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Braking Points

Pausing in the midst of Life to ponder, pray and find footing to continue.

Month

November 2015

Watch: Advent 2015

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Mark 13:24-37

“I say to you what I say to everyone: Watch for him!””
‭‭Mark‬ ‭13:37‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Expect to see Jesus as you go about your daily activities and you will find Jesus. God wants us to be active watchers, aware of the people he puts in our paths, some to help, some to provide assistance, some to hug, some to confront, and all so we can pray.

Watch! Advent is a time to dust off our spiritual spectacles.

Expect to have opportunities to share the Love of Christ, his Peace and you will find an angel on a tree, a teacher who needs supplies for a classroom, a pastor who needs encouragement, a missionary in the field, a co-worker who is grieving or struggling to make ends meet.

Watch! Advent is a time to use the resources God has given us to help others.

Expect blessings, abundance, and good will [not materially, but mentally and spiritually] as you communicate the love of Christ to those who follow other faiths, those who are agnostic or atheist, those who are running from God, or trying to remake God into Santa Claus.

Watch! Advent is a time to Proclaim the Gospel, GOOD NEWS! GOOD NEWS!

Watch always not just at Advent, continue to be faithful. The Lord is Coming, Emmanuel, God with us!

O Come O Come Emmanuel–God be One of Us Advent 2015

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Isaiah 64:1-9

“Oh, that you would burst from the heavens and come down! How the mountains would quake in your presence!”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭64:1‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Expectations of the coming of the Messiah find root in this verse. Indeed, Gabriel’s visitation to Mary and later in a dream to Joseph did rock their plans of a big wedding with feast, family and friends. Surely, at some level it seemed God had burst into their well ordered world, causing Mary to flee to her cousin Elizabeth’s, while Joseph hurried to quietly first divorce her, then come to terms with the dream before bringing her into his home, but not his bed as his wife.

As this drama unfolded in their family, Mary and Joseph prepared for the arrival of the miraculous, the unexpected, Emmanuel, God with us. The country of their birth, the home of God’s Temple continued as if nothing was happening. They remained under Roman occupation, pagan rule, and they tugged against their Roman bonds.  The Jews continued to sacrifice.  The Messiah would come, but they were not actively expecting him.

Some Synagogues opened the scrolls and read from the prophet Isaiah these very verses…even praying for the fulfillment in their time,  Wondering, if God had forgotten them.  It had been a long time since the last of the prophets. Their hope had been depleted.

While in Galilee in the womb of a young woman, God prepared to burst forth.

Are we praying for our countries, wherever we are that God will burst forth? Are we actively seeking to share the miraculous story of Christ Coming…as a baby and one day as a King.

2015 Thanksgiving Day: Images and Verse

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Thanksgiving Day Twenty-Two 2015

 

 

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This scenerio is making the rounds on Social Media.  What I am about to write will probably get me some flak, maybe even from my family and close friends.  Like all one sided views, there is some truth here, or should I say there are some who when presented with questions like these with the “enlightened solutions” [yes, that was tongue in cheek] would respond this way.  But let’s start over:

I am terrified of Muslims.  I don’t want sharia law in America.

Ok, in the United States, we have the freedom to worship as we choose.  The rule of law in the United States is based on the Constitution, so Muslims can worship freely but not enforce sharia law in the USA.  You can worship freely, also.  Or, not at all.

Yeah, but I believe in Jesus and want the country to be more Christian. I don’t want anyone taking that away from me.

Ok, how do you propose to change the country?  What about veterans, homeless men, women, and families, children in crisis, and what about the refugees fleeing war zones?  How can your Christ change their lives for the better through you?  Government programs??

No, No we don’t need more taxes, more dollars thrown out there into programs that don’t work?  I am not sure how I can help.

Ok, did you know that a hundred years ago, Churches were the chief caregivers and providers for the needy, the orphans, that most social programs began in the church halls not in congress.  Have you looked around to find out what other Christians are doing to help those in need, both here and around the world.  One way to have a more Christian nation is to live among the people of all faiths or lack thereof showing respect, kindness, and sharing your faith in your actions.  Find where God is working in your community and join in that work.  Pack a shoe box for Samaritan’s Purse for a child in other parts of the world.  Adopt or foster a child.

But what about the state of families, folks having kids only to end up on the Welfare rolls or having to be put into foster care.  And don’t talk to me about Planned Parenthood, because I am Pro-Life and they provide abortions.

Ok, let me suggest you get involved with your local abortion alternative group.  They provide counseling, alternatives, physical and material support, mentoring, and a variety of other services for women and families in reproductive crisis.  Most of these services are free.  Also, most schools know which students need assistance with clothing or supplies.  Adopt one anonymously or take part in afternoon tutoring for struggling students.

I just don’t want socialism.  Big Government pumping money out like they can take care of us all.

