LUKE SIX – BLESSED WORDS

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READ LUKE SIX
This chapter is filled with so much meat. It begins by discussing the Pharisees insistence on not working on the Sabbath. Such things as eating some gathered corn from the field or healing the sick from their infirmity were considered labor by the elders of the church. Jesus quickly set them straight by stating that He was the Lord of the Sabbath. Those words must’ve stung deeply, as they were seen as a threat to the church itself.

By this time, Jesus had chosen all twelve of His disciples. They indeed were helpful to His ministry, as many of our own church elders can be of help to our officiating pastors. Jesus was a man and because of that He got tired and hungry. He needed time to pray, to rest and take nourishment just like we do. On the other hand, He is also God and could’ve easily provided for those needs, but it wasn’t part of His mission on earth.

We see in this chapter that Jesus prayed a lot. As our example, we can glean much from this. God is available to hear our prayers at a moment’s notice. We don’t always take advantage of that.

Jesus and his band of disciples covered a lot of territory. The crowds were growing. People came to be healed, out of curiosity and because the message was one they had longed to hear.

The Beatitudes are listed in this chapter. “Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh,” was one of them. These were akin to the proverbs of old, but they carried an entirely new meaning. He said things like, “Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.”  These words were foreign to them, but they certainly held their attention.

Jesus must’ve been an exemplary speaker. His voice would have to carry to great lengths to reach the many in His audience. Imagine the voice of God speaking directly to them and us. He was nothing extraordinary to look at, yet he commanded the crowds. When He told them not to judge others, but to forgive them as we will be forgiven. He told them to be good fruit and to build their lives on the foundation of God. By doing so they would not be shaken.

Jesus was bringing that foundation back to the people. He came to establish His kingdom in our hearts. Let us continually stay rooted in His Word so we continue to flourish and spread the Good News of salvation to all people.

We are definitely living in troubled times.  The church is being attacked on a daily basis.  The devil is using every tool in his toolbox to take advantage of us.  Don’t let Him in.

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BIG GIRLS DO CRY

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The feminist movement did great things for women.  It allowed them to leave the ties of housekeeping behind and venture into a whole new world.  It was a world which challenged their abilities, their brain power, their industriousness, their ingenuity, their organizational skills, their talent and their compassion.

Yes, I said compassion.  Now where in the world does that word fit into the world of commerce?  Up until then, compassion was woven into the fabric of nursing or caring for others.  The corporate world was and still is, filled with money driven men who were trying to change the world.  Not a lot of compassion was necessary  When women became part of that world, things changed a lot.

In the beginning men said women’s place was in the home, raising a family, tending to the chores of the day and caring for her husband.  The game was on.  Women started attending colleges for things other than secretarial or medical skills.  They proved that they could work under pressure and handle the stress of corporate life.  It wasn’t an easy road, because these same women still had the responsibilities of running a home, but they managed to do both.

Today women are deeply imbedded into politics.  They hold positions of power in the medical field, the corporate world, high finance and industry.  They have proven to be equal to men, but still fight the battle of equal pay. I’m sure that day isn’t far off

In the process, families have become accustomed to both parents working.   The material things that were put on the back burner until they could be paid for are now staples in most homes.  The home fires still burn, but most of the management of that place is being carried out by hired workers.

In the meantime, women have become equal with men.  In my opinion, they always were in God’s eyes.  Woman was created to be a partner for man.  I’m sure there are statistics that prove that men are the hunter/gatherers and women, the caregivers, simply because of the way they are made up physically.  Women are sensitive, intuitive and have the ability to listen.  The tenderness of their hearts is something that continues to exist, even though they try to put on an armor of toughness.  Women cry.  Yes, so do men, but women seem to do it more often.

As women take on some of the roles of their counterparts, they’re expected to be tough,  put their emotions aside and act like a man.  However, even in a society that wishes to determine their own gender, men are men and women are women.  The differences were designed to compliment each other.

Women do have a softer side.  Our emotions are often worn on our sleeves.  Our compassion is evident in the way we work with others and live with them and should be considered a medal of honor.  It’s not an attack on your character to say you can cry if you need to.  There will be days when the pressure of work gets in the way of family – when the demands of travel take you from those you love – when the extra hours of work keep you from kissing your children goodnight.  It’s OK to feel bad about those things.

