Thursday, December 27, 2018

Advent Devotional for Christmas Eve


Through Advent 2018 we have studied God’s messages as brought to us by prophets of the Old Testament, centuries before the birth of Jesus, and by angels of the New Testament as promised to Zechariah, Mary, and Joseph, and as proclaimed by angels to the shepherds.  No matter when the messages were delivered, and no matter whether delivered by prophets or angels, the messages from God are essentially the same:  on a particular day in the city of David, God is sending a savior who will bring peace, love and the promise of eternal life to those who believe in Him.  Tonight, if we stop for a moment and reside in the quietness and awe of worship, we have a sense of anticipation, of His coming, and of the peace of His being with us and in us.  Yesterday we considered the prophet’s call for us to come to Him and we rejoiced in the fact that He bids us come to Him.  Tonight, we anticipate His birth, the time when He came to us- to be God and man with us and in us.

 God’s promises were confirmed by the prophecy of Micah in chapter 5, verses 2-4 as follows:

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
    though you are small among the clans of Judah,
   out of you will come for me
    one who will be ruler over Israel,
   whose origins are from of old,
    from ancient times.”
3   Therefore Israel will be abandoned
    until the time when she who is in labor bears a son,
    and the rest of his brothers return
    to join the Israelites.
4    He will stand and shepherd his flock
    in the strength of the Lord,
    in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
   And they will live securely, for then his greatness
    will reach to the ends of the earth.

In writing about these verses, theologian John Piper tells us “Bethlehem is scarcely worth counting among the clans of Judah, yet God chooses to bring his magnificent Messiah out of this town. Why? because Bethlehem is small -- God chooses something small, quiet, out of the way, and does something there that changes the course of history and eternity. We can’t say, “Well, of course he set his favor on Bethlehem, look at the human glory Bethlehem has achieved!” All we can say is, “God does nothing in order to attract attention to our accomplishments; he does everything to magnify his glorious freedom and mercy.” Similarly, God chose a stable so no innkeeper could boast, “He chose the comfort of my inn!” God chose a manger so that no wood worker could boast, “He chose the craftsmanship of my bed!” He chose Bethlehem so no one could boast, “The greatness of our city constrained the divine choice!” And he chose you and me, freely and unconditionally.”

“The deepest meaning of the littleness and insignificance of Bethlehem is that God does not bestow the blessings of the Messiah — the blessings of salvation — on the basis of our greatness or our merit or our achievement. He does not elect cities or people because of their prominence or grandeur or distinction. When he chooses he chooses in order to magnify the glory of his own mercy, not the glory of our distinctions. Therefore let us say with the angels, “Glory to God in the highest!” not glory to us, but glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

As we worship here in the quiet anticipation of the birth of our glorious Savior, let us open our hearts to the vastness of God’s love, and the fulfillment of His promises in Christ among us.

Heavenly Father
Thank You for the fulfillment of Your promises in the Birth of the Savior.  Tonight, as we anticipate the wondrous celebration of His birth, we come seeking You who alone can equip and dwell in us so that
When the song of the angels is stilled,
when the star in the sky is gone,
when the kings and princes are home,
when the shepherds are back with the flocks,
we are strengthened to do the work of Christmas by radiating Your light and glorifying You and reflecting Your peace, Your grace and Your love.

Advent IV

I am a little behind since Christmas has passed.
Here is Advent IV

For Sunday December 23, 2018

The message today is drawn from the angel’s visit to the humble shepherds out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock. Similarly, the old testament prophet, Zephaniah, spoke to the humble of his flock. Zephaniah 2:3 reads: “Seek the Lord all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility, perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the Lord’s anger.”
Zephaniah pleads with Judah to humbly return to the Lord. As one translation puts it, Zephaniah calls to the meek of the earth. The meek of the earth realize that they must search beyond themselves for help. They must look outside of their own capabilities to find a life of righteousness. They are not so proud as to think they can accomplish any right living on their own. Zephaniah implores Judah to pursue God not vanities.
To those who humbly seek God, Zephaniah proclaims Israel’s joy and restoration. Zephaniah 3:14-17 reads:
Sing, O daughter of Zion, shout aloud, O Israel!
Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem!
The Lord has taken way your punishment, He has turned back your enemy.
The Lord, the King of Israel, is with you; never again will you fear any harm.
On that day they will say to Jerusalem, “Do not fear, O Zion; do not let your hands hang limp.
The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you.
He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.

