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Lo How A Rose Ee’r Blooming (4th Sunday in Advent)

ROSESTUMPTen days after her husband died of cancer, a giant oak in Luci Shaw’s front yard was split by lightning and had to be felled. Men came with their screaming saws, echoing the pain in Luci’s grieving heart. They burned the stump until it was no more.

Luci talked about it with her friend Madeleine L’Engle and then wrote, in God in the Dark:

It became clear to me as I talked that the wound in the sod, with the roots of the tree still smoldering  deep under the surface, is me — all raw, fevered with fire, and unhealed yet, I have to wait for the sod to grow back.

Healing has come. In the twenty-five years since Harold died, God has had a ministry for Luci. Today, even at eighty-five she is vibrant and using her gifts. Months after the episode with the tree, in early spring, hope began to return. Luci wrote: “I started the day with a fast mile walk. The air was intoxicatingly fresh…Spears of grass were pushing up through the dead pale straw, and I felt a kinship with the sod. From my reading, in the Song of Solomon this morning:

My lover spoke and said to me

“Arise my darling, my beautiful one, and come with me.

See the winter is past; the rains are over and gone.

Flowers appear on the earth. The season of singing has come.

Now birdsong is heard in our land.”

In the same way, the sons and grandsons of Jesse were known for their bloodshed and rape, their quarreling and pride. There seemed to be no life. Only a dead stump.

stump2

Yet Isaiah tells us:

“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…”

Who is this branch?

Who is this rose of Sharon?

Who is this One who gives us hope in the midst of pain?

Who is this fairest of ten thousand?

Our Lord Jesus Christ, born to us this day.

Wherever you are this Advent, if you belong to Him, there is always hope. That is what Christmas is all about — for Jesus came to our darkness, our despair — a rose bloomed out of the stump that seemed to have no life.ROSESTUMP

This version of “Lo How A Rose Ee’r Blooming” has exquisite artwork, so let it fill your heart and mind, and come back and comment on what you see. You will no doubt have to watch it several times:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g458-jXkbpU

1. Lo, how a rose e’er blooming,
From tender stem hath sprung!
From Jesse’s lineage coming,1
As men of old have sung.2

It came, a floweret bright,3
Amid the cold of winter
When half spent was the night

2. Isaiah ’twas foretold it,
The Rose I have in mind
With Mary we behold it,
The Virgin mother kind

To show God’s love aright,4
She bore to us a Savior5
When half spent was the night

3. The shepherds heard the story
Proclaimed by angels bright,
How Christ, the Lord of Glory
Was born on earth this night.

To Bethlehem they sped
And in the manger they found him,
As angels heralds said.

4. This Flower, whose fragrance tender
With sweetness fills the air,
Dispels with glorious splendor
The darkness everywhere;

True man, yet very God,
From Sin and death he saves us,
And lightens every load.

Sunday/Monday Icebreakers

1. What stood out to you from the above and why?

2. Choose one of the following and share how a rose bloomed out of the stump this Advent:

  • Reconciliation occurred with someone
  • In the midst of sorrow, you saw a dripping of grace
  • A carol took on new meaning and impacted your mind and heart

Monday-Friday:

This is Christmas week — take the time to be with Him: Perhaps a question a day. You may, if you haven’t heard it, want to listen to Moody’s Milrose Club when we discussed Christmas if you haven’t heard it:

http://www.moodyradio.org/brd_ProgramArchive.aspx?id=100730

Listen to Sara Grove’s song: “To Be With You.”

3. Read Isaiah 11:1-5

A. Why is it surprising that a shoot would come from a stump, or that the lineage of Jesse would produce Someone so pure?

B. Share one specific way God has taken the ashes of your life, or the bondage of your sin and brought beauty from it?

C. What do you learn about the character of Jesus from these five verses?

4. Read the following article: Link

Answer:

A. What verse from The Song of Songs inspired this song?

B. Some in Catholicism thought the rose to be Mary, but Protestants referred to Isaiah 11 and said it was Jesus. How does Romans 15:8-12 clarify this rose is Jesus?

C. Read Christina Rosetti’s poems in this article and find something that quickens you.

5. On Christmas Day, be so alert as to how you can trust Jesus in your sorrow and thank Him in your joy. Share something that happened.

