Soli Deo Gloria – for God’s Glory Alone

To Him be the glory …
 
My ninety-seven year old mother lives in a nursing home with dementia and diabetes.  She has a variety of other issues and I just don’t want her to have any more that causes more suffering.  I have been caring for Mom for thirteen years now, bringing her near me from California to Texas when she needed more help then she was getting.  She has gone from being able to live in a senior resident to an assisted living to a nursing home over the scope of these years…from fairly independent to fairly helpless.  So many times times, I have looked to the heavens and asked, “How long, O Lord?  How long?” 
My soul also is greatly troubled.
But You, O Lord—how long?
Psalm 6:3

And then she has such sweet days and is so delightful.  Her mind is quite clear.  Her body is more able.  And how can I ask such a question as “How long?”  I am on a roller coaster with my Mama, and have been on again, off again this ride for years.  I do have a life other than caregiver, too.  I am married to a wonderful man.  We have a vacation planned in our fifth wheel RV for September.  I have had surgery, myself, just this past May to have three vertebrae fused in the cervical spine.  I am healing, yet I fell and have been in other pains since.  I have other spinal issues as does my husband.

IMG_0816

Am I asking, “How long?” out of selfishness?  I love my mother.  I am so thankful that I have been allowed to care for her.  I am weary.  “How long?”  I laugh with her.  I love with her.  Yet, “How long?”  It is about me sometimes and I don’t mean to be selfish.  It is about my own life.  I retired from the workplace, yet I have retired from only part of my life’s work, haven’t I?  “How long?”

LORD, I have such a sweet relationship with my Mama now, and love her so.  Yet, You know, LORD, I am tired and worn out.  I just wonder.  I have thoughts that I wish I did not have.  I am sorry for I do not wish her gone.  I know that one day, You will take her.  Hold me while I wait on You.  May my strength be in You, Abba.  Guide me to be Your caregiver for her, the best I can be in Your love.  May I continue to be a kind friend to others in the nursing home, residents and staff alike.  May I be a light there.  Oh, how I love my Mama, LORD.  Thank You for listening and letting me work through this for now.  Guide me to understand this beautiful psalm and the depth to which it dives.  It speaks of my Mama.  It speaks of me.  Show me Thy Way, O LORD.  Show me Thy Way that I may walk in Your freedom no matter what stage of life I am in.  No matter where I am.  No matter what I do or have.  Just, no matter.  I want nothing to matter but You.  For Your glory alone, I want to live until my days are done.  Amen.
Psalm 90
Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations.  
Before the mountains were brought forth,
or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.  
You return man to dust
and say, “Return, O children of man!” 
For a thousand years in your sight
are but as yesterday when it is past,
or as a watch in the night.
You sweep them away as with a flood; 
they are like a dream,
like grass that is renewed in the morning:
in the morning it flourishes and is renewed;
in the evening it fades and withers.
 
For we are brought to an end by your anger;
by your wrath we are dismayed.
You have set our iniquities before you,
our secret sins in the light of your presence.
 
For all our days pass away under your wrath;
we bring our years to an end like a sigh.
The years of our life are seventy,
or even by reason of strength eighty;
yet their span is but toil and trouble;
they are soon gone, and we fly away.
 
Who considers the power of your anger,
and your wrath according to the fear of you?
So teach us to number our days
that we may get a heart of wisdom.
 
Return, O Lord! How long?
Have pity on your servants!
Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
and for as many years as we have seen evil.
 
Let your work be shown to your servants,
and your glorious power to their children.
Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,
and establish the work of our hands upon us;
yes, establish the work of our hands! 

Psalm90-12

 

Child’s Play Teaches "Community"

As a young child and then as a K-1 public school teacher, recesses and physical education times were always a good time for the children, a break from the desk and school work, a break from the indoor rhythm of the classroom.  Games played were usually peaceful.  As a school teacher, my class played games as a whole group many a day.  Playing together with other children is (and has been) a part of childhood.  Sometimes, children do play alone.  I was one of those who loved to play by myself or with one other girl.  Yet, I was integrated with the others much of the time and found those times to be fun and uniting.

As my mind takes me back to joyful and innocent friends, faces still in my memory, I ponder those kid-filled moments.  Joy, laughter, silliness, togetherness.

God calls us to community whether two or two hundred.  We are to be together, caring, loving one another with His unconditional love.  Living community is acceptance, forgiveness, laughter, and tears.  It is gentleness, joy, love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control.  (Galatians 5:22)  Community.

