GETTING BY

ART & POETRY BY PAUL & KATHY BOECHER©

With every passing day, I feel you close beside me.

You watch each step I take, and perfectly you guide me.

And when my feet should stray – when things get in my way –

You pick me up and carry me through each and every day.

Temptations all around – distracting and confusing,

The world deters my thoughts, but through it you are using,

My simple mind, my childlike faith, my heart, my soul, my all,

To share your love with others – to hear your righteous call.  

My life is just a breath, but it will never end.

You’ve given up your life for me.  You are my dearest friend.

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DOES BEING A CHRISTIAN GUARANTEE SMOOTH SAILING?


Why do bad things happen to good people? It’s a hard question to answer in a world that’s full of ugliness, hunger, pain, inhumanity, brutal death or hardship. It’s especially hard to answer for a Christian, because it may be assumed that we go through life without any of that, or that we are oblivious to it.

I wonder why some people have it all and others just scrape by. I hurt inside when I think of all the blood shed in countries living under cruel oppression. My heart aches when I hear of acts of a deranged mind taking the lives of others. Tears fall when a young person dies. When undeserved pressures plague those who trust in God, I wonder where God is in all of this.

God is in control of everything that happens in our universe. He placed the stars in the heavens and created all life that exists here. He planted each seed to grow and nourish His children. He provides for our daily bread – even when it’s just a crumb. On the other side of the coin – from the beginning of time, we’ve been disobedient to God. What we deserve is punishment, but God loves us and doesn’t want us to suffer. He provides a way for us. That WAY is Jesus. The ransom required was paid in full by Him. Our sin no longer holds us in chains. He’s given us the victory.

This world isn’t our permanent home. What’s waiting for us on the other side of eternity is where life begins. We’ve been given this time to grow our relationship with God. It’s a time for us to share our love for Him with others – to serve Him, by serving others – to face difficulties with Him as our counselor – to look forward to freedom from all the troubles of this world.

God is faithful and His love endures forever – even in times of trouble. That’s truth we can count on!

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MAKE ROOM FOR JESUS

ART & POETRY BY PAUL & KATHY BOECHER©

In our busy lives, time can become so full of things to do and plans to be made, that we often forget time for our Savior. What if He hadn’t left the comfort of heaven, the power of His throne, the majesty of His domain to die for us? Be sure to find time for Him. He has so much to offer.

Fears, depression, loss of hope, destitute, paralyzed,

Lost, lonesome, anxious, set aside, deterred,

Uncertain, worried, in the wilderness,

Yet, even then, we are surrounded by the love of God,

His might acts as a protective shield,

His power defends us against all enemies,

All of our negative thoughts disappear,

Our hope is restored, our faith renewed,

Knowing that we will never walk alone,

We will feel His presence,

As He enfolds,

Caresses,

Spreads His powerful wings over us,

He conquered death itself,

So we,

Could,

Live.

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THE GOOD OLD DAYS

I have to admit, Paul and I go way back. Maybe not this far, but our time together has been filled with ups and downs and wonderful memories like most marriages that occurred in the fifties and sixties. Marriage is looked upon in a different way today, but for us old fogies, we knew what was ahead, in spite of of innocence and foolishness. We muddled through the good and the bad, because it meant something to us – something that would last a lifetime. Reality has shown me that had we known what we would’ve endured in all our time together, we might have had second thoughts about ever entering into marriage, but aren’t the really important things in life worth fighting for?

Paul claims to be an 1800s man living inside of twentieth century body. He loves the primitive things in life like camping, hiking, trips of retreat into the woods, whittling on a stick and watching the clouds go by. He loves making things out of nothing. His inventive spirit led him through a life in the advertising business where his ideas were put to good use, but his heart would be much happier on the back of a horse riding through the mountains. I’m a city girl. Having moved several times during my young life, I longed for a home that would be in the same location with all the amenities. I preferred a vacation at the Holiday Inn to sleeping under the stars. I liked the idea of civilization and consistency.

Somehow the two of us managed to find common ground. The good old days, however, were not always so good. There were bills to pay, babies to care for, a mortgage, a few job changes, staying at home as a mom, finding the way through some very dark times. Yet our commitment to each other was always there.

