O Holy Night

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But the people of God will sing a song of joy,
like the songs at the holy festivals.
You will be filled with joy,
as when a flutist leads a group of pilgrims
to Jerusalem, the mountain of the LORD
to the Rock of Israel.  Isaiah 30:29

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Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed.   Why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should visit me?  When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy.  You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what He said.”

Mary responded,

“Oh, how my soul praises the Lord.
How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!
For He took notice of His lowly servant girl,
    and from now on all generations will call me blessed.
For the Mighty One is holy,
    and He has done great things for me.
He shows mercy from generation to generation
    to all who fear Him.
His mighty arm has done tremendous things!
    He has scattered the proud and haughty ones.
He has brought down princes from their thrones
    and exalted the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
    and sent the rich away with empty hands.
He has helped His servant Israel
    and remembered to be merciful.
For He made this promise to our ancestors,
    to Abraham and His children forever.”  Luke 1:42-55

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When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”  And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.  And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child.  And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.  But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.  And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.  Luke 2:15-20

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Father God, such joyful news You have given me in the beauty of Your Son, Your One and Only.  You have brought glad tidings to us all.  May my ears be open to hear the words of the shepherds.  May my eyes be open to see this wonderful “thing” that You have done.  May my heart be open to hear Mary’s heart-words.  I thank You for blessing me with the saving grace of Christ Jesus.  I bow humbly, Father, in adoration and respect and honor.  I love You so.  In the Name of Jesus, I pray.  Amen.  

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God of the Mountain

 

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My two sister-in-laws are visiting this week.  Yesterday, one asked what the rest of a song was.  It was a song that none of us knew well enough to be able to sing or even recite the words.  So I looked it up.  As we listened to a YouTube version, all (4 of us) gathered ’round the computer and sang together as the words were displayed on screen.  What a sweet moment!  What a beautiful reminder of the faithfulness of our God.

God of the Mountain by Lynda Randle

Life is easy, when you’re up on the mountain
And you’ve got peace of mind,
like you’ve never known
But things change,
when you’re down in the valley
Don’t lose faith,
for your never alone

Chorus:
For the God on the mountain,
is still God in the valley
When things go wrong,
he’ll make them right
And the God of the good times,
is still God in the bad times
The God of the day,
is still God in the night

We talk of faith way up on the mountain
But talk comes easy, when life’s at its best
Now its down in the valleys, trials and temptations
That’s where your faith is really put to the test

Chorus:
For the God on the mountain,
is still God in the valley,
When things go wrong,
he’ll make them right
And the God of the good times,
is still God in the bad times
The God of the day,
is still God in the night

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Many nations shall come and say,
“Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
To the house of the God of Jacob;
He will teach us His ways,
And we shall walk in His paths.”
For out of Zion the law shall go forth,
And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.  Micah 4:2

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.  Psalm 23:4

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.  1 Peter 1:6-7

Jesus is the same yesterday and today and forever.  Hebrews 13:8

It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”  Deuteronomy 31:8

LORD, thank You for Your reassurance in all things of this life and ever after.  You are faithful and true.  You redeem and You behold.  You love and You call to obedience.  You rejoice and You weep.  You hold time in Your hand and know the very hairs on our heads.  Thank You for being with us no matter whether we are on a mountain top or deep in a valley.  You hold us and love us always.  Grace and Glory to You and You alone, Father God.  In Your Son’s Holy Name, I pray.  Amen.

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Journaling Your Way Through Caregiving, Part 2

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My heart overflows with a good theme; I address my verses to the King; My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.  Psalm 45:1

As I began this series about journaling and caregiving, I shared how important writing my thoughts and feelings is for me.  In Part 1, I gave a variety of ways to journal.  Today, I want to share why journaling can be good for your well-being.

There are many benefits to journaling.  A journal does not argue with you nor talk back.  They allow you to vent, release bottled up feelings, relieve stress, and can clarify thoughts and ideas.  They give voice to things felt inside such as guilt, anger toward yourself, the care receiver, or even family members.  Journals can hold your frustration, heaviness, and can take some of power away from these feelings.  They allow you to rationalize some your required decisions, see both sides of them by writing down pros and cons.  In a journal, you can list or organize events of the care recipient whether physical, emotional, or mental, symptoms noticed and behavioral changes, doctor visits with the outcomes or listing the questions needed to be asked prior to the visit.  Notes can be made of other appointments, medications taken and any changes in medications, plus any noticeable changes of the care recipient when trying a new drug.  Records of eating habits and changes in habits can be duly noted.  Journals work for bills needing to be paid, or tasks that need doing, or just making a grocery list.  If you are a paid caregiver, keeping track of tasks you do, but family may be unaware of, may help with future pay increases.