Envision community in child’s play.

London Bridge is falling down,
Falling down, falling down.
London Bridge is falling down,
My fair lady.
“The farmer in the dell,

the farmer in the dell;

Heigh ho, the Derry-oh 
the farmer in
the dell”

Innocence

Duck, Duck, Goose

Fun and song
Here we go Loop-de-loop

Together
Red Light, Green Light

Laughter
Hot Potato


Rhythm
“Who Stole the Cookie from the Cookie Jar?”

Joy
Dodge Ball

Singing and silliness

Pop Goes the Weasel

Rhyme and time together
Jump Rope

Holding hands and touch
Red Rover

 Joy plus learning to be careful! 

Leap Frog

 And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.   Colossians 1:17 

God is faithful, by whom you were called 
into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
I appeal to you, brothers,by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 
that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, 
but that you be united in the same mind 
and the same judgment.  
1 Corinthians 1:9-10

Lord, I pray that Your community be my community.  Open my hands that I may accept Your people into my life as You will.  May I be Your light in whatever community You deem to place me in.  May I be Your hands to help.  May I be Your love to embrace.  May I be Your compassion to those who need a hug, a hand to hold, a shoulder to lean upon, a tissue for tears.  Thank You for loving me as You do that I may be the Christ to those around me.  Thank You for giving me a childhood to play silly games, allowing me to be free and innocent.  Thank You for giving me the opportunity years later to teach young children the joy of playing together.  
Between You and me, Lord, in this community of two, I thank you for:
  • planning a vacation with Kenneth [who else! : )]
  • child’s play at all and any age
  • desiring to be all that God has created us to be
  • allowing me to go with Mom to a Hooks baseball game along with some of the other nursing home residents and staff — for Mom and me, a delightful memory was made!
  • getting Barr and Annette (baseball fans, BIG TIME!) on the phone during the game and talked for almost 30 minutes sharing the game and Mom
  • Jim, Cassie, and Ciera came to see us, blessing us and giving us young rather than aged for a change
  • Loretta, Mom’s extra caregiver and my pray-er
  • rain
  • thunder
  • lightening
  • more rain in this drought-ridden country
  • JP and 3-year old son playing in the rain together
    • it has been so long since we have had rain, I wondered if the little one had ever experienced a rain-storm as this  
  • the light of a life lived for Christ has been extinguished on this earth
  • but he is in Glory...praising You, Lord;  Thank You for allowing me to know this man through my husband.  I have been truly blessed by his godliness and grace before my eyes.  Thank You for allowing Kenneth to have such a beautiful friend.
In the beautiful Name of Jesus.  Amen.

Photos:  Girls playing “London Bridge Is Falling Down”, United States, 1898.
By Alexander B. McBride, Grand Marais, Michigan. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons PD-US “No known restrictions on publication.
“L1_Children_playing_game/jpg”-24403-D  by Arthur Rothstein, 1930s Great Depression photographer [Public Domain]

Lulling

Under the trees 
Shade above
In a hammock made of brilliant colored fabric
Threads of warp, woven woof

God and I rock to and fro
In the hammock of many colors

He covers me with His love
Of many colors and fragrances
A lullaby, a cradle song
Sung to me
In this cradle-like hammock
Lulling me to sleep
In His gentle care

Hush-a-bye, don’t you cry,
Go to sleep little baby,
When you wake, you shall have cake,
And all the pretty little horses.   “All the Pretty Horses” – a lullaby
 
God and I swing lightly in the hammock
Enjoying the fresh breeze

His touch upon my cheek

A caress of my Abba

We tip, we tilt
We rock and sway
Voices of angels ever near
 Cradle us in
This color-woven hammock

Hush, little baby, don’t say a word, Papa’s gonna buy you a mockingbird.
And if that mockingbird don’t sing, Papa’s gonna buy you a diamond ring.
And if that diamond ring turn brass, Papa’s gonna buy you a looking glass.
And if that looking glass gets broke, Papa’s gonna buy you a billy goat.
And if that billy goat don’t pull, Papa’s gonna buy you a cart and bull.
And if that cart and bull turn over, Papa’s gonna buy you a dog named Rover.
And if that dog named Rover won’t bark. Papa’s gonna to buy you a horse and cart.
And if that horse and cart fall down, Well you’ll still be the sweetest little baby in town.

