Fallen Leaves…

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Recently, on one of my walks, I was stunned at how the light played so beautifully on fallen leaves…

The wind had blown all sorts of leaves along my path, some singular, some in pairs, and some in small groups, as though waiting for their portraits… And so that’s what I did — I took their pictures. I hoped to capture their essence… These dead leaves were breathing amazing life, amazing color…while the sun cast all sorts of shadows off them…

We don’t always have gorgeous autumn colors here, but this time we did. And, although I’ve said this before in another blog entry, I’m not that fond of this season… The fall usually just reminds me of death.

My father went Home one October long ago, and yesterday so did my Aunt Hazel…and my friend Walter will be buried tomorrow…

My aunt was a feisty, beautiful, tender, outspoken, and fun-loving woman who will be missed greatly… She and my mom would talk on a regular basis, sometimes having hour-long conversations where laughter was abundant. I know she’s hanging out with Jesus now, as she had given her life to Him as a little girl, and then rededicated her life to Him while in hospice… And the Lord has been so attentive to her… One friend who visited her several time before she left for Home told me that she felt her healing would be spiritual instead of physical, and that she felt the Holy Spirit whispering, “Tell her how much I love her! Tell her I’m never going to leave her — and that I’m going to walk her through this to the other side!” And the night before she left, before any of us knew she was so close to leaving, I felt the Holy Spirit ask me to pick up the prayers for her…and so I prayed that He would minister to her in her sleep and surround her with His guardian, warrior, ministering angels — and that if He wasn’t going to heal her physically, that He would allow her to fall asleep here peacefully…and wake up in Heaven… After talking with her nurse, a fellow Believer, the next day, she said that’s exactly what happened…that it was as though she just fell asleep, that it was so peaceful as she took her last breath here, and then woke up in Heaven…

And my friend Walter… Although we weren’t close friends, we had reconnected on Facebook after being in the same foreign language class many years ago…and he even subscribed to this blog… He was intelligent and kind and savvy about all things political, especially since he worked in D.C. for our government, and all things regarding space… We had some great conversations. Our last one, a private inbox message, was about Jesus… His was an unexpected death, from complications after a surgery that would’ve been minor to most people, but he’d been in poor health… I never told him what a great person I thought he was… But I’m sure God’s let him know… I’m sure God’s told him all kinds of wonderful things up there in Heaven… Walter’s having great times now, reunited with his earthly dad and his Heavenly one… And I bet he’s astounded at the view of space from that vantage point…

Someone said once that while we’re missing folks not being here, they’re missing us not being there… I bet when we go Home, we’ll feel the same way…

But for now, for those of us left on this side, we have more Earth-living to do…to be all God’s made us to be…and to shine His Love the best we can…

And when it’s our time to go Home, we won’t have to be afraid… Jesus, if we want Him, will be right beside us, just like he was with my Aunt Hazel and Walter, and He’ll shine that spectacular Light of His, making us more brilliant than we’ve ever been before, and He’ll cast the shadow of death far, far away once and for all… And for that, I’m so very grateful…

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Joy In Unlikely Places

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God has been so tangible, seemingly more than usual, over the past 30 hours, and I am touched by His attentiveness… Truly we serve a gracious, loving Lord…

Last night, as I talked with a fantastic woman of God, a friend of one of my dear friends, she mentioned that God was responsible for me, for all of us who’ve given our lives to Him… Now, maybe you’ve heard that before, but I hadn’t. I don’t think it ever occurred to me that I was His responsibility… I mean, I know Scripture tells us to place all our concerns in His hands, that He willingly longs to help us. But I hadn’t considered the “responsibility” part before… But it’s how someone who desperately loves would feel about their loved ones… I had a new revelation of Him, seeing yet another beautiful aspect of this God-Man who continues to capture — and detox and renew — my heart…

I’m still pondering all that, that Covenant Love of His… And, while relishing His Truth and other God-inspired nuggets this friend shared, including how she’s found blessings and joy, with Jesus being right beside her, in the middle of difficult circumstances, my mom had one of her day-is-night and night-is-day times, so she was wide awake ’til 7 a.m., watching back-to-back Christmas movies, and after getting her to bed, I finally crawled under my own blankets around 8 a.m. The sun was already up, but it was special for a change to watch its light stretch, instead of fade, for a bit…