Zephaniah’s prophecy, like the angel’s declarations, bids us come and seek God.
In his book, the Dawning of Indestructible Joy, John Piper says, “Is it not a wonderful thing this Advent season, to know that God bids us come? That this great, holy God of righteousness and wrath says, “Draw near to me through my Son, your High Priest. Draw near to me. Draw near to me”?”
“This is his invitation in these Advent readings: “Draw near to me through your High Priest. Draw near to me in confession and prayer and meditation and trust and praise. Come. I will not cast you out.”

Let us pray.
Father we lift our thanksgiving in song and prayer.
Thank You.
You have given us a mighty warrior who saves.
Thank You.
You have given us Jesus, Emmanuel, one with us.
Thank You.
You do not cast us out, but You sing over us.
Thank You.
May we humbly seek You.
May we turn from ourselves to You.
May we be Your nation, Your people, Your beloved children.
We pray in Jesus’ name.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Advent III December 16

Named the weeping prophet, Jeremiah cries for Jerusalem. He delivers the same message over and over again, calling for Judah to repent and return to God. He rightly tells of the consequences of Judah's apostasy, but the people ignore him, preferring false prophets and comfortable news. With the exception of king Josiah, Jeremiah lived in a nation ruled by kings who practiced the worst evils, prayed to false gods and sought ease and comfort. The prophets of the time were little different and led the people in the direction of their kings, refusing to listen to Jeremiah’s warnings, closing their minds to righteousness or the love of a fully righteous God.

In the midst of Jeremiah's dire predictions, he twice, first in chapter twenty-three and again in thirty-three, tells of a Righteous Branch, and in so doing, he speaks of the coming Messiah -- the only one who can redeem, deliver and save. He speaks of the “Lord Our Righteousness”, springing up from David’s lineage. His message is urgent and reinforced by repetition. On more than one occasion, Jeremiah repeats an urgent assurance of salvation, telling his people to not be dismayed, that God will save them.

Our Advent devotional Scripture reading is from Jeremiah thirty-three which echoes Jeremiah twenty-three.
Jeremiah 33:14-16 
14 “‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will fulfill the good promise I made to the people of Israel and Judah.
15 “‘In those days and at that time
    I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line;
    he will do what is just and right in the land.
16 In those days Judah will be saved
    and Jerusalem will live in safety.
This is the name by which it will be called:
    The Lord Our Righteous Savior.’

Through confusion, persecution and fear, love for and frustration with the people of Judah, Jeremiah stands in breathtaking faith. Jeremiah continues to deliver God's message, begging his people to turn again to the Lord. The monumental example of Jeremiah places his service to God in stark relief against the ease-seeking life of mindlessness and shallow peace. It is a message as relevant today as it was in Jeremiah’s time.

We will read today of the angel's message to Joseph and how Joseph like Jeremiah, chose to stand in faith even when confronted with the facts of Mary's pregnancy.

Thomas Merton describes what happens to us when we accept God's plans for us, when we surrender, as did Joseph and Jeremiah. In Bread in the Wilderness, he says: "We ourselves have become someone else. We remain ourselves, fully ourselves. yet we are aware of a new principle of activity. We are fulfilled by an Identity that does not annihilate our own, which is ours, yet is received. It is a Person other than ourselves who identifies Himself perfectly with ourselves. This Identity is Christ, God. We discover something of the theological reality that human nature has been, not absorbed, but assumed." Merton goes on to speak of our new life through Christ, "Life together in Christ," referencing Ephesians chapter 2. Merton echoes Paul, saying that we are with Christ as Christians we are righteous because of our faith not because of our credit.

Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit, fill us. Take our sin, our desire for ease and comfort, and replace it with Your love and Your plan for us. Open our ears to hear Your Word as spoken by Jeremiah and Paul. Remind us that without You there is no life, there is no true peace. Melt our confusion and anxiety and remake us into Your people, we pray. Amen.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Books and Lingerie, A memory of Lonny

