1387. In the early Celtic churches, earth, sea, and sky were, rather than enclosed sanctuaries, the temple of God. The high-standing crosses were gathering places. ~J. Philip Newell

The world is holy.
We are holy. All life is holy.
Daily prayers are delivered on the lips
of breaking waves, the whisperings
of grasses, the shimmering of leaves.
-Terry Tempest Williams

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The church is not a building, but a body of believers with a specific nature and purpose. These biblical roles or ministries of the church are foundational to it. Worship is God-centered and Christ-centered. It is not about entertaining Christians with flashy displays or presentations, but about expressing our love by worshiping our Creator. We are to praise and glorify God in worship. As such, every Christian needs to be part of regular fellowship and worship. Edification is also a role of the church. It involves edifying believers, but also nurturing, building up or helping believers to mature in Christ.

Evangelism is also a key role of the church. This means reaching out to a lost world with the Good News about Jesus. Since people often have questions or doubts about Christ and Christianity, knowing the truth and being able to defend it is also part of the role of the church. But beyond evangelism in the sense of reaching out with the gospel, the church must also express compassion and mercy tangibly by helping others. In following Christ’s example to love others, the church, too, must seek to make a real difference in the world while not neglecting to share the message of Christ. If a church fails to fulfill any of these key roles – worship, edification, evangelism – then the church is not functioning as God intends. Granted, there are times when churches face challenges and struggles to one degree or another, but a healthy church seeks to overcome such challenges in a way that honors God and His intentions for His church. (This paragraph and the one above it are excerpted from an article by Paul Velarde_)

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” ~Matthew 28:19-20  ✝

**Images via Pinterest; collage by Natalie

1379. Poetry is a packsack of invisible keepsakes. ~Carl Sandburg

Poetry should…should strike the reader
as a wording of his own highest thoughts,
and appear almost a remembrance.
~John Keats

Some of you know that I was an educator for 31 years. What you don’t know is that in the 8th grade I declared to family and friends that I would never become a teacher, especially an English teacher. But as it turned out I did become one and though it was not my first or second chosen teaching field, I ended up teaching English for half of my career. And like all else whatever we spend time doing has a profound influence on our lives. I’ve always had a great respect for literature and writers and storytellers. One of them. as I mentioned in a recent post, is Mary Oliver. When I read her poetry it’s as if she has been writing what dwells within my heart and soul. They are so accurate and she does it in a way that had I her ability I would have written them myself. But ya know, we don’t all have to be gifted to tell tales of our lives which might be what someone else needs or longs to hear. And I believe I can say with certitude that there’s not a single one of you who are reading this who were not profoundly impacted by at least one teacher in your life. Secondly, my guess is that their influence had little to do with academic subject matter. I expect it was stories they told or wove to reach you and teach you that made all the difference in your life. So never be afraid to share you grief and joys, triumphs and sorrows, whatever it is you hold dear or keep close for you never know when or where a listening ear will find remembrance and/or life-sustaining importance in them. ‘Tis even more important that you do so if the tale(s) tell of God’s grace, mercy, faithfulness, and abiding love for His children!

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace. ~Acts 20:24 ✝

The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean– the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down–
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
~Mary Oliver

Photo of grasshopper on rose taken in her yard by Natalie

1256. Never say “no” to pie. ~Al Roker

We must have pie.
Stress cannot exist in
the presence of pie.
~David Mamet

It was luscious lemon meringue pie at the deli again today, and whilst I was gobbling mine down, I recalled a “pie story” blessing, the importance of which was not the pie, nor was it a lemon pie. Instead it was a random act of kindness cherry pie!

