Wednesday, December 31, 2008

My Theme and Anthem

My grandmother is dying with cancer. Christmas Eve was the one-year anniversary of my fahter-in-law's death from cancer. Our dog recently died (again with the cancer...I hate that stuff). On the financial end, we had to replace our sewer line two weeks ago (that's a big chunk of change, by the way), and there are various other stressful issues that seem to mount up. Please don't think I'm complaining, just sharing a little of what's been on my heart. And last night I felt the weight of it, and I talked to the Lord about it for the umpteenth time

I don't normally share entries from my prayer journal outside of a very tight circle. Today, though, I'm going to share my journal entry with the rest of you, with a tiny bit of back-up information so you'll understand it. My prayer journal is a catch-all, a place where I write down my prayers (yes, I write them at times...I'm a writer, that's how I communicate best), where I converse with the Lord, occasionally take some sermon notes, and where I just journal. The only rule for my prayer journal is that it be related to my relationship with the Lord.

Today's entry is a short blurb about the conversation I had with Him last night:

"Last night the Lord told me to read Ps. 34 and Ps. 119 every day for the next two weeks. He said Ps. 34 would be my theme, and Ps. 119 would be my anthem. A theme is a main topic. An anthem is a hymn of praise or loyalty, which if you read it, is exactly what Ps. 119 is."I had to look them up, theme and anthem, that is, to really get the difference between them and understand why He assigned each one accordingly. The dictionary can be very useful at times.

Here is Psalm 34 in the New King James version:

1 I will bless the LORD at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
2 My soul shall make its boast in the LORD;
The humble shall hear of it and be glad.
3 Oh, magnify the LORD with me,
And let us exalt His name together.
4 I sought the LORD, and He heard me,
And delivered me from all my fears.
5 They looked to Him and were radiant,
And their faces were not ashamed.
6 This poor man cried out, and the LORD heard him,
And saved him out of all his troubles.
7 The angel of the LORD encamps all around those who fear Him,
And delivers them.
8 Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good;
Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!
9 Oh, fear the LORD, you His saints!
There is no want to those who fear Him.
10 The young lions lack and suffer hunger;
But those who seek the LORD shall not lack any good thing.
11 Come, you children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
12 Who is the man who desires life,
And loves many days, that he may see good?
13 Keep your tongue from evil,
And your lips from speaking deceit.
14 Depart from evil and do good;
Seek peace and pursue it.
15 The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous,
And His ears are open to their cry.
16 The face of the LORD is against those who do evil,
To cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.
17 The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears,
And delivers them out of all their troubles.
18 The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart,
And saves such as have a contrite spirit.
19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
But the LORD delivers him out of them all.
20 He guards all his bones;
Not one of them is broken.
21 Evil shall slay the wicked,
And those who hate the righteous shall be condemned.
22 The LORD redeems the soul of His servants,
And none of those who trust in Him shall be condemned.

Isn't that lovely? My theme is now the Lord's praise because of His deliverance from all of my fears, His nearness, His provision and protection.

Psalm 119 is all about the Torah, the Law of the Lord, the life-giving properties of His Word, His promise. Doug and I are Torah-observant, and this psalm is beautiful and encouraging to those who embrace the Lord's teaching and instruction. It contains a stanza for each letter of the Hebrew alphabet, beginning with Aleph and ending with Tav. It's too long for a blog entry (or I think so, at least), so you'll just have to pull out your Bible or go to http://www.biblegateway.com/ to read it. I will share with you one verse, though, toward the end, a verse that I read over and over today:

165 Those who love Thy law
have great peace,
And nothing causes them
to stumble.

Now, juxtapose that with my blog entry from yesterday, and you'll see why this verse is the theme of my anthem. He has delivered my from all my fears, become my provider, protector, and has given me great shalom.

Now if I can just get that truth deep into my soul.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Shalom

I posted this once before, in an entry about Israel, but I want to revisit it today.

Shalom.

Peace, right? Well, no, not exactly. Yes, we typically translate the Hebrew word shalom as the English word peace. But just as with many other Hebrew words, there really is no English one-word equivalent. It would take an entire paragraph to fully flesh out the concept of shalom in English.

Shalom means “nothing missing, nothing broken, well being and completeness.” It’s also defined as “welfare, soundness, safety, health, prosperity, peace, quiet, tranquility, contentment, friendship (of humans and with God).” That's quite a bit lost in translation, isn't it? What a rich word! And His shalom can be ours!

I challenge each of you to grab a Strong’s concordance and look up the word “peace” in scripture. Then read all of God’s promises regarding peace and eagerly seek out your end of that promise (what He says you need to do to attain it). Who wouldn’t want His peace, His shalom?!?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

My Silence

I'm not a poet. Have I ever mentioned that? So this little ditty, written in less than 10 minutes, will be anything but an excellently-executed and thought-provoking poem. I know good poetry when I read it, but I have no idea how to execute the craft. That said, I was inspired by recent and ongoing events and felt the need to capture my thoughts in some form other than my typical kvetching.


She gushed and wiggled
when she found me.
Searched me out,
the fa├žade of joy
Fixed firmly in place.

Persistent.
Woven around my
Leg, pleading for my review
Artistic pursuit her semblance.
I gave it—
watered down.