God made tears for a purpose.  They come out when we grieve, when we’re frustrated or angry and even when we’re happy. The silent tears you pour into your pillow each night do not go unnoticed.

There’s someone who understands those feelings.  Jesus wept.  He knows all about sorrow.  He understands our pain.  He is also our comforter.  He hears our prayers and dries our tears, but He allows us to  bring all our burdens to Him, so he can carry them for us.

 

 

 

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WISDOM

” The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.”  Proverbs 9:10

Dear, Lord,

You know all things.  Nothing is hidden from you. You are the only consistent in our lives.  I pray that you guide our leaders to proceed with dignity and fairness.  Two people have been dragged through the mud and may never recover from what’s happened over the past few weeks.  Please give the men and women in the position of passing judgment, the wisdom to do your will.  Help us all to accept what is happening and what will happen because of these events.  You are also with every one of us. You’ve judged each of us with fairness and abundance of grace, giving us a freedom we don’t deserve.  May your Word be upheld.  May your will be done, in Jesus name.  Amen!

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IN YOUR DREAMS

“And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:”Acts 2:17

I am known to have some really weird dreams. Some of them have led to a solution of a problem, such as the time we had three wonderful actresses audition for the role of the White Queen in Narnia. I went to bed that night wishing we could use all of the girls. I dreamed about a White Queen with three heads and one body. We actually wound up going with it

I’ve had dreams that raise the hairs on the back of my neck. There were those that seemed so real, I would wake in a cold sweat believing they were true. I’ve dreamed in technicolor as well as black and white. I’ve dreamed of those long ago departed and the living as well. They often come together in my dreams.

I believe the days of prophesies regarding our salvation have been fulfilled. However there is still that one book in the Bible – Revelation – which points to the end of time. Are we living in those days right now? Are there still prophesies to be fulfilled? We will not know until it happens, because God tells us that He’s the only One with that knowledge. In any case, we need to be prepared. Our hearts and minds must be focused our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus. When the day of judgment comes, we will be held accountable. Justice will finally prevail.

There is no question in my mind that we’re living in the end times. The Word of God has pointed to what things will be like right before Christ returns. That day can be frightening or it can be more majestic and wonderful than anything we could ever dream up on our own. Paradise is waiting for those who trust and believe in God. Satan can’t defeat Him. He’s already been defeated.

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RESTORATION

 

ART & POETRY BY PAUL & KATHY BOECHER©

The paint is peeling, windows cracked, a shutter hangs on tight,

One lost the battle long ago, it lost its will to fight,

The whitewashed fence could use some love, the grass needs cutting too,

It seems there is no life inside, but that just isn’t true.

 

This house once held a family, but now there’s only one,

A sweet, old, white haired woman waits and hopes someone will come,

She sits in her old rocking chair, recalling days gone by,

She thinks of days when she was young, a tear then fills her eye.

 

The days grow short, the time flies by, she thinks of heaven more,

The life is being sapped from her, death’s knocking at her door,

But still she waits – anticipates a friendly face or voice,

To break up the monotony which never was her choice.

 

We’ll all grow old and suffer loss, our dreams may shatter too,

We will  long for conversation, some laughs would also do,

The aging process isn’t fun for those who cling to life,

But having folks around you will eliminate the strife.

 

When lonely years and constant tears become your daily fare,

When looking out a window cannot take away your care,

It’s time to look within yourself, see what you still possess,

You can still recall your blessings, then joy will acquiesce.

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Cardboard fan in stable condition after being hit by foul ball

This is a share from Bluebird of Bitterness.  

From The Onion. BOSTON—Assuring Red Sox Nation that the cutout would make a full recovery, General Manager Brian O’Halloran told reporters Friday …

Cardboard fan in stable condition after being hit by foul ball
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HELP! I’M STUCK IN MY SHELL!!

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I’ve always had issues with my self image.  I’m not sure what caused it, but it may have to do with a need to please everyone.  I now realize that giving up my own thoughts in favor of friendship is not healthy.  I may even have gone to the opposite extreme, feeling that my ideas are the only ones that hold any merit.  In either case, I’ve often found solace in retreating into my shell.

With the way the world is currently turning, depression is hitting an all time high.  Prior to the pandemic, we only had to concern ourselves with faltering health issues –  getting our children from here to there – earning enough to get from one pay check to another – and whether we would get out of bed in the morning.  There were other things too.  Many face really tough problems like cancer, pending treatments, loss of a loved one, a broken marriage, addiction, unwanted pregnancy, a devastating financial loss or any number of pain filled matters.

