Years ago my mother gave me a book (one of many). The book is called The Book In Review, by Herbert Vanderlugt. It is a quick and wonderful review of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. The book follows two streams, one of individual salvation and one world redemption- as they flow through the Bible. (page 192)
At the very end the last words or quote is from a man named Eric Sauer and it is one of my favorite messages about God.
" We behold with worship this age-long plan of God. The record of salvation in the Bible has conducted us from the gate of eternity before all time to the gate of eternity after this time. The goal is exactly as the commencement (Psalm 90:2), God Himself...But He Himself, the King of ages (1Timothy 1:17), will then bring ages upon ages out of His inexhaustible, infinite fullness (Revelation 22:5; Ephesians 2:7). In heavenly jubilees will His redeemed creatures praise Him, and through the spheres and worlds of the new creation will ring and resound the triumphant, exultant song: "Unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, be the blessing, and the honor, and the glory, and the dominion, from eternity to eternity. (Revelation 5:13,14).
(This picture was taken on a lovely September long drive with my dad)
Southwest of the bog...
It was quiet all around me with only an occasional sound from the wind or a yelp from the herons which I'd come to see. Bundled up in layers of clothes along with water boots, I turned off my iphone as to not disturb nature. I watched and waited, hoping to see the dance of the great blue herons mating. I saw one pick up a branch from a nest, drop it, then pick up another one and fly off. I thought to myself, "it’s close..."
Herons and egrets present sticks to the one that tickles their fancy during courtship and nesting. It’s like a man bringing a woman flowers...the sticks are gifts and a show of affection. Herons don’t mate for life so this is a yearly ceremony. I’m eager to see it in full display.
I thought about my life today and said aloud, “I cannot believe it.” How blessed I am. I reflected over how time flies and the gentleness and grace of God. Experience and age changes us but He is the conductor of life's orchestra: the beginning and the end. I said again out loud, “ I never thought I’d see and do the things I’ve been privileged to see and do these past few years. I never even imagined it.” I’ve been immeasurably showered over by my husband’s generosity in allowing me to pursue the things I feel passionate about. I hardly ever put down my camera and I thrive on crazy abstract adventures, especially on rivers and in the woods. I am not well liked by most but to my husband I know I am his whole world. This is a delicate and sacred knowledge and my own heart is full of flowers every day.
Many years of my own life were about survival. They were unstable years, stained with much sin that haunted me with deep sorrow. For years I cried because I knew that as a mother of three children I had not had the wisdom or strength to give them what they deserved. It was only when I met my husband that he provided a sanctuary and a home. Together we gave them our best, together we sought the Lord, and together we attempted to fill their brains with His truth before they left our home. In a way it was a crash course in parenting and priorities as we worked to make up for lost time.
I turned away from friendships then so that I could look to God alone, ignoring others' opinions about right and wrong. I needed time to work through all the feebleness and the grandiose, “there are many truths” mindsets which are so pervasive in today's society. I did have friends who I loved and adored. It was they that helped me to get by many tragic crossroads in my life. For that I will always smile when I think about them. I found, though that I didn’t want their truths I wanted “THE truth.” I spent several years reading the Bible word by word, line by line, verse and chapter by chapter, book by book,(I still do). I also studied doctrine, theology, church history, cults, progressivism, Catholicism, dispensation, Calvinism and the likes. Name it, I’ve likely studied it. I discovered that to be an intellectual one does not have to be an academic.
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15
Though I continue to examine the Bible, I also have entrenched myself to nature and Gods creation. I find it fascinating. I recall thinking last year as I was embedded with Canada geese, how anyone could possibly believe in evolution. Evolution is about evolving but geese are practically perfect. Herons, on the other hand are predators and they look like dinosaurs. Sarcastically, I wonder if that’s why so many people like them. I like them too. They’re beautiful, graceful and like all things, they are Gods handiwork. I know I’ll learn something and I am looking forward to that.
