The Tree and the Deer

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The simplicity of an evergreen, a deer and snow.

Somehow the draw of the cold, early morning winters are such a delight to me. Layering my clothes, I don my very old down “puffer” black full length coat that I can’t bear to give up due to its extreme warmth. It lacks total shape or form.  At 50, I am beyond caring that I look like a black Stay Puft marshmallow topped with my bomber hat which keeps my head and ears toasty so early in the morning.  I have entered “practical” vs “fashionable” at least for outdoor wear.   People are heading to school, jobs, and the monotony of a workday starts for them.  For me, I head to my mountain with my dog Sheba, anticipating a “word” from the Lord.  My pace quickens.  The entrance to the cemetery is clogged with a thigh-high plow shaped mound of hardened snow.  The earlier storm long over, above freezing temperatures during the day created an icy layer on top that crunches so loudly in the quiet of the early morning climb.

My first thought,”I will never see a deer with this noise.”  Yet, I dismiss the thought and replace it with, “God can do anything.”  Hope returns.  I realize as we head up the first hill, that I am ill -equipped with my sneakers.  (I had forgotten that they don’t plow the cemetery in winter).  I make a mental note to wear boots next time.  The climb is icy at spots and in others, I sink ankle deep in cold moist snow, but my thoughts turn to “Seek me with all your heart, and you will find Me.”  It also returns to the “Christmas season”, “Traditions of men”, and Christmas trees.  The Lord has been destroying my “Christian ” foundation quite steadily over the last year.  When He reveals something, a fallacy or twist of His truth, it is usually a BIG one that rocks my world for weeks on end.  The latest has been Christmas, as well as other “Christian” holidays.  (warning…..this will probably offend those who are not ready for truth.  Read at your own risk.)  Two days ago, I saw a post on the history of the Christmas tree, its pagan roots and our adoption. (There are tons of YouTube videos on Christmas origins)  The woman speaking denotes a passage in Jeremiah.  Stunned, I turn to Jeremiah 10:2-4 (KJV) and read:

Thus saith the LORD, Lean not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven, for the heathen are dismayed at them.  For the customs of the people are vain, for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.  They deck it with silver and with gold, they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it not move.

WHAT?? Really???  God warns about “customs of people” (Traditions of men)  which are not His ways. (Some argue it means wooden idols but what are idols but symbols of who or what we worship)   It still rings true. This has really been another eye-opener.  Consequently,  I shared the verse and post with a friend who drives the Amish.  She asked the Amish if they celebrate Christmas?  They said they gathered together.  She also asked if they had Christmas trees.  Their response was: “No, the book of Jeremiah forbids it.”  Wow!  So the Amish know what the bible says.  Now the rest of the story……. (Yes, I used to listen to Paul Harvey!)

God, true to His nature, allowed Sheba and myself to see the three deer in the field but because of the major crunching noise, they did not stick around long.  However, as we traversed the front of the mountain to make our circuitous route back down, I again was thinking about, “Seek me with all your heart….”  I look up and did a “double-take” . There up ahead, SITTING under a perfectly formed, huge fir tree was a deer.  It was not fleeing, my dog did not sense it. I stopped and tried to grab my cell phone camera.  I finally found it but with some difficulty because I had huge mittens that barely fit into my pocket.  I finally turned it on and looked up, the deer was standing now.  Looking straight at me, ears pricked.  I then saw another behind it, white tail up.  They were now on alert.  The picture you see below shows the standoff.  As I stood motionless, even Sheba stood still (only God).  The picture of the prone position of the deer under a perfect fir tree surrounded in snow, impacted me greatly.  God is everywhere but this is where He showed Himself to me, out in creation, in the cold wintry morning.  It was my third message.  Jesus was born simply, in a manger. With no fanfare, no holiday celebrations, no glitz, just quietly out with the animals, with his family.  Man has made his own traditions.  Nowhere in the Bible, does it say to celebrate Jesus birthday.  He came in humbly (not at the height of pagan holidays).  This is a hard one for me but I cannot deny what He showed me over the last few days. I leave you with two pictures.  Which one speaks of the character of God and His word?