Journals can be a place for both positive and negative issues, concerns, habits.  They can be a record of events, memories, appointments, changes.  They can handle questions you have for the family, for God, for yourself.  Thoughts can be finished in them, thoughts you began during a moment of quiet.  Journals give unconditional acceptance and they offer silence.  You may be able to gain a new perspective, restore a bit of sanity too.  Journals offer a balance to this life when things seem and are hard.  It is a place to find joy or gratitude in a moment.  Praying can be calming and can be a reminder as to how and when God answered those prayers.  Writing poetry can be a creative outlet that may be much needed.  Even writing down recipes can give the family something new to try around the table.

Studies have found that journaling reduces anxiety and stress by giving some relief, allowing the journalist ability to handle some of life’s stresses far better.  They have found that there are less doctor visits, improved lung and liver function, lowered blood pressure, even a relief of some symptoms of asthma and Rheumatoid arthritis.  It can even lessen depression, and placing one in a better mood.

“Have you understood all these things?” They said to Him, “Yes.” And Jesus said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household, who brings out of his treasure things new and old.” Matthew 13:51-52

Jesus spoke to the scribes who became His followers. The word scribe here refers to a clerk, public servant, secretary or recorder, possibly a teacher of the law.  As a scribe, and as we understand His word, the storehouse is filled with the treasures of this new creation that we continue to become, plus it can contain God’s truth, grace, salvation, and love.  We can draw from all as we write before our Creator!

If the mind of the care recipient still holds memories and they are able to communicate, let them write thoughts and feelings.  Journaling just might be good for them.  If they cannot write, but can tell you stories, you might be able to write their words as they tell you about their past.  If they ask over and over what day it is, you might have them journal every day the day of the week, the date, the weather, and even some of their feelings in a word or a few.  When they ask again what today is, draw them back to this journal.  Possibly with recall, they will be able to find this information on their own.  Using a journal to draw, scribble, or doodle can also be a way for them to release that creative spirit, even enjoy themselves for a few minutes (and give you a break as well).  I recently did a workshop on journaling and caregiving during National Caregivers’ Month.  We gave new, blank journals out to all there.  A caregiving wife gave her husband one of these journals and doodled some swirling lines on one page, then handed him a few crayons.  He completely lost himself in this activity.  As I wandered around the room after I finished talking, I saw that she had written on his completed page, “G… really enjoyed himself.”  She saw what this small activity had done for her husband and could possibly help her when she needed a few moments for herself or other duties.    

And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.”  Revelation 21:5

These are precise words to a prophet with a specific assignment, yet God can commission His children to write for His purposes.  God could have communicated with mankind in any way He pleased.  One way He chose is the written word.  Even if no one else ever sees the words you write, He may be using them for your edification, for your learning, to show You His love for you.  Do not shy away from using this tool.  Be open to His voice as He speaks to you through His Word and the words you place on the pages.

Father, as You walk with us through this journey of caregiving, show us why it is so important to express ourselves through the written word, through coloring or doodling.  I pray that we are able to place our lives in Your hands as You guide us to open floodgates or open pinholes of emotion, stress, duties, or familial relationships.  May our minds be set upon You as we lay the pen to the tablet.  Etch Your Words before us so that we stay close to You.  In the Name of Jesus, we pray.  Amen.   

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I would like to share a few other resources with you.  Some may help with the journaling and others are may be a benefit in giving you islands of calm amidst chaos or stress:

Brackey, Jolene, Creating Moments of Joy for the Person with Alzheimer’s or Dementia: A Journal for Caregivers, Fourth Edition

Boss, Pauline, Loving Someone Who Has Dementia: How to Find Hope While Coping With Stress and Grief

Carter, Rosalynn, Helping Yourself Help Others: A Book for Caregivers

Free, Betty, Quiet Moments for Caregivers – Devotional and Worship Ideas for Care Givers and Care Receivers

Out of print but available online through used bookstores; excellent devotional.