When our world spins out of control, as it has for the past few years, our natural inclination is to hide from it.  We retreat to our own world and often become a part of the problem. However, sometimes it’s good to step away from life as we know it today.  In our distancing or in our shell, there can be the makings of a beautiful gem.  The clam that creates a priceless pearl isn’t going to change the world, but for those who take a moment (not forever) to retreat, regroup, renew, refresh and restore, there is hope for the future.

God has promised us a future.  His Word is filled with passages to confirm that.  This world is just a temporary place.  It isn’t always a good place.  It’s often shadowed with darkness and fearful situations, but we have been added to the population for a purpose.  Each one of us has something to offer.  If we simply stay in that shell, no one will ever know the beauty we can bring.  No one will see our uniqueness.  We all have the power to change things, but we won’t if we stay locked in that shell of self pity.

It’s time to make yourself known.  You are special.  You are a masterpiece created by the God of the Universe.  You can make changes, even if they’re small.  Just do it.

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MONDAY TO DO LIST

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I grew up thinking that Mondays were like getting a fresh start. Now I don’t even know what day it is.  One of my biggest issues with our six month incarceration is a lack of memory on who I am, where I am, what am I going to do next and what time it is.  I know I’m not alone in this.

If you are in the work force you have an edge.  You’re generally on a prescribed schedule.  You look forward to the weekends.  The days on either side of those weekends,, often get lost when you’re retired.  Having a schedule keeps us grounded.  It helps define what we’re going to do with each day.  If you work from home, you must discipline yourself to a whole new set of rules in order stay on top of it.

When you’re old, time is taking you one day closer to death.  Isn’t something to look forward to?  I guess when you know you’re life won’t really end in death, but life eternal in Paradise, it isn’t such a bad thought.  Still, while we are inhabitants of planet earth, we need to have a plan.

God has already made a blueprint which includes all the elements surrounding our days.  He knows what’s best for us and provides for us.  Yet he wants us to have order each day.  He wants us to succeed in our goals. He wants us to prosper.  He also wants us to depend on Him for achieving those things.

So, because of that relationship, it’s good for us to plan  I’ve compiled a to do list that might accompany the list of planned events.  I’m sure you can think of others to add to it.

  • Find time to listen to someone.  Get to know them and show them that you’re interested in them.
  • Look for the best in others, even if you don’t always agree.  Try to understand why someone cut you off on the highway, rather than assuming he’s a jerk.
  • Share something – a good book, a funny joke,  smile, your time.
  • Tell someone why you love Jesus and how much He loves the world.
  • Turn over the tough stuff to God.
  • Spend time reading God’s message to you through His Word.
  • Put others needs before your own.
  • Remember that God is with you.  When things get really difficult, He will be there to carry you.
  • Do your best, know that you can do even better, try, don’t give up.
  • Pray.

It’s Monday.  The start of a new week can be filled with great joy and optimism or filled with depression and fatalism, depending on your mindset.  I think God wants us to find joy in the little things.  Let’s start today.

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WOULDN’T IT BE NICE?

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ART & INSPIRATION FROM PAUL & KATHY BOECHER©

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could simply erase the events of the past?

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Mondays indicated a new start – a fresh beginning?

If all the world could take one minute, one second to take a deep breath and say goodbye to yesterday – if all our troubles would melt like lemon drops and streets would be paved with gold – is it all simply a dream or can it actually happen?

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if hatred was a word in the Dictionary which had become obsolete?

If only there was a place to which we could escape and find complete peace –

No anger, no strife, no conflict, no uncontrollable rage –

Where everyone was of the same mind,

Without fear of retaliation –  hopelessness – depression?

When we’re children, we believe in the unbelievable.  Our faith sustains us for a while, until we become a citizen of the world.  That childlike faith becomes tarnished by what we see, what we hear and what goes on around us.  By the time we reach our adult years, many hearts have turned black and hopeless by the noise.

Our innocence has been sapped by terror.  We’ve become hardened to the change occurring around us. We are numbed by it.  When this happens, we’ve become victims of the tenacity of evil and terrorism.  We have succumbed to its original intention – to take away our freedom of thought, words and deeds.

Wouldn’t it be nice if Jesus came to earth today, to judge the world?  He will come again and when He does, the trumpets will sound.  The angels will sing with glorious praises to the King.  Heaven will open to all believers and they will finally have peace.  At last it will be more than nice.

