Coming to Your House!

coming to your houseThis Sunday is Easter, the day we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. It is a time of reflection, joy and renewal. It is also a time when many of us gather for a special meal either with family, friends or both. Jesus shared a meal with his friends before he offered up his life. He shared a meal later as well before he was taken up to heaven on the clouds.

In fact, Jesus shared meals with his friends and followers many times through his ministry. His first miracle was performed at a wedding. Twice he fed thousands of people with food that would have been sufficient for one. He ate with religious leaders and social outcasts.

We often thinking of him teaching on the hillsides or in the temple, we think of his miracles and debates with the Pharisees. Jesus like to eat. He liked to hang out with friends and relax. It is a part of him that we often forget.

I have written my own imagined account of the day he met Zacchaeus, the short tax collector. I am offering it free for this Easter weekend. In it, you can meet Jesus just days before his final triumphant entry into Jerusalem.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00VB0PBR0

 

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‘Catch’ My Newest Story

After a short hiatus in January to recover from the marathon of story writing in November and December, I have a new e-short out on Amazon.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00TEE1HZK

Caught! Is my take on the story of the woman caught in adultery. Found only in the Gospel of John, it is a tale of forgiveness and second chances like only Jesus can provide. The dramatic scene on the steps of the Temple has been told and retold in words and art through the centuries.

I think the words that ring loudest are those of Jesus.

‘If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.’ Jn 8:7

What an example of love and compassion! Of all those in the Temple watching, Jesus was the only one qualified to judge. He alone was sinless. Yet he chose to forgive and offer a second chance at life.

‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’    ‘Then neither do I condemn you. go and leave your life of sin.’ Jn 8:10,11b

Perhaps we should remember those words before we judge and condemn those around us. Sin is sin, none bigger or smaller than any other. Adultery is no different than lying, or gossip, or envy. Are there any of us who can claim to perfectly keep all 10 Commandments?

No.

So before you pick up a stone to cast or a finger to point, remember that Jesus alone is worthy to judge. He loves all of us enough to die for us. Can you say the same?

Caught!

Caught!

The Big Orange X

I have noticed a new arrival on my road lately. Big orange x-es are appearing on the old maple trees. Those who know me or follow this blog 001know that I have a soft spot for trees. I love their ability to overcome hardship and damage as well as their peaceful acceptance of the seasons.

This marking happens every year and always makes me sad. These are the trees the county has decided are too old and ill to survive. They have become a hazard to the road below and the ugly black wires that stretch from pole to pole.

We can’t have them shedding limbs and stopping traffic or bringing down the wires now can we?

It doesn’t matter if the trees were there first. It doesn’t matter that they have been standing there tall and strong for 100 or 200 years. They are a liability.

007Now I know that there is truth to that. The marked trees have lost much of their former glory. Halfway up, jagged stumps remain where the main trunk had been lost to a storm or lightning a decade ago. Often there are only a few branches that still produce leaves, and those are growing sparse. The bark is rough and split with dead wood showing through. They are dying.

But I remember them as they were 30 years ago when my family moved onto this farm. They were at their prime and there were so many more of them back then. They lined the road every fifty feet or so. They were the home to thousands of birds, squirrels and chipmunks . . . not to mention the occasional raccoon and possum families. In the fall, the road became a glorious bower of red and gold splendor.

The family we bought our farm from told us some of the history of the area. They had lived here for generations, since the 1800’s at least. Our004 farm began as a small cabin at the base of a nearby hill. The hard working farmer who first settled here soon built a larger place where the house currently stands. It started as two small rooms and has expanded several times so that it can now hold my sister’s family and my own.

That same farmer was wise enough and compassionate enough to plant these so that his horses would have shade as they toiled along the dirt road. The fields were wide open by necessity, but the roads to and from was thick with cool, refreshing shade. The trees fulfilled their purpose long after teams of horses gave way to tractors and trucks. More than 100 years later they continued to stand guard over five young girls riding their bikes or walking 1/4 mile to the nearest house to play with the children who lived there.

So many times I would climb into their spreading boughs when the world became a hard place to live. I would go high as I dared and cling with my ear pressed to the trunk. There I could hear the creaking and sighing of the ancient tree. It seemed that it was talking to me, if only I could understand the words.