This post isn’t about marriage really. What I hoped to convey is that the good old days are going to be days of today for our children and grandchildren. Every generation thinks theirs is the best. Each generation knows that isn’t true. There are always going to be flaws in the image. Our memories of what life was, soon get glossed over and we forget about the crud that occurred some 40, 50 or 60 years ago and we move on. When we walk with Jesus, every day is good even in times of trouble.

THESE ARE THE GOOD OLD DAYS!

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HOW MAJESTIC IS HIS NAME . . .

ART & POETRY BY PAUL & KATHY BOECHER

Over the clear, pure waters of a natural spring – His hand is there.

Within the pinnacles and crags of each mountain – His gentle whisper is heard.

In the quiet of a desert – the turmoil of a sandstorm – He is the oasis that gives relief.

The wind can stir and be still at His command – fires and floods cannot consume Him.

The ocean offers no threat to Him, though waves rage and overpower others.

He knows my inner being. He can sense each pain in my heart. He feels my pain.

He has suffered with me and yet He has brought me peace in suffering.

He loves me with an enduring love unknown to man – perfect – without conditions.

He is my God – the Everlasting Father – the King of Grace.

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A SMALL GALLERY SHOW

ART BY PAUL BOECHER

Today I’m sharing some of Paul’s work simply for your enjoyment. No words can describe, so I will leave that up to you.

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YOU HAVE SUCH A FEBRUARY FACE

February in Minnesota, usually conjures up what is commonly known as “Cabin Fever.” Since we went into lockdown almost a year ago, this February is just more of the same. Cabin fever has been the norm for most of us during this time. February can create long faces or give the glory of God’s creation a fresh new look with lots of snow to play in. That is if you can still play.

When you’re a child, fresh snow that’s perfect for making snow forts and snowballs is delightful. When you’re beyond 70 it brings added aches and pains, anticipation of more and sadness that you can’t help in the removal of it. When our lives reach the winter of our existence, it’s even harder to put on a happy face. For one thing, our faces have been frozen into blank expressions. Our eyes have lost their sparkle. Our bodies just can’t keep up anymore.

This year I don’t think the elderly are the only ones that feel that way. We’re all experiencing the effects of a long winter season – much longer than any of us had ever anticipated. For a year we’ve been promised relief in a couple weeks or a month or two. We’re in a sort of desert period at the moment – spending time in the wilderness. This should be a time for us to contemplate, create, make future plans, look at our lives – repent of our wrongdoing and turn our cares over to God. Instead we’ve turned into impatient, frustrated, angry and often hostile individuals.

In spite of the pandemic, I think we all struggle through the mounds of crud in our lives every single day. We often face obstacles one right after the other, but God does have a purpose for all of it. Still it isn’t easy getting through those difficulties alone. When God is our strength, we can endure just about anything.

Dear Consistent God,

You have blessed me with another day of life. I thank you for that and for the opportunity to share my love for you with others. You are the only reason for living, because you give purpose to everything we do here on this planet. You’ve already established a plan for my life and for all your creation. I am part of that big picture, just as everyone of my fellow men and women. We cannot make it through the seasons of life without you. You alone are our strength and inspiration. Your love comes with no strings – it’s unconditional and forgiving. Thank you for all your blessings. AMEN!

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THE FIELDS ARE RIPE

ART & POETRY BY KATHY BOECHER©

His life was a mess. He was tattered and torn, still he slowly approached the door,

He had lost every hope. He was broken and worn. Yet he felt there had to be more,

With all of his might, with his life now exposed, he trembled within and without,

His right hand now raised, with fist tightly closed, he knocked for someone to come out.

His hand shook in fear as he heard a voice speak; “What do you want, my son?

His heart beat so fast and his courage grew weak. He stuttered, “I shouldn’t have come.”

Before he could leave, he listened once more to the comfort he gained from the voice,

“Confess and have faith, I’ll open the door, it’s up to you now – it’s your choice.”

The words were too easy. There had to be more, but still he couldn’t resist

Unworthy to speak to this merciful man, he finally checked off his list.