Lonny was a reader. He liked fiction and read fantasy, crime drama and military suspense. His love of story attracted me to him. I not only loved stories, I wrote them, or tried to write them. Stories took me away to a world of clear heroes and clear villains, to places and times that made difficult choices obvious and made life vital. For Lonny books showed the, 'good fight', they told of courage and adventure in worlds where people made a difference, where their lives mattered.
For our third (I think it was our third) anniversary, I gave Lonny a novel that he didn't own, but had long wanted. I gave him several other things as well. He gave me perfume. He gave his full attention. He let me know in so many ways that he loved me. Like many new wives, I assumed that after a nice anniversary dinner, we would spend the evening delighting in the benefits of marriage.
I always enjoyed private time with my husband, but that evening I was tired. I had wanted the day to be perfect and had worried and fussed much of the day trying to make it so. Lonny was not happy to be retired. He had worked from an early age and didn't care for a life of imposed leisure. He was a pilot, but in his final flight physical before forced retirement he had been diagnosed with diabetes. He wouldn't be able to fly for the military or as an occupation. It unsettled him and grieved me on his be-half.
We had been busy during our first three years. His daughter and his son had come to be with us. We had built a home and sold it and moved to Snyder Texas. Through it all, Lonny had weathered the storm with quiet calm, and though his career had taken a nose dive, he was pleased to be married and pleased to be with me. Of course, I had been a bit high maintenance throughout, but young wives will be. I like to think I kept him occupied and in so doing kept him from dwelling on flying.
After we cleaned up dinner, I was glad to see Lonny pick up his book and head to his chair. It was August so we didn't have a fire and the sun glowed softly through the clerestories, making its daily bid for the western horizon.
I went to shower and put on a special robe and gown I had saved for the occasion. Usually it was a nightshirt and a pair of old shorts, but, being our anniversary, I took the finery from the back of my closet.
Once darkness settled for the evening, I pulled back the covers and arranged them neatly, then called to Lonny. He said he would be in in a minute, and so I waited, and waited. I drifted to sleep and woke up and waited. Finally at two in the morning I went in to check on him.
He was reading. He had scooted into his chair so that he was part of it. He smiled. He twisted his tongue in his mouth and chewed on it, which was his habit when he concentrated. Other than turning the page and biting his tongue, he was still.
I watched him for a full ten minutes, loving him, not wanting to disturb him. Eventually, I couldn't resist. "I've been replaced by a book after only three years." I smiled as I spoke.
"What?" Lonny looked up. "Oh, I'll be right in."
I shook my head. "Never mind."
"Okay." Lonny went back to the book.
The next day I teased him again, and he said, "You gave it to me and I really enjoyed it. You should be happy."
I was very happy.
I cannot imagine Heaven. I cannot imagine a place of no grief, no worry and no anxious thought. While I miss Lonny daily and in increasing ways I wonder that he is in a world where he no longer grieves his lack of occupation, where he no longer struggles to fit into an angry world, a world where people are told daily that their lives don't matter.
I wish I could tell him again how much he mattered to me, how much his quiet attention softened my heart and tempered my own anger. I know Heaven is a world beyond our understanding, and i know he is with our Lord. It is a world even finer than the best book.
Today I miss you terribly, husband of mine. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Advent Devotional II, for December 9

In the old testament Scriptures, the prophets were often called to be God’s messengers. They revealed God’s word, power and singular sovereignty to a rebellious and unbelieving world. In Daniel 2:20-23, the prophet praises God and gives thanks having received God’s revelation, not only of the interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, but of the actual dream itself. After urging his friends, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, to plead for Go'd mercy concerning the mystery of Nebuchadnezzer's dream, the mystery is revealed to Daniel. In chapter two verses twenty through twenty three, he praises the God of Heaven saying:
Praise be to the name of God forever and ever;
wisdom and power are His.
He changes times and seasons;
He deposes kings and raises up others.
He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.
He reveals deep and hidden things;
He knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with Him.
I thank You and praise You, God of my ancestors:
You have given me wisdom and power.
You have made known to me what we have asked of You.
You have made known to us the dream of the king.

Like other prophets, Daniel becomes the messenger. Through Daniel, the one true God is revealed to Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel announces the dream and its interpretation. Verse forty-seven shows how completely God is made known to the king. The king said to Daniel, "Surely your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and the Revealer of mysteries, for you were able to reveal this mystery.
We will learn in the message today how Gabriel announces Mary's pregnancy and how Mary, like Daniel, accepts God's message and path and praises God.
In his song, Mary did You Know, Mark Lowry reflects on the fact of Emmanuel humble and low in Mary's womb. He also reflects on the praises people will sing, just and Daniel and Mary have. The chorus ends with these words:
The dumb will speak the praises of the Lamb.
As we wait on the Lord, may we listen for Him in reverence and sing His praises in our hearts.

