An Advent A-ha!

IMG_1850During Advent, my husband and I add the Jesse Tree to our morning devotions. This morning we read the story of Moses and hung the 10 commandments ornament on the tree. We are using Ann Voskamp’s book and ornaments that I took from her web site several years ago. The book and ornaments have since evolved into a colorful hardback book called Unwrapping the Greatest Gift:A Family Celebration of Christmas and 3-D ornaments can be made or purchased online in paper or resin. I love the ones I made years ago. I downloaded the pictures from Ann’s blog site and pasted them on sparkle paper and then laminated them so they would last. The pages that go with the ornaments were pulled together and bound with spiral binding.

This morning was no different from any other time I have read Ann Voskamp. She gets right to the heart of the matter. She was tellingIMG_1848 her readers that God only gave 10 rules and that in our sinful state we can’t even keep 10. In fact, she challenged us to pick one commandment and see if we could keep it for a whole day. I thought to myself, “Well, that shouldn’t be too hard. Take something really safe like ‘You shall not kill,’ Dawn. I mean, really how many times have you killed someone? Have you ever?”

About that time our new dog, Biscuit, started to bark and bark and bark. It got me to thinking about the same barking at 5:30 this morning when the garbage man was so loud emptying my neighbor’s garbage that he woke the the dog and me. I caught myself saying to my husband, “If I could have gotten my hands on the garbage man this morning, I think I would have killed him.” Honestly, it couldn’t have even been a half hour after I hung the 10 commandments on the Jesse tree. Did I actually hear myself say, “I would have killed him”? Of course, it was a gross exaggeration to illustrate my frustration with him, but there it was, the seed of death. Jesus said if we kill we are in danger of judgement, but he also said if we are angry we are in danger of judgement Matthew 5:21-22. He does not differentiate between killing and anger. He said if we break the least of the commandments, we will be least in the Kingdom of God.

I’d be in the “least” category if it were not for Christmas. Because of Jesus the Lamb, I have been redeemed. The Babe in the manger came to pay the price for my sin and raise me out of the hell I deserve. Why would He do that?

My husband said, “You know, Dawn, that garbage man is our garbage man.”

I said, “You’re kidding.”

He said, “No, he’s the same man who will come here tomorrow to collect our trash.”

I was really sorry then. I really like our garbage man. He takes care of all our trash and is kind to our dogs. I couldn’t believe he was the same person who made all that noise at 5:30 am. I know him beyond the loud garbage collection incident and so I wanted to give him grace. Then it hit me. That’s exactly why Jesus paid the price for my sin. He knows me and loves me. We have a relationship. I am His child. He knows me intimately and, in.that.knowing, He gifts me His love, His mercy and His grace.

Each day of Advent I unwrap another layer in preparation for His coming…

His coming for all of us.


Prayer Magic?


Magic, the power of apparently influencing the course of events by using mysterious or supernatural forces, is the first definition given by When prayers are said, are we not speaking to a supernatural [and mysterious] being and are we not, many times, asking Him to influence the course of events? Is prayer, therefore, like magic?

IMG_1686I attend a Christian weight loss group every Friday wherein we do a Bible Study, pray, memorize a verse of Scripture, exercise, learn to eat proper portions in a healthy manner, and encourage and weigh-in to be accountable to one another. This week for Bible Study we are focusing on prayer. Yesterday I was struck by a Scripture that I thought I knew well and that comes from my favorite chapter in the Bible, Romans 8:IMG_1682 (NIV) 26″…the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.”

Many come to our group for a certain reason.

“I will do the Bible Study if I have to, but what I really want is to lose weight.”

“I will come, but only because it’s a Bible Study. I’m not really interested in the health stuff.”

“I really need to get out of the house and breathe a little. This looks like a good group for fellowship.”

So, while some are praying for weight loss, some for Bible knowledge, and still others for friendship, all are praying that God will work His magic and they will get what they came for. Those verses from Romans should draw the believer up short. They say that we don’t know what we really need. The Holy Spirit does. “He searches our hearts.” He, also, knows the mind of God for us and it is He who takes our questionable prayers and motivations and intercedes for us “in accordance with the will of God.”