Retaliation came
inundated her
puerile rage and anger and tears.
The carefully painted pretext
cracked.
Crumbled.
Broken.
My gentleness—to her chaffed
condescension
that exaggerated misery.

Fury.
Provoked,
my failure to provide
Validation—
Venom, the cobra’s attempt at blindness—
I left unacknowledged.

Writhing,
twisting,
turning,
her maddened needing is vexed not by my
Critique—
but by my silence.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Petty Theft

Every day I hold my son and cuddle with my daughter as they wind down to their nap time. Then I put them in their beds. It's a ritual we all like, and usually is uneventful. Today, however, was a different story.

We live on a side road in a great old neighborhood that sprawls between two hospitals. Unfortunately, our road has turned into something of a cut-through for folks trying to avoid heavy traffic on other roads, and that results in some speeders, which prompted us to put up a picket fence around our front yard and, more recently, buy a plastic, free-standing "Slow! Kids at play" sign for the curb.

Our neighborhood gets lots of folks walking for exercise, some with kids in strollers or dogs on leashes. And a few folks with both a stroller and a dog, and I wonder how they manage it. It's a great neighborhood for walking, with lots of houses that have character, unlike the cookie-cutter new developments that are popping up in suburban areas across the country. Some of the houses are not cared for by the owners, and some are rentals, but the neighborhood is slowly being revitalized.

Anyway, as I sat on the couch and cuddled with my kids, I happened to notice two women who were walking by my picket fence, pushing a baby stroller. They were young. One was probably a teen, maybe eighteen, skinny with long black or dark brown hair. The other was pushing the baby stroller and looked like she might have recently had a baby with a lot of extra weight, especially around her middle, and the same colored hair, but pulled up. Their description is not really important to the rest of you, but it is to me for future reference. You'll see what I mean as you read on...

So these two girls were strolling by and slowed their pace, which is what caught my eye. They glanced around, said something to each other, then the skinny one bent slightly and scooped up my sign as they continued their stroll.

I dumped Isaac on the couch and marched outside barefoot just as they passed the opening of my driveway, my sign in tow. "Put the sign back in my yard right now!" I growled/yelled in my fiercest voice (which, if you know me very well, you'll know really is kinda fierce). The skinny girl turned without a word, took the sign back to the curb and tossed it in the grass. Her friend just kept walking, probably to put some healthy distance between herself and the crime scene and the hot-tempered landowner. "Where do you live?" I asked, knowing darn well Skinny Girl wouldn't (and certainly shouldn't) tell me. Her hair-brained response was, "I don't know," as she headed toward her friend. I said, "You'd better not ever try that again, chickadee." And she said, "That's not my name!" "You're darn right, it isn't! And You'd better hope I don't decide to follow you home!" I added as I reached the road. She was nearly past the next-door-neighbor's yard by then, but just strolling away, trying to act unintimidated. I snatched up my sign and added, "you need to walk a little faster!"

I tossed the sign close to the house and headed inside. "Ahava, Isaac, we're going for a little ride," I said, and they rushed to the door to clamber into the van. Their (the women's) saving grace was the fact that I had to secure the carseats and buckle the kids. They vanished so quickly that I have no doubt that they live on my road or the one behind mine. The only outlets to that little corner of the neighborhood are a four-lane highway (and the source of the speeders) and the road that loops back around to mine. I had no intention of accosting them when I got in the car, by the way. I just wanted to know where they lived in case anything else disappeared from my front yard.

A ten-dollar sign is no big deal in the grand scheme of things, but neighbors who will steal from your yard in broad daylight while you're at home...that's a different story altogether. Living in a neighborhood requires a certain level of trust in mankind generally, and your fellow neighbors in particular. And theft on any level breaches that trust in a major way and alters the neighborhood dynamics.

My husband was concerned that they might decide to egg the house or vandalize our cars in the middle of the night. Now isn't that sad? Not only do you have to be concerned about your stuff walking away from your own property, but you also have to worry about those who steal it coming back to seek vengeance for not getting away with their theft. On one hand I hope they live across the highway and won't ever come back, not to steal, not even to walk. But there's this one part of me, on the other hand, that kinda hopes they do come back...not so I can get into a cat fight (not necessarily), but so my dog can take a chunk out of their rears, seeing as how he'll be sleeping in the front yard tonight.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Re-Judaizing Jesus

Time Magazine published a short but wonderfully well-written article that they called "Re-Judaizing Jesus," as part of their larger article, "Ten Ideas That Are Changing the World." Here's the link:

http://www.time.com/time/specials/2007/article/0,28804,1720049_1720050_1721663,00.html

It's worth the read. It contains a surprising amount of truth. And it's really just the tip of the iceberg.

Passover is this coming Friday night. I can't wait. I've been celebrating Passover with my family and other like-minded believers for 6 years now, and it has become one of my favorite holidays. If you really want to get to know Jesus Christ better, attend a Passover seder. Everything points to Him. Start studying His life from a "Jewish" (or what I call Hebrew) perspective. You'll realize just how little you really knew of the heart and teachings of your Messiah/Savior, and the Lord you serve and love, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It's truly an eye-opening experience.