 

Double take

Jeremiah 29:13  “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart”

Starting my walk later than usual, Sheba (my German Shepherd) and I commenced our routine of climbing the cemetery hill.  I knew we had missed sunrise and I watched as a jogger ran up ahead of us to the summit. Deep down I felt dismayed.  The early hours, the sunrise, the solitude I have found at the peak of the cemetery hill would now be unattainable because I had not left the house early enough. So I turned my attention to the Lord, praising Him, snatches of choruses from my favorite songs echoed in my head as I ascended. The verse I had been ruminating on all week came to the forefront of my mind…it was from Genesis when Eve ate the fruit from the “Tree of Good and Evil”.  Adam and Eve were not aware of both “good and evil”.  They had always only known God’s best.  His perfection. His complete attention. His pristine creation, uniquely melded together with perfect fellowship and idyllic peace.  I had always looked at “evil”, never thinking that “good” was less than God intended. It has bothered me all week.  The verse in Jeremiah 29:13 came back..”if you seek me…..” and suddenly I realized I was not looking for God in His creation!  My mind was elsewhere, distracted with good things but not the best.  By this time I was rounding the highest point, knowing I would not see the deer that He always allowed me to be unnaturally in close proximity, especially with Sheba at my side. So I started back down and noticed the “tree”- the brilliant tree from last year- it was drab looking. I took a picture with my phone. I passed by and turned the corner.  I realized that I had not truly identified the tree and turned to go grab a leaf to help me solidify its identity.  Lo and behold,  a 4 point buck was staring at me from underneath the tree.  Too late to grab my camera again.  I was way too close.  Our eyes locked, I stopped, always amazed at how close God allows me to be to his beautiful creatures.  I had a few more seconds and then he bounded off.  I was so thrilled to have seen him so close yet bummed I didn’t have a picture to remember it by.  I continued onward to the base of the tree and plucked a leaf.  Wanting to make sure it really was a red maple, the leaf had seven points – of course it did!  “7” God’s number of completion/perfection.  As I headed back down pondering its meaning and praising God…it hit me! I had taken a picture of the tree before!  Was the deer there? Even then?  I stopped, found the previous picture (see picture below) and blew it up larger.  Yes, there he was, but I did not see him because I was not looking for him.  Again, I heard the message…..God said, “I am always here but you must have eyes to see, ears to hear and you will find me.”  I am always humbled when He gives me such a beautiful message.  He is always there, how many of us get distracted with “good” things or activities and miss the “best” that God has for us.  Good and evil are all around us but only when we remember to seek God’s best will we find Him.

Matthew 13:16  But blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear.deer under tree

We are all Lamps

We are all lamps; we have the potential to be a light, to shine a path in the darkness. Our “Source” is always there, waiting for us to “plug” in. We throw everything at the lamp, trying to energize it, make it “come to life” – crystals, spells, Reiki, yoga; we are looking for a “source” of power. But nothing works. We keep trying in our own strength – alcohol, drugs, and sex – no power. Our lives are empty and dark.
Some of us do find “The Power Source” and “plug” in. We are connected with our purpose – we shine, we are bright, we can see into the darkness. We stay close to “The Source”. But eventually, we get bored staying so close to the wall, we look out and see all the world has to offer, quickly forgetting the darkness that surrounds it. The cord feels restrictive- “I want to do what I want to do” – our will, mind, and emotions fight against “The Source”. We finally yank the cord out and walk back into the darkness.
Others stay close soaking in the power of the One True God. – The Source. Yet until we realize that God has given us a rechargeable battery pack, we cannot go out into the darkness to be a light to those around us. When our faith grows and we realize we can take that power source with us and stay connected, then our true path will be lit before us. We will have to go back and “plug in” with the Father to “recharge” our batteries, but unlike modern everyday batteries, our charge will continue to strengthen as we sit, learn, study under “The Source”. He will enable us to keep going out into the darkness with no fear of losing His power source. We need not fear our light will flicker. He charges our batteries, His power lights the way. We are all a bunch of lights that the Lord wants to use and to light the path to Him- the One True Power Source.

The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.  Revelation 21:23

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  John 8:12

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The Oak and the Pine

Psalm 5:11 But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you.
oaktreesideviewI have to say that 50 has been  a turning point in health…everything is just a little harder to do, takes longer to maintain results and the body is definitely a tad weaker….like eyesight.  It used to be that I wore glasses (or contacts) for distance but my up close vision was just fine.  Through my forties, my up close vision has steadily declined, to the point that I cannot distinguish the shampoo bottle from the conditioner in the shower.  But I believe what has really affected me the most is my contacts.  No longer am I able to correct my vision using contacts.  Now I need “cheaters” or drugstore glasses to read, however, this does not help my distance vision at all.  So even though I wear my contacts, I am still squinting to make out what appears to be a wreath or some pine debris next to a tall oak at the edge of the field yesterday morning.  So being the ever curious person God made me to be, Sheba (my dog) and I decided to head across the field to check it out.  As we meandered over to the tree, I was surprised to see that it was a beautiful miniature spruce actually rooted to the base of this towering oak.  I thought it rather odd that a perfectly formed pine had grown beneath the tree canopy that in the warmer months would have prevented much sun from finding it.  I sat down next to it and looked at the towering oak and thought, “that is so weird to find an evergreen under this huge deciduous oak.” (Yes, the words really do enter my mind!) The ground was littered with acorns and the distinctively shaped oak leaves.  As I sat and pondered such an odd pairing, I thought about the characteristics of both type of wood.  Oak is a hard wood, heavier, slow growing, highly prized for its toughness and beauty.  The spruce or pine, on the other hand, is a fast growing, soft wood, not prized for its beauty as much as its availability and quick growth.  It also is susceptible to dents and scratches.  The price difference is also distinctly different, with pine being cheaper than oak.  In the early morning sunrise, the Lord brings another picture to mind…….God is the beautiful towering Oak!  Tall, majestic, durable and highly prized.  We are the pine; weaker, softer, susceptible to dents and scratches.  If we understand the relationship that God intended with His Creation, we, too, would nestle in underneath His canopy, draw from His deep tap root, stay protected under His wide overarching reach.  We would not worry about the sun reaching us so we could grow in stature.  If we are rooted with God, His “Son” will sustain us, nurture us, and grow us up into a beautiful sight that would bring joy to others, especially at Christmas time, when, as the “pine” we would be able to shine –  adorned, and decorated – for the celebration of the Father’s gift to us, Jesus, His son.