“The path I’ve been on took me into despair, I don’t deserve anything good,

The folks that I’ve hurt, they no longer care. I’m alone and misunderstood.”

“I’ve nowhere to turn, I need to confess. I simply must empty my heart.

Please let me come in. I’m in such distress. My life could use a new start.” 

The door slowly opened, with hands stretched out wide. Wounds still remaining there,

And then he invited the poor soul inside and released him from all of his care.

“My child, I’ve been waiting for you to come home. Now stay right beside me today

For now and forever you’ll never more roam. In my house is a room – please stay,

With tears in his eyes, the man fell to his knees, he knew he was where he should be,

For once he was blind, but now he could see. With this man he finally felt free.

“Now don’t be afraid, just listen to me, I’ve something important to say,

Your road has been hard – I’ve been there, you see, but you have returned today.

I have heard your request, I know all your needs. All you had to do was come back.

I love you, my son, I’ve erased your misdeeds. Your soul is no longer black.”

God loves everyone and he wants every soul to dwell in heaven some day,

Simply seek, knock and ask – He will open the door and wash all our sins away,

Praise God for salvation and serve others too. He wants you to share this good news,

Go and love one another, lay your troubles on Him, you really have nothing to lose.

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THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT

SATURDAY MATINEE AT THE MOVIES

What do you see in this photograph from the 1950s? To me, it’s a memory of Saturdays in my childhood. Each of those days would find me and every other kid in the neighborhood using our hard earned allowance to purchase a ticket to an all day matinee filled with fun – watching the same movie at least twice – newsreels – cartoons and previews of coming attractions. The theatre was packed with kids and we always met new friends by the time the curtain closed. There was almost as much interaction going on in the theatre seats as there was on the screen.

Movie theatres in those days were masterpieces. They were decorated with gilded cherubs and frightening gargoyles. The velvet curtain was red and spanned the entire width of the theatre. There was only one room which held a thousand screaming kids, tossing popcorn and consuming lots of sugar – a perfect prescription for chaos. By the time we were finished with our Saturday adventure, we undoubtedly left the building much slower than we entered. The soles of our shoes were coated with spilled soda pop and JuJuBees as popcorn stuck in our hair. What a day of fun.

It was the perfect, cheapest way to entertain your children on a Saturday. You didn’t have to worry about them being abducted. Just give them a dollar and they’d have the time of their life while their parents attended to shopping, house cleaning, fixer upping or just spending some quiet time alone.

I learned some valuable lessons in the seats of that old theatre. I watched episodic adventures that beckoned us to return the next week to see what would happen next. I enjoyed the technicolor movies the best and when Cinemascope came along it was like being right inside the screen. Great story plots unfolded, some not so great. Musicals took us to a different world where people burst into song and dance for no particular reason. The elaborate epics led to productions that continued to outdo each other. The noir mysteries were enticing too. I learned phrases like, “you dirty rat – I wouldn’t give you the skin off a grape – Well, you’re about as romantic as a pair of handcuffs – With my brains and your looks, we could go places.” I wasn’t sure what any of those phrases meant, but they taught me how to do a good Brooklyn accent. The beginning of my actor training. Watching all those stars like, Bogart, Bacall, Cary Grant, Hedy Lamar, John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara, made me long to be a star myself one day.

When we got home from the movies, we’d spend the evening listening to the radio. I guess we were bound to entertainment as much as the kids are today. It’s just a slightly different media. Although I have to admit, I’ve returned to those old movies in this time of isolation. They give me a feeling of belonging I guess. Kind of like a security blanket. What goes around come around. I think I heard that in a movie.

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WHO CAN CHANGE THE CLIMATE?

In the book of Job, chapter 26 the suffering man Job speaks about the way God appears in nature and the power He controls, summing it all up in verse 14,“Behold, these are but the outskirts of His ways, and how small a whisper do we hear of Him! But the thunder of His power who can understand?”