Recently at my husband Dave's class reunion I had a fun&lively conversation with one of his classmates. Marla, the woman I visited with, worked for a time at the U.S. Embassy located in Tel Aviv. In 2011 my husband, son and I toured Israel. The hotel we stayed at was right beside that Embassy. Dave and I have dreams of one day retiring in Israel to live in Tel Aviv. I told Marla that before we make a final decision we would talk to her again. She shared that it's much different being there as a tourist versus actually living in the state. She is right. The cost of living is high, the religious strain is combative and intense, the country is surrounded on all sides with the Middle East unrest. By her reaction, I'd say that she sensed that we are probably delusional. She did say that it is easier to live there if a person is solidly spiritually centered. We talked some about the Jewish religious divides within the priesthoods and the tension that exists on many street corners with vigorous, animated outbursts of argumentation. I had to laugh as I joined her in our own spunky, give and take of opinions. I really enjoyed Marla; she was straight up, smart&gutsy !
In my own studies, I have done some in depth research on most of the Jewish priesthoods. I have very strong viewpoints about this subject. I am aware of the political persuasion&influence in Israel by the Orthodoxy Hasidic sect of Judaism, which took hold&inserted its own brand of legalism, righteousness&peity in their society. Like the days of Jesus when the Sadducees&Phaisees comprised the ruling class, so it is today with the Hasidic authoritative impact. I find them fascinating to study, watch and talk to, but with all due respect my theorem position always stands on biblical doctrine. Therefore, only the Jewish priesthood of eternal value is the Leviticus sect. I recall having this discussion with a scholar who happily declared that, "...there is no such thing today as the Levites priestly function and that there are none..."
Hmmm...perhaps he should go to Israel and walk the Kotel Tunnel.
God is at work.
Excerpt from my book
When It's All Said & Done
I cannot begin to express the awe of this trip.
Dave, Nate&I bonded in a way that only those who love God&His word can identify with. We stayed in Tel Aviv, at the Park Plaza Orchard, on the beach. We took daily trips from this point of origin, returning at night. We bicycled to Old Jaffa, traveled to the Jordan River, saw Meggiddo, walked the old cities of Jesus's day, gazed at Old Jerusalem from the Mt of Olives, cried at the Garden of Gethsemane, stood on Calvary, witnessed the place of Christ's tomb, climped the stairs to the Rotunda, took pictures of the Chapel of the Franks, toured the Kotel Tunnel, bowed&prayed near the supposed place of the Arc of the Covenant.
We talked to Leviticus Priests, covered our heads at the Western Wall& Old City, strolled&smelled the aroma of the Cotton Merchants Market. We were stopped at the entrance of the Dome of the Rock by gun toting guards, soaked in the Negev Desert&the Dead Sea. We toured Masada&the West Bank, went to Haifa, Mount Carmel, Caesarea, and walked the Crusader underground city&the grand gothic Knights Hall. We saw the Roman Theater&aqueducts, Herold's palace, and saw the beauty of Rash Hanikra, along the Lebanon-Israeli border.
We talked, and visited with people, whose lives&personal stories were magnificent. It was extraordinary&unbelievable. We cried, laughed&pinched ourselves at this blessing of a trip. It was intense, historical& deeply profound for all three of us.
As a Christian I don’t prescribe to superstition or Karma. When I am in doubt or unsure of something I don’t ask God for a sign but rather I ask Him to increase my faith. (That is what my mother prayed too.)
This morning when I got up I was pleasantly surprised. My first ever paper white narcissus was in bloom. (It is also my birthday!)
Mom talked about doing them every year for Christmas but never got around to it. I determined to do them this year.
The bulbs came from Israel.
What a gift!
(The angels and nativity were presents from my parents in years past)
While on vacation recently my husband and I took a “selfie” of the two of us with my camera. Afterward, as I looked at the picture…there staring back at me was my mom, my aunt and my grandmother. No, really it was them! I didn’t know if I should laugh or cry. Laugh, because it was so funny to see them there on the beach with us. Cry, because I look like them as elderly women.
