Mudpies of Life…

March 17, 2010

As a child I would ‘craft’ in the barren area of our backyard.  Rocks, dirt and water being the ingredients; a spoon or shovel the tool.  I would build habitation for the Flintstones, design my own universe or just make a muddy mess and be happy. 

Not and I (I being the operative worker) are preparing to undertake a gardening remodel project.  The action of which I find delightful; it is the planning I find stressful.  But, God is using this experience and to teach me wonderful spiritual insights as I pray my way through this mine-field of melding thoughts, desires, visions and goals. 

What do I truly want to achieve, in this or any endeavor?  To be more Christ-like ~ to hear His voice guiding my heart and actions.  I know He is preparing me for His eternity.  I want my reactive choices to be reflective of obedience to Him.  In the creation of gardens there is such a vast array of colors, shapes and textures to consider.  It is the same with Christians – each one is unique.  We can only grow spiritually by allowing God’s guidance, we will all grow differently, but together we will make a gorgeous garden!

Now my basic ingredients are: Christ (my Rock), repentance of my sin (dirt) and His shed blood (water) washing it away – faith is now my tool.  Think of the beautiful garden He desires to make in everyone’s life — He does not want us to be life’s mudpies, He wants us to reflect His glory and proclaim His love!!

 

Enjoy Spring and God’s blessings!!

 

 

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Please – Light a Candle…

February 22, 2010

on March 7 in remembrance and honor of those who are devastated by Alzheimer’s and dementia.  

 “On the evening of March 7, 2010, advocates will gather on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, share their stories and light candles in honor of loved ones.” www.alz.org

Quiet in the Garden…

October 23, 2009

 

The pond has stopped flowing and blooms are fading.  Crisp nights are forcing sap down the trees, leaving the branches filled with the vibrant hues of Fall.  Soon those same branches will be lonely silhouettes dancing in the winter winds.

My two favorite seasons have passed; this one is progressing rapidly as we hunker down before the frozen white tumbles from the skies.

This year I had not only watched the flowers bloom with great expectations, I watched the world as well.  Christ said we could recognize the approaching season of His return.  He told His followers to watch and to be ready.

The lesson of the ten virgins is an important lesson of readiness.  Last year as I began researching His command to “Be Ready”, this was one of the first ones I studied.  Since then I have learned so much and fallen even more in love with my Savior than I was before.  God is soooo AWESOME!!

I continue to “watch” as the days of normalcy in this world draws to closure.  This morning I read an article from a Jewish Rabbi, Roy Neuberger, of New York.  Even the Jewish community is aware things are rapidly changing, prophecy is coming to conclusion.  He states:  

“It is clear that mankind is in state of depression.  The irrational behavior that is epidemic in the world is a symptom of worldwide panic.  The world knows that “G-d’s appointed day” is not far off. “

Readiness is being alert to the tenuous nature of my life and preparing myself to enter that which is better, be it today, tomorrow or another season away.  In the meantime, I shall enjoy the glorious wonders of God’s magnificent creation and His majesty on display in the stillness of this season.    I will continue to cherish my family and the invaluable gift that they are.  I will laugh and cry, treasuring all these things in my heart.

Dirt….

May 20, 2009

there is nothing quite like its healing properties. 

I finally have been able to get my fingers dirty again!  My aching knees can prove it!  Six weeks is a long time to be away from a garden as it transitions from winter to spring; from under snow to the tulips are blown.  I missed seeing their colors, but there are lots of other perennials out there just waiting to pop.  And passing by the nursery…there are lots of annuals in need of a good home!  😀

I’ve spent the six weeks transitioning too; transitioning our fourth parent with ALZ into better care.  Independence is no longer a viable option.  What this disease does is heart wrenching and unstoppable.  But it is a reality of life and so must be faced and dealt with as best one can.

That was last week, this is today.  Today, I will go out and get dirty pulling weeds, moving plants, listening to the birds sing.  My partner will be munching on the rocks I uncover, finding them to be her own special treasure.  Today, I’ll be in my favorite spot, in the garden, walking and talking with God.  I’ll be on my knees and while there, I will be praying for you.

YEAH!