Ok, but you know all of us have gotten used to government hand-outs.

WHAT?? Not me. Not my family.

Ok, what about the pubic school system,  the public health system, subsidies for medication for those with life threatening disease who cannot afford medication…?

Well, I guess there are some needed programs, but I want to reduce them and get back to the Constitution.

Ok, I think that brings us back to your quest for a more Christian nation.  It begins with the individual Christian and the Churches.  In 1985, there were over 800 homeless individuals  in the City of Tulsa, OK.  One Shelter Representative pointed out that there were as many churches in the area.  If each Church sponsored one homeless person or family, shelters would be emptied. 

But what about the Muslims?  I am terrified of Muslims.

Well according to Holy Scripture ‘perfect love casts out fear’.  How can the gospel be shared if we are afraid of sharing it with the people who need it most.

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Thank you, Andy McClure for making me have to think this through as a Christian.  I am thankful to God that He continues to bless the United States of America.  I am thankful to the military who both stay and go to protect the freedoms we hold dear.  I know there is blood shed coming and that violent actions will be required to keep us safe.  So I pray for those on the front lines and for their sacrifice.  I also know that fear kills love and compassion and sometimes we express it in ways that are not very Christian.  Help us, Oh Lord, to see as you see our neighbor and our enemy.

Thanksgiving Day Twenty-one 2015

So what’s with SPANX and other Shape Wear?  Are they not girdles with a new name?

Unless you are a female, who came of age in the 1950s, 60s, and early 70s, what I am about to write will undoubtedly make no sense to you at all.

imageWe took our undergarments seriously.  We wore flared skirts with as many can can slips under them as we could afford.  Our dresses stood out like umbrellas. Sitting required carefully folding the skirt and slips so that they did not pop up exposing more than any young lady should.  I only owned two, but some girls wore at least seven or eight.  School desks presented a clear and present danger.

Following can cans we moved into the era of matching sweater skirt sets with tight fitting straight skirts, which required a girdle.  No young  lady wanted a pouchy stomach, we would rather endure shallow breathing.

Then came the Age of Aquarius,  binding underwear, elaborate undergarments like can cans became symbols of bondage . . .with some extremists burning bras.  WE WERE FREE!

‘Were’ is the operative word in that last sentence.  Because they are back.  Of course the design, the products, the materials have changed, but the intent is the same:  Squeeze it in, push it up, rearrange the flesh.  And vintage dresses, 50s styles, with can cans–still challenging those inclined to  sit.

I am pretty sure that if anyone reads this, they are going to wonder “Where is she going with this?  Isn’t this supposed to be a Thanksgiving post?  She sure does not sound grateful.”

With all that is happening in the world, war, refugees, terrorism, political yammering, with all that is happening in my neck of the woods, I am thankful.  I can sit here for a few moments in the quietness of the evening, college football on the TV, and consider not the circle of life but the circle of women’s undergarments.

It doesn’t make the world different.  Back in the 50s when we were wearing our can cans, outside our town, a missle silo was built.  We watched films about nuclear bomb attacks. We walked with books on our heads for posture, squeezed into girdles, during the Cuba Missle Crisis.  As the restrictive garments came off, young men and women went to Viet Nam.  Sometimes your head just needs to entertain frivolous musings for sanity’s sake.  Sometimes in the midst of a wake you need to laugh.

I am so thankful to God for allowing me to wander away from the weighty issues in my life and in the world, if only for a few moments, because it refreshes me like hearing children’s laughter.  It does not diminish my concern for the hurting, hungry, and homeless. In fact it allows me to return to prayer, consider how to respond, and take action with fresh perspective.

Some times you just gotta break out the CAN CANS and DANCE!

 

Thanksgiving Day Twenty 2015

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Dear Lydia Elizabeth,

Today had you lived you would have been eighteen years old. I have watched your bothers and sister grow up, have celebrated their birthdays, Christmases, Thanksgiving and even had mini adventures with them.  I often wonder how the dynamics of siblings would be different if you had survived that kinked cord in your momma’s womb.  Would you be close to your sister Abigail and to your brothers, Jordan and Graham?  Would you be the blue eyed grandchild among our Foster grandchildren or brown eyed like Jordan and Abigail, or hazel eyed like Graham?

Days before your silent entry, your Mother, my daughter, sensed something wrong.  You had become motionless, at least she had not felt your waving hands or kicking feet.  In her OB doctor’s office, no heartbeat–a heartbeat she had heard since you were only a few weeks old–could be detected.  Two ultrasounds later we knew.  Medically speaking, my precious Lydia, the diagnosis was fetile demise, but our hearts were breaking because every dream we already had for you died with you.