I wonder just what my prayers sound like when the Holy Spirit intercedes for me. Do the requests He takes to God on my behalf resemble anything I originally said? Author and Bible teacher Jennifer Kennedy Dean says, only if the pray-er prays in the will of God:

The purpose of prayer is to release the power of God to accomplish the purpose of God. The purpose of prayer is to discover God’s will, not obligate Him to do mine, to reflect God’s mind, not change it….[Of course] changing my prayer focus from my own satisfaction and happiness to God’s glory and eternal purposes would take a brand new heart.*

I John 5:14,15 “and this is the confidence we have in Him, that, if we ask any thing according to His will, He heareth us; and if we know that he hear us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him.” (KJV) No, it’s not magic. Answered prayer is the result of the heart of the believer. “If the believer delights in the Lord, He will give her the desires of her heart. If she commits her way unto the Lord and trusts in Him, He will bring it to pass.” Psalm 37:4,5

Thanking Jesus for a brand new heart,



*Jennifer Kennedy Dean, Live a Praying Life: Open Your Life to God’s Power and Provision (Birmingham, AL: New Hope Publishers, 2011), p. 30.

Jesus didn’t really mean that, did He?

Morning starts as usual. After I walk the dog, my husband and I sit down to have breakfast and devotions together. We get through fruit and peanut butter toast, yogurt and bran (breakfast of the aging). We then turn to Jeremiah, Titus, a Psalm and a Proverb. Finally, we pray. That is usually “it”. We rise and go about our separate tasks in the home. This didn’t happen today.

We talked about those battling ebola. I asked The Preacher, “What do you think Jesus would have us do? When the going gets tough, I mean, when youJosephineSellu may actually die ministering to another, do you think he wants us to retreat?” I read about Josephine Sellu, deputy nurse matron at a government hospital in Kenema, Sierra Leone, where, at the date of this article, 15 Ebola nurses had died in rapid succession and she thought about quitting herself.

She is a rare survivor, one of three women on the original Ebola nursing staff who did not become infected. They watched their colleagues die and are still carrying on. Josephine says her best defense against despair is to keep on working.

“There is a need for me to be around,” said Ms. Sellu, 42, who oversees the Ebola nurses. “I am a senior. All the junior nurses look up to me.” If she left, she said, “the whole thing would collapse.”

Jesus said to the rich young ruler, “Go sell what you have and follow me.” He  pointed to the widow who gave all that she had in the offering at the Temple and said to His disciples, “She has given more than anyone else because she gave her all.” Jesus also told His followers not to put their hand to the plow and then look back. He set the standard. He gave His all on Calvary.  It seems to me that Jesus is pretty clear about what our commitment should be, and, after his death and resurrection, His followers continued to stress it, “Don’t think that a double-minded man will receive anything from the Lord.” James 1:7.

Here I sit in my little house in Pennsylvania. There is no ebola here. It is safe. I have no plans to go to a training session on how to care for those with ebola. I have a physician friend who just got back from such a training and she is waiting for her call to go to West Africa. Me? I am being faith-still to hear Him. I am placing my ordinary life before God as an offering, praying for sensitivity to recognize what He wants from me and to quickly respond to it. [Romans 12:1, 2 The Message]. In the old King James language it was known as “presenting oneself as a living sacrifice”.  I may not have to go anywhere. Ebola is now in the United States. It may be coming to me.

God is with us and that makes all the difference,


Yellow Tuesday Forces Me to Faith It

Everywhere the world seems to be crumbling. The foundation of morality and just plain common sense has been lost somewhere. Rational folks don’t know where to begin to recoup what seems to have vanished. When did any people group get the idea that children can be beheaded, women raped, and people abandon their faith or die? Insanity reigns. I felt like Jamie Jones and it paralyzed me. Being so American, I thought I must be doing something to stop the madness, but since I could not think of what in the world to do, I did nothing. I thought prayer would be good, but it seemed so Pollyanna-ish.