 

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SUNDAY PRAYER

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Dear Holy, God,

You are the bright and shining star.  You make the birds to sing and the waters to spring up and rain pour down to nourish your creation.  My heart delights in your name.

I wonder sometimes, what you must think of this world.  How did we stray so far from your glory?  How did things get so messed up.  You created the earth to be a paradise for all its inhabitants and one act of disobedience set the wheels of sin into motion.  From that day forward, paradise was lost.  Still, you made a covenant with man, to send a Messiah – a mighty warrior who would wash away the filth of sin and bring all people back into your grace.

We certainly don’t deserve any special treatment.  We continue to infect this planet with the darkness of sin. Our wrongdoings are countless.  On our own, we’re clothed in one common denominator.  We will all die.  Yet, because you are also a graceful God, we can look forward to life eternal in the paradise you intended for us in the first place.

I know I will soon face death.  It is one of the inevitable facts of life.  I’m not afraid of death.  I’m more concerned with those I will leave behind.

Please, dear, Lord, look down on your creation.  Have mercy on us once again.  I know you already paid the supreme price to forgive our sins, but we still need your constant attention.  Be at our sides as we face the unknown.  Be our guide and walk ahead of us – showing us the way you want us to live.  Walk behind us, lest we fall.  Support us with your truth, the Holy Bible.  You alone are our refuge and strength.  With you all things are possible.  Amen!

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RABBIT HOLES

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Some quotes from “Alice in Wonderland,” by Lewis Carroll.  I think he must’ve been looking at the new normal

‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.’

“If everybody minded their own business, the world would go around a great deal faster than it does.”

“My dear, here we must run as fast as we can, just to stay in place. And if you wish to go anywhere you must run twice as fast as that.”

“I wonder if I’ve been changed in the night. Let me think. Was I the same when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little different. But if I’m not the same, the next question is ‘Who in the world am I?’ Ah, that’s the great puzzle!”

 

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SATURDAY CHUCKLES

We all need a good laugh, especially those who have lived a long time and are still pushing on.  If we can’t laugh at ourselves and the world around us, we would surely be crushed by all of it.

 

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SUNFLOWER PAINTINGS

I wasn’t able to go along, due to my asthma.  It seems harder to breathe these days.  I did manage to paint at home however and came up with the painting at the top.  Longing for the days when the air is clean and fresh and no asthma triggers are out there.  The rest of Paul’s small group of plein aire painters did a great job.

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MY LITTLE CORNER OF THE WORLD

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A hiding place – a temporary refuge from the daily grind –

From the madness of the world and the noise of angry voices.

My heart sometimes breaks at all that’s happening in my world and then something wonderful happens to remind me that none of it will last.  It’s a brief interlude which flows like a miniscule whisper in comparison to the breath of God.

I, like many others, have been going through ups and downs during this pandemic.  I understand now what manic depression must be like, when I go from one extreme to another in a fraction of a second.  I seem to be lost at times and wonder what will happen next and the next minute I find hope in God’s plan for this world.

Where is your little corner?  Do  you have a place where you can go to flee the cries of resistance and discontent?  We all have our alone places – those defense mechanisms, – a bullwark of sorts –  where we can simply squash the sounds of hatred, bullying, fear mongering, racism, lies and vibrations that fly through the air and into our ears.

My maternal grandmother would sit on a log in the woods to get away from the pain of losing one of her children.  I can almost envision her screaming her laments to God.  My husband finds his quiet place in the beauty of God’s creation.  He can soak up contentment, when all the world is closing in on him, by breathing in the fresh air and observing animals and birds in their own habitat. During one of the most difficult times in his life, he kept a journal which reads much like the Psalms.

Some find peace in the midst of the noise.  They seem to believe that more noise will smother the other, just like a junkie or alcoholic seeking solace from just one more hit.  I used to retreat to reading books.  Now I fall asleep doing so.  I’m not sure if it’s because my attention span is wavering or if my real peace comes from sleep. We can stuff our ears with cotton, wear headphones and listen to music that drowns out the craziness.  We can stay away from the media.  We can avoid going out in public.  Still the cacophony, the discord, the pandemonium will seep through the barricades and make itself known once more.