 

Life is but a breath and then it is gone.  Yes, I sludge through each day’s tasks and muddle through trials.  I rejoice through each success, victory and blessing.  Overall, life is good – each day is new and full of mercy. 

 

But, what if we could take a peek and know our end?  Would I change my behavior?  Try and gain more toys?  Offer a helping hand more readily?  Pay closer attention to God’s voice?  What would I do?  The options for choices are endless, good and bad…and I have made my fair selection of both.

 

Not knowing is a good thing.  It makes me look at each day in its uniqueness.  It makes life a journey of faith ~ knowing God holds the number of my days in His hands.  After all of these years, I have found it is the safest place to be; He is fully trustworthy.  What comfort!  What joy!

 

BUT, what if it were today?  Above all else, I’d want my family to have no doubt – I LOVE EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU, deeply, strongly.  You are precious to me!! 

 

Tomorrow we celebrate Christ’s Resurrection Day!  ALLELUIA!!!  My favorite celebration ~ because through His death and resurrection, He gave me the gift of an awesome new life!

 

Happy Resurrection Day!!

 

 

 

 

…and then one day, in the fullness of time  ~ we will obtain ours!

 

 

IT IS SPRING!!

April 6, 2009

 

Alleluia!!! This is my favorite time of year!  Not only do the reemerging flowers fill my heart with joy…it is the time of my favorite celebration.   Our Lord’s resurrection!  What better celebration is there ~ victory over evil, newness of life, redemption from sin and His promise of eternal life? 

 

It is time to celebrate!

 

I find this year unique because it parallels the Jewish Passover period exactly as it did the year Jesus was rejected, crucified and resurrected.  It is amazing to look closely at each day in Scripture and see the fulfillment of the prophecies made about Him.  Those prophecies continue to be fulfilled even to this year.

 

Wednesday has an additional celebration added to the Passover period this year.  It is “The Blessing of the Sun,” it is celebrated every 28 years.  A fascinating study in and of itself…and it falls in the middle of what is called “Holy Week.”  Amazing!

 

So with anticipation I finally saw the tiny heads of my tulips, alliums, and daffodils pop up and now I wait for them to bloom into fullness.  I am even more joyful as I celebrate Jesus, His gift to us and await the day of His promised return!!

 

 

 

Up, Up and Away…

March 28, 2009

I’ve had a personal tradition for a very long time now.  When someone special in my life has died, I buy a helium balloon.  Uncommon, I know, but that’s me J.

 

I even buy a color that I relate to this person.  On this balloon I write all of the qualities possessed in their life that I would like to continue to reflect in mine.  I will also write ‘emotions’ or ‘expectations’ I may need to let go of at this time.  I spend quite a bit of time in this reflective period.  I take time to thank God for the blessing of this person, as each one of us adds to the character of another.

 

I have done this numerous times, there has always been an exceptional blessing as the balloon engages in one of God’s wind currents and moves upward.  I have no expectations of what they will do, but each one has been uniquely different in taking flight.  I am amazed.

 

February 2008 I launched a white balloon in honor of my dad.  He had died three months earlier and it was time I ended my grieving process and move forward with the wonderful legacy of love, gentleness and perseverance he showed throughout his life.  I stood on my deck and let go….but ‘he’ didn’t!  Just as a gentle breeze lifted the balloon, a stronger wind current stirred up rapidly and slammed it back down into a treetop where there was a broken branch making a natural nest area, just the right size.  It wedged up there among tiny branches and began looking like it could become a permanent fixture.  But, no, it was just lingering for those extra few moments that all of us wish we could have with our loved ones once again.  Lingering, tarrying for sweet time before another gust lifted it out of those branches and it began a slow journey upward amongst the clouds.

 

This year the Jewish holidays hold exceptionally special significance for Christians.  I have spent a lot of time researching and reading about them.  Yesterday, Thursday March 26 was what they call “Blessing on Blooming Trees.”  It is the first day that a prayer of blessing and thankfulness can be said when finding a fruit tree in bloom.

The prayer is:

Blessed are you God, our God, King of the universe, who left nothing lacking in His world, and created within it good creatures and good trees with which He gives pleasure to people.