Enter Rachel Swenson and her Facebook event Yellow Tuesday – Pray for the Middle East. Here was a place for those of us who wanted to pray, but wanted to pray BIG (with others, many others). Rachel also gave me the privilege of inviting my friends so we could communicate with one another throughout the day. Moreover, people began to share their personal insights and gave links to bloggers who shared their thoughts. Not only did my prayer group become bigger, but my prayer became bigger. I began praying for all the players in the Middle East not just the Christians. All of a sudden ISIS was on my prayer list and the election in Iraq and a Jewish man in Bulgaria offering refuge to those fleeing Iran, Iraq and Syria.

I began prayer with my husband at breakfast. We sat down to our usual fare and were reminded that Christians fleeing Iraq were stuck in the mountains of northern Iraq surrounded by ISIS soldiers. They had nothing to eat, indeed, have had nothing to eat or drink for days. Food and water was being dropped by US military planes and humanitarian agencies were in the area. We prayed the people were getting what was being dropped and that humanitarian aid could reach them.

I had on a yellow tee shirt to remind me to pray. As news came in, I prayed. A video clip by a member of the Iraqi IMG_1513Parliament pleading for her people, the Yazidi, fueled my passion in prayer. I went into my basement to iron my blouses. As I ironed and prayed, I was struck that the blouse I was ironing was yellow. That blessed me. God was listening (of course He was, but I am still such a child so He gives me signs).

Next, my husband alerted me to news that Yank Barry, who used to sing with the 60’s band the Kingsmen, was using his money and influence to fund a safe haven and chance at a new life for refugees fleeing Iran and now Iraq and Syria. The name of his organization is Global Village Champions. I needed such good news of someone doing something to balance the horrors coming from the mountains of northern Iraq.

It is pouring down rain here, but it let up for a minute so I went out to walk my dog. He was jumping and skipping along. I was praying in the Spirit. As I was praising for the refreshing physical rain, I prayed for water for the Iraqi Christians. I was praying for rain in the desert. I wondered why I would have rain when those who needed it so desperately did not…so many questions. Then, I saw this:  IMG_1514Frankly, I don’t think I ever saw a yellow bike before. Thank you, Jesus!

I took off for lunch about 11:30 am. When we got to our little salad bar restaurant my husband remarked. “Wow, they changed their placemats!” Really? My husband doesn’t usually notice such things. Then I looked at them. You’re right, they were yellow! We went to the salad bar to make a salad and there was no lettuce, no tomato, no spring greens, etc etc. I would normally have been complaining, but those yellow placemats reminded that there were people on a mountain without any food or water. My husband and I prayed for those without and thanked the Lord for teaching us. When we returned home, we saw this Kurdish rescue

Ann Voskamp said it aptly for me:

I’m only afraid because I’m comfortable. It’s too easy to let the stuff make you comfortable, to use stuff as a shield to protect you against the headlines.

What if we are all only afraid because we’ve settled for being comfortable? What if we are all only afraid when where we’ve settled is not where the Comforter is — because where the Comforter meets you is precisely when you are outside of your comfort zone?

More than being afraid of a dangerous world, maybe we should be much more afraid of comfort zones….

When you’re tired enough of listening to all the talking heads, you can listen to the One who speaks to your soul. The One Who calls you to freedom of the expanse outside of comfort zones, to give yourself away and not be afraid. Life is too short to miss out on the harvest opportunity for which God has specifically blessed you for in the first place.

Prayerfully, so as not miss my God-ordained harvest opportunity,




We all need oxygen

We left the Cancer Treatment Center after my husband’s treatment today. I left the car running to keep my husband cool while I ran into the oxygen place to see why we were charged $120.00 for a no-charge visit. I was told to take a seat. I did. There was one other person in the waiting room. He proceeded to tell me why he had oxygen. By the time he was waited on and left the store, I knew his whole disease process, his wife’s disease process (she was at home and couldn’t come along–too sick) and how important he was the 38 years he was a teacher at the high school. Even after retirement he substitute-taught because they needed someone in the “hard” sciences like physics, math and chemistry. “Not everyone can teach those subjects, you know, but I choose them. The kids know they are going to have a good class when they see me.” I simply nodded at appropriate times, but I don’t think he noticed the timing.