The Fox in the Henhouse

Last week I walked up my “mountain” (nothing compared to Western US standards) but it was 9 degrees with a wind-chill of 0. It was a clear blue sky and the sun was just coming up and it beckons to me with an urgency I cannot describe. Sunrise outside anywhere is where I hear from God. So I bundled up (it is never too cold, just inappropriate clothing choices, lol.) and started off with my German Shepherd who had been blocking the door and had dragged her leash out of the basket. Walking out of town and climbing to the entrance of the cemetery, the way was paved with snow and patches that had melted down to pavement, the light filtering through the bare trees to create shadows on the snow. As we started up the hill, my dog found something that didn’t immediately strike me as something odd, I thought it was just another pile of exposed leaves.. As I approached, I realized it was a dead fox that had no head left, just the face. (Warning picture to follow). I stared and thought about it….Fox? What are foxes??? “A Fox in the Henhouse” came to mind. “A thief” ….and then I heard it. That inner voice God uses to speak to me.

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“I am crushing the head of the Fox that is stealing all my hens! The hens are the mamas that are filled with the eggs (the blessings, the babies!).
The idiom is a warning!

We have put a “Fox” in charge of the “Henhouse.” Meaning someone that will exploit their position!
If we look at the nature of the fox, it is rather telling! Foxes live on every continent except Antarctica and they THRIVE in cities, towns, and rural settings. They are active when the sun goes down, solitary and elusive. They are part of the Canidae family and are related to wolves, jackals, and dogs; however they do not live in packs, they prefer to hunt and sleep alone. A red fox can pinpoint field mice buried deep beneath the snow, using his sensitive hearing and the magnetic field of the North Pole to plot his trajectory. He is accurate 75% of the time!
(See the amazing Discovery video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D2SoGHFM18I )

By nature, the fox is sly and tricky. This “fox” has “pounced” on the unsuspecting helpless babies! The “fox” is Governor Cuomo in charge of New York. We have put the “Fox in charge of the Henhouse” here in New York State. We have swallowed the enemy’s lies for too long. Living in fear. Scripture says in Luke: 13:31-35: 

Jesus’ Sorrow for Jerusalem
“At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, “Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you.”
He replied, “Go tell that fox, ‘I will keep on driving out demons and healing people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’  In any case, I must press on today and tomorrow and the next day—for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.  Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’
Jesus called Herod a “fox”, and that He, Jesus, would have gathered the children together, “as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings”, YET what Herod had done was ORDER the killing of all the newborns up to age 2! Herod, “the fox”, not only “Allowed but Endorsed” the killing of all the baby boys under 2 in order to try and kill baby Jesus! Could what was passed, “allowed and endorsed” by Governor Cuomo be applicable today by changing the name of Herod to Cuomo?

Jesus’ sorrow for New York!
At that time some Congressmen came to Jesus and said to him, “Leave this place and go somewhere else. Cuomo wants to kill you.”
He replied, “Go tell that fox, ‘I will keep on driving out demons and healing people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’
“New York, New York, you who kill the innocent babies and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’

#CUOMOISTHENEWHEROD!

Another scripture with reference to foxes:

Nehemiah 4:3, “Tobiah the Ammonite was beside him, and he said, “Yes, what they are building – if a fox goes up on it he will break down their stone wall!”

The Jews were rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. When you have no walls, you have no protection. You have no watchman on the walls sounding the alarm to a call of danger. Cyrus (the ruler of Babylon, who had been used by God to free the Jewish captives) to let the people return to Israel. They were not welcomed by the inhabitants. They were up against ridicule and mockery. Nehemiah enlisted the help of the people to help repair the breaches; he set up families in different spots along the wall. It was a group effort. The battle for the babies is real! The battle is the Lords’. If we keep our eyes focused on Him, seek His face and repent, He will restore our nation. (2 Chronicles 7:14) . He wants our active participation. He does not need us, He wants relationship. It is time to wake up from your slumber, Church! Hear the call!