 

As I was vacuuming this morning I was thinking of this, knowing we would be driving through numerous valleys of blooming fruit trees.  As I was pondering this special way of praise and blessing I happened to look out the window and saw a tree in bloom! 

 

Very strange as we are still in a ‘cold’ situation and nothing is remotely showing signs of spring.  I walked over to look, out of a vast copse of trees one was blooming. 

 

Dad’s tree.  A Blessing from a Blooming Tree.

 

 

 

For many years I published an annual review report for the Police Department. One of the advantages was including items of an editorial-type comment. Each year I used “9/11 We Will Never Forget” as a ‘footer’ with the page numbers. Remembering what happened on 9/11 has always been important to me. Today I am more convinced that not only must we never forget, we have an immense ownership and action required in the issue; more than I ever envisioned.

I watched a video on Wednesday, March 18, 2009, which sent me on a quest for more information. The video was about aspects of 9/11 using Isaiah 9:10 as a basis and an old Sycamore Tree. It left many questions in my thinking which I wanted and needed to verify for myself. I found far beyond what I ever anticipated. This research has led me to understand why we can see God’s hand of favor being removed from America. I am left in awe, humbled. There is an enormous tapestry being woven and you are an important part of it. Here is the story as pieced together, quoting from various sources, with verification.
 

HISTORY

Early 1600’s
“More than three-hundred and fifty years ago Wall Street was no more than a dirt road. In 1653, early Dutch settlers built a twelve foot high defensive wall on the road to keep out rival British settlers. Although the wall was never tested in battle, and was eventually dismantled in 1699, the name stuck.” (a)

April 30, 1789
“President George Washington attended a service of Thanksgiving at St. Paul’s following his inauguration as the first president of the United States. After taking his oath of office at Federal Hall, Washington and his procession walked up Broadway to the Chapel. This procession including the Vice President, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and both Houses of Congress, was a first taste of presidential pomp for the American public… ” (b)
 

“Resolved, That after the oath shall have been administered to the President, he, attended by the Vice President and members of the Senate and House of Representatives, shall proceed to St. Paul’s Chapel, to hear divine service. (Annals of Congress, Vol. 1, p. 25, April 27, 1789)” (c) 

“George Washington was inaugurated, and in the same way, there was a call to dedicate America, there was a call that day for prayer. And Washington gave his speech, the first ever presidential speech, and in it he gave a warning. He said, and I’m paraphrasing [site author], he said, “No nation can expect the favor of God…if it turns away from God’s ways”. Then he took all the leaders there, the House of Representatives, the Senate, all that, all of them together went on foot from the place of the inaugural and they went to a little church, a little chapel. They spent two hours dedicating America in prayer to God. Where was America dedicated to God? Where did it begin? Well, the capital then was not Washington D.C. and it wasn’t Philadelphia, it was New York City…” (d) 

“George Washington worshiped here on Inauguration Day, April 30, 1789, and attended services at St. Paul’s during the two years New York City was the country’s capital. Above his pew is an 18th-century oil painting of the Great Seal of the United States, which was adopted in 1782.” (e) 

As the appointed leader of our Nation, George Washington admonished the American people that if we were going to be the recipients of the Lord’s goodness and grace, we were going to be accountable to honor God and walk in His ways. Washington and our government leaders had a two hour prayer service, dedicating and laying the foundation of this country before God. America’s covenant with the Lord was the humble altar of St. Paul’s Chapel, New York. 

How did America get so far off the path? Have we ignored the words of Washington’s admonition? 

1792

“The New York Stock Exchange has roots that go back to a spring day in 1792, when a group of 24 men met outside 68 Wall Street in the shade of a huge sycamore tree that locals called a ‘buttonwood’. They set down the rules they would trade by and called it the Buttonwood Agreement. Later that year, trading moved into a room on the second floor of the Tontine Coffee House, where it remained until 1817.”  (f)  The grand Financial District of New York was born. 

OUR ERA

September 11, 2001

This was a horrific day in our Nation’s history. And yet…. our God revealed His mercy. He hears our prayers, He holds onto the pleas of our hearts through generations. He honors them as we honor Him. Amidst the tragedies, the heroic sacrifices, miracle upon miracle happened that day. 