Hughes, Holly J., Editor, Beyond Forgetting, Poetry and Prose About Alzheimer’s Disease  (http://www.beyondforgettingbook.com)

Levine, Carol, Living in the Land of Limbo: Fiction and Poetry about Family Caregiving  (anthology of short stories and poems about family caregivers written by renowned authors and many others)

Mace, Nancy L. and Peter V. Rabins, The 36-Hour Day: A Family Guide to Caring for People Who Have Alzheimer Disease, Related Dementias, and Memory Loss, Fifth Edition (**I highly recommend this book for reference and important information.**)

Newmark, Amy and Angela Timashenka Geiger, Chicken Soup for the Soul-Living with Alzheimer’s & Other Dementias, 101 Stories of Caregiving, Coping, and Compassion

Rosenberger, Peter, Hope for the Caregiver: Encouraging Words to Strengthen Your Spirit 

Sheehy, Gail, Passages in Caregiving: Turning Chaos into Confidence

Journaling Your Way Through Caregiving, Part 1

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I have journaled since I was in high school.  It has been my way to express myself, to pray, to release emotions, and to create.

My heart overflows with a good theme; I address my verses to the King; My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.  Psalm 45:1

As I praise the LORD, so too may my pen place the words or the drawings down in a creative way that glorifies God.  Not all journaling will be praises, but it can lead to time with Him and time in prayer for those we care for and about.  When we fill our hearts with praise, the power of that praise can come tumbling out on paper.

I willingly took on the care of my mother with the help of facility staff and a Christian woman twice a week.  We cared for her for fifteen years.  I have two sisters, but they live thousands of miles away so their annual visits were really all I could count on from them.

As a caregiver, no matter what your individual circumstances may be, there will always be many things that cause you to need an outlet of some kind.  There usually are unrelenting demands, no time for yourself, stress, and frustration.  You may feel a physical toll on your body, loneliness, anxiety, even depression.  On top of these and other stresses, if there is a struggle with family members over the way you do things or have an accusation tossed out about you by an angry sibling or even by a dementia-riddled mind of the one you care for, you feel burdened and weary.  Feelings as a giver of care well up and can be a heavy weight upon you.

I found that journaling was a way for me to release some of these thoughts, stresses, and emotions, plus it gave me a way to organize tasks and to pray.  But you might ask, “How do I find time to journal with all I have to do?”  A few possibilities for a time out might be while the care receiver is napping and you have time to sit, or while waiting in the doctor’s office, or even starting your day 20 minutes earlier or staying up a few minutes longer.  Yes, there will be some days or weeks without time at all.  That’s okay.  I am not suggesting you begin journaling so that you will feel guilty when you cannot.  Just do the best you can!

I like to have a journal the size that I can carry with me so that I can journal when I have time, wherever I am.

There are many ways to journal.  The written word is the most common, done in any kind of notebook or journal-type book.  It can be a place to express emotions, pray, organize things to do, dates, or appointments.  You may want to write down various events that occur in the days of your care recipient, such as changes in behavior or habits, illnesses or hospitalization, etc.

A number of resources may be of help as you begin this part of your journey:

Budd, Luann, Journal Keeping: Writing for Spiritual Growth

DeSalvo, Louise, Writing as a Way of Healing: How Telling Our Stories Transforms Our Lives

Goodwin, B. Lynn, You Want Me to Do What? Journaling for Caregivers  (http://writeradvice.com/ywmtdw.html)

Karpinski, Marion, A Guided Journal for Caregivers – A Journey into Renewal and Well-Being

  • Pennebaker, James W., Writing to Heal: A Guided Journal for Recovering from Trauma & Emotional Upheaval

Using prompts can help you get started: “Sometimes I wonder…,” “If I let myself cry…,”  “I wonder what my mother would write about me.”  Here are a few resources where prompts may be found:

