Sunshine on a Winter Day

I am so grateful that the sun still shines in winter.

Thankful for these warming rays brightly streaming,

Through my window, mercifully sent by my dear Father!

Warmth to comfort my body, lift my spirit; to liven my soul;

Lifting all thoughts to joy, allowing them to float on the waters,

Of sickness and sorrow; thereby abating my sadness and suffering;

Snugly wrapping me in loving security; and embrace me in His presence;

It is brutal! Outside it’s cold! A threat to my existence but here in my window

I sit, enjoying the heat of summer; kept safe from vile enemies that long to take

Me down to smother me in agony; in hopes of crushing my spirit, destroying my body!

But my soul, my enemy can’t touch, it belongs to the One who limits my enemy’s strength;

Daddy! He cherishes, protects His child; Surrounding me with bright sunshine on a winter day!

From Mourning to Joy

When loss and sorrow knock on the door, there is no denying grief or the process of mourning. However, it is natural to recoil from the pain and very human to attempt to flee. Grief is as hot and dry as June in the desert, during a long drought. The body, heart, and soul shrivel with thirst when it ravages. When the tongue cleaves to the roof of the mouth and lips crack due to thirst, the high country calls through remembrances of alpine relief, at an altitude high above the suffering of the dry valley below. It seems logical then to dissociate from sad reality and avoid mourning by escaping to the high country. How easy it is to lose one’s self in meadows carpeted by colorful flowers, watered by the still-melting snow. In a mountain June when summer is just beginning, it can seem as if such a heavenly paradise could last forever. The land itself provides food and water enough to sustain the fanciful runaway seeking avoidance of a painful reality…at least, for a short season. Such cooling relief is found here, high above the scorching desert, enveloped in peaceful, majestic beauty! High granite cliffs, where the precious Columbine bloom, produce a special sense of insular safety, as large dark caves promise shelter from summer mountain rains. The grim reality and sorrowful drought of the desert grow more distant with each passing day and it’s so easy to imagine forever, remaining aloof in this comforting solitude.

Summers are brief in the mountains. Days soon pass into weeks and months, as the dry heat travels upward from the desert valley, making its way to the high peaks. The flowers fade and the green grasses mature, in browns and purple hued grays. Grief and mourning won’t be denied their due process and the sorrow of loss stalks its victims. None are wily enough to successfully hide from mourning or forever escape. The void of loss must be faced or it grows to become a starving black hole that no method of coping can assuage. Its ravaging is sure to devour everything valuable, leaving only the fantasy that keeps it growing. Only, truthful reckoning can satisfy it. The reality avoided is sure to reappear. Like a sudden reflection in a mountain stream that reveals the true state of self; of someone on the run, hiding in the mountains, with tangled hair, worn out clothes, and new wrinkles around glassy, delusional eyes. Cold nights with chilly winds, late summer hail-storms, and the leaves changing color, make it clear that the dark season is coming down fast and hard. Truth is present. Mourning can’t be avoided and facing it here, on the mountain in winter would likely, prove fatal. Hungry, sleepy bears and mountain lions (the rightful residents) will soon be claiming all caves. The desert run-away could easily, end up as prey. It’s time to head back down the mountain, to the valleys and the rivers where human beings live and face the reality that can’t be denied.

Acceptance is the beginning. Grief is the accounting. Mourning brings the tears that cleans and heal. An awful truth can bring overwhelming sadness but mourning releases joy, imprisoned in sorrow. Joy even grows stronger in those who embrace divine truth and endure. The joy of Jesus is buoyancy, when grief with sorrow floods our lives and threatens with drowning pain. In Christ we can face all things, do all things, and endure all things. Through faith, we’re given courage to stand and have no need for escape to the safety of some imagined mountain top. Faith is not a dissociative state but strength to endure life in the valleys and the power to overcome.

 

Warming Joy on a Cold December Day

Ice-laden wind howls on this colorless December day;

Thickening clouds, chasing warmth and light far away;

Clouds weighted with dread; dense, dark, lifeless gray;

This old woman’s dreams drift backward to yesterday,

When winter didn’t make her old bones ache ‘till May;

Snow-storms once a welcomed challenge, time to play!