Really, I planned to “just” sleep as long as possible, but I woke up around 11 a.m., remembering I needed to run errands, and one in particular by 12 noon… Long story short, as I jumped up, “Psalm 84” resonated in my spirit. On the way to getting ready for the day, I grabbed my Bible to see what that Scripture was, and when I flung it open to quickly search for it — I found I had opened exactly to that psalm…

In the Amplified version, some of that psalm’s gems are “and sing for joy” … “Blessed are those who dwell in Your House and Your presence” … “go from strength to strength” … “Passing through the Valley of Weeping, they make it a place of springs…” And the sidebar (by Joyce Meyer) reads: “When our strength is in God, the difficult places in life can be turned into blessings; the valleys of weeping can be turned into springs (see Psalm 84:5, 6). Whenever you face a tough situation or a place of sadness and despair, draw your strength from God. As you do, you will find yourself going ‘from strength to strength’ and ‘increasing in victorious power,’ as Psalm 84:7 promises.”

All through the day, I felt God’s joy and a strong sense of His Presence, of Him being right beside me, and as though prayers were covering me… (Thank you to anyone who’s been praying!) While running errands, I saw a friend who’s gone through heartbreaking times, and she needed a reminder that God loved her… Later, after grabbing a caffeinated dessert-type-of-coffee from Starbucks, which I do only once in a blue moon — since I like tea better, and it’s less expensive and tastes better when you buy a box at the grocery store and make your own with liquid stevia 😉 — I noticed the word “joy” on the cup holder… Sometimes you find reminders in unlikely places…

And then while on my daily walk, I got to talk with my aunt who’s in hospice, while my cousins were there, and through that speaker phone, we had a wonderful time conversing — and laughing! In spite of battling bone and lung cancer, my beautifully spunky aunt had her sense of humor in high gear… So much joy… And that evening, they planned to watch Billy Graham’s 95th Birthday Message… Jesus was there in that room, transcending distance… Noticed or unnoticed, He was there…

I also talked with my brother during my walk, and we enjoyed sharing a couple of God stories, one of which my dad had told him about a man he knew who was called into the ministry… And then a bunch of crows made me smile, as I looked up and saw about eight flying, with one leading that cawed a lot like the one I called “Gratzia” a few years ago (enter “crow” in this blog’s search bar, and you’ll find that story) and that made me smile…

And there were so many other moments throughout the day, including a neighbor-friend who dropped by and talked about Him, and fun surprises, and other things some might call coincidences, which I attributed to Him…knowing Jesus was right there…paying attention…giving hugs…sharing laughs…wanting desperately to be acknowledged and brought into all the moments you would spend with an absolutely devoted friend…wanting to explain the mysteries of life, but knowing that sometimes we could never comprehend them all, this side of Heaven, so wanting us to rest in His arms for a while when we’re tired, or hurting, or grieving, or feeling whatever we humans do at any given moment along this seemingly precarious journey…until we feel His joy again…and His peace…and His security… And then, when we allow ourselves to feel even a bit of all that, we realize how much He can relate to our personal pain, how much He truly loves us, how much He longs to help us move through to the other side of what’s causing us unrest or distress, and how seriously He takes this responsibility of His in Covenant Love…

Well, I really hadn’t planned on blogging this evening… But I had a lot on my mind, and wanted a place to come back to someday to remember… He is so faithful and oh so close… And all His promises are true and trustworthy… I don’t say that lightly, and am not repeating something I read… From experience…if you choose to see Him, if you want Him in your life, look for Him with all your heart and mind… He’ll let Himself be found by you, at the perfect time, through His Word, and in your everyday circumstances…

Since my mom’s in bed for the night now, I’ll be on my way soon also… [Yawn…] Sweet and blessed dreams, everyone… Have a beautiful Sunday and brand-new week in November!

P.S. — The friend I talked with last night also mentioned this Scripture, Isaiah 60:1, which is so lovely and encouraging — and perfect for the upcoming Christmas season: “Arise from the depression and prostration in which circumstances have kept you — rise to a new life! Shine, be radiant with the glory of the Lord, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you!”