 “Hush, Little Baby” – a lullaby

 

And the sound of the wings of the cherubim was heard as far as the outer court, 
like the voice of God Almighty when he speaks.  Ezekiel 10:5


Thank You, Abba Father, for spending time with me in this hammock.  The shade of these powerful oaks makes me think of You, my Almighty Father, my overarching Protector.  The gentle swinging back and forth is Your way of guiding me along life’s journey.  You lead me and You give me choice.  You are kind and You are firm.  You sway with me.  You push me when I need that nudge.  Thank You, Lord, for sharing Your love with me, in the quiet of this hammock.  You weave my life into Your will.  You weave the woof through the very warp of the plans You have for me.  Thank You, Abba.  Thank You.  You are lulling me, calming me, soothing me.  A lullaby of the Lord’s.  Such blessings.  Amen.

Photographs: “A Cavalcade of Colours!”/ngould/Sydney, Australia/http://gallery.gouldnet.netRoyalty Options-Standard Restrictions/stock.xchnghttp://www.sxc.hu//#657056/11/11/2006
“A Colorful Woof”/keeper182/Marzabotto, Italy  Royalty Free-Legal usage/stock.xchnghttp://www.sxc.hu//#777447/5/2/2007

For Giving — סְלִיחָה — ἄφεσις

סְלִיחָה
cĕliychah
Pronounced: sel·ē·khä’
forgiveness

But there is forgiveness with You, That You may be feared. Psalm 130:4
Definitions: forgiveness, pardon
ἄφεσις 
aphesis
Pronounced: ä’-fe-sēs
forgiveness

“He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, 
to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.  Acts 5:31
Definitions: release from bondage or imprisonment, forgiveness or pardon, of sins (letting them go as if they had never been committed), remission of the penalty

Father, please forgive me for I know that all I do and all I am is not always Your way.  I am sorry and ask Your forgiveness.  I am a sinful one and am also Your child.  I come to You with a heart of heaviness and weakness at the same time for I cannot hold the sin myself.  Satan holds it and I mistakenly listen to him at times.  Judge me accountable and forgive me, please.  I know Your precious Son has taken my sins off my back and has paid the mighty price for me.  For me.  Thank You for giving me a timeless gift, Your cherished hand, the beauty of this eternal and weightless indebtedness.  I am forgiven.  In the Name of Jesus, on the Cross for me, Amen.

I forgive …
for

peace
relationship
love
peaceful (not chaotic) time with my Lord
health
renewal
rejuvenation
peace on my insides
peace from the outside

I forgive …  
to give
my heart
in honesty
openly
peaceably
to pardon
release to myself, to the forgiven one
acceptance
unconditional love 


When I forgive as He would have me forgive, it is…
with peace
from my heart
in God’s way
in God’s timing
with or without reciprocation
unconditionally
lovingly
gladly 
with a sense of relief 
in grace
with gratitude 

May I be able to forgive, Lord, as You would have me do.  May I also be able to forgive when You would have me humble myself before You at the foot of the Cross, before those whom I am to pardon.  May I humbly come to You for the help I would need in order to forgive with grace and mercy and in truth.  O Lord, I need to stand with You and allow You to give me strength that I would forgive completely, without reservation, with no hesitation, and in Your love.  I truly do thank You for giving me opportunities to forgive and be forgiven.  And, most of all, thank You for forgiving me, undeserving as I am.  Yet, You forgave me, were crucified for me.  I am crucified and have new life in You.  Oh, Lord, thank You.  I love You dearly.  Amen. 

I have been crucified with Christ. 
It is no longer I who live, but
Christ who lives in me. 
And the life I now live in the flesh I live by
faith 
in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 
Galatians 2:20

See-Saw

Life can be overwhelming at times: too many tasks and demands, more crammed into less, emotional baggage weighing down shoulders, bad and sad news exploding through the airwaves, family struggles, nightmares, financial squeeze into a tinier and tinier tube.  It all feels so heavy, so serious, so adult, way over my head.
I want to roll up and be a kid again when life was a playground, when innocence lasted for years, when play was outdoors, under a tree, a sense of freedom.  Looking back on the fifties when I was a child my young life seems like such a sweet time to be 6 or 8 or 10 years old.  We played with dolls until we were twelve.  We sat on a swing going higher and higher wishing we could twirl around the horizontal bar 360 degrees.  We climbed into a tree, sitting on a certain branch where it became a desk with a typewriter or a boat or some other imaginary thing.   Boys were just more kids and, most of the time, they were over there and the girls were over here.  No dating.  No thoughts nor actions of sex when I was a kid.  Times were surely different then they are now. I am glad I was a kid then.
 