We wonder if our own voice has any merit.  We even think that our words aren’t heard.  We fade into a corner of our own making and shield ourselves from the negativity, but there is really only one source of peace and that comes through God’s Word.  It is our little corner of the world, because within its pages we find complete and utter sanctuary.  We can also be assured that our voice will be heard by the author of that book.

“If the person you are talking to doesn’t appear to be listening, be patient.
It may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear.” —

Winnie the Pooh

 

 

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Julie’s Friday Funny

I may have posted this before, but it’s still funny.

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SONSHINE

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ART & POETRY BY KATHY BOECHER©

Paul is taking his plein air painting group to a sunflower field to paint today.  One of my favorite flowers to paint – not only because of their beauty, glory and delicious color, but because you can’t really mess up a painting of these fancy flowers.  I declined going with the group, because of my continuous allergies, so maybe I’ll have to paint one at the house today.

As darkness fills the streets this day,

Think of the price it cost to pay,

For freedom to express your dreams,

To voice our thoughts without extremes,

To thank the ones who fought so hard,

Who came back wounded, hurt and scarred,

They sacrificed the greater good,

Their place in battle strongly stood,

They let their light so strongly burn,

Remember what for us they earned,

The freedom to defend our cause,

The peace we’ve gained through death and loss,

Reflections of the Son of God,

Their actions let us now applaud.

 

 

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I MISS THE HUGS

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It used to be that hugs were natural.  Now we must be careful not to send the wrong message.  Social distancing has made it impossible to show affection, to encourage or show concern with an embrace.  We’ should be conscious of how others feel, especially when it comes to children or vulnerable individuals.  On the other hand, I think we all inwardly crave hugs from time to time.

I come from a long line of huggers.  Most of my aunts and uncles had no problem with planting a big one on us.  Part of it was a show of love.  Part was because we hadn’t seen each other for a while.  Mostly it was because it was how we were raised.  Being part of the theatre community, it’s also quite natural for me to hug fellow cast members, directors and colleagues.  The same is true of fellow believers in Christ. We become part of an extended family.  Add to that, our separation from each other, due to the pandemic.

It’s really sad in a way, because we all need reassurance from time to time.  We’re slowly losing some of our means of communicating by not being able to hug.  Part of that has been inflicted upon us as a means to protect us.  Part is caused by society as a whole.

I’m all for being conscious of others’ feelings.  I certainly wouldn’t want to create any insecurity in another individual with an unwanted hug.  It’s hard for us old fogies to give up what once was a sincere demonstration of caring, rather than a sinister or thoughtless deed.  Now we must wait for someone else to initiate the hug.  If that’s the case, we’ll soon be longing for them and no hugs will happen.  What a sad thought.

Lord, I ask that you end this period of isolation soon.  Whether it be through a new vaccine, a sure way to cure any disease or simply so that we don’t lose our ability to communicate true friendship to those we care about.  Only you can bring us the answers.  I pray for you intercession and constant presence in all situations, in the name of our Savior, Jesus.  Amen!

 

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BACK TO NATURE

ART & POETRY BY PAUL & KATHY BOECHER©

A blue-grey sky, rolls swiftly by, the clouds entwine with glory,

The road is paved with gilded stones, that tell an endless story,

A husky mule, a rugged man, set out to see what nature brings,

They take the path less travelled and fall on angels’ wings,

The beauty of the landscape, enriches this sweet scene,

As light reflects on every rock, new life will reconvene,

An eagle watches from afar – takes in your every move,

While you may falter, He is there to guide you and reprove,

When days grow long and life wears on, we search for simple things,

So take a road less traveled and fly on angels’ wings.

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NATURAL DIVERSION

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My friend Julie has been posting some amazing pictures of baby bunnies in her garden.  Maybe this lockdown has caused us to look out our windows or into the depths of our own backyards to divert us from all the ugly in life.

I’ve been watching the squirrels who have just recently discovered a way into our bird feeders.  One of them is particularly agile.  He’s found a way to balance from the shepherd hook to the feeder and empty the seeds to the ground for all his buddies to enjoy, while he takes in several of his own.

I remembered trying different remedies in the past, like greasing the pole with Pam. It was fun watching the squirrels almost reach the top only to slide down. OK, so I’m easily amused.

I also recalled a time about 30 years ago, when I was getting extra perturbed with these little squirrel thieves invading our feeder.  In doing so, they were costing us a fortune in bird seed and discouraging the birds from enjoying their meal.

