Monday, December 22, 2008

"Away in a manger..."

Every year I fill my manger scene with more images that bring a fuller picture of Jesus' life. It is not your normal Christmas display. I don't have a stable outside of an Inn, so I set it on a shelf beneath a light where an angel from my mom's childhood looks over the Holy Family in Bethlehem. In the background a book of watercolors painted in the 1800's of the Holy Land, give the shepherd and his flock a hillside in Jerusalem to graze on as he makes his way to see Jesus. There are gifts of Frankincense and Myrrh, olive oil from Galilee, stones from Jerusalem, water from the Jordan River, shells from the Red Sea and a worn smooth stone from the Emmaus Road. Among the gifts, there is an alabaster jar, and a wooden jar from Lebanon that holds a petrified pine cone from the Cedars that grew there. In the corner the wise men bring their camel past an Egyptian pyramid, and through a herd of African elephants.
A small olive wood cross stands silently reminding me that this is the destination of the baby Jesus, and a large square-head nail tells the story of pain our sin cost Him. At His feet a shekel points to betrayal, and next to it a widows mite reminds me that the little I have is a fortune when used for His glory.
A few years ago John added something else--green plastic soldiers in combat, a sad image of the constant fighting in the Middle East. Join us as we pray for the peace of Jerusalem and for our soldiers far from home. God Bless you and Merry Christmas.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Helpful Hint

Woke up yesterday morning to find a swarm of ants in the plastic containers that we keep our cat and dog food in. We weren't happy to see them gorging themselves on the pet food we had just bought. As I put on my go-to-battle fatigues (plastic gloves and ant poison stick) I thought hopelessly about all that food the ant army had conquered. Would we have to throw it out, would we dump it in a pile and tirelessly pick them out one by one?? Then in a ah-ha moment of clarity I wondered if ants freeze. We took gallon size plastic bags and put the pet food, ants and all, in the bag and zipped it shut. Then we stuck those little creeps in the freezer. Today we dumped the food into a colander and shook all the tiny antcicles on to the ground. By golly it worked. Just thought you'd like to know.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Dry Land

Six weeks ago our well went out. We use it to water our yard. It is connected to our sprinkler system, and so we've been hand watering most of the summer. Right now the once green lawn looks like the hills surounding us; gold and dry. I noticed in the backyard big cracks where the earth has dried, and the wood around the raised beds has buckled and shifted. Too much sunshine and not enough water and everything is a little scorched around the edges. The only plants that are doing well are those with deep roots; they can weather this time of drought and still bear fruit. I want to be like those plants.

This morning during my time of prayer and devotions I read: "I will pour out water upon the thirsty ground, and streams upon the dry land;" Isaiah 44:3 Lord pour out your living water, make my roots grow deep fed by your word. Help me to bear fruit in this season of drought.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Saint Paul

Catholics around the world are celebrating the life of Paul for the next year, starting June 29, 2008 to June 29, 2009. It is a time of reflection and study on his many writings. He wrote one of my favorite scriptures, well really many of them, but this one is special to me.
"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."
Gal 2:20
In December 1981 I was in a hotel room with two men, I was loaded and had been up for a few days, and I was sick but didn't know it; for my body it was the perfect storm. I overdosed and the two men, who had been fighting with each other, walked out leaving me alone. For years I had tried to change my life, to stop doing drugs by using will power, cults the occult, my mind and anything new I heard about. Nothing worked for very long, and that day I knew I was going to die. But Jesus met me right there, in the hotel room when I couldn't breathe when I felt like my heart was going to explode in my chest and He gave me his breath and his heart and I left that room a new person.

In these chapters of Galatians, Paul is speaking about the law. The law is a stop sign that tells us this far and no farther. The law points out where we have gone wrong, but it can do nothing to save us. All those times I tried to stop doing drugs because I knew it was against the law of our country and the law that was written inside me; I couldn't do it. I thank God that Jesus is the fulfillment of the law. When He died on the cross He took all our sins, all our addictions, all the times we broke the law and gave us the power to walk away and start over. By the power of the Holy Spirit I have been set free from drug addiction for over 26 years. Now I live by faith and I am alive because God came down from heaven to live as a man; to know temptation and not give into it and to conquer sin once and for all.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day

May the glory of the Lord endure forever;
may the Lord rejoice in his works.
Psalm 104: 31

Last year there was only one large bloom and a couple small, what a difference some rain makes...

