"In every walk with nature one receives more than he seeks."
John Muir

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A period a the end of 2013








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                      The LORD bless thee and keep thee: 
the LORD make his face shine upon thee
 and be gracious unto thee:
            the LORD lift up his countenance upon thee
                      and give thee peace.          Numbers 6 : 24-26

This is my "verse for the day".
I just tore it off the plastic stand a bit early.
That once chunky day-by-day calendar is empty, 
save a few pages of ads.
I have a brand new one in the drawer, still in its shiny box.  Filled with 365 pages of colorful pictures and words of great wisdom, God-inspired.
What does that mean, exactly? 
God inspired.

The argument against the power of the Holy Bible is that it was "written by men".
But, as scripture says, and I believe without a shadow of a doubt, all scripture is "God-breathed".
Yes, men through the ages have written down the original words.  Since then, these words have been grouped into sentences, paragraphs, chapters and books.  They have been translated and are still today being painstakingly translated into other languages.
But each word, before chisel taken to stone or reed to scroll or even pen to paper, was silently "spoken" by our Almighty God into the hearts and minds of the variety of authors.
Have you ever experienced this breath of God?
Have thoughts entered into your mind that you KNEW, just knew, weren't of your own imagination?
Have you ever sat down to write of some deep emotion or situation and the pen seemed to push forward of its own power?
I have.
Not that I, for a second, think I am anointed as the authors of the Bible, but I have sensed God's Presence through thoughts and words "breathed" 
into my mind.
Inspiration, we call new and creative ideas.
Divine inspiration takes this to much higher levels.

And so, back to this last glossy page, ragged on the top where it was torn away.
It is a blessing to each of us who believe.
As I read and reread it, a melody lingers in the back of my mind.  I am quite sure these words have been put to music and I sang them with a choir years ago.
How lovely!

Whoever edited this calendar chose an excellent reading for #365.
It serves as a period at the end of a lengthy, rather run-on sentence that was 2013.
Did this past year bring you joy...sadness?
We live our lives on a continuum of each,
sliding (or bumping) on those 3 little dots.
Back and forth. Tossed about at times.
Despite the ups and downs of living,
the promise within this blessing holds true.
God Himself spoke it to Moses, telling him to teach these exact words to Aaron and his sons so they could use them to bless the People of Israel.
I can close my eyes and imagine the warmth of oil or honey being poured over me as the priest held out his hand and spoke this over me.  A physical response to this blessing.
And I will know peace.
PEACE as we step into 2014.
To you.


           TUESDAY, DECEMBER 31, 2013

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The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: the LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: the LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.

¶ NUMBERS 6 : 24–26

Monday, December 23, 2013

What Makes You Smile?

This time of year it is easy to smile.
And sometimes to weep.
The sights, sounds, aromas and feel of Christmas stimulate our emotions as little else can.
The line between joys and sorrows,
past and present blurs.

Yesterday was a day of smiles for me.
It began with the happiness of my Christmas tree all lit up and decorated early in the morning.
It can coax a smile from me on my gloomiest day. 
Those sentimental ornaments, some from 60 years ago, sparkle and glow.

Heading out to church, another grin at my silly little car with her candy cane "horns" and nose.
She feels a bit foolish but I remind her how the decorations help me find her easily in any parking lot, no matter how crowded with shoppers.
(The poor candy canes are tilted back as if hanging on for dear life.  Directions say to never drive over 40 mph with them, but most of my roadways 
are posted at 75 or 80 mph.
Thus the backward angle!)

The afternoon guaranteed an hour of smiles.
Standing outside of Walmart, I rang that bell 
as I do every year about this time.
Wearing my Santa hat and the "doing the most good" Salvation Army apron,  I rang--and smiled.
It's an amazing time to not just "people watch", 
but "people see".
I'm not the one with the shopping list in hand.
I find I can focus on each person, young or old, that rushes into the store.  Most walk briskly, intentionally.  Some limp painfully.  I notice hair styles, clothes, shoes and facial expressions.  
Some folks appear worried, some sad, some excited and some preoccupied. 
Some adults hardly look up, but the children--ah, the children!  Brightness shines in their eyes as they skip along.
I smile.  At each one.  Genuinely.
And wish them, "Merry Christmas!"
The best part is when my presence (and noisy bell)
draws someone out of their thoughts and they toss back a smile in my direction.  Sparks of brightness like electrical charges in the dry air.