St. Paul’s Chapel is an awe-inspiring story. One of the old Sycamore trees was uprooted, overlaying the chapel, becoming a shield of protection over this humble spot.   (g) This small chapel, dwarfed on all sides by New York’s Financial District, remained unscathed.  The Twin Towers were directly across the street from where George Washington, placed America’s future on the altar of St. Paul’s Chapel, seeking God’s blessing and governance over the land and its people. Our Heavenly Father’s hand of protection carefully guarded that sacred covenant altar in the midst of chaos. 

The church of our Nation’s initial heart cry was protected from damage as carnage spread around it in all directions. Not only was it protected, it was vital. The church served the first responders and workers, for weeks and weeks, ministering to their needs of food, rest and peace. God proved He remembers! He knows our hearts, He is calling us to pay attention and come back to our covenant. 

Two Years Prior –

In ancient history a watchman stood on the wall or at the gate of a city and trumpeted a warning to the people when he saw harm approaching. In 1999 a Messianic Rabbi had harkened to God’s call to be a “Watchman” on the Jewish Feast of Trumpets. He, along with others, went to the area considered “the wall” built to protect America. There Rabbi Cahn stood and sounded the ancient horn of watchfulness and warning. He stood in Manhattan where “The Wall” of early America was built. 

A local television station broadcast it throughout New York, during this news broadcast as the horn was being sounded, a plane could be spotted in the background, passing behind the Twin Towers. A true “God Moment”. 

That was September 11, 1999. He believed and warned the people of impending danger. Exactly two years later, where the trumpet had sounded buildings lay in rubble. We were warned before we were wounded.  (h)  

September 12, 2001

This was spoken by Tom Daschle on the floor of the Senate. “Nothing can replace the losses that have been suffered. I know there is only the smallest measure of inspiration that can be taken from this devastation. But there is a passage in the Bible, from Isaiah, that I think speaks to all of us at times like this. ‘The bricks have fallen down, but we will rebuild with dressed stone; the fig trees have been felled, but we will replace them with cedars.’ That is what we will do. We will rebuild and we will recover.”  (h)

John Edwards used the exact same quote at a yearly memorial ceremony at Ground Zero years later.


 July 4, 2004
The Freedom Stone, hewed from the granite of New York’s mountains. It is inscribed:

“TO HONOR AND REMEMBER THOSE WHO LOST THEIR LIVES ON SEPTEMBER 11, 2001, AND AS A TRIBUTE TO THE ENDURING SPIRIT OF FREEDOM. – JULY FOURTH 2004” 

Governor George Pataki added: “Today, we, the heirs of that revolutionary spirit of defiance, lay this cornerstone and unmistakably signal to the world the unwavering strength of this nation and our resolve to fight for freedom,” then-Gov. George Pataki solemnly declared that day. “Today, we build the Freedom Tower.”

 

An Aside Note –  Previously, in 2003 the root ball of the fallen, protective Sycamore tree was removed. It was replaced by a Spruce. Today “Trinity Roots,” a bronze sculpture by Steve Tobin is installed on the corner of Wall Street and Broadway memorializing the extraordinary act of God’s protection by the sycamore tree.


 January 31, 2002 ~ Another “God Moment”
Gary Suson, a 9/11 memorializing photographer was going through the rubble of the North Tower with an NYFP Chief. He saw some papers and took some pictures. Read it in his own words:

“…I shot three frames. The first was of some police letter. I saw something sticking out from underneath and moved the papers. Underneath was some wet burnt papers. Three pages. They were from the Bible. I was awed. I took two pictures. It was not until later, when I got the roll back from the lab that I fell over in my chair. The page facing me..ok sit down for this one..was Genesis 11. The Tower of Babylon. I haven’t quite figured out the message behind this, but I know it will come to me….”
Like him, I am in awe of God’s ways.

http://www.septembereleven.net/page141.htm The photo is copyrighted so I could not insert it here.

 FAMILY HISTORY

To Personalize This

Grandma Hannah Jane Maud Harris Studham’s lineage meanders throughout the Dutch Settlement of New York. Her ancestors were loyalists and headed to Canada during the Revolutionary War. She is twice descended from Jan Damen. Jan Jansen Damen had quite a bit of farmland and is most probably the father of the two siblings who are her ancestors; otherwise, it is their brother.
 