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THE BREATH OF GOD

ART & POETRY BY PAUL & KATHY BOECHER©

The tears of God come rushing down to moisturize the earth,
The water fills the hardened ground with life and brings new birth.
The seeds that we have planted, lie dormant in the ground,
Until His precious water quenches souls without a sound,
He breathes His life into them and they flourish more each day,
Without God’s intervention, they’d perish or give way,
To each and every evil weed that strangles and destroys,
To temptation and those crafty lies that Satan oft deploys,
God’s garden is protected by His own beloved Son,
Who came to give back paradise, the victory He has won.

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PREPARED?

ART & POETRY BY PAUL & KATHY BOECHER

Skies of grey, tempered by peeks at the sun,

Intermittently drifting in and out,

We know it’s coming,

We’ve been prepared,

Winter, like aging is the final season,

We know it’s coming,

We’ve prepared,

We’ve confessed and repented,

Death is just a breath away,

Still, if we are grounded,

If we have faith,

If we live with God as our partner,

Death no longer holds its icy grip,

The cost,

Christ’s blood,

Perfect sacrifice,

Atonement,

Surrender to His love.

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THROW BACK THURSDAY – JEWELS OF DE NIAL

Last Thursday I posted information about a radio show I’m involved in. It’s called “Jewels of deNial,” and you can purchase tickets by going to https://northernstarz.org/shows Order your tickets and you will be sent a link to listen to the show. It’s quite funny. The show is the first in a series of adventures of three stubbornly, spunky, aging women in their 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. It was written by all three of us using examples from our own person experiences in the aging process. This episode finds the three Jewels looking for Valentine’s Day dates online, which is an adventure in itself. If you are so inclined, check it out. It will be on for another week.

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WHAT ARE YOU GIVING UP FOR LENT?

Lent is a period of penance and abstinence observed by many Christians. Lent is an homage to Jesus’ 40 days spent fasting in the desert in preparation for His earthly ministry.. The period of Lent usually begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Maundy Thursday. Celebrating the season of Lent began in 325 AD at the Council of Nicaea. This first gathering was composed of all the main Christian sects. Pope Gregory the Great created Ash Wednesday in the 600s, marking penitent Christians’ foreheads with ashes at a special service on that day. Wearing ashes was a biblical symbol of repentance and a reminder of one’s mortality. There is nothing written about Lent in the Bible, however it is a time of contemplation and repentance which is observed in reverence for the coming Passion season. God doesn’t require us to give things up in order to please Him, but it is a good time to look at our hearts, minds and souls and try to change old bad habits.

So in itself self-sacrifice isn’t wrong, it just isn’t necessary. Jesus came to earth for one purpose only and that was to redeem the human race from the chains of sin. He completed His mission and our sins are forgiven, but because we still hold the sinful nature in our human bodies, we need to come to Him daily and ask for forgiveness with true repentance.

Kind of like New Year’s Resolutions, we start off with good intentions, but often go back to our old ways within days, weeks, months or less. Just as fasting is a way to illustrate our faithfulness, it isn’t a necessary commodity in the process of our salvation.

So is it wrong to give something up for Lent? As with most traditions, they usually start with a good result in mind, but as time changes, so do ideas about old practices. The thing that God requires of us is that we believe the truth of the Bible and the price paid in full for our ransom. Even our very faith is a result of the Holy Spirit working in us. It’s all about God and what He’s done for us. Giving up is a personal choice and depends greatly on why you’re doing so. If the act of abstinence brings you closer to your Savior, this can help you admit your wrongdoings and thus demonstrate your sorrow over your sins. If you give something up to make yourself look better to others, you’ve diminished the work that Jesus already accomplished for you.

So what will you give up during this season of Lent?

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HOW DOES GOD SEE ME?

ORIGINAL ART & POETRY BY PAUL T. & KATHY BOECHER©

Shades of grey, crimson and yellow dot the landscape with a magical mist,

Covering a multitude of sins,

I wonder if this is how we look to God?

Covered with a veil of repentance and grief over past sins,

Shrouded in a haze of uncertainty,

No!

God looks at us and sees only His Son,

Jesus has accomplished what we cannot, ,

We no longer carry the weight of it,

The hidden,

The burden,

The blackness of sin,

Has all been washed away in the blood of the lamb,

No longer are we seeped in darkness,

No longer in fear,

God has forgiven the world,

Let His love shine through,

Bringing light to others.