  • http://www.agingcare.com/Articles/Journaling-for-Caregivers-148782.htm
  • http://www.caregiving.com/articles/blogged/community-caregiving-journal/ (journal prompts)
  • Another way to journal is to draw or doodle, using a sketch book.  That may include expressing emotions whether wild or calm.  Sketching pictures or freeform doodling can help you describe what you are going through, name people to pray for, express feelings with colors, write Scripture using an art form.  I use colored pencils.  I find this method to be extremely soothing
  • (MacBeth, Sybil, Praying in Color: Drawing a New Path to God; http://prayingincolor.com)
  • A calendar with large areas at each date allows for writing short snippets to help with recalling an event or behavior, dietary changes, etc.  Cutting pictures or words from magazines, making a collage to express feelings or thoughts can be a creative way to journal.  Copy down a quote that means something special, adding your own notes.  Choose a song to reflect upon that brings your heart comfort and peace.  Or write a list of special memories.  The ways can be endless.

I like to have a journal a size that I can carry with me so that I can write when I have time, wherever I am.

If you want your words to remain completely private, I suggest writing or drawing.  Then, tear up or shred the paper.  Writing things down does help to vent and give expression to what you are feeling and going through.  Nobody needs to read it!

Father, You love us and care about us and the precious person you have placed in our care.  We pray for Your wisdom as we endeavor to do Your will and for Your ways to express that which is curled up inside of us, to draw, doodle, and color the creativity You have given us, to pray in Your Son’s Name, to place our lives in Your hands through ways written on a piece of paper.  Even, Father, when we make lists of things to do or groceries to buy, may we always be mindful of You.  Father, guide us and teach us as we lay the pen to the tablet.  Etch Your Words before us so that we stay close to You.  In the Name of Jesus, we pray.  Amen.

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See Part 2 of Journaling Your Way Through Caregiving

Isaiah 54

I am participating in a Bible study of Isaiah 54 written and facilitated by Dawn Boyer from Journeys in Grace.  We are in week four.  There are three sections to the study.  Each one will conclude with a woman who epitomizes the verses we are studying.  Hannah is the woman who brings to life these first verses.

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Isaiah 54:1-4 ESV

“Sing, O barren one, who did not bear;

break forth into singing and cry aloud,

you who have not been in labor!

For the children of the desolate one will be more

than the children of her who is married,” says the Lord.

“Enlarge the place of your tent,

and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out;

do not hold back; lengthen your cords

and strengthen your stakes.

For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left,

and your offspring will possess the nations

and will people the desolate cities.

“Fear not, for you will not be ashamed;

be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced;

for you will forget the shame of your youth,

and the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more.

 

God commands me to sing, to enlarge the place of my tent, to spread out, and not to fear.  He calls for trusting Him in areas where I have insecurities, where I am full of fear, where I feel guilt, where I am self-conscious or selfish, where I am weak, where relationships have walls or hardening of the heart strings, where He calls me and I think I know better.

Dawn writes in Week One: “The reality is that we all have places where we are broken, barren, and full of fear.  Isaiah 54 is a song that was written for those moments in our lives when we need to be rescued, redeemed and restored.”

I am barren as far as having children.  I struggle with that at times, especially around Mother’s Day.  I actually do not go to church any more on Mother’s Day because the churches I have attended over the years hand out flowers to mothers, celebrating motherhood.  Church does not take into account those of us who are barren or who have lost a child in a miscarriage, having no other children.  I no longer go.

But my barrenness goes beyond childlessness as Dawn points out.  She has us look further into ourselves for areas where we feel barren, as of land which is too poor to produce much or any vegetation, a tree or plant unable to produce fruit or seed, places in one’s life that show no results, achievements, empty of meaning or value, or of a place or building that is bleak and lifeless (definition from dictionary).  When barrenness dwells in one, the fruit of the soul is nil, nada.  The life I live needs the refreshment from God’s Word, from drinking the Living Water of Jesus to grow and show the beautiful God-filled fruit.

Hannah was barren, childless.  She prayed through her struggles, her pain, her feelings of not good enough in the eyes of others.  She prayed silently and she prayed aloud.  God heard her words and answered.  God hears all my words too, even the ones that are filled with frustration or fear or other emotions.  But it is through my prayers that God takes the barren areas and blesses me.  I have faith that God hears me, just as Hannah did.  Trust and obedience take me to Jesus.  I must hear God and believe.  Trust is faith and faith is believing what I cannot see.  For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.  2 Corinthians 4:18  Reading His Word, spending time with my Creator, praying with the heart knowledge that He hears, listens, and answers.  God says in verse four that by being obedient to His commands, I will not be ashamed nor confounded not disgraced, and I will no longer remember any shame from my youth or reproach of widowhood.  Hallelujah!