THE CALLING

There comes a time in everyone’s life where they feel that hollowness in the busyness, the everydayness of life…….and we think, “Isn’t there something more I was created to be or do?” For some it happens early on, for me it is now. I turned 50 in December and the nudges I have had keep getting stronger.calling.jpg
Last week, I was talking to a good friend by phone, ( she has been searching for purpose as well,) and I asked her, “What did you want to do in college? What was your major?” Later on, in return, she had asked me about my degree. I began to tell her that when I was growing up, I was extremely shy and frequently played by myself outside. I loved nature and all God’s animals. I did not grow up in the church and so I had no biblical knowledge at that time but I wouldn’t miss an episode of Wild Kingdom. My dream was to save the animals, which did not have a voice. I thought for sure I would be living in Africa with my safari outfit using my love of photography to do what Merle Perkins did….bring back stories about the animals and bring awareness to their plight. So when I arrived at college, I decided to major in zoology, logically that would accomplish my goal. Well, by junior year, that vision dried up as reality surfaced.  I knew my desire did not include being a doctor or vet and that left the research world and constantly looking for grants. All my business friends were on“easy street” with so much time because they did not have all the science labs. So I ended up changing my major to international business with a minor in French (my other love was foreign cultures and travel).

I NOW see God’s hand in every situation. Upon graduation I experienced such regret for my decision because now I would be locked into a cubicle with piped in air and fluorescent lights and no sunshine. (Picture the old time zoos where the animals are caged and pace back and forth. That was me.) See God had put a desire in my heart from birth to be a voice for his creation. Back then I thought it was for the animals, and as I was retelling my journey, I heard God speak to me…..”Same desire, the burden I have given you is for my creation…….the unborn babies that have no voice.” All of the sudden, clarity shined upon my life, God wastes nothing. I may have strayed from the “narrow path”, but He has guided me back when I have detoured. The passage of Cuomo’s baby killing law (I will not grant it its official euphemistic title so as to deceive people that it is anything but that – murder) at the end of January sent me into such states of weeping; the burden is real and I for one am heeding the call. What I did not know was that a month later, a “Day of Mourning” was scheduled for Saturday, February 23, 2019 at the Empire State Plaza convention center in Albany. The event was live-streamed and there were events all over the country. I knew God was calling me to go. And what He said to me that morning was so profound, that it has changed my life forever……

(The book “Calling” is by Jen Tringale and she is an awesome speaker)

 

Petrified

petrifiedAnother early morning….dark and cold, my phone says -2° outside. Winter is not leaving easily from New York. Beneath the cold, dark surface lays life….waiting to wake from its slumber. This weekend is Daylight Savings and the clocks will “spring” ahead an hour. So it will once again be dark in morning, “my time” but that is ok, I am finding new peace in getting up in the dark. This morning I lit two candles and watched the light flicker. I thought, “I should have one more. The “Trinity” would be represented – God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. But then I looked beside the candles and saw my piece of petrified rock from my travels in Africa. And again I heard the Lord Say, “this is a proper representation of us, Jesus came in the flesh. He is the cornerstone.” In 1 Peter 2:6-7, “For it stands in Scripture: ‘Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.'”So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.'”
I love how the Lord uses his creation to create pictures! It reminds me that God is light, the Father and the Holy Spirit are immeasurable, infinite, intangible while the Son, Jesus, was made matter! When you think about it, “What is petrified wood anyway and how does it form?” So the scientist geek in me started my early morning search. Here is what I found: petrified wood is considered a fossil whereby the organic remains have been replaced by minerals in the slow process of being replaced by stone. “Special rare conditions” must be met to facilitate this process. This plant matter gets buried in an environment free from oxygen (anaerobic) which preserves the original structure and appearance of the organic matter. Other conditions must be met as well, regular access to rich mineral water which is in contact with the tissues; inorganic minerals replace the organic structure! The end result is petrified wood, which was organic (decayable matter) but has now been permanently preserved by being replaced by stone. Can you not see?? Jesus came to earth as matter, flesh, organic human form which decays! He was put in a tomb and sealed! Airless and sealed off (anaerobic). His physical matter did not decay! He had access to the “The” rich mineral waters of the Father. John 4:14, “But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” There are tons of scripture on “living water”. So much one could extract from this! Jesus was separated from the Father on the cross to take on our sins, but now through His death, He was reunited with the Father and the “rich mineral waters” of the Father were flowing in Him. They were “in contact with His tissues”; The end result was Stone! The cornerstone! The foundation of the church. Even the holes in his hands were preserved! John 20:27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.”
A new meaning to the “BELIEVE” signs in stores everywhere. What do you believe?