Through it all, as we waited for your body to be born,  your parents held each other up and tried not to frighten your older brother Jordan.  They planned your funeral and ministered grace to all of us in our grief.  Your Mom told me God would use your brief life and your death for good.  Eighteen years ago today, your parents checked in at the hospital.  Your Mom took her crochet hook  and created small Christmas wreath pins, which she shared with the hospital staff.  That night as labor pains demanded “push”,  your body slipped into your mother’s arms.  Of course, your spirit already was in heaven.

Your death changed us all.  I was bereft, but I no longer took for granted that once a pregnancy reached a certain stage, a healthy birth was guaranteed.  Months later at an evening prayer session at Pembroke Christian Church, a few folks gathered as was our custom on Monday evenings.  One of the prayer requests was for a couple who had just learned via ultrasound that their unborn daughter had an anomoly that was not compatible with life.  They had chosen to continue the pregnancy over protests from family and friends, who undoubtedly thought to do so would lessen their pain.

I burst into sobs, shaking in my seat, praying outloud and passionately–not me at all, Lydia.  Why? because YOU my precious granddaughter impacted my world, gave me a heart for  pregnant women, their unborn babies, for expectant fathers and especially for the value of the lives of those babies like you who died way too soon.

I am thankful for your short life, Lydia.  I am thankful for your legacy of love expressed in the love your parents have for each other, in the lives of your siblings, and for teaching your Papa and Mimi that prayer for the unborn is prayer for the world.

Love Always –Hold you one day in Heaven,

Mimi

Thanksgiving Day Nineteen 2015

My dogs read my behavior very well. When I get out their food bowls to prepare their meals, they come and sit at my feet to watch me. When I head to the couch to sit down they come sit with me. When I get their leashes they come ready for a walk. When I run a bath and call their names, they run and hide. They determine what I am up to that involves them by studying my repetitive actions.

Satan is like that. Only better. And he has studied me longer. He cannot read my mind, but he can read my behavior. He knows what gets to me. He knows what tempts me. He will use any situation he can to trip my triggers, reduce my witness for Jesus, or even threaten my life or the lives of those I love.

In times of attack, I fight against reacting at the basest human level, not easy. . .fight, flight, or STAND. Clearly, God’s Word directs me to the third option. When everything is hunky doory I get it. When Satan is lobbing rocks and hitting targets mentally, physically, relationally, or spiritually, JUST STANDING, BELIEVING, and WAITING require reinforcement.

When the going gets tough, this child of God gets on her knees. . .sometimes the impact of Satan’s rocks knocks me there.

Sometimes I discover that rearranging the order of verses of a Psalm while interjecting my uninspired ramblings rejuvenates my prayer life. Again my devotion in Jesus Calling by Sarah Young led me to Psalm 27.

Wait for the Lord

Be strong

Take heart and

Wait for the Lord

imageCarolyn: Lord, do you know how hard it is to WAIT? Ok, I suppose you do since you are still waiting for all people to hear the gospel and place faith in you. Still, here on earth bound by appointments on calendars, other people’s agendas, and the incredibly slow moving line at Walmart, help me remember there are folks waiting for a kind word, a hot meal, and a warm bed. There are people waiting for medical test results, the return of a prodigal child, the cessation of bombing. HELP ME WAIT WITH GRACE!

I remain confident of this:

I will see the goodness of the Lord

In the Land of the Living.

Carolyn: Lord, I am confident that you are good, but I am not so sure about the rest of the people around me. Truth is I am not claiming to be good myself, but I want to be. So today, I choose to walk with you, moment by moment, showering kindness and grace as you poke me in the ribs. You know I need a well appointed nudge quite often.

Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,

for false witnesses rise up against me,

spouting malicious accusations.

“Teach me your way, Lord;

lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors”

Carolyn: Ok, this is really hard, Lord. My initial response is anger…revision: FURY. I feel this when I am the target, but I feel it a thousand times more when my family or friends are in the cross hairs of attackers. Keep me straight. Help me to ‘count it all joy’, to be ‘patient in affliction’ and to hold on to the promise you made, ‘that all things work together for good, for those called according to your purpose.’ I hate these lessons about the troubles in this world, but take heart that you have a plan–I would appreciate if you would share that with me–not just the ultimate plan, but how the heck the daily messes will be resolved. Forgive me, Lord, still learning how to wait and trust.

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord

Carolyn: Lord, I am vulnerable. Give me courage for this day. Strengthen me so I can share your strength and love with others. As I walk with you, let me encourage others to walk close to you. Keep me from rushing in with ‘fly by the seat of my pants’ remedies or suggestions. Teach me the POWER OF WAITING that Your Glory can be revealed.  Amen
Psalm‬ ‭27:14-11‬ ‭NIV‬‬ with Carolyn asides

One thing I have learned in my 70 plus years, at my weakest, God’s power is at its greatest in me, in my family, in my friends, in the world….for as I pray, Satan cringes and retreats and God sends ministers of grace from many directions.

For the God whose timing is perfect..even when every indication says no..I am grateful today.

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