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Sunday grace

The grace of a new day, ’tis sweet. Day follows night and the world keeps on turning.

The wind blows the tall branches of naked trees, them in waiting for newness and life to rebirth.

I wait with them.

The faithfulness of God astounds me. Words on a page from One too awesome for words, speaking love in the loneliness, peace in distress, assurance in faintness, and strength in the struggle. Praise exhales as breath.

Words that aim at my heart like an arrow sent from a sure bow, my spirit latching on to eternal certainty.

Cold winds threaten and taunt me  with, “You are hopelessly lost in winter.” But the Word that spilled into fertile heart soil heart says otherwise. The promise of spring and renewal casts down the imaginations of my enemy; anticipation, faith energizes me.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Sunday grace.

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In the desert for a few days

Sweet William and I have been in the desert for almost five days. Here in mid August, our central air conditioner gave up the ghost.

It happened on a Thursday evening while I was in the midst of piano lessons. I fanned vigorously and apologized to students coming into the house. The prognosis: We need a new unit which will cost a lot, and it cannot be installed until Monday.

My students where glad to be going home.

The heat rose in our normally climate-controlled house, rising to 85 degrees quickly. Even the August picture on our wall calendar looks hot.

By Friday, Sweet William and I were sweltering. And I wonder why air conditioners break down in the middle of summer? We kept looking at the thermometers placed throughout the house as the temperatures went higher. Fans were running everywhere and especially in our faces.

And for once it was too hot for coffee.Wendys

By the afternoon, with outdoor temperature soaring to 91 degrees and not much better indoors, we had enough. We got in the car where the air conditioner worked great, turning it down to 65 degrees and letting the cold winds blow. A cheeseburger at Wendy’s was our destination because if you can’t stand the heat, you get out of the kitchen.

We ate our burger in the car with the air running full blast. Then we went to Dairy Queen for Blizzards because we deserved it.

I don’t know when ice cream tasted so good. I ate until chill bumps formed on my arms.

One small window unit upstairs and a portable unit left by the heating/air company were our only means of survival. At night we closed the bedroom door, the portable unit blowing cold air into the room. We slept like it was winter, pulling a quilt over us. But upon waking and opening the door to the rest of the house, the heat hit me, and I really wondered whether morning coffee was worth it.

On Saturday, the cloud cover lowered the house temperature a small bit. We experimented with blankets and quilts in doorways hoping to keep the coolness in a smaller area of the house where it could be manageable and somewhat livable.

I was glad we had not invited anyone for brunch or dinner. They would not have wanted to come.

Each morning we emerged from the igloo of our bedroom only to be faced with the heat wave in the rest of the house. The blanketed-off living area had to cool down again by opening up the bedroom door. We lived in the desert of hot air blowing around us during the day.

We went to the deck because sometimes it felt better in fresh air. We watched dark clouds roll in a few times and hoped for rain to change the weather. Maisie lay stretched out on the cool floor more often than curled up in her bed.

We drank cold drinks and fixed sandwiches. I didn’t dare turn on the oven. The goal was to stay calm, cool, and collected as possible.

It seemed each time I went outside and returned to the house, the same words came out of my mouth. “It’s cooler outside than it is in here.”

I’m sure if we had asked friends, someone would have let us come stay with them. But when you have a dog, the equation gets complicated. And Maisie was in this with us.

As the days went by, the outdoor temperature cooled a little, and I think we began adjusting to our situation. We were going to tough this one out while we counted down the days until the new unit could be installed.

Sweet William and I prayed that we would not let our tempers flare with the flare of our heated conditions. We found ways to entertain ourselves because TV was in the hot rooms of the house. We talked more, and we laughed. I read a book aloud.

We have come through this experience with much thanksgiving and hopefully some wisdom.

While we were hot and miserable physically, what we lacked were only creature comforts. There are others on our prayer list who are suffering more. Ours was a temporary discomfort lasting a few days. It is not so for some we know and love.

Life is complicated. Minor irritations and major trauma are assured to come along in this life. We are destined for tribulation. Sometimes we have to walk through a desert, and sometimes we must weather a storm.

But we also look with hope toward an end of the trial. We want to understand the lesson to be learned and grow in endurance. We come through the trouble with a few more of our rough places sanded smooth. The chisel and hammer are brutal to the marble. But what begins to take shape is the image the creator planned.