As Hannah, I have to come before God fully trusting and obediently willing to His very call upon my life.  “Full faith in barren situations yields faith-filled abundant harvest.” (Dawn Boyer)

Father God, I come to you humbly in prayer.  I feel Your hand upon me.  In my love for You, the God Who hears me, I place my life in Your hands and trust You for the fruit of my life.  Teach me Your ways.  Guide me to dig up those places of barrenness and to not be afraid of them.  Bring an Aaron and a Hur alongside of me to hold my arms up when I grow weary, helping me enlarge the place of my tent, to stretch out my habitation, and not hold back.  May I lengthen my cords and strengthen my stakes, that my place be strong and wide and willing and open and trusting in You, my God and my Redeemer.  In the Strong Name of Jesus, I pray.  Amen.

 

Long Time Passing

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 “All flesh is grass,
And all its loveliness is like the flower of the field.

The grass withers, the flower fades,
Because the breath of the LORD blows upon it;
Surely the people are grass.

The grass withers, the flower fades,…

Isaiah 40:6b-8a

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September 18, 1960

My father’s life was taken…in the prime of his life, 46, a Navy doctor, a career spiraling upwards, a lovely wife, 3 daughters(12, 10, 7).  The Navy was so special for and to him.  He served in WWII in the Pacific Theater as surgeon, infection control medical officer, doctor, user of Penicillin in its early days to cure Syphillis.  From 1946-1951, he became a part of the after-war Manhattan Project, serving as a Radiological Safety Officer, while he continued to practice medicine in the Navy.  He was on Bikini Island for Operations Crossroads in 1946, then on Eniwetok for Operations Greenhouse in 1951.  By early 1960, he was diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer…a death sentence and now connected with radiation poisoning.

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Mama raised us girls and we cared for her in her old age.  January 30, 2013, Mama died of cancer coupled with vascular dementia and diabetes.  She was 98, never remarried.  Daddy was her true love.

We buried her ashes in Arlington National Cemetery (just this past Sept. 9, 2013) with the remains of her beloved Ralph after 53 years…an honor and a privilege to have our parents buried on such hallowed grounds as these.

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My mother was a hero too.  Not only was she a Navy officer’s wife, but worked during the war for the Naval Supply Depot, keeping the Navy in food and other supplies. She became a Gold Star Widow as we became Gold Star children.

     “They are the Gold Star children, war’s innocent victims, and their pain shimmers across the years pure and undimmed. They pass through life with an empty room in their hearts where a father was supposed to live and laugh and love.  All their lives they listen for the footstep that will never fall, and long to know what might have been.”  **

Yes.  That was me…still is.

My husband served in the Army 1967-1970 in the 101st Airborne, an Infantryman in Vietnam…1968-69.  Kenneth came home safely.

Heroes!  These parents of mine, my husband, and ALL the others who have fought to protect this nation over many wars and many years.
They each have a story, yet so many stories are quieted by death.  War is a terrible thing.  The gain is often so small.  The loss is so huge.

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Just prior to Memorial Day weekend, members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) place American flags at the graves of U.S. soldiers buried at Arlington National Cemetery, “Flags-In”… in memory and honor of these heroes.

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We remember…in many ways…flags, wreaths, flowers, small tokens, a poem, a song. 

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A poem from WWI, written by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918, Canadian Army:

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In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

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When will we ever learn?  When will we ever learn?

Where Have All the Flowers Gone?  by Peter Seeger

Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time ago

Where have all the flowers gone?
Young girls have picked them everyone
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the young girls gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the young girls gone?
Long time ago

Where have all the young girls gone?
Gone for husbands everyone
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the husbands gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the husbands gone?
Long time ago

Where have all the husbands gone?
Gone for soldiers everyone
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time ago

Where have all the soldiers gone?
Gone to graveyards, everyone
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the graveyards gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Long time ago

Where have all the graveyards gone?
Gone to flowers, everyone
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time ago

Where have all the flowers gone?
Young girls have picked them everyone
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the flowers gone?  Long time passing.

