Tuesday, January 30, 2018


I have not written on this blog for a year as I focused on my other blog, dailygracesfromgod.blogspot.com 

This year I begin with fresh focus and determination to LINGER A LITTLE LONGER on this blog as I expand upon a thought from my Daily Graces blog.

I think of my brother often, as I did when he was alive.
His passion for black and white photography resonated through his later years of activity.
He taught a special type of photo-processing in Italy and practiced it at his Santa Fe studio.
His collection is expansive and is far more articulate than this photo.
Yet, I fell in love with it.
I treasure this small card he sent me several years ago as I linger over each grave marker.
Beauty in simplicity.
A life well lived.
Memories left behind.
Although overgrown and unkempt, the church yard is filled with stories known by those touched by that life.
My brother is now resting in a pristine place, well kept, seen daily from the roadside.
Yet, I sometimes wish I could carve a crude marker, like the ones above, that tells his story.
Each of us who knew him, have our own tales to tell.
His photography is his legacy . . . now presented for all to see as they wander through the hallways of the Santa Fe government building we were honored to visit.
I smile.
Nice legacy.
It's nice to know that my brother's story continues to be shared with so many.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

2017 Lingering on the Conversion of Paul

Conversion of St. Paul, Conversion of the World

Saul was a devout Jew who knew God and followed God and thought he was doing the right thing when he went about the land killing those rabble-rousers, those Christians.  Paul knew the rules. 
He followed every Jewish feast and fast impeccably.  He was known as a Pharisee of Pharisees. 
Paul knew that this Jesus, this renegade, was pulling jews away from God . . .  or so he thought.

Paul felt it was his duty to find any Christ-follower, man or woman, and hand them over to the authorities.  
Perhaps they would be killed. 
He did not care. 
Paul thought he was earning his right to be in the kingdom eternally.

Little did Paul know that God knew exactly what He was doing when He blinded Paul with His light.  
God knew that Paul would need a dynamic ‘epiphany’ to see “Light from Light” piercing the darkness of his heart. 
Paul needed a powerful moment to see the Truth, to know the Truth and to live the truth.  
Paul was blind in his heart so God blinded him with His Presence.  
When Paul fell to his knees,  helpless, spinning in wonder at what had happened to him, God had Paul in the palm of His hand.

Paul’s conversion was dramatic.  
He made a 180 degree turn and saw God in totally different light.  
His energy and enthusiasm for God never changed.  
It just changed direction. Paul saw and heard and knew. 
He understood the Truth, whom he was totally against, was totally for him.
Paul finally understood that ‘doing’ for God would not be his salvation.  
God came to Paul and drew Paul to Himself for no other reason than God so loved Paul that he gave his only begotten son.  
As soon as Paul believed that Jesus was the son of God, and better understood God’s gift to us for eternal life, Paul could not wait to tell the world.

Yet, Paul had to step back, re-group, examine his life, his focus, his purpose, now that he was Christ’s own forever.   God saw Paul’s enthusiasm, his incredible zest for doing the ‘right’ thing for God.  
God saw Paul’s perseverance, his energy to press into the crowd and scatter those who were not following the ‘rules’ according to what Paul thought the rules to be.  
Yet, that enthusiasm needed to be reigned in, re-worked, re-focused, re-purposed for the spreading of the Gospel, the good news, of Jesus Christ.

It was good that Paul was hidden from view for a few years.  Word spread that Saul, the hater of Christians, was renamed Paul, a beloved child of God.  
Any good pharisee must have spun around in disbelief.  Here was Saul, a learned pharisee, taught by the rabbi of rabbis, Gamaliel, well versed in Torah and Talmud, a man of incredible stature.  
The Saul they knew had changed so drastically.  

How could this man, Jesus, have such a powerful impact on Paul?   
Was Paul actually becoming a rabble-rouser himself?  
How dare he.  
How dare Paul go against the correct way to earn eternal life, the correct way to worship, the correct way to stand on the corner for all to see in the full regalia of a pharisee?  
How dare Paul drag the image of ‘pharisee’ into the mud like this . . .  groveling before God, telling an unbelievable story that only those other rabble-rousers believed.

And yet, when Paul boldly stood before King Agrippa and councils and those ready to kill him, he told these people about God, the Father, sending God’s Son to humanity to walk with them and talk with them and die for them and shed blood on the Cross for them.

For the rest of his life Paul lived on the edge of being acceptable and being killed.
He did not waver in is belief in God’s Son, Jesus Christ.
He died for the faith long after he openly shared his testimony to all who would hear,
Every possible catastrophe on his missionary journeys did not stop Paul.
He was bold.
He was secure.
He was totally focused on his mission as he listened to God for direction.
Paul was determined to speak the message of Jesus Christ for the conversion of the whole world.

What would we do if people regaled against our belief in Christ Jesus?
Could we wish to be as bold as Paul in telling our story to others?
Could we stand firm in our belief in God’s only Son, Jesus Christ, even if it meant being killed?

Do we feel secure in our walk with Christ?
Do we have the same holy boldness as Paul when given the opportunity to share our own salvation story?
Perhaps we can take this opportunity to think about our journey in Christ.
Think about our turning points.