I’m really not a violent person and I don’t hunt or have never used a firearm, but this event really got my dander up.  Paul had a pellet gun in the bedroom closet.  I retrieved it, read the instructions on the box, loaded it and readied myself for battle.  One squirrel was noticeably brazen in his attempts, so I aimed the gun and was ready to fire, when my finger got caught in the spring mechanism and pinched it into a nice little blood blister.

I went forward.  I stayed the course.  I tried again.  The squirrel was stunned.  His arms reached out as he apparently took his last breath.  He then  made a very dramatic swan dive and fell to the ground.  I was devastated.  I’d never killed a living thing outside of an ant or two.  Guilt began to consume me.  I thought I might be able to revive the poor thing and as I neared his lifeless body, he suddenly came back to life and ran into the woods.  My guilt left me like a cat out of you know where.

That night, as I tried to get to sleep, thoughts of attempting to kill that little critter entered my brain.   I fell into a deep sleep only to come up with a doozy of a dream.  There I sat, on top of the bird feeder with my hands and feet bound.  Below me were hundreds of little squirrels surrounding me with pellet guns.  Divine retribution, I guess.

 

 

 

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A SUDDEN SURGE

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Have you ever just opened up the floodgates and let the tears fall where they may? You may have no logical reason for doing so, but with things as they are in our world right now, I seem to be prone to mild amounts of falling saline from my eyes.

We write positive thoughts, we pray with hope, we try to cover up the noise of the world, but somehow it continues to make its way into the deepest parts of our souls.  We can cover our sadness with a mask, but that is merely hiding what’s going on within.  We can live in our solitude and accept it or we can venture out with the courage of a mouse approaching a piece of cheese in a trap.  We know that dangers lurks at every corner, but we’re willing to take the chance.

It seems that no amount of hiding under a rock is going to keep us from the clutches of this nasty virus.  Even when we follow all the rules, there’s a chance of being exposed. Those of us with normally positive attitudes, have fallen into the rabbit hole called depression.

Tears are a natural way to wash some of our sadness away.  They can also be a product of extreme joy and laughter.  When I think about tears, I can’t help but be reminded of Mary, the mother of our Savior.  Her tears must’ve been constant when her Son endured the cross – when His smitten body was removed and place in a tomb – when she believed she would never see Him again.  Oh, what joy when she saw His resurrected body.  That moment of ecstasy gave way to tears of joy in just a few short days.

Life is filled with ups and downs.  This period of waiting is like being tucked away in the wilderness for a time.  In every wilderness written about in the Bible, there were always lessons to be learned through the wandering.  I pray that even though our hearts may be heavy right now, there will be a new day.  God will provide an answer – an end  – a vaccine – a different way of living.  The lessons we learn through all this seem unknown right now, but God never fails.  He never lies.  His promises are sure.  His will is going to be done.  Have faith, cry if you have to and know that God is in control.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight your paths.”  Proverbs 3:5-6

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THE OTHER SIDE OF THE TRACKS

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ART & INSPIRATION BY PAUL & KATHY BOECHER©

What are your thoughts when you see a trail of trains cars, unmoved, contained?  Is someone living in there?  Is there any hope within?

When we lived in the city, there were so many of those container cars.  In fact, when not in use, they would be stacked in piles of four or more, to await being pulled into use again.  It was kind of like looking at a huge city of vacant apartment buildings.  Maybe they were.

Some folks are buying used container cars and repurposing them into places to live.  I imagine them to be inhabited at times by the homeless, wayfarer, the hobo, the runaway.  Imagine how it feels to live tucked away in a steel box just to stay warm for the night.  Imagine what goes through the mind as you hear spray paint cans and disruptive voices surrounding you on all sides.

Think of the possibilities.  One or more of these inhabitants is running away from something.  The average Joe wouldn’t think of doing this, but those without ties, without responsibility, without money or food wouldn’t think twice.  When your plan is to escape; when you can no longer cope; when you’re- in a bad state emotionally, financially or spiritually – you need more than a box to survive.

There was a time in my life when the thought of living this way, was almost an actuality.  Our world had caved in and there was nothing left. We’d lost our home, vehicles, bank accounts, income and our retirement.  During those dark times, we imagined living in the streets or riding the rails.  We were ready though.  Our lives of putting our faith in God’s direction is what kept us afloat.