Ann’s blog today summarized my moments at the oxygen center:

And there’s always someone who makes sure you know how much smarter and wiser, bigger and better, known and greater they are.

There’s always someone who snatches the horn to sing too loud…

This man was hooked to an oxygen machine at 4 liters per minute. Without it he would not be able to make it to his car let alone drive home. He and I were no different–both dependent on the God of the universe for every breath. Yet, the need for stardom was thick in that room. What did Ann say about that?

Stars are always very small…

Kingdom principles are clear: to be greatest in the Kingdom of God, you must be the servant of all. Must remember this

Amazing grace,


Freedom – A Prayer for Wendy

O Holy Father, Thou hast freely given Thy son,JesusPaidItAll

O Divine Son, Thou hast freely paid my debt,

O Eternal Spirit, Thou hast freely bid me come,

O Triune God, Thou dost freely grace me with salvation.

Prayers and tears could not suffice to pardon my sins,

nor anything less than atoning blood,

but my believing is my receiving,

for a thankful acceptance is no paying of the debt.

 What didst Thou see in me?

that I a poor, diseased, despised sinner

should be clothed in Thy bright glory?

that a creeping worm

should be advanced to this high state?

that one lately groaning, weeping, dying,

should be as full of joy as my heart can hold?

that a being of dust and darkness

should be taken like Mordecai from captivity

and set next to the king?

should be lifted like Daniel from a den

and be made ruler of princes and provinces?

Who can fathom unmeasureable love?

As far as the rational soul exceeds the senses,

so does the Spirit exceed the rational in its knowledge of Thee.

Thou hast given me understanding to compass the earth,

measure the sun, moon, stars, universe.

but above all to know Thee, the only true God.

I marvel that the finite can know the Infinite,

here a little, afterwards in full-orbed truth;

Now I know what a small portion of what I shall know,

here in part, there in perfection,

here a glimpse, there a glory,

To enjoy Thee is life eternal,

and to enjoy is to know.

Keep me in the freedom of enjoying Thy salvation continually.

~ from The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions by Arthur Bennett.






The Garden of the Good Shepherd

I almost burned my house down using Ann Voskamp’s Easter to Pentacost wreath with candles to light. This may be the solution that takes me daily to Pentacost. I am a grandma and have grandchildren who may pop in to share it with me. Thanks. I am reblogging to show this to others.

Aslan's Library

Garden of the Good Shepherd The Garden of the Good Shepherd: A Sticker Calendar to Count the 50 Days of Easter
Peter Mazar & Tomie dePaola
Liturgy Training Publications, 2000

I don’t honestly remember when I stumbled across The Garden of the Good Shepherd sticker calendar. It may have been one of those rare moments of Amazon kismet, when they actually recommended something I might want to read. (Does anyone else confuse their magical recommendation machine with their reading/buying/browsing choices? Also, whatever algorithm they use, it’s not very sophisticated when it comes to determining one’s choices in theological kidlit. But that’s another rant.)

Anyhow. Whenever I did stumble across it, I ordered it immediately, and I have been hiding it in my sewing room ever since. And I am so excited to recommend it to you for your family’s Easter celebration.

What precisely is it? And do I promise it’s not cheesy?

Yes. I promise. It’s…

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The Road to the Promised Land

I was reading about the spies whom Moses appointed to scout out the Promised Land. All of the spies reported that the land was a great land flowing with milk and honey, but itJ&K was beyond their ability to capture. They reported that the land was full of giants and that they were too powerful for the Israelites to defeat. All agreed… except Caleb. Caleb said they should go now and take the land. God had promised it to them. Yes, indeed, He had. In Numbers 13:2 God declares, “the land of Canaan I give to the children of Israel”. Caleb believed God and circumstances did not deter him.

In Joshua 1:3-5, Joshua is called to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land:

I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates – all the Hittite country – to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.