 

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The glory of the LORD shall be revealed,
And all flesh shall see it together;
For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”

The voice said, “Cry out!”
And he said, “What shall I cry?”

“All flesh is grass,
And all its loveliness is like the flower of the field.

The grass withers, the flower fades,
Because the breath of the LORD blows upon it;
Surely the people are grass.

The grass withers, the flower fades,
But the word of our God stands forever.”

Isaiah 40:5-8

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One hundred fifty years ago in May 1864, the first military burials took place at Arlington National Cemetery, one month prior to its establishment as a national cemetery. The burials took place in the oldest section of the cemetery – section 27. 

Commemoration of this 150th anniversary as a national cemetery began this past week, May 20, 2014, with an Army wreath-laying ceremony at the gravesite of Army Pvt. William H. Christman, the first military burial at Arlington.
Pvt. William Henry Christman, 67th Pennsylvania Infantry, was the first military service man interred in Arlington.
Pvt. William H. McKinney, 17th Pennsylvania Cavalry, was the first to have family present at funeral.
Pvt. William Reeves, 76th New York Infantry, was the first draftee interred.
Pvt. William Blatt, 49th Pennsylvania Infantry, was the first battle casualty interred.
Privates Christman, McKinney and Reeves were interred May 13, 1864. Pvt. Blatt was interred May 14, 1864.

 

I am still…

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Caisson @ Arlington National Cemetery (Photo Courtesy: HBO, http://www.hbo.com/documentaries/section-60-arlington-national-cemetery/index.html)

Memorial Day Flags @ Arlington National Cemetery: http://www.zimbio.com/pictures/FdngYNPGdDt/Arlington+Cemetery+Decorated+250+000+Flags/FloG7f1oqSA

** Quoted in We Were Soldiers Once…and Young by Lt. General Harold G. Moore and Joseph L. Galloway, no credit given.

In Flanders Field: the story behind the poem @ http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/flanders.htm

Painting of Poppies between crosses in Flanders Field: unknown

Poppies @ Sunset:  http://viewedfromanotherangle.blogspot.com/2012/07/in-flanders-fields-poppies-grow-by-john_25.html

Last photo: Arlington National Cemetery/Cherry Blossoms dropping upon the graves http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=cherry+blossoms+dc&view=detail&id=2C08990B96757DE3E5C9DB4AF4A29A02FFD83B3F&first=181&FORM=IDFRIR

Palah – פָּלָה – Wondrous Love

Psalm 17_7

פָּלָה

palah

The Hebrew word, palah, means to be distinct or marked out, to be made separate or set apart, to be distinguished.

A few other verses that use palah with one of the above words:

But know that the LORD has set apart the godly for himself;
the LORD hears when I call to him.  Psalm 4:3

“For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people? Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?”  Exodus 33:16

‘But not a dog shall growl against any of the people of Israel, either man or beast, that you may know that the LORD makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel.’  Exodus 11:7

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Palah is worded: to show wondrously, to show wonder, show wonders, to show marvelously, to show…in wonderful ways:

“You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, who has dealt wondrously with you.  And my people shall never again be put to shame.”  Joel 2:26

God thunders wondrously with his voice;
he does great things that we cannot comprehend.  Job 37:5

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God’s love is like no other love.  It is distinct, unique, a wondrous love which only God can give.  It is full and rich and complete in itself.  He loves because that is Who He is.  He loves those who trust in Him and seek refuge in Him.

Matthew Henry comments about this word, palah, in his Commentary on Psalm 17:  “It is the character of God’s people that they trust in him; he is pleased to make them confidants, for his secret is with the righteous; and they make him their trust, for to him they commit themselves. Those that trust in God have many enemies, many that rise up against them and seek their ruin; but they have one friend that is able to deal with them all, and, if he be for them, no matter who is against them.”

I have One friend in Whom I can trust.   I also know that He can handle all that confounds or confronts me.   God hears and is near.  His wondrous love is great and all I need.  He is Love.


May we hum one or both of these hymns for the rest of this day! ~

Amazing Love by Chris Tomlin

I’m forgiven because You were forsaken,
I’m accepted, You were condemned.
I am alive and well, Your spirit is within me,
Because You died and rose again.
(Repeat x2)

(Chorus)
Amazing love,
How can it be
That You, my King, should die for me?
Amazing love,
I know it’s true.
It’s my joy to honor You,
In all I do, I honor You.