Let’s go for a walk and see what heritage the land of this family has to offer. Here is a map: 

 

Long before the wall was even built, pre-1644 mapping, Jan Damen owned the corner of Broadway and Wall Street (“Trinity Roots” Sculpture here), let’s start there and go down Wall Street, past the ‘buttonwood tree’ on our left, where the Buttonwood Agreement was signed. Turn left on Pearl Street, over to Maiden Lane, turn left again and follow Maiden Lane back up to Broadway, and back to Wall Street. Amazing, huh? That was his property.

 

But, not all of it! Now backtrack 200′ back up Broadway, about half way to Thames Street and cut over to Greenwich – this is where the land ended at the shoreline in 1644 and is the western border of this piece of land. Head back to Broadway, turn left and head uptown. Stop at Fulton and turn left. Look at all the property across the street, running along Fulton, that is St. Paul’s Chapel, its burial grounds and the field of sycamores. totally awesome! Continue up Fulton to where the shoreline had been…….

 You are standing in the middle of the hallowed spot of Ground Zero. A God moment? 

acdb 

Putting Together the Parts

The bricks have fallen down,  but we will rebuild with dressed stone;

the fig trees have been felled,  but we will replace them with cedars.

 Yes, it is written about Israel, but in this event it is amazing that all of it was precisely fulfilled. That precision directs our attention back to where it should be, the God of our forefathers. With Israel we share a common foundation, belief in Jehovah, Lord God Almighty. Israel is God’s beloved and always has been. America’s settling was in the pursuit of the freedom to worship Christ, His Son, without persecution. We are two nations founded within the love and blessing of Jehovah. America sought God’s blessing from the very beginning and He gave it.

The sad fact is, as our leaders used this Scripture in their speeches attempting to comfort us, they missed what it was they were saying. They were totally oblivious that it was these specific “we” attitudes which had guided us down the wrong road. “We will”- massively self-centered, willful, and arrogant. And yet, as a country we can be the most supporting, giving and selfless people when we find others in need, willingly dispensing mercy. But it shouldn’t take a crisis for us behave well. As a nation we have lived daily missing the focal point of our Nation’s covenant – dependency on God and His leading. “We will” needs to be replaced in our thinking with, “If it is His will.” 

There is a rich heritage in the American framework; it isn’t just the people of this lineage, it is all of us, no matter what our familial roots. A covenant was made on our behalf 220 years ago merging our individuality and our nationality. See how easily we can look back 350 years ago to our very foundations, touch those moments of history, and personalize them and their effects on us today? A refreshed perspective! 

We are being woven into an intricate pattern in God’s tapestry. Physically and spiritually, it is inspiring and altogether humbling. I believe we have been allowed to see a tiny glimpse of the awe and wonder of our God and His love for us.

 

 

Sources of Information and Notes:   (a) www.scotiabank.com;  (b, e) www.saintpaulschapel.org; (c) www.nationalcathedral.org; (d) www.holybibleprophecy.org; (f) www.maap.columbia.edu; (g) www.trinitywallstreet.org;  (h) www.beitsimcha.com/s_ser/Messiah05.asp (There are 7 mp3 audio files at the top of the apge giving the entire testimony.  They are about 10 minutes each, I hope you will listen.  Definitely perspective changing;  various others through “Clusty” search engine.

These came to me years ago from someoneorother on one of those pass around emails, no matter, they still make me laugh!

