Lenten Meditation: a Word of Salvation

Lenten Meditation: a Word of Salvation

Truly I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise. Luke 23:43

Jesus seems to have a special love for lost people.  I love the stories He tells in Luke 15.  The first is the beloved story of the shepherd who has a hundred sheep but leaves the ninety-nine to look for the one that is lost.  Then when he finds his lost one, he calls in his neighbors and friends to rejoice with him.

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Lenten Meditation: Forgiveness Revisited

Lenten Meditation:  Forgiveness Revisited

I used to think that the struggle to forgive was itself sinful...as well as the horrible feelings I had in the whole thing.  But I've come to realize that the struggle and the feelings are all part of the human condition on this earth.  Perhaps they are rather temptations to the sin of unforgiveness.

Here are the five points that Lewis Smedes writes in his bookShame and Grace.  I pray these points will be helpful to you as well.

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Lenten Meditation: a Word of Forgiveness

Lenten Meditation:  a Word of Forgiveness

Alexander Pope (1688-1744), English poet, once said,To err is human; to forgive, divine.

So true...but we humans more readily echo what someone else has said,

To err is human, but to get even? THAT is divine.

We struggle so, with forgiving our offenders!  Perhaps that's why we are amazed and awestruck to realize that Jesus' first words from the Cross were ones of forgiveness.

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Dust to Dust but Glory to Glory!

Dust to Dust but Glory to Glory!

From dust you have come, and to dust you shall return. 

Ash Wednesday has taken on a new meaning for me in recent years, since my 91 year old mom passed away early in November 2015. There was something that arrested me right in my tracks the day of my mom's funeral. I was undone by deep sobs of realization. And the depth of it had been helped along by the incense and the reverence afforded the treatment of my dear mama's frail little body being put to rest (or so they say).

But it wasn't the finality of it all. It had already been final when she had breathed her last, days before.

No! It was the Sacredness that came crashing through!

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Lenten Meditation: Last Words and Conversations

Lenten Meditation:  Last Words and Conversations

The last words of a dying person are important.  They can communicate good or ill to those left behind.  Why?  Because the last words are so final...and so revealing of what was uppermost in the person's mind as he was leaving this earth to face his Maker. I've never been at the bedside of a dying person.  But I have been with a few people just days before their death.

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Lenten Meditation: Dust to Dust

Lenten Meditation:  Dust to Dust

I grew up in a liturgical church.  So from my childhood into my early adulthood, I observed the church calendar.   Ash Wednesday marked a real turning point in the calendar year.  It was a turn from comfort, frivolity, and enjoyment (think Mardi Gras) to a time of repentance, self-denial, and mortification called Lent. Ash Wednesday was a day when we all remembered that someday we would each die and face our Maker.  The priest would put the sign of the cross on our foreheads in black ashes and say,

Remember, Man, that thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return. [based on Genesis 3:19]

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Living the Colorful Life ... even as the winter drags on

Living the Colorful Life ... even as the winter drags on

Hi friends, no crocuses are pushing through the hardened soil here in Ohio. Usually by now, those hardy “souls” have at least given us a bit of hope of the spring ahead.

So I thought of this post and how it could “color up” our souls while we await what surely is to come. So pause with me as we revisit a post from May 2016.

God lives a colorful life . . . or maybe better said, God lives His life in color!

All we need do is look around. Color is everywhere . . . in nature, in people, even in feelings, ideas, and circumstances.

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"The Smile that Destroyed my Religion!"

"The Smile that Destroyed my Religion!"

Much of my life I lived under the "frown of God," or so I thought. I wasn't a bad kid; in fact, I was quite religious and moral. But I wasn't perfect for sure. (For one thing, I was a terrible big sister, mean and self-centered toward my siblings.) But I knew God required perfection, so I was always working my way down a spiritual "to do list" of some kind (depending on the Christian group I was with. They each had their own, you know).

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Returning to Joy...again and again!

Returning to Joy...again and again!

Today I would like to share with you what has become my "spiritual survival image."

Why?

Because life can be overwhelming, frustrating (people and circumstances don't always cooperate with our "plans"...amazing!), and stressful to the point of sending us "over the edge."

So here is where the Lord always seems to take me, even in the dark, even in the not-knowing...perhaps especially in the not-knowing.

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SALT: Who Knew?

SALT: Who Knew?

You are the salt of the earth.
But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again?…

Salt! What a prolific commodity!

In the past salt was valuable and rare. But now it is cheap, always there, on the table, in the cupboard ... available. And so taken for granted -- by me, at least ... UNTIL a few days ago.


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It's all about LOVE!

It's all about LOVE!

Let all that you do be done in love.  Sounds so easy, doesn’t it? But we know it’s often very hard.

In fact, Paul's words in verse 9 nail it on the head, don't they:

...there are many adversaries...