I’m forgiven because You were forsaken,
I’m accepted, You were condemned.
I am alive and well, Your spirit is within me,
Because You died and rose again.

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What Wondrous Love Is This

(a Christian Folk Hymn from 1811)

1.
What wondrous love is this,
O my soul! O my soul!
What wondrous love is this!
O my soul!
What wondrous love is this!
That caused the Lord of bliss!
To send this precious peace,
To my soul, to my soul!
To send this precious peace
To my soul!
(5 more verses-see reference below)

Father, I may not always do right by You, yet my heart desires to see Your wondrous ways in all areas of my earthly life.  Open my spiritual eyes and ears that I may see and hear You and know Your marvelous love that is meant for me and know Your ways that I would walk in Your way for me.  You have loved me since before I was born of my mother.  You  wove me in her womb.  You brought me forth to the special people I have called my parents.  Thank You for them each and both.  I loved them while they lived on this earth and still do as they sit with You in Heaven.  Hold me near for tomorrow would have been Mama’s 100th birthday.  She almost made it there, but You had a more wondrous life for her with You.  How glad I am to know she is there.  She loved me and still loves me for You gave her love from which to love others.   I love You, dear Father.  I pray in the Name of Your Son.  Amen.  

photo/graphic:  http://www.growbarefoot.com

Words to Amazing Love by Chris Tomlin: http://www.songlyrics.com/chris-tomlin/amazing-love-lyrics/

Words to “What Wondrous Love Is This”:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/What_Wondrous_Love_Is_This

Love Never Fails

Hush, Little Baby

Hush, little baby, don’t say a word.
Papa’s gonna buy you a mockingbird

And if that mockingbird won’t sing,
Papa’s gonna buy you a diamond ring

And if that diamond ring turns 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 won’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 buy you a horse and cart

And if that horse and cart fall down,
You’ll still be the sweetest little baby in town.

I hear Peter, Paul and Mary singing this song on a favorite album, in my head, and, yet, never thought much about the words.  But as I hum the tune, I looked the words up to get them down right.  Notice the father is most willing to give this child anything.

Our Father gives us what we need:

For the LORD God is a sun and shield; 
The LORD gives grace and glory; 
No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.  Psalm 84:11

“For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.”  John 6:33

…but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  1 Corinthians 15:57

And the Word of God goes on and on with the gifts from our Heavenly Father.

All the “things” seem to fail, but the love of the Father never does.  No matter what material things we think we need or want, they are never enough to fill the God-shaped hole in us.  Only He can take that space up perfectly.

Here, Jesus teaches us about following Him and what truly matters:

And he said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.”  Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”  But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.  And Jesus, looking around, said to His disciples, “How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!”  Mark 10:20-23 NASB

Do you know what I notice right off the bat?  Jesus loved this man.  Jesus wanted to give him the very best and the man could not relinquish those “things” in order to have the very best, the love of the Father, the perfect love of Christ.  This man’s hole stays empty for he chose his way and not Jesus.  It does not have to be about material things either.  It can be about holding onto thoughts, feelings, beliefs, unbelief.

Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.  1 Corinthians 13:8

Love never fails.

See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.  1 John 3:1

“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!”  Matthew 7:11


1corinthians13_8


Oh, Father God, You are the very best.  Your love is like no other and is all I need.  As I walk through my life, may I always seek Your face and know Your call to follow You is the best.  Your call for my obedience is the truest path there is and the only one I should take.  You know I stumble sometimes.  I am sorry.  Guide me as I come to You.  Guide me as I am and keep me in the Way.  I love You back, LORD Jesus.  Oh, I do.  In Your Name, I pray.  Amen.

 

photo: http://heartlight.org

Enter In

I have been singing Fernando Ortega’s “I am the Good Shepherd” over and over again of late.  The words of the song are:

I am the good Shepherd.

I’ll lay down my life for you.

Enter in, enter in, enter in.

I am the good Shepherd.

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As the Father knows me, I know you.

I know you, I know you, I know you.

And no one can take you away.

And no one can take you away.