Monday, June 9, 2008

The News Blues

We were watching the world news and local news and it struck us again how many depressing stories there are right now. Gas is almost $5.00 a gallon, foreclosures everywhere, record amounts of people without health insurance, tornado's, earthquakes, war and rumours of war. Fear comes creeping in and hope is pushed aside. In the face of such overwhelming problems what can one person do? I know what I must do; stand fast and face fear head on. We are suffering along with alot of other people, I don't have health insurance, we didn't budget for these kinds of gas prices when we bought our house 30 minutes from my job, bills pile up, income decreases, and I know people in the service in Afghanistan and Iraq. I want to send money to China, and to other people who need food and housing, and it breaks my heart to not have the finances to do more. So when I say I must stand fast and face fear it is a reality in my life. We are in a battle to keep hope alive. To live hopefully in the face of fear. To point the way to the One that is Hope. Every time the spirit of fear comes, you must knock it down with the word of faith. Jesus conquered fear. God tells us to fear not. In Psalm 34:19 it says "A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all."

The problems that are happening in the world are real, we are effected by them in all sorts of ways, but there is a bigger picture one that includes you and me. How do we respond to our circumstances? How do we reach out to help each other? How do we become God's hands, feet, and voice? I like this scripture found in 1 Chronicles "Be strong and courageous and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord, my God is with you."

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Locking Horns

Last night as I watched Nature on PBS, I watched male deers fight as they were vying for position in the herd. The most dominant one crashing his huge antlers into the antlers of his competition. Although violent to watch, most battles are over with minor injuries and the dominant male claims his harem. In the Alps, where this was filmed, the rutting season ends and snow covers the hillsides. But come spring, the snow melts uncovering the few casualties of the rut. Buried beneath the snow lies the remains of two males, who have starved to death, their horns locked together forever.
As I pondered this grizzly scene I remembered my step father saying to me as we fought about something long ago "You don't want to lock horns with me!" Even then I knew it had something to do with butting heads. But as I look back now, a new layer of meaning is uncovered--the fights, although a natural part of life, become dangerous and life threatening when we stubbornly refuse to forgive. Not forgiving keeps us in bondage until our death to the one we feel wronged by.

God calls us to forgive, as Jesus told Peter in Matthew 18:21 "Lord how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?"
Jesus answered "I tell you, not seven times, but seven times seven." He tells us that knowing that to forgive enables us to be forgiven. Forgiveness is freedom.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Word for Today

"We learn from holy scripture three points of daily, practical importance, namely that the flesh opposes the Spirit, Satan opposes Christ, and the world opposes the Father." (Gal 5,Gen 3, 1John2) from Meditations on the Song of Solomon Andrew Miller 1800's

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Monday, April 14, 2008

Capers the Otter

So cute :-)

Sweet Boy

Pretzel, laying down for a nap after a long walk.

Friday, March 28, 2008


Tragedy broke into my world like an intruder yesterday morning. Suddenly what once was, is no more. I have lost something precious to me, and my heart cowers, bruised behind my ribs. I wonder why God allowed this to happen, but I don't ask because deep inside I think I know.

This tragedy is not about the death of a loved one, or the loss of a pet, although we have lost two of our furry family in the last seven months. It is about a mistake, an accident that can't be undone. The story that led up to this loss began before Christmas when I received a card, and later a small packet from my first step-mother. My father has been married many times and this was from wife #2 who had been part of my life for over 10 years, very difficult years. With the card she wrote a touching letter telling me how much she loved my sister and I, and she also sent a picture of us holding two life size dolls-- classic 1950's. My husband loved the picture so much he made a copy of it and we hung it on our Christmas tree. In the packet were more treasures; pictures of my step-sisters and me as teens, a special one of me, on the beach, that I didn't think existed anymore. There were pictures of her grandchildren, and her over the past few decades and with two of her favorite girlfriends; both who have died, one tragically. Also she enclosed some of her creative writing, beautifully composed, and hand written.