Now there are few of my old friends left. One by one they have fallen to the storms of the world or that dreaded orange X. The sunlit street is lined with new homes. Children no longer ride their bikes or walk in the road . . . with cars whizzing by without thought or care it is no longer safe.

Time marches on and everything must someday fall to its command.

I still hate the big orange X.

The other day when I was thinking about those trees marked for execution, my thoughts strayed to the Great Gardener. Perhaps if someone had tended to those old trees, they may have survived longer. If someone with skill had trimmed the diseased and damaged branches, had kept away the strangling vines, the trees would have been strong enough to withstand the storms.

Jesus said that he was the vine and we are the branches. (Israel doesn’t have much in the way of maple trees.) He knows how to tend to his branches to keep them healthy and strong. He prunes and binds, trims and trains so that we become all that the Father meant us to be.

He does not paint big orange X’s on us when we become old and weak. He tends us and loves us until time wins its battle. Then he takes us home where we are planted by streams of living water to become forever young, forever strong and forever with him.

 

Angel’s Song

Better late than never! Unlike most of my Christmas series, which have been rewritten and revised several times, this story was nothing more than a vague idea in my mind a week ago. We love to sing about the angels, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, Joy to the World, and The First Noel, among other Christmas favorites. But what is their story, what is going on in that mysterious realm of angels and demons on the most famous day in history?

This story is what I think may have happened.

You will notice that this book cover doesn’t have a figure from an old nativity set. Want to know why? Because I decided that the sappy, serene and aloof look of most nativity angels I have seen simply don’t fit the power of their story. Scriptures say that the angels celebrate in Heaven when one who was lost is redeemed. I think that pales beside their celebration on the day when the redemption becomes possible. The angels  echo the Joy of the Father when Jesus is born. And that is not a sweet and sappy smile, but a powerful burst of jubilation that rocked Heaven to its foundations.

So rather than put a substandard angel on my cover, you will have to just imagine the joy that filled them on that very special day.

 

The Angel’s Song  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00R1FBPEM  is available on Amazon for Free through Dec. 21.

Don’t forget to check out:

The Shepherd’s Tale  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00PUZ9AD8

The Innkeeper’s Guest  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00QOA67OS

 

Christmas Tales

The shepherds watching over their flocks at night.

The Innkeeper with no room.

Angels who watch and celebrate.

Wise men who follow a star to find a king.

A new mother and father with their first child.

A servant of God who sees the promise fulfilled.

These are actors in the greatest production the world has ever seen. Who were they and what did they see and hear on that first Christmas? Each week through the month of December I will be publishing a Christmas Story through Amazon Create Space. Come and See.

shepherd copyThe Shepherd’s Tale http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00PUZ9AD8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The InnkeeperThe Innkeeper’s Guest (Free thru Dec 10) http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00QOA67OS

 

 

 

 

 

Watch for the Angels’ story later this week.

 

Remembering

Most of us, at some point in our lives, lose a loved one a parent, sibling, friend, spouse, child, and the list goes on. We think of them often, especially when they first leave us. As time moves on we don’t forget, exactly, but we think of them less often. Then something happens to remind us and the bittersweet pain of remembering returns.

Yesterday at church, we observed communion. Normally I would take the cracker dipped in juice and return to my seat where I would search my heart to find the sins that like to lurk quietly in the corners. I ask forgiveness and promise to keep trying before eating the elements. All good things, I believe.

Yesterday I did that, but in the midst of my praying, a thought came. Do this in Remembrance of me.

Remembrance.

All these years I have been focused on myself, my prayers and thoughts about me and my shortcomings. I remembered him, but often just as a way to clean me up. Was I missing the point?

So I sat there, with my eyes closed and remembered.

Now I wasn’t around when Jesus actually walked the earth. So I’m not able to remember him the way his disciples did, but images began to come. Pictures of his birth in the manger with the angels and shepherds; of Jesus as a boy standing in the temple and amazing the elders. I saw pictures of him laughing and holding children, walking on water, embracing those whose lives he touched.

Some images were paintings created by the great masters, others done by artists unknown and unrecognized, but each one had touched my heart in some way. Some images were ones my own imagination created as I have written stories about him; healing the woman bleeding for twelve years,  raising Jarius’ daughter from the dead, freeing the man possessed by Legion, giving Bartimaeus his sight and feasting with the tax collecters.