In sparkling drifts; all bare branches, an icy lace display!

Silent, long walks without a thought of this elderly day…

As winter turns contentious now; threat to keep at bay!

I maintain joy despite winter contention, I kneel to pray.

I’m trusting my God to keep me warm, this blustery day.

There’s no threat over which my God doesn’t hold sway!

Though I’m old now, in Jesus, I still dream of a future day.

Of my transformation, my glorified youth forever to stay!

More than a dream, it’s an eternal promise, it won’t fray!

Warm hope is joy for old woman on a cold December day!

 

 

 

 

 

Joy for the Lost and Lone!

Silence roars within the souls of the lost and lone!

Deafening white noise eradicates rational thought;

Obliterates imagination; Rosy ideals end in a moan!

Wealth, worldly greatness, nothing can be bought,

To satisfy the empty, stark realization of soul alone;

No solace from mankind, nothing mankind taught,

Prepares the lost soul for standing naked to atone!

In this the reckoning hour, earthy things matter not!

Realize separation from the Living God and groan!

Understand eternal loneness; with torment fraught!

In this quiet moment choose not to die in the lone!

Grasp the proffered Hand of the One you’ve fought!

Grace- Love-Life! Be ye not lost! Be no longer alone!

Still Voice whispers, “I Am here!” Bind in Faith’s knot!

Holy Spirit, enter the heart! Joy for the lost and lone!

Redeemed through Jesus, by His Holy blood bought!

Jesus won’t leave souls given Him to suffer the lone!

 

 

 

 

Joy in a Melancholy Shroud

Inflated thoughts and lost dreams; absorbed in the vacuum;

In the midnight of isolation, sanity dangles by a silken thread;

Am I upside down, or right-side up, or maybe laying side-ways?

No one cares about those dying, those living on borrowed bread;

Boxed in neglect; Dying slow, in the little bits of day’s-fading-days.

 

Melancholy tarnishes the gold; not discussed in polite company;

This common process called death; we all share in but suffer alone;

For some the thread suddenly snaps! But others may hang-on-long…

In bodies of agony and pain; With active minds; Recounting to atone;

Reliving life; Still dreaming; Still longing; Rosy remembering in a song!

 

Beating heart’s unsteady gait falters; pounds in an unfamiliar rhythm;

This rough, long ride is coming to an end! Faithful steed, take me home!

Then rest when your beat ceases and this thin thread snaps! Yes, I will fall!

Into God’s Hands that never neglect, the faith kept soul in a forgotten tome!

Everything lost to be restored seven-fold, to those who obey the Savior’s call!

 

Hope is Jesus when long-hanging by a thin thread; Joy shrouded in melancholy;

Living in thought but not in action; the mind is where dreams and memory meld;

Regret and pain constantly accuse; tormentors who by faith must be overcome!

All must die but those who die in Christ are not alone, joined by Holy Spirit weld!

Rise and live again; fully glorified! Death ends in full Life and Joy! Oh! Jesus Come!

 

 

The Refuge

Emerald leaves full of life transformed into rubies and gold have all fallen; leaving bare, grey branches shivering in the wind. The cold hard ground connects with freezing air putting the atmosphere in deep freeze. Black storm clouds are building on every horizon, moving to meet overhead and collide in an epic storm, like no storm every known by beast or man. “It’s ‘El Nino’ or climate change” they say without believing it down deep where the frightening truth lies not long to be denied. There are those other voices warning that this is God’s wrath, true voices mixed with the false, one as warning that points to Jesus for safety, the other for personal power gained by deceit and promotion of fear; but none can deny the storm is coming! There is little time to prepare and the bitter cold is deepening, driving everything living to find warmth and shelter underground or fly away to a hidden place that’s warm; but neither option comes by human choice but only, by God’s direction, according to His secret timing.