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You are the good Shepherd.

You lay down Your life for me.

Enter in, enter in, enter in.

You are the good Shepherd.

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As the Father knows you, you know me.

You know me, you know me, you know me.

And no one can take you away.

And no one can take you away.

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john10_14-15

I seem to be drawing in close to My Shepherd to understand His words, His Word.

Jesus is the very Door through which, through Whom, I enter.  I enter to find my salvation.  I enter for my rest.  I enter for safety and security.  I enter in to Him for He is my All.  He is my trusted Saviour, the One to Whom I can run and know that I am loved.  I enter in for I know that He knows me and I can come to know Him as I draw near.  Oh, such blessings come with entering in.  I pray that you are willing to enter in too.  He is waiting for you as He did for me.

 The words of the song have me pondering John 10:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber.  

“But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. 

“To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.

“When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.

“A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers.”

This figure of speech Jesus spoke to them, but they did not understand what those things were which He had been saying to them.

So Jesus said to them again, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.

“All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them.

“I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have [it] abundantly.

“I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.

“He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters [them].

“[He flees] because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep.

“I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.

“I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock [with] one shepherd.

“For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again.

“No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.”   John 10:1-18

 

Father, as You know Your Son, may we know You by the One Who is our Door.  He shepherds us into the flock.  He loves us so that even when we are not of His flock, He brings us in and we become part of His flock… oh, this beautiful Shepherd.  We know His voice for it is the voice of God.  Oh, that I may hear.  How often, in my anguish, have I called out wondering if You hear me, but I know You do.  The beauty for me is that I have the privilege to hear You.  Oh, Hallelujah!  I praise the day that I entered in.  Amen. 7ec42bf5250e120e008c011f720562e2

Song:   copyright: “I am the Good Shepherd” words to song by Fernando Ortega

Photo of Sheep:  www.heartlight.org – Heart Gallery

Colors … Joy … God

colorful_spring

Clap your hands, all peoples!

Shout to God with loud songs of joy!
(Psalm 47:1 ESV)


Colorfully

Shout for joy, O heavens, for the LORD has done it!

Shout joyfully, you lower parts of the earth;

Break forth into a shout of joy, you mountains,

O forest, and every tree in it;

For the LORD has redeemed Jacob

And in Israel He shows forth His glory.  

Isaiah 44:23

Sing for joy in the LORD, O you righteous ones; 

Praise is becoming to the upright.

Psalm 33:1

colorful_flowers

Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, you righteous ones; 
And shout for joy, all you who are upright in heart.  
Psalm 32:11

lovely_butterfly

Indeed, the LORD will comfort Zion; 
He will comfort all her waste places. 
And her wilderness He will make like Eden, 
And her desert like the garden of the LORD; 
Joy and gladness will be found in her, 
Thanksgiving and sound of a melody.  Isaiah 51:3

God  is Joy!

And I am His !

The LORD your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.”
 Zephaniah 3:17

summer_flower


Sing for joy and be glad, O daughter of Zion; for behold I am coming and I will dwell in your midst,” declares the LORD.
 Zechariah 2:10

butterfly


Heavenly Father, I write words on a blog page that describe You to me.  I write words that encourage my heart.  I need color in my life… color that makes me think of You, for You are my Joy.  I post graphics that are made by man that are so colorful and fun to look upon, but Your natural world is far brighter with the vividness of life.  Thank You for your flowers and creatures of every color.  Thinking of the joy of the LORD:  
 Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. (Habakkuk 3:18 NKJV)   You walk with me through every step.  Thank You, LORD.  You hear my cries.  You see my smiles.  You know my heart and that it needs and desires color, rejoicing, joy!   I glorify You for Your Ways.  I call upon You, my LORD, for I want to be close to You.  I love You, my Abba.  Heal my grieving heart, LORD; heal my body from the four surgeries and keep me safe as I walk and work and do and be.  I need Your touch to heal me physically and emotionally, LORD.  I rejoice in You, my loving Father!  I look upon the colors of this world and find You looking at me through them.  This beautiful flutter-by says it all, doesn’t it, LORD?  You created this in such glory.  You are my joy, Abba Father.  And I pray with joy, in Your Holy Name.  Amen.

For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?  1 Thessalonians 2:19 NKJV