Think about our challenges that helped us come face to face with our Lord and bow before Him and acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord of lords and King of kings.
Could we pray for holy boldness?
Could we walk into the fray of chaos around us and share our conversion story?

Some of us may have always known Christ but when was the turning point when we came face to face with God and knew, deep in our soul, that our entire purpose for living is to do as Paul did . . . share our story . . . share the story of our salvation . . . the saving grace given to us freely, at no cost.

All we have to do is “speak with our mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in our heart that God raised him from the dead and we will be saved.”
Speak our story.
Live our story.
Let “God with us,” Jesus Christ, expand our story as we walk our walk, totally focused on Him.
Let us all pray that we may be like Paul, willing to tell our salvation story with the same passion as Paul to convert the world.


I begin anew with thoughts from turning points in our journey with Christ Jesus throughout the year.

Epiphany, Baptism of Our Lord: 
               A New Beginning, a New Blessing

Each year we are blessed with the opportunity for a new beginning.  
Each year we remind ourselves that we will be better than last year or do better or have better.  
Hope lingers before us as we continue our journey in Christ, as we add one more chapter to our life story.

The story. 
I love the stories that give us hope, that draw us closer to God in Christ. 
I can hear the stories a kazillion times and they never grow dull or dim.  It’s like the child who says, “read it again” when we’ve read it too many times to count.  
For some reason it is still fresh and new and dazzles the little one’s imagination.

This year we have little time to linger over the Epiphany story or the story of the Baptism of Jesus because they are joined together on a Sunday when space and time are in God’s hands, not ours. 

It’s just a blip on the radar, or so it seems.
Let’s think about it.  
The Magi seek the blessing of a king they have yearned for and are bold enough to seek that king.  
On their own initiative they plan, prepare and travel too many miles to count for this blessing.  
Whatever their motive for seeking this little toddler of a king, they are drawn to Jesus.

They come prepared to give and are overwhelmingly blessed.  The blessing is far greater than any treasure they could bring to this infant King of kings and Lord of lords.  
The glory of the Lord embraced them so fully that they connected with the God of righteousness personally.  
You might say they were the first Christ-followers.  
The Magi returned home, so far away, to share the Gospel of our Lord beyond the reaches of Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.  

Fast forward 25-30 years and we observe another incredible blessing.  Jesus begins his ministry with an act of righteousness although he is without sin.  
Hundreds are there, at the Jordan, to receive the blessing of baptism from John as they renew their walk with God.  
What an incredible blessing to be present when the full Presence of God envelopes them.  
The minute Jesus rises up from the water the clouds open up, a thunderous voice is heard by all and the Spirit, like a dove, falls and remains on Jesus.

“This is my Son, My beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”  
What an incredible introduction to ministry.  What an amazing blessing to experience. 
What a way for Jesus to gain an instant following.  
What an endorsement!  
When God speaks, we listen.

I wonder . . . God could have whispered His affirmation in Jesus’ ear.  
But these words were meant for us.  
“This is my son, this is my daughter, my beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”  
The blessing was meant for all of us.

If we continue to go deeper in our walk, seek more from each story, ponder God’s word a little more each day, the blessings will be exponential.
May we be blessed by this blessing that can go over your doorway on the inside of your home so that you remember God’s incredible blessings that fall upon us daily.

Write this, in chalk, above your doorway as a reminder of God's blessing.  
You can also type it out on paper and paste it over your door: 20 + C + M + B + 17
The year is divided and placed at each end.  
The initials for Casper, Melchior and Balthazar 
(the three wise men) is placed in the middle.
While placing the blessing above the doorway of your home,
say, "May all who come to our home this year rejoice to find Christ living among us; and may we seek and serve Christ in everyone we meet. Amen."

Friday, November 25, 2016

Piles of donations

The flood in Sept. 2011 almost wiped out our little town.
I just found this as a 'draft'
We learned that whatever the crises might be, there are always helping hands
with plenty to share with those who lost everything.
God's abundance is always amazing.

Aftermath of the flooding lingers longer than anticipated. 

Our donation distribution center had to move but remains open in the new location and is now open for those beyond our county.  Some families lost everything and sought clothing for all seasons.  Other families who stored winter clothing in the basement sought enough for the winter.  
There is plenty for everyone ... even teens found great stuff.   

 And food!  Oh my.  Not only the normal food bank donations but for the first couple of weeks there was fresh milk, eggs and meat ... even some freshly decorated cakes.  Donations continue to exceed demand.

 My little 'point and shoot' camera could not take in the immense size of this warehouse.  The lights give you some insight.  There is another building behind this one that is filled with furniture, TVs, appliances (which are snatched up  as fast as they came in) and so much more.  Each day is a surprise.

One of our favorite ice cream and fun food places was flooded in the basement but the water reached only a couple inches into its main floor.  So, a bit of ice cream for many of us was a nice interlude on this gorgeous, cool day.  Having this place open gave everyone hope that life could get back to 'normal' sooner than later.
We lingered on the hill behind this 'hut' as we sat at a picnic table in the middle of a sweet garden ... which I forgot to photograph.