The storm is here! The havoc it wreaks is much too great for FEMA or Church outreach, or UN Relief. This is the epic storm that will subdue every institution of man and disable all his power to help or hurt himself or others. This is the storm that will bring it all down and leave no earthly refuge. This is the end of all human dominion. This is the final season of Death and the only, safe place is in Jesus Christ. He is the one in which all things consist and all things are held together. He is the source of eternal life, the only, One who connects us to the Father; the Author of Life, Who gives breath to everything living. All things must die when He takes His breath away. He is the only, viable refuge and shelter in this terrible, life-ending storm!

See the signs, decipher the signs, but children of God you must walk by faith not sight! Signs and miracles are for the unbelieving world. Don’t let fear overtake you and fill your heart with dread! Do today as we are asked to do every day; look to God for guidance and obey. Trust in the Father to keep you safe, to shelter you, and give you strength to endure. He will keep us from the evil when we rely upon Him. Trust His plan and look forward in hope to all He has promised when that plan is completed. Remain loyal to Jesus, in word, thought, and action by relying on the Holy Spirit to enable you to accomplish the good work assigned to you. Seek the sure refuge that comes by faith and don’t listen to any voice other than the voice of Jesus. The familiar voice you know and recognize as belonging to your Shepherd. Though the threat is overwhelming and the storm violently rages, altering the very planet on which we live, knocking it out of balance, changing everything; God never changes. By faith, cling to Jesus, as you watch and wait for His bodily return.

Maintaining Joy in an Era of Fear

 

There is one word that best characterizes the early 21st Century and that word is fear. From the fear of terrorism, global financial collapse, increasing totalitarianism, uncontrolled immigration, to the end of the end times, fear is the predominant mood. There are ominous black clouds on the horizon that seem impervious to the sun. It is easy to be overwhelmed by the enormity of what threatens all of us and become frozen by the threat. There are also, those who see the fear in common folk and view it as an opportunity to make money or gain power. They magnify the threat to sell everything from financial advice to protection when the world as we know it ends. Others promise a better life in a new land to displaced persons, take the last of their money to smuggle them across borders, and even make slaves of some of them; and because of them, there are more slaves in the world now than at any other time in history. Predators know that frightened prey is easy prey and the 21st Century is proving to be a feeding frenzy for predators. By fear, the black night closes in as more and more people lose hope. The only, way to respond in an atmosphere of such pervasive fear is to reach for joy. It is the joy of Jesus that strengthens believers and gives us the power to overcome and not give in to terror.

Fear is natural, an important part of human, subjective intelligence. God built fear into our emotional character and He designed it for a purpose. Fear warns us of danger and signals for protective action but being overcome with fear clouds judgment and leaves us more vulnerable. Being afraid of things that may or may not happen and living in a state of constant terror is draining and immobilizing. If fear is to function properly, then it must be brought into balance. Moderation of fear is achieved by mindfully assessing where it should be rightfully, placed. This begins by looking away from the world with its looming threats and looking to God, the One who created us in His image. He is the only One who not only, has the power to destroy our bodies but also, to destroy our souls. He put us together and He can take us apart. Truly, freedom from fear begins with a healthy fear of the LORD. Fear thrives in ignorance but fearing God is the beginning of the end of spiritual ignorance and the first step toward an attitude of joy through knowledge of the Living God. When that knowledge is combined with saving faith in Jesus, it becomes righteous wisdom and a lamp that guides through the dark times of life. Faith is the victory that overcomes the world and with each victory over fear, joy increases and fear subsides.

The dark future that appears to be bearing down on us now is part of God’s plan. It is part of His plan to end the rule of man over man and return the Creation to Himself. There is no escaping from it but there is one refuge and that safe place is in Jesus Christ. Placing faith in Him is the only, sure hope, the only place where the soul can be preserved for eternity. Those who belong to Him have only, the destruction of our bodies to fear from the world but our souls will remain intact in Christ, to be reunited with promised, glorified bodies; to live in that bright Kingdom that will rise on the other side of the looming, terrible storm. It is by keeping focus on Jesus and that future promise that believers are kept from being disabled by overwhelming fear. Our sure haven is protection from the purveyors of fear who seek weakened prey. By faith, we are perfected in God’s divine love and as we increase trust in Him, that perfect love drives away all fear.