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I was five days short of being 30 years old, when my one and only child was born. As it turned out she was born on a day when the hospital had been having record numbers of babies all week long so I had to be kept in the recovery area all night until and if a room became available the next morning. My visitors, who were allowed in briefly to see me in recovery, had all been able to see Nikki, but sadly I had not seen her yet, and they wouldn’t bring her to me until I was in a room. When morning came, a room did become available so they took me up and brought my baby too me for the first time. However, I only held her briefly because I was having chills and shaking so badly I was afraid I might drop her. So I rang for a nurse to come take her back to the nursery and take me to the bathroom. The nurse asked me why I was shaking like that, and I told her it was because I was freezing cold. She quickly stuck a thermometer in my mouth, then yanked it out almost immediately, and commented that I didn’t have any fever. Next she got me up to take me to the bathroom and when I sat down on the toilet I passed out. When I finally came to, there were an assortment of doctors and nurses who were worried that I’d had been having a seizure. As it turns out I had a fever of 105 degrees but not a seizure. So they immediately launched into what would become a 9 day campaign to bring my fever down, to determine where I had an infection, and to keep me from infecting the baby with whatever it was. As a result all they would do to alleviate my angst about the situation was roll Nikki down to my room in her little bed and let me walk to the door so I could at least see her from a distance a few minutes each day. Needless to say I was completely bummed! When day five, my 30th birthday, dawned they had finally discovered where and what kind of infection it was, but until the antibiotics, which had had to be changed several times, finally started significantly kicking in they wouldn’t let me go home yet. So when the phone rang that morning, I answered it in an extremely pissy mood. On the other end of the line was a voice I didn’t recognize who was singing happy birthday to me. When she finished she asked how I was, and I said, “lousy,” to which she replied, “well I hope you have a good day and hung up.” Okay let’s see! I couldn’t go home, I couldn’t hold my baby, I couldn’t have visitors until after 2 in the afternoons! What do you think? Helluva a good 30th birthday or not?!

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About an hour later as I was lying there crying and feeling very sorry for myself, my mom came in carrying a small, freshly baked cherry pie and singing happy birthday. Stunned I sat up and asked, “What are you doing here? How did you get in? It’s not 2 o’clock yet!” She told me that she had gotten a call at home that I was very distraught and that she needed to get up to the hospital as soon as possible and bring me some kind of birthday surprise. And then the female voice told her that she’d just need to tell them at the desk who she was and they would let her in. So Mom quickly baked a cherry pie and came on up. Needless to say it was an amazing gift of grace that I sorely needed that day. It wasn’t until I got ready to leave the hospital 4 days later that one of the other nurses told me who had called me that day. It was the head nurse on that floor, and the day before she had noticed on my chart that the next day was my birthday. So she had taken time out of her day off, first to call and sing to me, then to call the hospital to see if they had my mother’s name and phone number, and finally to call and send my mother on an errand of mercy. I don’t know what others would call that, but as far as I’m concernd it was God’s grace in action with an “earth” angel He had appointed to deliver it. Sadly I was so glad to be able to hold my baby at long last and get to go home that last day that I didn’t even think to ask the head nurse’s name so I could call or write to thank her. But I think of her often and am so grateful for her selfless act of kindness.

You(God) gave me life and showed me kindness, and in Your providence watched over my spirit. ~Job 10:12 ✝

**My daughter was born on 10-12-72. What a coincidence that the scripture I chose is from Chapter 10 and verse 12 of Job! Or is it just coincidence?!

**Pie images via Pinterest

1139. If it’s drama that you sigh for, plant a garden and you’ll get it. ~Edward A. Guest

‘Tis like the birthday of the world,
When earth was born in bloom;
The light is made of many dyes,
The air is all perfume…
~Excerpt from a poem by Thomas Hood

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One of my favorite poems in all of “poemdom” is this one below by Robert Browning. In fact I recite it to myself at least once every spring.

The year’s at the spring,
And day’s at the morn;
Morning’s at seven;
The hill-side’s dew-pearled;
The lark’s on the wing;
The snail’s on the thorn; God’s in his Heaven—
All’s right with the world!