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LOVE MEANS HAVING TO SAY YOUR SORRY

Throughout Old Testament history we hear about ashes being used as a sign of total repentance to God.  In Job 42:3–6, Job says to God: “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”  There are other occasions when the ceremonial act of repentance, sack cloth and ashes are used to outwardly show how much we need God for our salvation.

We are all sinners.  We’re born that way.  It’s part of our DNA and the only way to receive forgiveness is to go to God with repentant hearts and confess our sins.  Love does mean having to say you’re sorry – contrary to public belief – when it comes to God.

Ash Wednesday is a time for us to contemplate on our Savior’s ministry and the perfect love He has for all people.  He didn’t just appear for one specific sect or denomination.  He didn’t come to earth to save only Lutherans or Catholics.  His passion occurred to take away the sin of the world.

We don’t cover ourselves in ashes and sack cloth anymore, but this is the perfect time to look inward at the dirt within us and bring that darkness before Almighty God and simply ask for forgiveness.  He can’t wait to give it to us.  Out of gratitude for this amazing gift, we should then go and tell others of the way to heaven – through Jesus, Christ, the Savior of ALL!

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GET YOUR FILL

ART & POETRY BY PAUL & KATHY BOECHER

As we pass by quiet waters, longing for thirst to be quenched,

As we taste that sweet, clean liquid, all our sins will soon be drenched,

Our sight restored, our outlook new, our lips regain their luster,

Refreshed, sustained, alive once more, with words we cannot muster.

Within our hearts there is darkness, sin that must be washed away,

All the filth of inner dankness, rises from the depths each day,

There is nothing we can offer, not a thing that we can do,

To remove the stains of evil, only God can see us through.

He provides the perfect answer, He alone can fill the space,

He alone provides solutions, with His special brand of grace,

He has deemed our hearts forgiven, by the blood of His own Son,

Now relief is in our vision, with the Father we’re made one.

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SHROVE TUESDAY, FAT TUESDAY OR PANCAKE TUESDAY

Well, I found out something new this morning. Shrove Tuesday is also known as Pancake Tuesday, because it’s the day before Ash Wednesday and the season of repentance.  I had to know why pancakes were involved, since I’m not Catholic.  My Lutheran church family celebrates almost every season with potlucks or soup suppers.  So, the reason pancakes are part of this holiday is thus – since Lent was a time of fasting, folks wanted to get any temptations out of the house, like sugar, flour, butter, eggs – stuff that would lead them to being extravagant.  Good idea – yes!  I love pancakes.

Today is also known as Fat Tuesday for much the same reason.  However, it seems the philosophy of “eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow you may die” is more in play than giving things up for Lent.  Mardi Gras is the traditional time for this in the United States. People imbibe, overeat and participate in sinful activity before turning their lives around the next day – I’m speaking sarcastically here.

The word shrove is derived from shrive which means obtaining absolution.  It is a time of self examination, repentance and asking God to help us overcome our sinful ways.  Some churches teach that this is a way of getting to heaven.  I believe that absolution is a gift from God, paid for by Jesus and that it has nothing to do with what we do.  Only God can absolve.

This should be a day of reflection for us – no matter what you call it.  Every day should begin that way.  When we wake, thank God for giving us another day – an opportunity to share His love with others – praise Him for His love.  Then before doing anything else, examine ourselves, ask for forgiveness with repentant hearts and continue our day in confidence that our sins have already been forgiven and we will someday be in heaven with Him.

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PRESIDENT DAY FUNNIES

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YES, JESUS LOVES ME

ART & POETRY BY PAUL & KATHY BOECHER

Our daily walk is empty when we fail to share God’s light.
He shows us how to do this by example through Christ’s life.
He’ll ask us when we get there, what we ever did for Him.
We can rest assured we’ve done so, if to others we do give –
Our time, our love, our prayers, our gifts and other ways to share,
Will be as if we’d done them unto Christ with more to spare.
Our time on earth is short – the minutes fly on by –
But if we live for Jesus, we know we’ll never die.

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