We are like the marble. God is the artist who continues to do His good work in us, though it be painful, until the image of His Son is revealed more and more.

This short desert trip was not on my schedule; I would not have chosen it. But having made the journey, the oasis is deliciously refreshing.

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Thou O Lord

The engines roared into our quiet close-knit community, sirens blaring and lights flashing.  The dark night was ablaze with fire coming from our neighbors house, people who are more than neighbors.  They are my family.  My near kin.

“Oh Jesus!” was all I could say, all I could pray.  Over and over, it was a moan of desperation in a desperate situation.

Neighbors and friends came out of warm cozy houses and family celebrations, not knowing what to do, only lending their presence.  And when the sky falls what is there to do but huddle close, be there to hold onto and cry with, to pray for grace and mercy in a night of horror?

Our thankful prayer was that all souls were safe, unharmed, spared the smoke inhalation and burning.

Christmas Day suddenly became something different for us.

 “Lord, how are they increased that trouble me! many are they that rise up against me.   Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God. Selah.”

We watched from a distance, as firefighters risked life and limb to try to salvage what was so far gone, to put out flames that burned hot and ferocious.  They did what they were trained to do.  All we could do was stand back and let them.

Gathered at the closest house, we sat on the deck in the cold night, tears streaming down wondering how and why and what to do next.  Silent prayers echoed in our hearts.

But thou, O Lord, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.  I cried unto the Lord with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. Selah.”

 And yet, underneath are the everlasting arms of a God who knows all.  I don’t understand His ways, but I know that He is wise beyond me.  We know that His mercy is plentiful and His grace is sufficient.  His love endures when nothing else will.

Late into the night people part, go to their own places of sleep.  I tell Sweet William that I almost feel guilty for having a home and bed tonight.  What we count as treasures, what we invest our time and money and very lives into can be gone in a breath.  And what do we have left?  What can we count on?

” I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the Lord sustained me.  I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about.”

We lock our doors and feel secure.  We set our house alarms and expect safety.  We drive on the highway observing the traffic laws and don’t know for sure if we will return home whole.

There is no security in this life.  None.  Zero.

God is all we have.  God is all we need.

“Arise, O Lord; save me, O my God: for thou hast smitten all mine enemies upon the cheek bone; thou hast broken the teeth of the ungodly. Salvation belongeth unto the Lord: thy blessing is upon thy people. Selah.”

When there is faith in a God who cares enough to send a Savior, there is hope.  Hope for tomorrow.  Hope for a future.

My family/neighbors have much ahead of them, decisions to be made, grief to work through, loss to accept.  They will because their hope is built on nothing less than Jesus Christ and His righteousness.  They will move forward, rebuild, though they will be forever changed.  They will continue to trust in their God because there is nothing else.

Dare we set our dreams on things of this earth when it is so quickly gone?  Dare we trust anything except a mighty God who saves?

We stand firm on the Truth that God is good, God is strong, God is loving, and He will bring beauty from ashes.

And no matter what the enemy means for evil, God will use it for good.  Our adversary does not have the last word.

The last word is:  But Thou o Lord.

The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir sings But Thou O Lord

Scripture from Psalm 3, KJV

Life gets complicated

Hello Blogging Friends,

I’ve been away for a couple of weeks.  Not away from home, just away from the blog world.  Sometimes life gets complicated and there is nothing we can do but press on in the situation in which we are placed.  That has been my life the past four weeks.

Energy is limited.   And mine has been used up every day doing what needed to be done. 

Please don’t feel bad for me.  Grace has been poured out daily, more than enough to sustain me and give me joy on the journey.  I am amazed as I count my blessings and number the many gifts God gives me moment by moment.

Life is complicated for others, too.  People I talk to and communicate with by email or Facebook convey the difficulties they endure, the hard and rocky roads they walk.  Many people on my prayer list are put there because of a desperate need:   illness or death, marital problems, children making bad choices, job loss, financial woes, and on and on.

What are we to think when life gets extremely tough and we can’t figure out what we have done to deserve this?

I’ve been pondering suffering a lot in the last few weeks.  A lot.

And I will be sharing my thoughts on it in the days ahead.  I hope you will come again and hear me out.  You may want to share your thoughts also.  I welcome them.  I am always glad to learn from a fellow traveler.

Hopefully, we will draw strength from each other.   Even more, may we find fresh manna from the God who strengthens us by His own grace.