Beloved, don’t be afraid of what the world fears. Maintain your joy by drawing close to God, in Jesus and find the strength you need to overcome everything that causes you to fear. There is no new prophet to follow and no new teaching to obey, for surviving the end of the End Times. Faith in Christ alone and obedience to God is all that is required. God never changes and His promises are sure.

All that I have written above is found in the Bible, as my acquired overview. It is important for every believer to read and study the Bible and prove to their selves, the truth of what I and others write and teach. Jesus is the Teacher of every believer and protection from false prophets and false teaching comes only, from each one looking to Jesus and studying the Bible for their self.

Life Sustaining Joy in a World of Thorns

Every plant that grows and survives in the harsh environment of the desert produces thorns. The cactus is the fittest of those survivors and by brilliant adaptation to the conditions of the desert climate, the cactus clothe themselves in self-protective quills. Attiring themselves in sharp spines prevents them from being trampled and guards against animals stealing their water and eating them as food. Other plants produce stickers that ensure survival of their seed and a new generation of plants. Stickers enable the plants to spread their seed by sticking themselves on the feet and legs of other animals that tread over them. Their ability to stick also enables them to lodge in hard, dry ground and wait for the rainy season. Sometimes, that season doesn’t come for years at a time but the unpleasant nature of a sticker protects it from being eaten by even drought-starved animals and it patiently, waits for the rain. Though every plant in the desert has learned to survive the deadly climate by producing thorns, every plant in the desert is dependent upon the water from above, in the form of rain, to produce new life. Without that rain, the thorniest plant will die and if that rain is withheld for too long, all life perishes and nothing remains but dunes of blowing, shifting sand.

People are much like the cactus. In a world ruled by death, we have adapted best because it is our nature to adapt, survive, thrive, and rule over the natural world. In response to the harsh environment, we toughen ourselves and grow behavioral thorns of protection. This ability is inborn, part of our genetic code, and when used properly, a God-given method for surviving un-survivable conditions. However, people aren’t cactus. We can think and we can feel and our feelings have the power to distort our thinking and our thinking pervert what we feel. We are creative beings who by conscious adaptation to our circumstances develop many methods to survive and also, achieve personal pleasure and satisfaction. The thorns we create can become preferred methods of coping that we employ habitually and even become addicted to. All of the negative characteristics God designed in us to be used in extreme circumstances become the norm, a maladaptive way of life. Protection turns vengeful and poisonous; thorns that no longer protect life but inflict needless pain and death. Without God people turn to themselves for wisdom and find only, sin which bears the sting of death. “Romans 1:29-31 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed, and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy.” By these sinful thorns, people seek to preserve themselves but instead, inflict pain and death on themselves and others. Everyone who judges their brothers and sisters according to their thorns, produce the very same thorns themselves. Though by them we adapt to survive and thrive in the world created by human beings, we are unable to achieve Eternal life and life sustaining joy because our adaptation to sin is sin and sin produces more death. We naturally, reach for death to overcome death but what we need is life.

Jesus wore our sins as a crown of thorns and carried them to the cross. Jesus lived in the same harsh world that you and I live in but He never produced a single thorn. He relied on God for survival and not on human cunning. Jesus didn’t rely on sin to keep him safe or to achieve the things he desired. Jesus always reached for Life in the face of Death but in obedience bore our sins and died so we could be set free from sin and the death that sin brings. It was the sin of Adam and Eve that altered the life-sustaining world created by God and filled it with death; when they decided to be gods rather than obey the God who made them. It is Jesus, as the Second Adam, who is bringing the rule of Death to an end by sacrificing Himself, dying to sin, and then taking up His life to live again. He conquered death and in the age to come, He will vanquish death and sin will no longer sting. Thorns and stickers have no place in the new world to come.

Jesus is spiritual, life-sustaining water that produces new- life in the thorniest human beings. This water comes first from above and then bubbles up into a perpetual spring of life-sustaining joy in the hearts of those who embrace Jesus by faith. Even though, the world remains in a spiritual drought and thorns remain as a natural part of human defense, those who belong to Jesus don’t need them to survive. It is God who protects us in this dying world and it is God who enables us to survive the world without becoming like it. Though in our flesh, we will still struggle with the sting of both our own sins and the sins of others, Jesus is the antidote that prevents their poison from destroying us. By prayer, confession, and supplication Jesus removes each thorn and gives us His grace to endure those thorns that won’t be removed until we enter the Kingdom. Though in our bodies we bear many afflictions produced by the sting of Death, in our spirits we have eternal life in Jesus. We gain victory over the thorns of sin when in the face of Death we reach for Life!