6. Listen to this recap of the carols of Lament — I was on Live the Promise with Susi Larson:

Idol removal

and comment

7. Watch Ann VosKamp’s last Advent video and comment.

Saturday

8. What is your take-a-way and why?

For those of you who did not get my Christmas letter — click here! I love you.

 http://us4.campaign-archive2.com/?u=90afaadd76f2a92c825d096b1&id=55032f7924&e=[UNIQID]

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90 comments

  1. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
    First, that shoots don’t come from changed circumstances. The stump was still burned and gone (the circumstances were the same) and yet there is new growth, this is a good visual of hardship in our lives. Tim Keller says “bad things are bad things” but growth will come. 
    Second, with our awareness of fragrances symbolism from the Song of Songs I do not think it a mistake that Christ is a rose.  I think in today’s culture we do not fully appreciate how good our lives smell. We as a society have obliterated as much bad smell as we can, we shower, we deodorize, we perfume…. So to fully appreciate this symbolism of a good smell overtaking and permeating our surroundings we must sit and ponder. This fragrance pushes aside all other fragrances. What a thing to wonder in, delight in, a dripping of grace to ‘smell’ Christ permeate my situations. Some love Christ so much that walking into their presence is as walking into a warm home filled with Christmas smells. There is no denying the love. 

    1. Jill, beautiful words that touched my heart. As I read it my husband is peeling an orange…a smell of Christmas.

    2. Jill, wow-loved this! In the midst of our brokenness-He envelopes us with His fragrance. 

  2. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
    I love the symbolism of a living shoot coming out of a dead stump. I have a hosta that grows in the middle of a dead stump. Someone wisely planted it there before we moved in. The hosta thrives on the decaying nutrition of the stump. God bringing life out of death.
     
    I have always found the words of “Lo How a Rose E’er blooming” fascinating. I assumed that the references were of Christ. Jesus is such a fragrant essence.

    This Flower, whose fragrance tenderWith sweetness fills the air,Dispels with glorious splendorThe darkness everywhere;

    I had never thought about how Catholic might think the “rose of Sharon” is Mary. I find that sad. They are missing something key in understanding Christ.

  3. This is so fitting and beautiful.

    Lord Jesus, I praise you for the humility and tenderness of your incarnation. You, who created the very category of beauty and are quintessential beauty, became the one with “no beauty,” for us. Though I don’t fully understand all that entailed, as I gaze beyond your cradle to your cross, this hard prophecy to life. …

    You who are the fountain of pleasures, whose laughter fills heaven, whose joy is our strength—you became the man of sorrows for us. And though you didn’t remain a tender shoot, you have retained all tenderness.   Lord Jesus, no one is familiar with suffering like you. In taking up your cross, you took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows. What a wonderful, merciful, tender Savior you are/
     
    If I can make progress in only one thing this Advent season, Lord Jesus, may it be to have a much greater esteem for you. Intensify my love for you, deepen my awe of your manger and your cross, and make me, much more, the tender man that the gospel is calling me to become. 

    http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/scottysmith/2013/12/22/a-prayer-for-the-fourth-sunday-of-advent/

    1. Amen. 

  4. I love “Lo, How a rose e’er blooming.”
    A rose shows it’s true beauty as it dies.
    The manger is overshadowed by The Cross.
     
    Merry Christmas,
     
    J.R.
     
     

  5. Ten years ago when we started our Stroke Camp weekend retreats, we used the Isaiah passage in relationship with our survivors recovering from stroke.  Such an encouraging word.

  6. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
     
    Yesterday morning what stood out to me was the wonderful picture of the stump with the Rose, and Luci Shaw’s story-and then the same this morning and this from the song: This Flower, whose fragrance tender. With sweetness fills the air, Dispels with glorious splendor The darkness everywhere..”
     
    Then J.R.’s awesome comment which is right in line with it: A rose shows it’s true beauty as it dies.The manger is overshadowed by The Cross.
     
    I also loved how God came to Luci in The Song of Songs.

  7. 2. …share how a rose grew from a stump this advent. 
     
    I have to say I have seen all three of these scenarios in my life recently. Honesty in conflict with my husband affords quick reconciliation instead of hours of hurt silence. Drippings of grace this last week in my ailment. Hymns all taking on new meaning as I embrace this reverent season anew, for myself and for my family. 
     
    Drippings of grace come looking different. The cardiologist I met with was unkind to me but he gave me good news. My pride wanted to leap up and defend itself but my new heart was humbly thankful for a good prognosis of eventual recovery. He makes me new, this is His testimony to me, a sweetness that draws me ever closer. The fragarance that I pray spreads to those around me, not me but the (dying) rose, sacrifice already given, yet now perpetually alive!

