This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every moring: great is thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion saith my soul: therefore will I hope in him. The Lord is good unto them that wait for Him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD. Lamentations 3: 21-26

Saturday, March 8, 2014

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...for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. Galatians 7-8
Gardens are magical. Whether a formal garden with carefully arranged flowers, trees, shrubs and decorations or a humble backyard vegetable patch,  there is something about a garden that causes the visitor to breathe deeply, pause and admire and feel life. 
If a garden is planted with poor seeds or sickly plants it will be hard to cultivate and difficult to harvest good things. 
I know a woman, though, who waits until the last of the gardening sales to buy half dead plants at the lowest prices. She has a limited budget and a grand plan. Then she takes them home, plants them in good soil, fertilizes and nurtures them and with much time an devotion they revive and bloom and by the end of the growing season you would never know how her garden started differently than her neighbors. 
Perhaps we have sown poor seeds. Perhaps we have offered withered plants of kindness and generosity. Perhaps if we "soweth to the Spirit," if we water our offerings in the love of Christ and the mercy of God perhaps we shall "reap life everlasting."

Counting it all joy,

Julie

Friday, March 7, 2014

Backsliding Children

I don't like to be called childish. I've attained a certain number of years. I spent much of my past feeling very immature compared to my peers. Whether I was or not was perception I suppose. But events through the last few years have changed me and finally I don't feel like a child. I get up and I creak. I move slowly. I take medications to keep me functioning properly. I have learned to think before I speak more often than not. (A miracle some might say.) I hardly ever watch television. I put others' needs before mine--albeit grudgingly sometimes. I do what needs to be done. Perhaps not always cheerfully. But I do it. I go to church. I say my prayers. I'm not perfect, but pretty good. Right?
But GOD tells me I am childish and worse yet, backsliding. 
And, of course, He is right.
 Go and proclaim these devarim toward the north, and say, Return, thou meshuvah Yisroel, saith Hashem; and I will not cast down Mine anger to fall upon you; for I am chasid (displaying chesed, mercy), saith Hashem, and I will not keep anger l’olam. Only acknowledge thine avon (iniquity, guilt of wrongdoing), that thou hast rebelled against Hashem your G-d, and hast scattered thy favors to the zarim under every green tree, and ye have not obeyed My voice, saith Hashem. Shuvu (Turn), O banim shovaviv (backsliding children), saith Hashem; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one from a town, and two from a mishpakhah, and I will bring you to Tziyon  Yirmeyah 3: 12-14 OJB
From today's noon reading in Jeremiah we hear GOD speak to His people, His children who have turned away. I looked through a few translations some say "fatherless children," one says "revolting children," a couple say "backsliding," one says "disloyal."  some calls the children "faithless." All but one that I looked at called them/us--me--children. 
If I am "fatherless" it is not the Father that has changed. It is me...I backslide--I have good plans and then I get distracted by my poorer, previous choices. I revolt. I change my ways. See the new way is better. I feel better. Life is better. But then I listen to sin and say..."Just once more won't hurt." I am disloyal. I pick the world over the Father. I am "faithless." For if I were "faithFUL" I would believe what I know to be true and behave accordingly. Oh, yes...I am childish. 
Not even three days into Lent and I am wrestling with habits and temptation. But not to despair. I can pick up my cross again and again. I can turn back and try once more to be mature, loyal, faithful and loved by my merciful Father, through the blood of His most holy Son. 
So go and shout words towards the north, and say: "Come back, disloyal Israel, Yahweh/the LORD declares, I shall frown on you no more, since I am merciful,Yahweh/the LORD declares. I shall not keep my anger for ever. Only acknowledge your guilt: how you have rebelled against Yahweh/the LORD your God, how you have prostituted yourself with the Strangers under every green tree and have not listened to my voice,Yahweh/the LORD declares. "Come back, disloyal children,Yahweh/the LORD declares, for I alone am your Master, and I will take you, one from a town, two from a family, and bring you to Zion Jeremiah 3:12-14 NJB
Again, today I choose Christ. 
Counting it all joy, 
Julie

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Sin of Pride


"Excuse me...you have something on your head." says some tentative stranger. "Ummm...yes, those are ashes. It is Ash Wednesday." I reply.

"Oh, I forgot it was Ash Wednesday!" exclaims a non-practicing friend.

One day a year I allow a mark to be placed on my head and go out into the world to face strangers. The mark proclaims who I believe I belong to. It is more personal than any t-shirt or any piece of jewelry. It is right between my eyes so that if someone is to talk to me directly they have no choice but to see it. To see the cross in the ashes on my head.

That day was yesterday and while I've practiced the acceptance of ashes for a good part of my life, it never fails to make me uncomfortable. It is hard to walk around with a cross on your head. Our society is uncomfortable with that. The cross is not gold, not wooden, not even the palms that we sometimes weave out of Palm Sunday palms...but ashes. It is not a cross of pride, but admittance that we are unable to fix our situation of sin on our own. We need the cross that was on Calvary. We need the Lamb who bore our sin and suffering. And He did. And He will stand before the Father for us. To allow us to have the joy of heaven.

Why is it so awkward to walk around with ashes on my head for less than twenty-four hours?

Count it all joy,

Julie

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Finding Stillness on the Internet




Return to me, says the Lord of Hosts, and I will return to you. Do not be like your ancestors, to whom the prophets in the past cried ‘Turn back from your evil ways and evil deeds’ but they would not listen. Zechariah 1:3-4

I've been yearning for Lent, lately. Things have gotten out of hand. The world has gotten loud. While I've gotten rid of some bad habits, I've also given into other bad habits. Why couldn't I just let go, use a little self-discipline and make better choices on my own? I don't know. Sometimes, for me it takes Lent to refocus, re-prioritize and reawaken the desires for simplicity. The desires to choose better choices. Maybe it's just me. 

Lent begins today, and on a day when many people are giving up all things internet, all things technology, all things social media...I...am not. 

My poor desolate, little blog...I realized it has been nearly two years since I have updated. And I miss it. It was my quiet space in the midst of all the chaos. I think I am going to try blogging for Lent. Looking back, blogging often was a good time to sort out questions and theories. Blogging caused me to pray differently. It was a good journal for memories that I might have otherwise forgotten. And truthfully when I say that I am a bit sad that I've let two years go by. But I had my reasons. And now...I have other reasons to return. And times I know I am not going to want to forget. 

No promises for how well I will do visiting. I am setting timers for myself during Lent to prevent falling down into the rabbit hole and getting sucked into the Wonderland of the web. For now...I'm just going to see where I am led. 

Count it all joy, 

Julie