After Christmas I put the card and packet into a Christmas basket with all the Christmas cards we received. I don't throw them out because I like to go through them one more time and pray for everyone who sent them. Then I sort through them and keep the artistic ones, the handmade ones, and those with special meaning in tubs filled with Christmas ornaments. This year I didn't get around to it until Easter, when I finally put the basket into my home office on top of a pile of boxes. Every time I walked into the office I promised myself I'd sit down to sort and pray. Yesterday morning as I went in there to get my purse before leaving for work, I glanced at the basket and it was empty. Empty? Frozen to the spot, I stared at the empty basket my mind reeling with questions, had I sorted through it already and put things somewhere else and didn't remember? Anxious, I cried out to my husband as it became clear what had happened. I tried to push the thought away, but it was no use because I remembered waking up to the sound of the trash collectors at 5:30 that morning! He came running into the room, his face registering shock as I held the empty basket up to him, pleading "Please tell me you didn't through the cards away!" We both let out a cry; feeling as if we'd been socked in the stomach. I told him what had been in the basket and he apologized over and over, trying to explain why he thought it was trash. I knew. I had put the Christmas basket where I had temporarily put a small trash basket. It didn't help things that the night before I had been complaining about how much unwanted mail came from people wanting donations sending address labels, gifts, trinkets etc... He thought I had sorted through the junk mail and left it there to be thrown out. And then there is the fact that my office is "Paper Paradise," piles of unfinished projects spilling onto every surface.

We tried to work through our feelings on the 30 minute commute to the salon, pausing for a moment of silence as we passed the dump that now housed my precious mementos. "Maybe we could stop and look through the trash? I know how I tied the bag." He said hopefully. Yeah right, the black bag that looks just like all the others, and what am I supposed to tell my client? Shaking my head sadly, I assured him I forgave him, and we went back discussing all the would haves-should haves.

I'm coming to some realizations as I reflect on this: one is that it's not about the possessions, although it hurts to lose them. I believe that God cares about what I care about and He understands when I hurt. It is about my attitude about the loss. Can I grieve without giving into depression and hopelessness? Can I allow myself to feel my feelings, get angry but not bitter? Can I be mad and not take it out on anyone or anything?

Late at night I toss and turn, reliving the shock of it all, and I know that this will continue to happen at unguarded odd moments. Then I think about all the people who have lost everything in recent fires, floods, hurricanes, and feeling their loss I pray for them. Loss does that, it brings you into the brotherhood of suffering.

One more thought comes to me as I read Matthew 6:19-21, and Jesus speaks to me as He did to his disciples long ago "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." And I am confident that even though my mementos are in the landfill; my memories of my loved ones will be with me in heaven.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Happy Easter

When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to myself, says the Lord. John 12:32
photo from Fransican Mission Associates PO Box 598 Mount Vernon, NY 10551-0598

Monday, March 17, 2008

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:14

In my quiet time this morning as I read Psalm 27, I remembered the many times when I felt discouraged. So discouraged that I wanted to die, I was a child the first time I felt this hopeless and it increased as I went through my teens and twenties. No matter what I tried I just couldn't get away from feeling desperate. I'm happy now that my prayers for death weren't answered. Today no matter how hard things are I know that God is in control and that He loves me. He loves you too. I want to share with you something He revealed to me a few years ago.

This is the way of life, everyday is a story. You walk through time unaware that in this moment history is made. History is made more precious because you are in it-a participant in life.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Monday, March 3, 2008

Reflections on the Cross

Easter is early this year. It is time for all Christians to reflect on the cross, and it's meaning in our life. The cross is our common denominator, whether we view our cross as Catholics meditating on the Crucifix, or as Protestants rejoicing in the empty cross of Jesus the risen one. Easter is the time of year when we most clearly hear Jesus say "pick up your cross and follow me." Our cross is the one perfectly suited for us, it reminds us that we need God. Our cross is the one carried by Jesus to the foot of the throne in Heaven.

The cross is a thumbtack on the bulletin board of life, placed there by the hand of God to remind us of His love for us. The past culminates at the cross, and the present is determined by our response to it's meaning in our life.