One playground toy I loved was the see-saw.  Two of us going up and down… up… down… up… down.  When one of us was heavier than the other, the light one ended up stuck in the air, helplessly unable to get down.  The bottom one had the advantage.   If she should jump off, I came crashing down to the ground.  A thud and an ouch!
And then there is the see-saw scenario where a bunch of kids hopped on either side and loaded up both sides.  The board may become equally balanced with us all sitting at the same latitude.

 A see-saw requires balance in order for it to be able to continue its ongoing motion of  

up and down 
 
up and down
up
down
up 
down
up
Life calls for balance. 
Prayer balances life.
Balance requires God.
God is Life.
Jesus see-saws with me and the load is balanced.  The pace of the ups and downs become more even as Jesus rides with me.  Steady … a peaceful ride … wind in my hair … ruffling those young auburn curls, now turned partially gray with little curl left.  But that matters not.  We are see-sawing together in play with the world far away when I am with Him.  With Jesus, with His perfect balance, the weight of the world is gone.  He knows what it takes to balance me.  I have given myself to my Lord.  I am riding up … down … up … down, beautifully balanced with the Lord.
O Lord, forgive me for keeping the weights to myself and then struggling so.  You have said that Your burden is light.  I take Your yoke, Lord.  I am Yours.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.   Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart,  and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28-30
Thank You, Lord, for walking me through my todays.  I believe and trust You.  Heal my unbelief, Lord.  Playing on the see-saw with You takes me away with You, holding the world at bay for I am looking at Your face, sitting face-to-face across the see-saw.  Thank You, Precious Jesus, for balancing me once again.  Amen. 

 

Is Reading Playing? I Hope So!

I’m of a quiet mood today.
Playing does not seem likely for me.
I just want to be left alone to read.
To read what?
The Bible? Les Miserables? God in the Yard?
I’ll take all three with me as well as a journal and pen.
The place and the mood will dictate which book I shall read
or whether I shall just journal today.

God calls.
He wants to be with me no matter what I do.
I ask if He has something He wants me to do.
“No.  I just want to be with you, Linda.”
“Okay,” I respond with some hesitancy.

With hesitancy!
Listen to me, talking to God with fear in my tone.
He often asks of me, and should I hear His call, I usually am obedient.
Usually.
Sometimes, I am too busy and place His request down on my list
and get to it when I can.
He may ask something of me that must be a Now Project
and by putting it off,
I miss the chance of dancing with Him for He is, well, was, right here with me.

And then there are times that we just sit together
to enjoy the moment.
When I read His Word,
He tells me things I did not see.
Or shows me the incredible Truth of Jesus, His Son.
Or He guides me in and out of passages
that teach me what He desires me to learn.

If we are reading God in the Yard by L. L. Barkat together,
He reminds me of His desire to be with me
wherever I am and no matter what I am doing.
We share sweet moments.
Just reading together.
He is with me.
I am alone and I am not.
I am reading.
He may be teaching,
loving,
enveloping me in His arms.
Our time together is a quiet play,
a delightful play,
a beautiful play.
I am dancing with the Lord
on days such as this.

I would say that reading is playing.
Even more so when the Lord is with me.

Here I am at age 7 reading between my two little sisters;
one is 4 and the other 1 1/2,
reminding me of the distractions that take us away from God.
I sit reading between two very possible (probable) distractions.
But I sit and read as if there is nothing around me, as if no one is taking a picture of us.
If I did that then, I certainly can be with the Lord as we read together,
as He sits with me in the chair,
or out in nature somewhere,
or in the library or Starbucks.

It is our time and our time alone. 

Oh, LORD, forgive me when I want to run the other way when You call my name.  Forgive me when You just want to be with me.  Forgive my fear that You have a task in mind for me.  If You do, then You are blessing me with Your grace and mercy. I should always want to please You by being willing and obedient to Your call.  I want to be near You, always and forever.  I love You so much.  These “alone” moods I have are often, yet I know that I can be alone and still have You near.  That is how I can be with Kenneth too.  He allows my quiet times and is still near me.  I love him dearly.  I can be me with him.  Thank You for blessing me with him as my husband.  Glad You called me today, Lord, and am so glad I heard Your voice.  Amen.