  8. 2. Choose one of the following and share how a rose bloomed out of the stump this Advent:

    In the midst of sorrow, you saw a dripping of grace

     
    It has been a rough Advent for us again this year. The drippings of Grace have come mightily in the midst of some bad things that have happened. I can name many ways of how He has come!
     
    I can just imagine if we did a Christmas letter-how it would be! 🙂 It definitely wouldn’t be the ‘norm’ of the lists of spiritual and other accomplishments for our boys and us. lol! 🙂 It might go like this: It was great that Jake got the lead role as Santa in the play at his public school, but it was not centered on Christ which is always a disappointment-I hate that..and it is so dark in that place, and I yearn for just one year where they would celebrate Jesus- yet Jake so loves his friends and God has given my ornery, imperfect Jake favor there and a heart to give..it is His sweet aroma-HIs light in a dark school..yet trust me Jake can be head strong here at home and very ornery and selfish too. but oh those sweet snapshots of His spirit moving in my son that I cling to.
     
    My other son who so struggles with humanism at school all around him pressing in and wonders if he is right-if we are right-and GOd came again to Him in his inward storm and reassured him once again..then I see another drip of Grace-HIs hand on my son when he invited his friends at school to a church get together at our new church-where he knows they will be accepted and loved. 
     
    I loved Jill’s post-and JR. when he said the Cross overshadows the manger.
     
    And so..this is how HE has come to our family this year. I am so grateful- even though I do struggle being down this time of year..but HE is showing me that ALL is Grace- even the stumps are drippings of Grace for the cross indeed overshadows the manger-Glory be to Him! 

  9. Just a quick update on Jay…  Jay rang the Celebration Bell at the Oncology clinic in Milwaukee today.  Ringing the bell symbolizes the end of Jay’s cancer treatment.   
    Wishing each of you an “all is calm, all is bright” Christmas with hope and peace in your hearts that never runs short.  Blessings!  Nanci 

    Dee, excellent Midday Connection Millrose Club. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to your conversation and (as always 🙂 ) gleaned some valuable information .
     

    1. Rejoicing with you about Jay. Yahoo! What a great idea to have a Celebration Bell.

    2. Nanci, YEAH!!!! So exciting to hear! :)))

  10. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
     
    That is what Christmas is all about – for Jesus came to our darkness, our despair – a rose bloomed out of the stump that seemed to have no life.
     
    This certainly describes Luci Shaw’s grief after losing her husband. She was left as a stump, yet healing came and new life, like her reading from Song of Songs. Only God can bring to life things that seem hopelessly dead.
     
    2. Choose one of the following and share how a rose bloomed out of the stump this Advent:
     
    In the midst of sorrow, you saw a dripping of grace. Well…I like Christmas but I tend to be a little bit sad at this time of year because it only seems to highlight how many in my family are not interested in God. I tend to feel guilty for having a “godless” Christmas but I can’t force people to celebrate Christmas the way I want it to be. I do enjoy being with my family but I long for this season to have more depth, more meaningful conversation, more bringing Him into the midst of it. Tonight I will want to light the Advent wreath and listen to a short audio drama of the angels telling of Christ’s birth – have done this for the past few years – but know it will bring “moans and sighs” and “let’s get this over with…”
    I am wondering if I should even “make” my two oldest come and sit…maybe that is a control idol. I can’t really force a 20 and 22 year old to do what they don’t want to do.
     
    But, I have seen drippings of grace. I learned that Jesus is to be found in a place like an ICU hospital room…if I take the time to go and leave other things undone, which a friend and I did, to go visit a young woman from our church who is very ill (leukemia-chemo-massive infection). On a ventilator and mostly sleeping, she did open her eyes and seemed to recognize us, tried to raise her arms to us. That touched my heart in a way that no “shopping experience” ever could. Here we came to bless her, and she blessed us with her response.
    Wrapping gifts with my mom. I wrote the little gift name tags but on my gift, she picked up the pen and wrote in her shaky handwriting  my name on the gift that is from her and my dad, and signed from “mom and dad”.  Her hands were really shaky that day but she made the effort to write that tag for me. I think I will keep it after I open the gift.
     