I got to thinking about that as I was relating the story to my life. God said He would give Joshua every place where he set his foot. My goodness, what He has promised me may just be a footstep away! Is it because I fail to “set my foot” on a promise that I do not yet realize it? Must I willingly move in that promise if I am to succeed? The step is a step of faith. In spite of giants, walls, enemies, bad attitudes, I must step. “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” (Hebrews 11:6a) I need not worry what will happen for He promised me, just as He promised Joshua, that “no one would be able to stand against me” and “He would never leave me nor forsake me” (Matthew 28:20).

WorkstationThis afternoon, as I contemplate working the hardest day of the week at my job, I rest in His promises to me. As Sherwood Day said at the funeral of his friend William Whiting Borden (a millionaire who gave up everything to become a missionary), “He felt that life consisted not in the “abundance of things that a man possesseth, but in the abundance of things which possess the man.”* I pray that the holy fire of God grips me, possesses me, consumes me so that no earthly thing deters me from advancing the Kingdom of God throughout the sphere of influence of my office.

Willing for His light to possess me,


*Quote from Warren W. Wiersbe, 50 People Every Christian Should Know, 2009, Baker Books, p. 345.


The road to Emmaus is a 5K walk/run

So happy, she parked at the end of the row near an incline in the grass. There was no room for someone to park on that side of her leased car so she felt it would be safe parking itummmtooclose there. No one would be able to dent it by opening their car door into the side of her car. She was there to support a friend who was running a 5K for a charity. She met her friend and found out that it was a 5K walk/run and her friend invited her to join her and walk the route. She signed up and got a number.

Since she was now a participant and not just a bystander at the 5K, she returned to her car to leave some belongings there. Coming up over the rise in the lawn to go down the incline to her car she saw that someone had just pulled in next to her car and was parked ON the incline. She was crazy with rage. She ran down the incline screaming and waving her arms, “How could you park there? You must be insane. You won’t be able to get out of your car without banging your car door into my car. What were you thinking?”

The woman in the car rolled down her window and replied, “I promise I will keep my hand on my car door and open it slowly. I will not hit your car.” She demonstrated that she was capable of doing that and got out to face her deranged assailant. She said she was a pastor and was there to pray over her parishioners who were participating in the race.” Seemingly unruffled, the pastor continues, “Do you know where the runners are starting?”

 Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! “Helll-l0-0, you  are a Christian,” my Friend says to herself. “Act like it!”

“Yes, I do. Do you know that the race is a walk/run? I am going to walk the whole course. Why don’t you join me?”

The woman said, “I would, but I have a knee replacement and I would be too slow.”

“Oh, I have a hip replacement so you won’t be any slower than I. I could use a buddy. Please won’t you go with me? We could both raise money for this great cause.”

One hour later they had finished the 5K together, talking and sharing the whole time. One Christian invited the other Christian into fellowship. The other, not taking offense at the erratic first encounter, accepted the invitation to fellowship. Both lives were transformed in the afternoon sun, walking a 5K neither had intended to walk, but Jesus had other plans and both accepted His invitation.



In His light because of His grace,





The road to Montana

White Pine Church at the summitThe Preacher and I drove into the church parking lot as usual. It was a crisp, windy country Sunday morning and the sun was shining brightly. The license plate on a pick-up truck parked near the entrance read Montana. We had a visitor! Our parishioners are all Pennsylvania farming folk so a Montana license plate sticks out even though his pick-up truck fit right in. Beau worshiped with us and took communion. During announcements, the Preacher announced that Beau needed money to get to Montana and an offering plate would be placed in the back of the church if anyone wanted to give. I sit in the front of the church and after worship was over I was talking to the pianist. When I turned around to gather my belongings to leave the church building, I beheld a marvelous sight. There were two circles of prayer happening. One around a young woman in the congregation facing grave medical issues and one around Beau. I wish I had a picture of it to post here, but I can assure you I have it in my mind!


I was hushed by the Spirit’s movement through His people into the lives of these two people in need. As the prayer circles dissipated, the Preacher and I walked by the offering plate by the door. It was overflowing with $10’s and $20’s, the practical gifts of a praying people to a man in need so far from home.

Stepping in the light,