That's right!  Enemies, opposition, struggles!  All against loving...why?

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A Love Song to Jesus

A Love Song to Jesus

When my husband John and I were seniors at the University of Arizona, the Carpenters were at the top of the music charts.   We embraced them as our group who sang our songs as we were "a-courting."  Their mellow sound and rich melodies fed our romantic feelings toward each other and toward life in general. At our wedding, we danced to, you may have guessed it, "We've Only Just Begun." Lyrics like "White lace and promises, a kiss for luck and we're on our way" made it the perfect song to start out a new marriage...or so we thought.

But as the years have rolled by and reality and maturity have set in, so has the realization that the romantic expectations of youth are so unrealistic and can only truly be fulfilled by an Almighty God.

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To Write the Love of God Above!

To Write the Love of God Above!

There is a gem of a hymn that really grabs my heart and soul.  I almost forgot about it until someone commented on an old post containing the song. The hymn? -- "The Love of God."  The metaphor in the third stanza absorbs my mind and imagination:

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade,…

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Resting While You Work

Resting While You Work

I’ve always been a worker-bee. Well, perhaps not as a child. As an adult, though, and especially as a Christian, I’ve been a worker-bee. I found great pleasure in life by accomplishing a goal, but there was a driven-ness in this way of living. I’ve discovered that being a worker-bee is especially dangerous, spiritually. I’ve lived for a long time under the yoke of what I call "to-do list" Christianity. What a bondage. Self-effort doesn't work when it comes to doing what only God can do,which is anything of any spiritual value. That's why I love the Lord's invitation to the weary, burdened folk who followed Him:

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An Invitation to Rest

An Invitation to Rest

Ah! REST...what a glorious word! I inhale and exhale deeply at just the sound of it. And oh, how we humans need deep, glorious rest... Moms especially need it...as do dads. Single folks need it; workers need it; retirees do, too..Even kids need it (although they would protest most loudly...especially in the midst of the frenetic-ness of no-sleep sleepovers!)

I remember as a mom of an infant how I longed for rest, praying my crying-in-the-middle-of-the-night baby would just fall quietly back to dreamland. Or my napping toddler would stay napping so I could lie prostrate for just a few more moments (Please, God!) And now, even as a senior retired adult, that beautiful rest calls my name more often than not in the midst of my afternoons. So I often take to my overstuffed couch and doze as I watch the old westerns from my childhood.

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Celebrating Total "Cardiac Rehab"--It takes a Village...

Celebrating Total "Cardiac Rehab"--It takes a Village...

February is American Heart Month. How appropriate since February is also the month of Valentine’s Day, celebrating the heart’s favorite emotion — LOVE.

Well, "February, American Heart Month" has taken on new meaning because the “love of my life” had a heart attack more than seven years ago.  So this brought lots of changes to both of our lives, but especially his.  And cardiac rehab played a big part in those weeks after.   As many heart patients know, cardiac rehab takes a village

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Cocooning...with the Light of the World

Cocooning...with the Light of the World

I couldn't resist posting this again … the quirkiest thing — “glass igloos.” Well, it got me meditating here in the midst of a deep freeze up north. So why not hunker down in your own “warm igloo” and join me …

First posted Jan 10, 2015

Two years ago, a friend on Facebook posted this picture of thermal glass igloos to view the Northern Lights in Finland:

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A Winter Deep Freeze is Perfect for Hybernating in God's Word

A Winter Deep Freeze is Perfect for Hybernating in God's Word

Baby, it's cold outside. Sub-zero temps; ice-covered ground; more white stuff on its way? A great time to hibernate. 

But it need not be cold inside ... especially inside your soul, as you bask in the warmth of God's loving truth. The Scriptures are ever old and ever new, and never out of reach. So the fire of God's Word is always accessible.

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Joy in January: God vs Fear

Joy in January: God vs Fear

The last in my “Joy in January” series, originally posted in January 2015, is a post written by my youngest “Guest Branch” and my oldest grandchild Kaden. When he wrote it, he was just 8-1/2 y.o. and now he is almost 13 … how can that be? So it’s my delight once again to share this awesome blog. We can all learn from the young ones in the faith, can’t we? By the way, be sure to see Kaden’s “today photo” at the end…yikes!

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children [and grandchildren] are walking in the truth.
3 John 1:4 ESV

It is pure JOY for me to introduce my youngest "Guest Branch" to A Branch in the Vine.  My 8-1/2 year old grandson Kaden is today's blogger.

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Joy in January: Every Praise

Joy in January: Every Praise

I love this video, and I think you will too! I go back to it often because it helps set it all into perspective for me -- truly...

...EVERY PRAISE is to our GOD! Amen!

So find a private spot (if you are inhibited like me) or grab your nearest friend, relative, child, or grandchild (my personal favorite), and move your body, soul, and spirit in every praise to our glorious God...hallelujah!

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