As we left bankruptcy court with only a few dollars in our pocket, we knew that He had a plan for us.  He provided an “angel” who sold us a house on a land contract, so we didn’t have to go through a credit report to achieve home ownership.  We also had a number of good friends who prayed for us and provided encouragement.

My long time as a volunteer drama coach led to a job teaching children – working with a children’s theater and eventually starting my own children’s theater.  My husband began wood sculpting for many other “angels” and that led to the start of his fine arts business.

There are times when we feel hopeless and helpless. Those are usually the moments we turn to God.  When things are going well, we tend to coast and take our blessings for granted.  I believe that these tests are all part of God’s greater plan for us.  Trusting in His unchanging love and His beautiful blueprint for our lives will allow us to get through the tough times – but don’t forget to praise Him when things are going well for you.

My legacy doesn’t matter. It isn’t important that I be remembered. It’s important that when I stand before the Lord, he says, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.’ I want to finish strong.”   James Dobson

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NEVER ALONE

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ART & POETRY BY KATHY BOECHER©

I’ve decided to pick up my paintbrush again.  I haven’t done any painting for over a year and maybe I can release some of the tension by doing so.  My husband is the artist, the teacher, the encourager.  He inspires me to continue.  So here’s my latest painting,  conceived mostly from my memories of my grandparents’ farm.  The peacefulness of that place reminds me of the way I feel under God’s protection.  The world holds no promise, but in Him, I know that my future is secure.

I need to be wrapped in the protection of God’s holy wings.

Each pinion gently lays over me – cuddling and nurturing.

The softness and strength are overwhelming.

He breathes His presence upon me and gives me life.

He speaks and I am comforted.

His touch is gentle yet full of power and strength.

His steadfastness feeds me – nourishes my soul – guards me from all evil.

His love for me is unfailing.  A love so great that it’s indescribable.

His tenderness is equal to His might.

I will never be alone as long as He is with me.

Be in my heart – my mind – my understanding.

Be with me in life so that I will know you fully when I meet you after death.

 

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TAKE A BREATH & COUNT TO TEN

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“Take a breath and count to ten.”  We’ve all said it at one time or another.  It sometimes works with children, but what about  adults?  How do we control our anger when faced with so much of it every day?  Anger usually comes from frustration, inability to communicate what we feel and a lack of compassion for one another.

We all need to take a moment to compose ourselves, before we speak or do something we will eventually regret.  But how do we do that when everyone else is so angry?  It might work to count to ten, but anger often rears its ugly head at about five.

We, the adults, are supposed to be setting the example for future generations.  Are we doing that?  Take a look at our current division in the political arena.  Take a look at most television shows, pitting one against another.  Observe the bullying going on in the workplace.  Watch the daily news filled with road rage, murder, assault, etc.

Why can’t we live in harmony?  Where’s the compassion for one another? Why does everything have to be a competition to see who’s the best?

Take a breath.

Count to ten.

Take another breath.

Keep your mouth shut for a while.

Count to a hundred if necessary,

or a thousand.

We all need to look for some balance.  We as human beings are going to get angry.  It’s part of our sinful nature.  However, if we look at the perfect example for what human behavior should look like, all we need do is turn to Jesus, the Son of God.  In His humanity, he displayed anger.  His anger was righteous however, since His house of worship was being infested by money changers and thieves. Corruption seems to show its ugliness even in the supposedly purest of places.

Still, Jesus the man also is God.  He inherited His Father’s righteous indignation, but He also was merciful.  Mercy seems to be a word that isn’t used much today, except in a court of law.  Mercy is akin to compassion, grace, leniency, kindness or sympathy.  Those terms have given way to cold heartedness, mercilessness, inhumanity, retribution and revenge.  We’ve been exposed to a lot of those terms lately.

What if Jesus showed no mercy to His accusers and simply zapped them straight to hell?  What if He never went to the cross and took on the burden of our sin so that we wouldn’t have to?  What if He was never born?  Think of the state our world would be in today, had He not taken on human form and died for us.

Have we become so engrained with anger that our opinion is the only one that counts?  Are we so bold as to think, we’re better than others?  Are we willing to listen, to communicate, to work together to solve problems, or are we looking only to make others look bad?  The world will always be ugly.  Sin still exists, but we have been bought and paid for by the blood of our Savior. We should start reflecting His personality.

Take a breath.

He took His last breath,

So that we could breathe forever.

 

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