Romans 4:7-8 “Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord will never count against them.”

Ode to Roseburg

 

Something happened on the other day!

Something so difficult for me to relate.

Something that I recognize as tragedy.

Nothing can be changed or time repay;

Nothing now can be done to alleviate;

Nothing humanly transforms tragedy.

Anything I hope or I can possibly say,

Anything directed at redirecting fate,

Anything given can’t reverse tragedy.

Everything I beg for and all that I pray,

Everything regretted, sorrowing state,

Everything’s not adequate for tragedy.

Continue reading “Ode to Roseburg”

Destination: Consummate Joy!

I’m gliding through the desert on a silver-grey ribbon, rapidly rolling toward my future. Not sure of the number of miles left to be traveled, I fix my eyes on that point on the horizon where the road appears to end. I crank up the volume on tunes from my past and lose myself in remembrances of the good and the bad of those far away years. All those things I’ve left behind but live on in me, forming who I am now. I meet my focal point on the horizon and the future passes through me, slips my grasp, and melds into the present, eternal moment. I fix my eyes on the next horizon and keep moving forward. My bad hip aches from sitting too long and my head is beginning to hurt. I’m hungry, sleepy, and weary of travel but I can’t let my physical frailty detour me from reaching my destination. I’m finally going home after many long years of exile in a foreign land. Even though I built a good life in my second country, I’m anxious to return to that place that I remember only as a feeling of complete safety and joy. In an attempt to ignore and over-ride my physical complaints, I open my mind to the scenery and my thoughts lift and are carried away by the desert’s beautiful display of early autumn color. It’s been an unusually, wet year and the desert is rejoicing in celebration. Waves of tall, cured grasses undulate across the desert floor, as the Rabbit Brush, Broom Weed, and Wild Asters dazzle my eyes, all decked-out in their very best attire.

My desert day-dream comes to an abrupt end when a gust of strong wind side-swipes my car and I find myself suddenly, in the wrong lane. I quickly, respond and as I correct my path, I notice that dark clouds have formed and a storm is directly, ahead. Startled and fearful, my thoughts turn upward and I pray for safety and guidance; “Lord, get me through this, keep me safe, I’m nearly home! Please, don’t abandon me now…” Large, cold drops begin to splatter on my windshield, faster and faster until they form a blinding rain. I turn up the speed on my wipers, hunker over the wheel, determined not to give up when I’m so near to arrival but I’m still not sure exactly, how much further I must go. The storm intensifies and common sense takes over, as I decide to pull over and wait out the storm. I grab my favorite sweater from the back seat and wrap it tight around me. Road weariness takes over and as the storm rages, I drift off to sleep.

A Messenger from my dreams jostles me awake, as the first rays of sun began to rise. Such a beautiful sunrise! Unlike any I’ve ever seen, blesses my eyes with radiant blushes of bright yellow and rose. As the sky fills with an ephemeral light, I catch my breath in amazement in response to a landscape beyond anything I could ever imagine. Immediately, I notice that I have absolutely, no pain or hunger. I look down at my hands and somehow, they’ve been restored with smooth, youthful skin! I pull down the visor and look in the mirror and am astonished when I realize my complete transformation from aging woman to youthful vigor! How can this be…then I see Him; my dearest and best friend, the One who went home ahead of me to prepare my own special place. Without Him, there would be no home-coming for me; I would have died in exile but He gave His life for me and by His blood, purchased a room for me in Heaven. My heart fills with rapture when I fully realize that I’ve reached the end of my long journey and finally, I’m home! Jesus is near now and our eyes meet and lock in a loving gaze. I open the car door and run to meet those outstretched arms and He enfolds me in an embrace that I can only describe as consummate joy!