Based on Psalm 139, let us pray.
Merciful Father, Your greatness is beyond me. You know my every thought even before I think it. You have knit me together in my mother’s womb. I am fearfully and wonderfully made, because of You. Your regard, Father, is precious to me.
Oh, God, fence me before and aft, protect me and nurture me as Your beloved child. May I continue to treasure Your regard and seek Your will. I will wait on the Lord. Amen 

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Advent Devotional I December 2, 2018

We talk about Advent as if we all understand what Advent is, and yet, the experience of Advent occurs distinctly for each of us.  In the church, Advent is our time of preparation for the coming of the Messiah, a time to prayerfully listen to God’s Word and inscribe that Word on our hearts. It is a time of making ready, of quiet anticipation. Frederick Buechner captures this sense in his book, “Whistling in the Dark, a Doubter’s Dictionary.” He defines Advent as follows:
The house lights go off and the footlights come on. Even the chattiest stop chattering as they wait in darkness for the curtain to rise.  In the orchestra pit, the violin bows are poised.  The conductor has raised his baton.
In the silence of a midwinter dusk there is far off in the deeps of it somewhere a sound so faint that for all you can tell it may be only the sound of the silence itself. You hold your breath to listen.
You walk up the steps to the front door.  The empty windows at either side of it tell you nothing, or almost nothing.  For a second you catch a whiff in the air of some fragrance that reminds you of a place you’ve never been and a time you have no words for.  You are aware of the beating of your heart.
The extraordinary thing that is about to happen is matched only by the extraordinary moment just before it happens.  Advent is the name of that moment.
The Salvation Army Santa Claus clangs his bell.  The sidewalks are so crowded you can hardly move.  Exhaust fumes are the chief fragrance in the air, and everybody is as bundled up against any sense of what all the fuss is really about as they are bundled up against the windchill factor.
But if you concentrate just for an instant, far off in the deeps of you somewhere you can feel the beating of your heart.  For all its madness and lostness, not to mention your own, you can hear the world itself holding its breath.   
As we hold our breaths awaiting the coming of our Messiah, we contemplate that first year—the year of the birth of Jesus -- and we consider the words of God preparing His people for the birth of the Holy Infant.   The theme of this Advent season is God revealed through His messengers. Today’s Scripture for the opening Advent devotional is from the Book of Isaiah. The message of it shouts God’s sovereignty. It upholds God’s perfect majesty. It affirms His covenant relationship with His people.
Listen to the words of the Lord as told in Isaiah 55:8-13:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 As the rain and the snow
    come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
    without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
    so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
12 You will go out in joy
    and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
    will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
    will clap their hands.
13 Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper,
    and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the Lord’s renown,
    for an everlasting sign,
    that will endure forever.”

Father thank You for speaking to us, sending Your messengers and Your message that we may become Your children, that we may seek You, that we may know Your Word and Your Way, that we may wonder at Your mighty power and that You still regard us. This Advent season open our hearts and our minds to the wonder of Your sovereignty, oh God. Your words created the impossible, that Zechariah and Elizabeth should have a child. You humbled Yourself in the form of Your Son, sacrificed Him for the propitiation of our sins, loving us before we knew You. Let this season be one of joy, love, worship and surrender. May Your message plant deep in our hearts. Amen

