1439. For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways… ~Psalm 91:11 ✝

May all the Angels be your
sheltering and joyful guardians.
~John O’Donohue

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Who among us doesn’t remember times when we felt the hand of benevolent angels at work in our lives? My guess is we all migjht be able to acknowledge them. The word angel comes from the Greek word “angelus” which means messenger, and among other things, Biblical angels as messengers not only revealed helpful/vital information to mortals but they also protected and rescued them. Also in Scripture we find angels caring for the Israelites and smiting their enemies. And of course they were the guiding presence leading the wise men to the manger where the  Jesus, the Messiah, was born. So it is that one writer has described angels as a “medium of the Creator’s power, and they exist to execute His will.” And because angelic presences have been so prevalent in man’s history over the centuries, mortals have in various ways tried to portray angels by word and/or image.

Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his heavenly hosts. ~Psalm 148:2 ✝

**Image found on Pinterest

 

1435. Every happening, great and small, is a parable whereby God speaks to us. ~Malcolm Muggeridge

Remember this. When people choose
to withdraw far from a fire,
the fire continues to give warmth,
but they grow cold.
When people choose to
withdraw
far from light,
the light continues 
to be bright in itself
but they are in darkness.
This is also the case when 
people
withdraw from God.
~Augustine

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Try as some may, purporting that life is “a tale told by an idiot signifying nothing” or that it’s merely the result of events that can be explained through science or reason falls terribly short of reality. Nothing in these assumptions explains the existence of or need for compassion, grace, love, or mercy. Nor do they explain the compulsion in the human heart for expressions of such. If mortals were simply intellectual beings, they’d not emote, express feelings, or commit loving acts that are seemingly inspired in some inscrutable place within their physical being. These things, like all happenings in Creation, are indeed symbolic narratives designed to teach or illustrate truths about the Ancient of Days who created and wired into humans the capacity to feel, express emotions, and extend kindnesses to one another. It’s also true, as Muggeridge suggests, that the Author of light and life wrote into the fabric of Creation parables for His children and that getting the gist of them is an art, an art mastered not only by looking carefully at the apparent and outward realities of Creation but also by peering into its inward and inner realities. The sacred isn’t merely above us but forever within us and the entire body of Creation. Discovering the sacrosanct in all that Yahweh made can’t help but stir in the descendants of Adam a sense of connection and belonging to a higher Power. The resources and bounty of planet earth alone give us plenteous reasons to sense the presence of a Holy Benefactor and to feel His gracious, creative, and loving hands in our lives. What sparks a real desire within the human heart to seek Him is the “getting the message” within all the happenings of that which He has made. However, in case Creation’s parables are too puzzling, over 2,000 years ago God expanded the narrative and clearly revealed Himself when He sent His Son to be our Savior. Jesus is our memory, and in coming to offer us salvation, He reminds us of who we are and to whom we belong. As we prepare to celebrate the Messiah’s birth this weekend, I wish all of you a very blessed Christmas. As a very familiar yuletide song says, “O come let us adore Him!” And as we do, I pray that we create a compelling testimony to others of the Lord’s very real presence in our midst.

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. ~Romans 1:20 ✝

**Image via the Internet

1431. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas… ~Excerpt from lyrics written by Meredith Willson

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**The Root of Jesse or the Tree of Jesse is an iconographic depiction of the Ancestors of Christ. It shows in a tree which rises from Jesse of Bethlehem, the father of King David. It originates in a passage in the Biblical Book of Isaiah which describes metaphorically the descent of the Messiah, and is accepted by Orthodoxy as referring to Jesus Christ.

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. ~Isaiah 11:1 ✝

**Image found on Pinterest; text added by Natalie

 

1362. Your smile tells me more than words will ever say. ~Author Unknown

Smile with your lips, smile with your eyes,
smile with your heart and your soul and your life.
~Terri Guillemets

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Two weeks after James and I married in 1963, he became very ill and had to been hospitalized. In the beginning it looked as if he might have had something that would have been life threatening or else something that could have been at least life altering, but it turned out to be neither. There was a time when they found a tumor on my thyroid that could have been malignant, but after a partial thyroidectomy it proved to be benign. There was a time when it looked like I would never have a child of my own, however nine years after we married, we were blessed with a healthy baby girl. Three years after our daughter was born she became very ill and had to be hospitalized with something that at one time would have ended her life, but at that time it didn’t. There was a time when I had to have a hysterectomy because my uterus was full of tumors, but again they proved to be benign. There was a time when my daughter became pregnant, but miscarried her one and only biological child, but I have been blessed with three wonderful grandchildren. There was a time, when tumors were once again found in what remained of my thyroid, and they could have been malignant, but they weren’t. There was a time that those tumors grew so large and that surgically removing them endangered the finding and saving of my parathyroids, but the surgeon was able to locate 3 of the 4 and so the health issues that would have ensued from their loss didn’t materialize. There was a time when I had a stroke that could have left me crippled physically and/or mentally or worse yet it could have taken my life, but it didn’t. There was a time when my grandson suffered sexual abuse at the hands of a trusted individual and eventually the child had to be hospitalized for 5 months to save his life and shore up his wholeness. He suffers still with PTSD and other issues as a result, but today my daughter sent a photo in which he was having fun and smiling for the first time in nearly two years. So why did all that make me cry on the way home from my sister’s this afternoon? Was it because of sadness and despair over misfortunes and trials? Before I answer that let me say that not only have I committed my fair share of trespasses against the Lord and his commandments, but when I was 18, my father died suddenly, and afterwards I turned my back on the Lord for nearly two decades and railed against Him regularly for allowing my beloved father to be taken from me. So the tears flowed not out of grief but because God has blessed me so many times despite my human frailties and transgressions that I was once again humbled, reduced to tears of joy and gratitude, and made to ponder why on earth after my egregious shortcomings, He would love me enough to bless me over and over again with His amazing grace. The answer is simple: because though I once was so lost, I was and am His beloved child and I asked! So if someone were ever looking for a person who didn’t believe in miracles or in the power of prayer or in Jesus, as the Messiah, or in God’s forgiveness, faithfulness, or His loving goodness, I would NOT be the person they were seeking. But if they were wanting to know more about the Lord, I would tell them to “knock and the door would be opened.” So what do ya think? Am I smiling along with my beautiful grandson now? Oh you betcha I am, yes, yes, and yes!!!