  1. When your dad is mad and asks you, “Do I look stupid?” don’t answer him. Michael, age 14.
  2. Never tell your mom her diet isn’t working. Michael, age 14.
  3. Stay away from prunes. Randy, 9.
  4. Never pee on an electric fence. Robert, 13.
  5. Don’t squat with your spurs on. Noronha, 13
  6. When your mom is mad at your dad, don’t let her brush your hair. Taylia, 11.
  7. Never allow your three-year old brother in the same room as your school assignment. Traci, 14.
  8. Don’t sneeze in front of mom when you’re eating crackers. Mitchell, 12
  9. Puppies still have bad breath even after eating a tic tac. Andrew, 9.
  10. Never hold a dust buster and a cat at the same time. Kyoyo, 9.
  11. You can’t hide a piece of broccoli in a glass of milk. Armir, 9.
  12. Don’t wear polka-dot underwear under white shorts. Kellie, 11
  13. If you want a kitten, start out by asking for a horse. Naomi, 15
  14. Felt markers are not good to use as lipstick. Lauren, 9.
  15. Don’t pick on your sister when she’s holding a baseball bat. Joel, 10
  16. When you get a bad grade in school, show it to your mom when she’s on the phone. Alyesha, 13
  17. Never try to baptize a cat. Eileen,8
  18. Never trust a dog to watch your food. – Patrick, age 10.

To My Peeps ~  I love you!

 

Why I am planted in your garden!!!  Come and join me on the rabbit trail as I tell you…

 

Long, long ago in a far and distant land….   I began my quest to find where I came from in order to understand why I was the way I was.  I desired the ability to see ‘me’ in my very young kids.  Yup – genetics are at work – Ken and the skateboard proved that!  Anyway, here goes a long and convoluted story of Wife, Mom, Sis, Aunt T, J and Friend.

 

Ten years before questing I was a young mom with one infant. At that time life was more than chaotic and stressful, I was downright “in over my head”.  I knew I needed to find something different because where I was wasn’t good.  I needed to find peace in my life, my relationships and my soul – I just didn’t know exactly where to begin. 

 

I talked with Ron’s sister about it.  She invited me to a Bible Study where I was reintroduced to Christ.  A Campus Crusades for Christ girl had witnessed to me as a pre-teen — “You know you’re a sinner?” “Yes” (Head hung, shameful.  An hour earlier I had punched my cousin in the nose, hard.  I could not figure out HOW she knew!!)  “Would you like to pray and ask Christ’s forgiveness?” she questions.  “YES!”  Exactly what I needed!

 

But that is as far as it went.  I knew not what to do after that and didn’t for many years.  Throughout my life I had never had a doubt that Jesus loved me – just like the song promised.  I relished the comfort of that; unfortunately I wasn’t aware I had a responsibility in the relationship.  Looking back I can see God was taking me through a process, one step at a time, willingly revealing Himself more each time I asked.  But, I was kind of an independent sort (ya think?!?), so I didn’t ask very often.

 

Back to the bible study….   One day our teacher said, “If you were to jump up and turn around right now….it would not surprise God.”  Wow!  Something I had never dwelt on before, intimate knowledge of being known.  Weeks later he asks us to consider the verse from Mark 8:29, “But what about you?  Who do you say I am?”  That week I came face-to-face with the question of what I was doing with Christ personally.   I not only needed Him as Savior, I needed Him as Lord.  I came to Peter’s response: “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.  We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”  John 6:68 – the place we were studying. 

 

Yup…that’s how Jon got his name.  And that is where a dynamic life change started.

 

Back to the search….  In the year before I began looking for my peeps I read, I sought guidance from many, and I prayed and prayed.  God lead me to Joseph in the Bible.  He was separated from his family and through reconciliation they found God’s provisions, God meant it for good!!!  My pastor at the time confirmed that there was a Biblical precedent for looking.  Moses, an adopted grandchild of the King of Egypt, became burdened to find those of his blood.  God used it for good, for salvation of the entire nation of Israel.

 

Oh, am I ever thankful for my entire family!!!  Each and every one of you are a blessing and joy to me.  I cannot begin to tell you how much.  You are an awesome answer to prayer. There are wondrous miracles and overwhelming sorrows we have experienced together and separately, and I know God is working them together for good.  What a treasure we have in one another.  I know God planned my life to be replanted among you for His good purposes!

 

As I’ve grown, prayed and studied, there is another profound thing I want to share with you.  I am wholly and utterly convinced we are imminently close to Christ’s midnight call for His church, in fact, most probably the “tarrying” days as God adds grace upon grace.  God wants our attention!  NOW—today, exactly where we are.  My plea is that we will quicken to His call and seek Him with all our hearts. 

 

I love you to the moon!  God loves you beyond the galaxies!!!

 

t

 

(This was originally posted on my facebook page.)