So, the next time you pass one of those bell ringers at the entrance to a store, look up and meet the eyes of the source of that clanging.
Whether you drop a coin in the bucket or not,
leave a smile or greeting behind.  
That smile also "does the most good" to the ringer
and others around you.
"Thank you and Merry Christmas!"

Monday, December 16, 2013

Where's the bubble wrap?

Where's the bubble wrap?
The scissors?
Packing tape?

It's time for mailing those boxes.
You know the ones-filled to the brim with goodies and gifts.
Gift wrapped but not many bows.
The bows are saved for the gifts under the tree.
The ones in the boxes are simply too smushed to manage a bow
and it would arrive all flattened, anyway.

When I was a little girl, and then not so little at that,
my Aunt Gen from Pennsylvania sent us a box every Christmas.
Not actually my aunt, she was my mother's official "aunt"
who took on the role of Mother/Grandma when my 
own dear Grandma died when I was only 8.
I saw her less than once a year, 
but she faithfully sent us a large, brown cardboard box of gifts every Christmas.
On the outside was a little white sticker warning:
"Don't Open Until December 25".

I can hardly find the words to describe the thrill of that box.
Can I admit here that I can't name one single item that we discovered within it?
Strange as that seems, it was more the wonder of the box--
chilled from the postal truck, sitting silently in our kitchen,
a treasure in itself--worth more than its contents.
The secrecy of the packages inside and that warning sticker
made me just about crazy.
I could hardly stand myself and the days went way too slowly until the 25th.
At least all that heightened emotion was my perception.

Years later, when my own babes were anticipating Dec 25th,
packages arrived at our door.
It was often late and we were eating dinner.
The  cold, bitter night
was dark when we heard the knock.
Never at our front door, always the side one that led to the welcoming, lighted kitchen where we congregated.
Trumping through the snow, the tired but smiling UPS man
hauled the giant box into the house.
It, too, was brown cardboard and brought with it 
the smell of cold and snow and winter.
Direct contrast to the wood-fired warmth within.
This one came from western New York.
Grandma's house.
Crammed full of colorfully wrapped packages,
my children responded in the same way I had, 
20+ years before.
Oh, could they EVER manage to wait until Christmas to reveal what those boxes held?
We had no warning sticker on this box so I opened it carefully with a big knife.
Each package was lifted delicately out as if made of crystal.
Tags read aloud and shouts of, "This one is for ME!" echoed.
Then, gingerly, they were laid out artistically under the tree,
guarded by the lighted soldiers and angels and reindeer on its fragrant branches.
Personal areas were staked out by each of my 3.

It is because of these wonderful memories that I send boxes.
At times I get disgruntled at the cost of the mailings,
especially to Alaska.
Sometimes the value of the contents are less than the price of shipping.
But, thinking back to my joy at the arrival of THE BOX,
how can I price THAT?

 I am thankful for the creation of the FLAT RATE BOXES.
I take great pride in shoving in as much as possible
then needing another pair of hands to force it shut while I tape it closed.
My rule of thumb is that not one more tiny thing can fit.
I recently stuffed some bubble-wrapped sweet potatoes on the top of the box's contents before sealing, knowing my daughter and her family loves them.
Alas, they arrived frozen and spoiled, despite my efforts of insulation.
It had been -35 degrees after all.
I just wanted to stuff in as much as I could!

Just today, before I posted this blog,
I arrived home to this big and decorative box at our door.
The excitement bubbled within and I set down the shopping bags and rushed to bring it inside.

Tomorrow I take one more trip to the Post Office.
The last one, I tell myself.
My excitement at this end is probably as much as the receiver's.
And, thanks to computers, I can track the box in its journey northward.
You know what I put on the outside?
A little white sticker warning, "Do not open until Dec 25th".
Do you think they'll wait?