The rains have ebbed to the point that we can finally begin to dry out a bit.  We hold our breath as the ground seems too soggy to hold much more moisture. All too soon we will shiver in the midst of frozen tundra and wonder what all the fuss was about... maybe.

Footnote regarding one of the two little churches (previous post) ...  just a few hours of labor from about fifteen people and we created a new worship space in the 'newer' section of the church property.   The 'old' church is a historic site so we hope they will soon find the funds from grants etc. to rebuild the foundation.

Clay Christensen on Religious Freedom

I posted this two years ago.
It's even more relevant today.


[I wrote this nearly 2 years ago and found it as 'unpublished' ... enjoy a bit of nostalgia.]
Sometimes life gets so hectic that I cannot take a minute to linger longer with this blog.
Everyone tells me to 'take a time out' and then one more unintended event squeezes
itself into my 'down' time.
That said, I did take time to take a few photographs during the fabulous month of November.
Even though it snowed, we had a great Fall.
Below, is an image from our back yard.
If you look closely you will see cows munching on grass and enjoying our warm weather.
At least before the snow that hit all of us about mid-month.

Doesn't this look like a Courier and Ives painting?
Sun glistens on empty fields.  Green grass lingers as deciduous trees loose their leaves.

This farm is to the left of the one you see above.
 We drive by it daily and think nothing of what goes on inside.
 Little do we know that these two farms grow feed
for the pampered "Kryder Cows" about a mile down the road.

In November we were offered a tour of the Kryder estate that has been around for well over 100 years.
This is the 'main' house that has been passed down from one family member to another.
From their front door they can see the entire 'cow' operation.

I always wondered why a very 'high tech' farm had rubber tires laying around.
It's the best weight and mobility to move on top of special tarps that cover a 
specific mix of feed hay for the cows.  As the heat from the 'mix' expands, the tires 
hold the gasses 'in check.'  
The tires have holes in the rubber rims so that they
can 'breathe' and not cause more expansion problems as 
tarp rises from the heat of the mixture.

This is what we see when the tires and tarp are removed.
It's a very dense, rich mix of feed for these pampered queens.

Nothing like seeing the backs of cows.  They are milked three times every 
twenty-four hours.  Only two people work the rotating circle.
This woman washes and cleans the cows.  A guy we don't see (far left) 
cleans and attaches the mechanical pumps to the udders.
In the time it takes for the cow to go 'full circle' the milking is done.

The cows can't wait to be milked.  Once led into the milking barn from their well kept 'digs,' 
they move automatically to the single opening of the 'round about.'
This milking process is Kosher - a rabbi lives on the premises and comes to the 
milking barn every 1/2 hour before the next milking (every eight hours) to 
make sure the entire process of preparation for milking is kept 'kosher.'
It's an exacting process so this rabbi is busy.

Here is a better shot of the cows streaming in on their own. 
They know what they like and go for it.
The only two humans we saw were the two who were
cleaning and attaching the mechanical milkers to the udders.

Along with cows, this farm is one of the largest producers of eggs in Pennsylvania.
This 'high tech' feed process is state of the art.
Chickens are kept pristine clean, given the right amount of space and fed
with a very nutritious feed.  Chicken and cow manure is processed in such
a way that it does not smell.  It is turned into a fine powder that is so 
sanitary that it is used for cow bedding. This photo is taken showing the 'pit' in the foreground.


[I wrote this 16 months ago and just found it as 'draft'.  Enjoy a bit of summer in November]
It's already July?
How does time fly by so fast?
It's been two months since I lingered at this post.
Each month I think I have plenty of time to write but all too often each day eats up my precious time.

Don't ask me what I do all day.
I know I do a lot of preparing for Sundays.
I know I linger a little too long in my study mode, which fills up my soul.

I finally looked out,
in the midst of another rain storm, and saw three-foot tall weeds in the middle of my beautiful day lilies.

I took a moment when the sun popped out to run around the yard quickly and pull the most noticeable of these scrawny defiers of beauty.
A weed is anything that looks really ugly in the midst of my fabulous flowers.

What a month.
A baptism.
A wedding.
A death . . .  my brother.
I'd hoped he would fare better than he did but he just got too tired to fight.
I don't blame him.
Life is tough when we feel healthy.
Life has got to be tougher when the body is fighting hard to simply get through each day.

As I slowly pop my head out of the cocoon I created around my grieving soul, I see a SUNBURST for summer!

Flowers weave in this mountain wind.
Fuchsia roses pop out of red-green leaves.
Purple bells 'jingle' as they burst out of Hosta.
Orange against blue.
Magenta against yellow.
Green overlapping green with streaks of white popping out to surprise me.

It's nice to look out into life even if all I see is plant life.
Grass grows,
clover spreads,
corn rises into the sky,
oats wave in the swift breeze.

Silence today . . .  finally.
No lawn mowers.
Just the sweet sound of rushing air pressing through stalks of forsythia branches, now green.

I linger a little longer in the quiet.