I read somewhere that wearing a cross would be like the French wearing a guillotine around their necks. That would be true if we only viewed the cross as an instrument of torture and death, but as Christians the cross has redemptive power. It is for us an instrument of healing just like the pole with the bronze snake was for the Israelites that followed Moses through the wilderness, we look on it remembering that Jesus was lifted up on it and died so that we can live. read Numbers 21: 4-9..... Today I thank Jesus for my cross, the one he helps me carry.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Springs First Bloom

Five Finger Prayer

Ijust received this in an email. I had never heard this before. This is beautiful and it is surely worth making the 5 finger prayer a part of our lives.

1. Your thumb is nearest you. So begin your prayers by praying for those closest to you. They are the easiest to remember. To pray for our loved ones is, as C. S. Lewis once said, a 'sweet duty.'

2. The next finger is the pointing finger. Pray for those who teach, instruct and heal. This includes teachers, doctors, and ministers. They need support and wisdom in pointing others in the right direction. Keep them in your prayers.

3. The next finger is the tallest finger. It reminds us of our leaders. Pray for the president, leaders in business and industry, and administrators. These people shape our nation and guide public opinion. They need God's guidance.

4. The fourth finger is our ring finger. Surprising to many is the fact that this is our weakest finger, as any piano teacher will testify. It should remind us to pray for those who are weak, in trouble or in pain. They need your prayers day and night. You cannot pray too much for them.

5. And lastly comes our little finger - the smallest finger of all, which is where we should place ourselves in relation to God and others. As the Bible says, 'The least shall be the greatest among you.' Your pinkie should remind you to pray for yourself. By the time you have prayed for the other four groups, your own needs will be put into proper perspective and you will be able to pray for yourself more effectively.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10

My neighbors dog, Hunter, is crying. He's not whining because he's hurt or hungry. He isn't too cold, or too hot because it is a beautiful spring day. He has everything he needs, a big yard, fresh water, and a nice dog house. He is a young dog, about a year old, and his family is trying to teach him to stay by himself for short times. He's crying because he thinks he's alone. They are coming back, but he can't see them and he feels abandoned. So, he is lonely, even though we are right on the other side of the fence.

Isn't Hunter just like us? We don't see God and so we think that we are alone, but He is here right next to us. He is all around us. God hears our cry. He wants us to be still, to trust Him and to be at peace.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Waiting on God

Your walk with God is an adventure. Each day is a new chapter. Always listen for the voice of the author of your life. He knows your story. Don't give up. Just put one foot in front of the other, and if you can't do that, then wait for Him to turn the page. It's always new....

Sunday, February 24, 2008

No, I am not a nun :-)

My husband gave me this nickname when he first met me. His grandparents went to a church where they called each other Brother so and so, or Sister so and so. I decided to use this as a title for my blog after searching for a month and every idea I had was taken...I should have known that like Solomon said "there is nothing new under the sun."

So if there is nothing new why am I bothering to write this? Because I believe that each person has had experiences that uniquely qualifies them to share about a subject, and that each one of us can impact someones life for good. If you read my profile you know that I've been a hair designer for ages. Every once in a while I'll speak at a beauty school nearby my salon to encourage the students to enjoy their profession. I want them to see how many opportunities there are in the Hairdressing world, and to not limit themselves. I also talk to them about taking care of their health and staying away from drugs and alcohol, because I know that my industry not only opens doors to success, but also provides opportunities for self-destruction. I know from experience because I got deeply involved in the drug world while I was in beauty school and it was only by God's mercy that I got out.

There is something else I know, because I've worked with people for years I hear their heart cries. The temptation to use drugs is still everywhere. Parents who have children into drugs want to know if there is hope. Children desperate for love try to find it in a bottle, in their parents medicine cabinet, by smoking, and sneaking out with their friends. Does this sound familiar? Don't fear. There is hope, God's love is enough for everyone. My prayer for you today is that you be reconciled to God. Receive His love. Pray for your children and wait for Him to do a miracle. Children, pray for your parents and your friends that are into to drugs, don't give up. God is not slow, His timing is perfect. He is waiting to hear from you.

I want to leave you with this word from Oswald Chambers:
"Never let your sense of failure corrupt your new action."