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Spring began very early here, almost a month and a half ago, but this morning was the first one exactly like the quintessential spring morning of which Browning spoke. A heavy dew had blanketed everything that lay before my eyes making grass and flower sparkle, and in the sparkle was the sort of magic that thrills this old gardener’s heart beyond measure. So I sat spellbound forever so long in my chair watching the birds feed and the squirrels play and the breeze ruffle petals and leaves. My little piece of Eden was gloriously alive as well as all of her adoring paramours. What a  magnificent sight to behold it was as light oozed into all the dark corners, not only outside the window but also in the windows of my being! What had been created in the beginning continually points to the Creator, and oh what a Creator He is! My eyes were filled, my ears were filled, my cup of life was filled, and in and of it all was Yahweh, that Holy Presence, who continually fills my soul with His goodness and grace. Oh how I adore Him and His wondrous Eden!!!

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. ~Psalm 23: 6  ✝

1089. The quality of mercy is not strained; it droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven  upon the place beneath. ~William Shakespeare

The great and amorous sky curved over the earth,
and lay upon her as a pure lover.
The rain, the humid flux descending from heaven
for both man and animal, for both thick and strong,
germinated the wheat, swelled the furrows
with fecund mud and brought forth the buds in the orchards.
~Aeschylus, The Danaides, c 500 B.C.

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Rain! Each drop is a small, but powerful, miracle descending from above, and when it falls, it comes down on a mission of salvation through time, space, and distance. When it first hits the ground after a prolonged dry spell like the one we’d been having, the sound of it fills my ears with joyful delight. As I listen to the falling rain it seems to create a kind of music which is not unlike the dulcet chords a beloved’s voice gives rise to. What’s more its haunting melodies often spark the remembrance of a vague “water” memory, perhaps a nebulous recollection of my wet beginning that lingers somewhere in memory’s oldest and deepest recesses. So it is that for as long as I can remember I’ve been drawn to rain’s mystique, and it never fails to put a smile on my face and thanksgiving in my heart. It has been said that nature, like man, sometimes weeps for gladness, and when the smell of wet soil and damp grass greet my nose, I have also been known to “weep for gladness.” Not only that but on the heels of the smiling, gratitude, and weeping, I’m oftimes overcome with the irresistible urge I felt in childhood to jump and dance with wanton joy in the sloshy puddles beneath my feet.

He(God) draws up the drops of water, which distill as rain to the streams. Job 36: 27  ✝

**These are rain dotted flowers already blooming in my gardens.

1087. I can hear you making small holes in the silence rain… ~Excerpted line from a poem by Jerry Hughes

Let the rain kiss you
Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops
Let the rain sing you a lullaby…
~Excerpt from a poem by Langston Hughes

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Listen to the rain! Each drop whispers secrets as it falls in many notes. All in tune the pitter pattering of their rich elemental sounds reveal a holy, life-giving melody written by the hand of God. Yahweh’s songs tell of filling lakes and streams to quench the thirst of earth and man and of replenishing gardens so as to provide food for the bodies and beauty for the souls of His children. There too are songs that like tears which empty the heart of sorrow fall like mercy from above to bless and heal in their quiet persistence.

Last night
the rain
spoke to me
slowly, saying

what joy
to come falling
out of the brisk cloud,
to be happy again

in a new way
on the earth!
That’s what it said
as it dropped,

smelling of iron,
and vanished
like a dream of the ocean
into the branches

and the grass below.
imagine! imagine!
the long and wondrous journeys
of the rain.
~Edited excerpt from a poem
by Mary Oliver

I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees their fruit. ~Leviticus 26:4 ✝

**Images found on Pinterest

996. Hold me, Lord, in the light of Your Being…

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Then, Breath of heaven, come dance
with me as autumn comes to an end

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And turn me round and round
on the earth, the beautiful hem of heaven

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So you can sing in my ear
the hymns of the spheres

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To fill me with heavenly peace
beneath the moon and stars

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Oh dance with me Yahweh
o’er fields of mercy and grace

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Waltz with me Emmanuel
as the angels and I sing, “Hallelujah”in praise of You

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Let them praise His(God’s) name with dancing… ~Excerpt from Psalm 149:3   ✝

**Images via Pinterest