The images went the distance, from his birth to death and beyond. I saw his resurrection and ascension into heaven on the clouds. I remembered the ‘God Moments’ of my own spiritual walk.

All this happened in the space of a couple of minutes, but it was so powerful, so real, I wanted to share it with you.

When was the last time you sat and just remembered? We are so busy in our everyday lives that we forget the big picture. Take some time for your own remembrance. Refresh your spirit with his presence in your life today, because our remembrance of our Savior is not like that of our loved ones. Jesus still lives, though perhaps we don’t see his face. He is waiting to commune with us every day if we just seek him out.

Vine and branches

The Gift of Her Son

Available for purchase on Amazon

Available for purchase on Amazon

My new e-book is out! The Gift of Her Son tells of the sorrow of a mother beside the deathbed of her son. With his passing, she is alone in the world and loses all hope for the future. On the way to the tomb, the funeral procession is stopped by a man who tells her ‘Don’t Cry’. The grieving mother doesn’t seek his help. She doesn’t know who he is or even that he has seen her. Yet Jesus has compassion for her sorrow and dries the woman’s tears. Jesus gives her the gift of a future and love wrapped in the life of her son.

Here is a sneak peek:

The sun dropped below the horizon and I watched the colors shift to bright gold and scarlet. My husband and I had first come to Nain a few months ago along with our youngest son, Jael. I had loved the view from my new doorway from the first moment. Now I hated it. I had gazed on the scene too many times, seeking solace and finding none.
I turned my face to the darkness behind me. The single lamp cast flickering shadows on the ceiling. They looked like the shadows of demons waiting for death to claim its next victim. I shivered and drew my shawl closer. I shuffled through the familiar darkness to Jael’s bed.
He lay still, no longer thrashing beneath the bedclothes. I lowered my hand gently to caress his face. His skin felt as though it stretched over the dying coals of a fire. He flinched at my touch before pressing his cheek into my hand, seeking its coolness.
I took the cloth from his forehead and dipped it again into the basin of water on the floor beside the bed. I smoothed the cool cloth over the scalding skin of his arms and chest before placing it on his head again. He sighed at the cool touch of water then moaned as fever baked the coolness away.
Desperate to offer him any sort of relief, I searched the house for every scrap of fabric I could find. Armed with a small pile, I covered him with layers of water-soaked cloth. It seemed to help; he sighed and drifted into uneasy slumber. I brought the lamp closer and set it so that I could gaze on him as he slept.
I knelt beside the bed and laid my head on his chest. The cold water chilled my face. I could feel the rapid beat of his heart, like a bird fluttering to escape a net. It was no longer the strong, steady beat that comforted me when his father died. My boy had held me as my life shattered around me. Now I held him as his slipped away. Tears trickled down my face as I crooned to my baby.
“Mamma.” His voice was weak but it sounded like music.
“Jael, oh Jael, I’m here.” I raised my head and looked into his eyes. They were unfocused but they were open and looking towards me. The fever still raged behind them.       “Oh, my boy.” Nothing else would come out.
“Mamma, listen.” His hand felt around weakly until I grabbed it with my own and held it to my wet cheek. “I saw an angel, Mamma. In my dream.” I continued to weep  silently, for angels meant death. I was losing him.
“The angel said to tell you to be brave. It would work out.” He lay for a moment, his breathing shallow. He squeezed my hand weakly. “I’m sorry, Mamma. I love you.”
“Oh my boy, don’t leave me. You are a good son. Stay with me. . .” but he was gone. Not dead, but lost in that dream from which there would be no awakening until his final breath delivered him to Abraham’s bosom.
His breathing faltered, his chest hesitating in its rising. I heard the rattle that foretold death as the air escaped his lips. His chest rose again, slower and slower.
Then it rose no more. Sorrow built inside me, a trapped beast raging to be free. Screams tore from my lips as I howled out my pain and fury. On and on it went taking on a life of its own while I rocked myself back and forth clutching my son’s hand to my breast.

If you would like to read more, it is available for purchase on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MR3IFVE

Please share this post and the story with your friends!

My mom's hands

My mom’s hands