**Image via Pinterest; special effects done by Natalie on iPiccy

1265. The doors we open and close each day decide the lives we live. ~Flora Whittemore

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The fact that I’ve been unhappily dealing with an intense, killer migraine since 4 AM this morning has reminded me of an incident that happened years ago. It was a day when I had been grappling with physical pain like I’ve had to do off and on throughout my adult life, and I was feeling quite sorry for myself even grumbling inwardly about it. So when it was suggested that we go to a movie which would include a long walk to get to a downtown theater, I wasn’t particularly interested in going. But I was eventually talked into it, and because I am slower these days, I was trailing along somewhat behind the others. As we rounded the last corner I almost bumped into a homeless man of color with no legs who sitting on the sidewalk in a wheelchair. His head was down but all of a sudden he looked up and smiled the most engaging, warm smile, looked straight into my eyes, and said, “God bless you!” I replied in kind but perhaps without the same warmth and walked on to catch up with the others After mulling it over I knew for certain it was no accident that the man was there at that exact moment in time for a Divine reason. So I glanced back with thoughts of running back and saying thank you as we entered the theater, but he was gone. Nevertheless, in our brief encounter this nameless, homeless disabled man had driven a clear message straight into my heart–I had a home, I had legs, I was not confined to a wheelchair nor was I having to endure hard days and nights living on the streets and going hungry. And so if he could ask God to bless me when the differences between our circumstances were so vasrly different, then it was time for me to rise above my trials and do the same.

No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. ~1 John 4:12  ✝

**Top image by LilAS and LOlAS found on Facebook; text box created and written by Natalie; collage by Natalie

1105. Let the resurrection joy lift us from loneliness and weakness and despair to strength and beauty and happiness.  ~Floyd W. Tomkins

Once more to new creation
Awake,
 and death gainsay,
For death is swallowed up of life,
And Christ is risen today!
~George Newell Lovejoy

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And he departed from our sight that we might return to our heart, and there find Him.  For He departed, and behold, He is here. ~St Augustine

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die… ~John 11:25  ✝

**Image via Pinterest

1079. I hope everyone that is reading this is having a really good day. If not, just know that in every new minute that passes you have an opportunity to change that. ~Gillian Anderson

February 26th is not a holiday nor necessarily a particularly important day for that matter, but it is a significant day for me. A year ago today I was in surgery getting my left knee replaced which has been a huge success and blessing for me. Then today after returning home from my end of the year check up on it, I noticed that again one of my early posts had been viewed making it still the most viewed and liked one to date. So I decided to repost it to commemorate blessings and favorable outcomes in general. The only thing I’ve changed about it is the photo.

46. A Robin Redbreast in a cage puts all Heaven in a rage. ~William Blake
FEBRUARY 26, 2013 BY NATALIESCARBERRY

When father takes his spade to dig
then Robin comes along;
And sits upon a little twig
And sings a little song.
~Laurence Alma-Tadema

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The introductory line in the title is from Blake’s “Auguries of Innocence,” a somewhat lengthy poem consisting of a series of paradoxes in which Blake juxtaposes innocence with evil and corruption. The word augury in the title means omen or token, and the robin is the poem’s first noted “augury of innocence.”  The robin’s song, personality, and countenance are such that it’s obvious why the poet saw the act of putting one in a cage as not only an enraging violation but also as a profound perversion of holiness.  The sweet song and colorful markings of a robin make the bird a delightful harbinger of spring’s infancy and innocence.  Looking forward to its coming is one of my favorite rites in spring’s passage, and like “all heaven” I’d be incensed if the bird’s freedom were taken away and its song silenced.  Below is a legend about the robin that again ties the bird to the blameless and sacred.  Although the truthfulness of legends is questionable, I’m fascinated that somehow, somewhere, and in some way the robin was connected to the Messiah.

The Legend of the First Robin
One day, long ago, a little bird in Jerusalem saw a large crowd gathered around a man carrying a heavy wooden cross.  On the man’s head was a crown made from a thorn branch.  The thorns were long and sharp.  The little bird saw that the thorns were hurting the man.  It wanted to help Him, so it flew down and took the longest, sharpest thorn in its tiny beak.  The bird tugged and pulled until the thorn snapped from the branch.  Then a strange thing happened.  A drop of blood fell onto the bird’s breast, staining it bright red.  The stain never went away.  And so today the robin proudly wears a red-breast, because it helped a man named Jesus.

“But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you.  Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this?  In His hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind. . .”  ~Job 12:7-10   ✝