Sunday, December 2, 2018

In Memory of Lonny Gene Coots

 Advent 2018
December 2
My husband passed on November 15, 2018. He died in his sleep. I had gone to the other room. I was surly and tired. If I had known, I wouldn't have left. I wonder two things: did God drive me from the room so He could take His beloved child, or did my husband drive me because he was so tired of living a half life? I do not know, but I believe as we often believe somewhere between the heart and the mind, in a bubble of hope, I believe it was God and my husband together. They had a deal and I wasn't privy to a mystery which I could not keep.
The bubble of hope stumps me. In the middle of profound grief, I find myself smiling. Maybe God did do it. Maybe God sanctioned my husband's leaving. I hope He did. I know He is with God, but to know further that God scooped my husband up according to God's perfect plan, this is beyond me.
I have stories, memories I want to get down, some I almost lost but for friends recalling them. This Advent season I will post a few.
I begin with a recent story. Two weeks before he passed, I was struggling with how to serve him. He shouldn't drive, not that he didn't try, but he was too tired and his truck was in the shop, so my warrior, my pilot, my adventurer was stuck in front of the television with old re-runs and two lazy dogs. He ventured out only for dialysis three times a week and returned spent, still trying to feed me with a take out sandwich, trying to feed the dogs by buying dog food. It broke my heart. We had planned to travel. Maybe he would help me learn to fly, maybe he would finally teach me Karate. He was a cook when we were first married, maybe we could at least cook together teasing each other about what tasted good, and that, according to him, bologna was an excellent entree. Instead, he was a whisper a tangled thought maybe a thin mist of himself in a big chair with the volume on high.
I came in that afternoon, determined to do something right, determined to scoop him up myself, if for nothing more than a diversion  "Come on," I said. "We're going to go vote."
"But it's not election day."
"I know but we'll go early. Let's go feel the power."
He chuckled. "Let me get my shoes on."
Was it then that I noticed his eyes, they were bigger, more childlike, happy for a small gift of time from his too frequently occupied wife. They shone like aquamarine, magnified and lightened in his glasses. He smiled, delighted. Oh that I would have done something for that smile a thousand times more often. But I had it that once and I wouldn't waste it.
We went to the early voting station, but I couldn't get into the close parking. We agreed he would be fine, that it would even be good for him to walk a little.
We walked slowly and though it was a rare cool day, the sun was pleasant away from the wind. I watched him walk bent and slow, holding on to the wall because he didn't want me babying him. It didn't matter. I wouldn't have minded. I wanted to help. I wanted to scream. I wanted him whole and vital as much for his sake as mine. I prayed for a kidney, I prayed for strength in his legs to return, I prayed for that bubble of hope.
Inside we found friends. My former sister-in-law and her husband, kind people. We were delighted. They were delighted. We were all voting, exercising our rights and our minds, participating in life and civics and things that matter. We were part of a teaming mass. We were vital. It was a good day.
My husband cast his vote first, while I was still talking to my sister-in-law. My breath caught. He wasn't confused, or disinterested. He had finished by the time I found him. His grin really did stretch from ear to ear.
"Have you already voted?"
"Oh yes. I've been finished for a while. Just waiting on you."
I was breathless. It was a familiar joke and told in a familiar way. He had joked that I really was going to be late for my own wedding. My heart skipped. "You're teasing me?" I could hardly get the words out for the laughter spilling from every thought. My husband, for this short time and in this short way, he is mine again, and he cherishes me. 
We might have bought sandwiches. We might have gone home and I made supper. I wish I could remember. So much, too much, is a blur. He was tired and slept in front of the television after we returned home.
But I remember his blue eyes, light and bright. They told me not to be so serious. They told me he loved me. They told me that just for a moment we were once again young and in love.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Joy Writers Summer Seminar

Our Summer Seminar for Joy Writers begins tomorrow. If you are in the Roswell area and interested in honing your writing skills and enjoying good fellowship, come by the Roswell Public Library. We will begin at 9:00 in the Bondurant Room.
The seminar will be led by our fearless leader, Eva McCollaum. You can find her blog here. Speak with her if you would like to join us, or come by.

We read Devil in a Blue Dress by Walter Mosley as our novel for the seminar this year.

Set in Los Angeles in 1948, the young black man easy-going Easy Rawlings, tells his story first hand. Recently fired due to racism, Easy is anxious to pay the mortgage on his home. In the first scene Easy meets DeWitt Albright, a white man  with pale eyes and pale skin, wearing off-white linen. For me the first scene sets up the book in a memorable way. DeWitt continues to live in my memory after several years. He is menacing from the get-go.
Easy reluctantly accepts money from DeWitt to find a young woman, Daphne Monet who likes to associate with black people. The reader watches as Easy Rawlings tries not to take the job, then slowly becomes entangled in trouble. Two of his associates are killed and he is drug further into a complicated web of intrigue spun by Daphne and her would-be love.
One reviewer mentions a favorite character from the book, Mouse who appears about two-thirds of the way through the novel. Mouse is brutal and quixotic, but he twice saves Easy's life. At the end of a passage where Easy and Mouse strike a deal to let Easy call the shots, Mouse says," Whatever you say Easy, Maybe you gonna show me how a poor man can live wit'out blood." It's a telling line and describes how Mouse survives.
I recommend this book if your read noir detective fiction. Read it for the characters, Easy, Mouse, DeWitt and a host of other well drawn people, read it for the setting, Los Angeles in 1948, and finally read it for a study of racism then and now.
Enough for now. Thanks for Reading, Bev

