Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Set Apart

When I began my blog, I felt it would be a venue for sharing my thoughts in writing. I planned to keep it separate from another thread of my writing life. Now, I have been rethinking that decision and want to share more fully with you!
Since December of 2008, I have been a volunteer online staff writer for Rest Ministries (RM). For years before that, I was encouraged by this Christian site and what it has to offer. RM was founded by Lisa Copen as a means to support those who live with chronic pain and/or chronic illness. The web site is a resource of many dimensions but one resource is its posting of daily devotionals. These are available to be read online, via subscription, or via download to one’s Kindle. All the devotional writers live with chronic health challenges and write from the perspective of their own journeys through the maze of pain and trials.
Rest Ministries’ main web site:
Today’s posting of one of my devotionals:
If you or any friend live with chronic pain, illness, or challenges, I highly recommend the site and pray you will find encouragement there.
I am posting my devotional text as a blog entry. May you be blessed by its message.
Allowing Jesus to Woo Me When I Am Set Apart in the  Desert 
“Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor, [bitterness] a door of hope. There she will respond as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt” 
(Hosea 2:14-15).
None of us like being set apart as a result of health challenges. When this journey takes us into a true wilderness experience, apart with only the Lord, persevering becomes a deep priority.
I am reminded that after Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan, and God the Father’s anointing approval for His Son to begin His public ministry, that the Holy Spirit led Jesus immediately into the desert where He was taunted and tempted.

The Father allowed it. He knew that He could trust His Son. He knew that there would be more taunting during the ensuing three years and unto the Cross where His death reconciled each of us to the Father.
When I find myself set apart in the desert, what if my perspective could take notice of the One who is with me rather than the potential struggling in the wasteland? God knows that He can trust me. I choose to trust Him. He also wants to entrust me with gifts–love notes that only He can convey in this place set apart.
Jesus came against his desert temptations with the Word of God. “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only’” (Matthew 4:10). I have not only the Word [Scripture], but the Word Himself within me helping me to hold steady in His care. Is it hard? Yes, the enemy is near attempting to taunt me.
Does God help me? Yes, if I refuse to wiggle off the Vine where I will lose my focus and His nourishment. The riches that God wants to reveal to me are where He is dwelling. His abundance does not run out in the desert because He is the abundance. Remembering this is how my hope is strengthened and where we will remain until such time I have received what He wants to convey.
Prayer: Lord, I choose to be where You lead me. When in the desert and set apart, hold me steady within the grace-filled wellspring of your Presence. Amen.

Lynn's photo - near Galway, Ireland -  1979

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Fourth of July Nostalgia

The impetus for this blog post came unexpectedly on July 1. I was pulling a favorite sweat shirt over my head, the one with the word, PHILADELPHIA, in medium-sized print across its front. It was a drizzly Pacific Northwest day, perfect for staying cozy inside. As I zipped up my jeans, I was mentally back in Philadelphia during the summer of July, 1990 and in the store where I had purchased the shirt. The days of that 8 week trip began to resurface. There were many who made the steps I took -- steps amidst the landmarks that were the origin of our United States of America -- among the most memorable of my life.

It was not my first time to be on the east coast of the United States. I had lived there at different times during my growing up years. I had also worked in Washington, D.C. as a young adult. I love the history prevalent in those areas and my own history that makes them a part of me.

That journey began when I was awarded a scholarship to travel for the purpose of writing curriculum for my students -- curriculum based on the history of our beloved country. What a God ordained gift this was to me.

In my reverie moments, I recalled other Fourth of Julys spent in these surroundings. When I was a child, my family [along with many others] would sit on the lawn of the Washington monument to watch the fireworks display. That was before the current holiday concerts and television coverage in D.C. marking the date -- all fine -- but I also loved the simpler times of celebration. During my trip in 1990, I spent the evening of the Fourth of July on the grounds of Williamsburg in a small cottage, sitting with a woman and graduate students she was mentoring that summer. As the drum and fife corps marched down the pavement and past her window, we went out to the front yard and watched the fireworks beautifully displayed in this breathtaking setting.
My memories stretched on over this time frame of which I write and American history’s timeline from 1607 through the Civil War and on into the present day landmarks of our nation’s capital: Jamestown, Williamsburg, Monticello, Gettysburg, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Plymouth, Massachusetts. I was steeped in our country’s past, each stop and stay as a candle burning brightly, illuminating growth and struggles.
I felt deep appreciation for those who took it upon themselves, for various reasons, to build “the land of the free and the home of the brave”. Not all were free during those years and some still fight for freedoms but we have a blueprint and goals. If we are wise, we can learn from our history as we reach towards the skies with our red, white, and blue hopes for a stronger nation.
I look at the dedication and dreams of those who set foot here over four hundred years ago and those who followed. Each carried a light and gifts to contribute, as do each of us. What better time to ponder what we can give than on this celebration day as we thank God for, and ask Him to bless America!

 Sing with the Wind 
Here. . .where the ageless hills reach upward
to the ageless stars. . .here where a century
is measured as a day. . .I hold these numbered
years called life within my trembling hands
. . .these fragile years touched with wonder
and with mystery. . .
               there seems to be so little time
in which to learn the purpose for our living
. . .and yet. . .in the changeless pattern of
things that are to be. . .there must be both
meaning and purpose. . .or we would be insen-
sitive to the healing power of beauty . . .
and the sustaining power of love. . .
                         perhaps I am here to touch but 
a single heart. . .or to fill a single need. . .
or to share my strength with one who needs 
a shield against a hostile world. . .
                        I do not know. . . perhaps it is 
destined that I should not know. . .but. . .
another may know. . .
                            and understand. . .
                                                  and be grateful.
---Winston O. Abbott

Here, in song, is a tribute to those whose labors formed our nation and a reminder to each of us to keep the flame of freedom’s hope burning brightly for each other and for our country.

performed by Linda Eder