As I have mentioned in other blogs, all three died from Alzheimer’s and related complications. Sal, my grandmother, was in her late 80’s while Mom and Aunt Donna Rae were in their early 70’s.
My mother witnessed both her mother and sister fade away from Alzheimer’s. Mom and Dad drove from Maine to Pennsylvania regularly while Sal was in the hospital, until her death. After Gram died they began their sojourn back and forth every weekend to Connecticut to see my aunt. Mom started buying small angel figurines, which she would then bring to her sister. Mom would also write out verses from the book of Psalms and hang or put them around her sister during her last days. Aunt Donna Rae loved the book of Psalms!
Mom watched and knew what Alzheimer’s can do to a person.
Mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s 15 months before she died. By the time she was told she had this horrible illness she was past the point of understanding. Prior to her diagnosis, Dad and I knew something was wrong. Dad had her repeatedly seeing doctors who said she did not have Alzheimer’s but rather, Primary Progressive Aphasia.
Dave, my husband, and I were with Mom and Dad when their doctor at the Lahey Clinic gave them “the news.” Mom was actually elated to find out she did not have Primary Progressive Aphasia. She never heard or grasped that she had Alzheimer’s. What bliss and grace God extended to her.
Mom was in the habit throughout her ongoing memory loss of saying “When I get better.” Mom thought she was going to get better until the very end. That was her supreme optimism at work. It was because of her sense of hope and faith that Mom was able to bless her family and friends until her death from Alzheimer’s.
I write all of this because I wanted to remind myself and others of how wonderful Mom was. She was cute in personality, she was gracious and loving towards others, she was overflowing in joy and she was a woman of faith. Mom knew her Savior lived and that he would never leave her. I write this also because I now struggle with my own unknown fate. I know that, like Mom, the days of my life are held in the Lord’s hands yet I have days in which I ponder “Will I, too come down with this progressive disease against my brain and mind?” It is easier for me to casually joke it off, make fun of it, but just beneath the surface it rests like a bag of stones. It nags at me, telling me to get my own house in order, to let Dave know how I do things, organize the drawers, the closets, the bills and make sure he knows where everything is and how to do all the things I am charged with doing in our home. What if I wake up one day and I don’t know that I don’t know.
That is Alzheimer’s. You don’t even know that you don’t know.
Mom was all the things I mentioned, but she was also academic, educated, smart and witty. We enjoyed many conversations about Biblical history, prophets and just what is the Trinity; The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit? Does The Holy Spirit reside in our minds?( Romans 8:5-8) How does God speak to us? What must heaven be like? Who is the latest deceiver in the world? How does the Old Testament lead up to the New Testament? What have you found in the Bible today that reveals who God is? Mom and I talked often, mostly about God. We were girls of research and shared discoveries. She was so heavy and deep sometimes I couldn’t follow her. At other times she was so childlike that I couldn’t follow her either. Her kindergarten teacher persona was way over my head !
It is the mind that I fear losing…Surrendering my mind to God is my hardest task. I love to think, to process, to analyze and to know. This is where I begin my reasoning, it is where I recall, remember and deliberately consider God, people and form words of prayer. Yet the intellect can only comprehend the things of God it cannot fully seize them. God is knowable through His Son and through His word and the illumination of The Holy Spirit, but God is still God and greater than anything I could possible fully wrap my perception around. Still, like my mother, I love to set my mind on understanding.
But when it’s all said and done all that matters is that I belong to Christ .He will see me through. I know this because I witnessed Him carry Mom to the very end. In Christ alone… not my mind, not my understanding, not my knowledge, not my consciousness, not my experience…He is the rock, the cornerstone and the fullness in time to the glory of God.
This chick went almost unnoticed by me. It moved so fast, was so tiny and outsmarted my every move. This is a baby Jacana, also known as the "Jesus bird" because these birds look as though they are walking on water. (This picture was taken at a bit of distance)