days of processing wood, Cole thought hard and then commentated on how the terms all-nighter and nooner both have such different meanings lately. Yep.

And today, rather than maximizing every moment, I can slow down instead when I feel pressed. It’s a sharp contrast to former times when I stressed over each day, dime and dollar, often paying somebody to do what I longed to do myself.

I actually get my steps in by keeping the fires going in both houses, rousing the old, little dogs while I’m at it. I can get annoyed when they want to continue playing after my break time is over. And sometimes GoodGirl bolting out to the pasture to play with the steer instead of heeling can irk me.

I so quickly forget I’m not the boss here, God is.

Silly human.

What initially seemed like an inconvenience during my first year here is now instinctive. Around late summer we evaluate the wood pile. Come fall we check tractor, quad and wagon tires, power wash water tanks and locate water heaters.

God certainly brought me a long way from wondering if I remembered to adjust the thermostat during my hour-long commute to work (that was before Cortana, Alexa and Google Assistant, kids). Traffic for me these days amounts to occasionally steering around a dog resting in the road on scenic drives through acreage, and slowing to admire the neighbors’ livestock along the way.

Maybe I don’t seem to accomplish as much as I used to in a day. I’m content to meet the important demands before bedtime. Instead of fretting over what may come tomorrow, I thank God for bringing me back to my bed in my comfortable home today. By His grace I’m usually asleep when my head meets the pillow and I hit the floor running before sunup.

Today I’m good with that.

“Be still, and know that I am God…” Psalm 46:10 (NIV)

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