also posted at

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Fluffly not Stuffy

Early Summer Flowers
In 1972, Three Musketeers released an add campaign for their candy bar claiming it was, 'fluffy not stuffy.' It was an unusual idea for a candy bar. I thought of this add campaign when I heard someone say that God must want her fluffy since most of her efforts at exercise were dashed before they could begin. I laughed and thinking I might claim the line for myself.  Later, I found myself trying to explain to an occasional believer and dear friend, why the line tickled me so.
My friend was appalled at the lengths many believers would go to blame God for our lack of will power, and remarked, "You people are so eager to give yourselves excuses."
"No you see it's only funny because of that very reason," I began, but I smiled and shook my head. Before I could get far into the conversation, I realized that the comment was funny to me because it frivolously embodied several arguments/apologies, the fruits of the Spirit, free will and God's will, and to some extent, false humility.
Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit. The casual comment implied that God had not gifted the woman with that particular fruit. To my mind, that was a charming jumble of human-ness. While the fruits of the Spirit can be considered gifts of God, they are more closely the harvest in humans of a right relationship with God. In this passage in Galatians, Paul tells us what to expect as we humble ourselves before the Lord. He also tells us what we might look for in others to deepen our joy and quicken our hearts. Paul begins by calling us free, and gives us a discussion of the considerations of our free will, within God's will. "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery," Galatians 5:1. He is speaking of being a slave to sin. In the comment about fluffy, we can see that we have sinned in so many ways, sinned by blaming God for our silliness, sinned by acts of the flesh which Paul lists, see Galatians 5:19-21, and sinned by using our free will to appease our appetites rather than seek a stronger relationship to God.
As for false humility, in claiming fluffiness, we are confessing our lack of perfection by the world's standards. But fluffiness is a cute way to describe something ugly. We are confessing, but not really. In his book, Humility, Andrew Murray puts it this way. "The call to humility has been too little regarded in the Church because its true nature and importance has been too little apprehended. It is not something which we bring to God, or which He bestows; it is simply the sense of entire nothingness which comes when we see how truly God is all, and in which we make way for God to be all." If God were truly all in our lives, our fluffiness would not be an issue because our self-ness would not be an issue. Whether we were fluffy of stuffy, would not be an issue.
For me, the over-arching point of Galatians 5 is that we are freed by Jesus. The Gospel message is true. Sometimes it is light as a fragrant Spring dawn. Free will in side of God's will is a concept best explained empirically and demonstrated in the fruits of the Spirit. We are free, but our will is lessened as we grow closer to God. Our petulant demands to do what we want to do, become memories. Our rights inside of God's will delight us. We are identified by our choices, good and bad and yet God loves us so, that He sent Jesus. We can make a joke at our own expense. We are free to laugh at ourselves knowing that what we mean is, God I long to do better and be better, but thank you Jesus for my freedom. Our gratitude overwhelms us.  

Monday, June 11, 2018

Join us in Roswell, NM June 29 and June 30. I'll write more later. BEV

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Winter Sunrise
A new year, a new leaf, probably not, but I wanted to post. I've read (or more likely, listened to) so many good books over the last few months and I would like to share my thoughts on them, but not just now. Just now, I am wondering about conferences. I go to several every year. There are two Colorado writers conferences that I enjoy, Pikes Peak Writers in the spring and Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers in the fall. I also go to the New Mexico Hay conference, the New Mexico Crop Production Association conference, the New Mexico State University Pecan Conference and when I can spare the time the Presbytery, and Texas Wine Growers Association Conference. I'm still not sure what a wine grower is, but they have changed the name to wine grape grower, so all is well. And yes, I realize there is a disconnect in positioning Presbytery next to wine grape growers. Locally I attend the Joy Writers seminar in August and A Bookish Affair in June.
I relish conferences. I'm not sure why, but it's kind of like festivals, I like them also. There's a hopefulness about gathering with fellows in a field and learning from each other. There's conference food to be enjoyed or detested, and drink, because most of us are awkward in strange settings and maybe need a little something to loosen our tongue. There's new faces and a few familiar ones. There's entertainment and a break from daily life.
I am at the New Mexico Hay Conference. I like how it is scheduled during the winter, well outside of harvest. I look forward to going every year, and that lifts my spirits which are sometimes low after Christmas.
But this year, we had something truly special. Peggy Krantz  had a paint party concurrent with the conference and the conference text and presentations were given to us on a jump drive. I went to the paint party and painted (you guessed it) an alfalfa field. I don't even have to feel guilty for missing the conference, because I have all of it at my fingertips or at least on my computer. Unfortunately my wings will be clipped for the next six months as I am having knee surgeries and will not be able to travel out of state. Sigh.
I have enjoyed my time here, and look forward to the next. Any of you readers have a favorite conference?
As always, thanks for reading. Bev