Monday, November 30, 2015

Advent Day 2: Creation

Advent Day 2: Creation

Do you remember a time when the darkness was so piercing that your open eyes deceived you into thinking they were closed?  Your search for light was futile in the all-encompassing blackness. It may have made you laugh. It is a strange feeling afterall. Maybe in the stillness you thought of the light. Maybe you imagined the wonderful things in your life because of the light. But you knew your sight would return soon. And so you waited.

There was a time when that sort of darkness was not only in a room or a cave, but over all creation. Nothing but darkness. There was no form. Only empty nothingness.

Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep.” - Gen. 1:2

And then...

Light! Beautiful, shining, glorious light. An explosion of Brightness and Beauty. Purity. Warmth. Light.

You’ve heard these words before:

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.” -Genesis 1:3-4

And so God created. And so The Three rejoiced at their creation. They rejoiced at Their Light.

I don’t need to tell you that the darkness is going to return. You know the story.  But it won’t be the sun that fails to shine. The eyes of man will still behold the creation’s light and all the physical form it illuminates.
No, this time the darkness is going to come not to the eye, but to the heart.  This is a much more serious darkness because when it comes there is no joy. There is no hope. Those are the things of the Light.

Have you ever felt darkness in your heart? Fear or anxiety or pain or sadness?  It may feel like you are frozen. You may feel empty. Or, you may feel that the darkness is so close that you cannot breath. You might not be able to see a way out of the cave of your thoughts; or even where your next step should be. But God does not leave those He loves in the darkness. He promises. He promises that there is always (hear that again: ALWAYS) a way out of the darkness; and although you might have to wait, be patient. Because it WILL come.

Light will come.

How do I know this? Because it already did. Light has already won. It has been done. The glorious, beautiful pure Light shone even more brightly than on that first day of creation. It shone on the world and it shines in the hearts of all who love the Light.

“The people who walk in darkness Will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, The light will shine on them” Isaiah 9:2

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life,and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:1-5)

Do you know the name of that Light? His name is Jesus. He was there in the beginning. He was there in the manger, He lives in your heart, and He will be there at the end of time. When no shadow remains. He is the Light.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Advent Day 1: The Rod of Jesse

Have you ever seen a tree stump? All bumpy and mangled in the ground? Once it was large, beautiful, strong and tall. Now, it is dead. The massive limbs gone. The crowning leaves now fallen forever and the juicy fruit that once brought nourishment is only a memory. The strong trunk reduced to nothing more than a bench. A place of rest in a weary time of trouble.

In the days of Isaiah, The beautiful kingdom had been divided. God’s people were split between capture and a kingdom of idolatry. Darkness was over the land and all they could do was to rest upon the memory of what had been. How did they get here? How did it all go so wrong? Perhaps they looked longingly at the days of David the King and wished for another who would build a kingdom under whose branches they could live in peace.

And then the LORD spoke through Isaiah and said,  

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear, but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.”

And then there was hope. In the darkness of their time. In the blackness of their situation, there was a spark.

Someone would come. Someone from Jesse’s line would save them. From the seemingly dead, cold stump, a shoot would spring up and bring new life to a hopeless people. Be of good cheer, oh Israel. Your Savior will come. Just keep the spark of hope alive.

Tomorrow we will go back to the beginning. Back to the first blast of light. Back to the first shadow of darkness. To tell the stories of God’s people. Their stories. Your story. God’s story.

But tonight. Just imagine. Imagine with them your dark places and your hopeless times. And remember the spark. Always remember that the light will come back. Light will always win.

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan's tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o'er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, O come, Thou Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai's height,
In ancient times did'st give the Law,
In cloud, and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

The Symphony of Creation

He sits alone.

Strategically and sometimes wildly transcribing the notes so real in his head to a crumpled scribbled meager piece of paper. The work is intense beauty. A masterpiece from a master's head. From his heart.

Every note. Every pause. Every strum, beat and breath of every instrument must be painstakingly transcribed to come together into one stunning heart-stopping masterpiece.

And then...he puts down the pen and sighs, "It is good."

but it is not the end.

The symphony has been laid out in a line of black and white. The beginning to the end...masterfully transcribed and finished.

And then...

The master re-emerges and with hands raised he begins. Swift, dancing movements up and down, soft and striking. Directing and interpreting each note as the players follow his every movement. Subtle. Strong. Once more his heart flows out of his hands until the final note is played under his direction.

At another time...
They sat alone.

Strategically and wildly putting into place the plan in Their mind. In Their heart. An intense beauty. A masterpiece from the Master.

Every star. Every eruption. Every change, cell and breath of every creature must be planned to come together into one stunning heart-stopping masterpiece.

He rests. It is good.

But it is not the end.

Creation...the work of the Master has been laid out in a beautiful timeline. Beginning to end. Incomprehensible. Finished.

The Creator does not leave. Each sparrow that falls, each changing cell, each child He watches, directs, orchestrates through the timeline of His perfect plan.  The tense notes, the sharp notes, all beautifully fashioned into a Symphony of Creation.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Town 11: Daysville

A little ways down the Highway from Mitchell we stopped at Daysville. A tad bit contrived, but holding that classic charm that shouts "we used to be a legitimate town of Western Lore" 


Bass Reeves in Action

ha ha.

These Two.

We stopped in at the Dayville Mercentile to find all of those "candies from the past." 
Candy sticks and gum cigs. Oh the memories. 

And old time horse. 

Goodbye quaint old once-upon-a-time town. 

Local: Store worker. 
Keepsake: Arrowhead from the store

Town 10: Mitchell

Traveling East en route to Idaho we decided to take the "Business Loop" through Mitchell. 
This ranks as MY favorite-so-far town.

A lady saw us "milling about" and let us into the closed restaurant. 
She was prepping for dinner service. 

"Business Loop"

There we are, folks. Main Street.

Apparently...according to the locals...this place is hopping in the summer. 
Gateway to the Painted Hills.

This building has seen many days. 

Judy came out of the diner and called we visited for awhile. 

They are trying to bring the town back. 
This one is for sale. 
Way overpriced according to Judy.

Yes. My favorite so far. 

A quick play at the park before hours more in the van. 
...waiting for Lily...who decided it may be too high.

Local: Judy
Souvenir: small glass bottle 

Towns 6-9: Tangent, Shed, Halsey and Harrisburg

A short trip down south on HWY 99E took us on a fun adventure with lessons on small towns of the past and what was important to them.

First stop...five miles out of Albany...Tangent.

Tangent was named for its long stretch of railroad. Named after the mathematical tangent.

Another of Grandpa's old shops

Also in the "history books" for Tangent was the story of a prominent man who, upon his death, left everything to the city AND Kitty Kat. The city was to provide for Kitty Kat until her death. We found her grave.

And then we found a cat. 

After a nice lunch in the park...

And a short walk around the railroad tracks...

We were ready to make our way town 99. 

Souvenir: Railroad Tie
Local: The cat. ;)

Next stop: Thompson's Mill...previous location of Shed

In all my years in the area, all the field trip opportunities there, I have NEVER visited. 

Don't miss this one. 

There were nice chickens on the other side of a fence.

And then one jumped. 

They were very friendly chickens who apparently knew no boundaries. 

We came in the middle of two tour times, but a lovely man and lady took us on a tour anyway.

It is a truly beautiful place. A must see.

A few miles down took us to the current location of Shed. It had been moved after the railroad decided to bypass it. 

Fortunately, our family AND our firearms are welcome here.

Quick walk down the main stretch.

And we were back on the road

Next Stop: Halsey

Okay, Okay...I know this is a quaint, cute, adorable little town, 
But it was so eerily quiet and just THERE. 

After a quick stop at the grocery store to get Milo a cup we drove awhile until we found a park. 

The park was cute.

Again...notice the railway theme.

Apparently my children would do well in countries where train roof riding is the thing.

Back on the road: Destination: one of the tri-county cities

Something is up there.

Run run run everywhere.

Once more...a town with a river. The best. 

Now THIS is Milo's idea of fun. 



Someone didn't want to leave the water.

My Jake.

DariMart is a must stop in this area.

Goodbye Harrisburg. You are a lovely little town.

Souvenir: Some bolt looking thing Max found on the road
Local: A man who passed and said, "It's like the fourth of July" I'm not sure if he meant we looked like a crowd OR it was so hot.