    I’m not a real big “gift person”. I like giving gifts more than receiving them (haven’t read Gary Chapman’s Five Love Languages book but I know gifts are not my love language). Meaningful time spent with someone is what makes me feel loved, as in if you give me the greatest present in the world but never call me or talk much to me or spend time with me, your present won’t make me feel loved! So I cherish and see the drippings in things like getting to make cookies with my mom…my parents popping over yesterday morning and sitting at my kitchen table having breakfast with me and my daughter…reading a favorite Christmas story with my daughter…my Sunday school leader having a surprise party for us Sunday with food and fun fellowship.
    So I guess God does the same…He didn’t just leave the gift of salvation and then disappear. A long time ago Dee posted a picture of a small round table with two chairs…I’m thinking of it now. Jesus wants to spend time with me…it’s “on me” if I don’t take Him up on His invitation.
     
     
     
     

    1. Susan, lovely drippings of grace. Don’t loose heart. The light of Christ warming souls from within you can often be a slow steady process. I will pray for you today and tomorrow but keep on keepin on. May you continue to see His drippings and remember Joy has come. 

    2. Susan, I think you and I are kindred spirits 🙂
      I spent most of my youth dancing at Christmas; The Nutcracker Ballet. I equate Christmas with that music and music in general, not presents per se. Danced every part in it including Snow Queen (costume custom made for me) and Sugar Plum Fairy! Boy wasn’t I special? Now, I would much rather dance for Him.
      Here is Casting Crowns singing “I Heard the bells on Christmas Day.” Pretty cool song.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7670CXvPX0
      I’m afraid I haven’t done a good job helping my children appreciate the true meaning of Christmas though. We always went to church, but two are definitely young adults who have pulled away from God. Sad. They, (21 and 23 year olds) wouldn’t listen to the story either. I am hoping I can get them to come to dinner with friends of the family (their house) just to be with some people we care about since we don’t live near family. One will come (Sarah), however my son John probably won’t. He can be somewhat anti-social with friends of ours. Christmas can be a sad family time for me as well. I would love to have the perfectly decorated house, but sadly, my Christmas tree sits with no ornaments on it right now, only lights. We just haven’t found the time to get to it yet. We are sacrificing the decorations to be with friends and family. I leave on Thursday to drive to see my mom who is not well at all. Since I begin radiation in a couple of weeks I won’t be able to travel to see her for awhile. I keep telling myself these are the most important things; friends and family. We also have no money and bills keep piling, and we never seem to be able to work hard enough to work it all out. No money, no Christmas shopping….makes it easy!!! God is near, He will provide. No worries!
      I love that you got to spend the time with your parents, and especially the wrapping story with your mom, and the handwritten card. it made me cry. By the way, because you shared about baking cookies with your mom, I am going to take dough to the rehab and have my mom help me cut the cookies. I will take them home and bake and then bring them back to decorate with her and my youngest son. Thank you for the idea! My mom was a great cook/baker and that is something I miss about the season as well. I hope she remembers; she is having memory issues also. My 23 year old decided to go to culinary school and she was a big influence there.
      Merry Christmas Susan! I hope you get the perfect gift of warm memories this Christmas! Love to you sister!

      1. Oh Laura, you warm my heart with your heart! What I see in you is a grateful, thankful spirit…not feeling sorry for yourself (which I tend to do way too much) but reminding yourself of His grace and love. You are facing many tough things that can make a heart ache – adult children who have walked away from God, a son you may not see on Christmas, financial troubles, facing radiation treatment, and your mom’s declining health. You have a wonderful idea to have your mom help with those cookies in a way that she is able. I’m sure she will enjoy doing this with you and your son! Merry Christmas, Laura, and I will pray for you to have safe travels on your long drive to see your mom.

      2. Safe travels, Laura. And I hope your visit with your mom is a blessing to her and to you.

  11. Listened to Dee on Moody-so loved it. I did love what Dee brought out about being the host in conversation-to truly love others..to ask questions, try to understand them and focus on them rather than myself. Loved to hear how Dee’s relationship with her children is growing and getting so much better. :))
    To make efforts to say things to others you may normally be too busy to say-to bless others and I loved how Dee and the girls on Milrose blessed one another. 
     
     

      1. Dee, thank you dear friend and mentor (and Rebecca, too, in her post above about listening to you on Moody radio). As I cleaned the den this morning, I went back and listened to this program. I had listened to it last year so at first I didn’t listen again this year but…what good reminders. I especially listened to the part about you getting along so much better now with your children and difficult relatives, how your daughter said it wasn’t enough to stop saying mean things but that you had to now show them love. Even going to a different room isn’t loving! And being the host of the conversation. That has always been hard for me – maybe b/c I’m the baby of the family, the youngest. Even as an adult, I would find out things that I wasn’t told – people more often go to my older sisters. I find it hard to find my “voice”. But even as I was praying this morning, I realize how my self-centeredness and wanting approval/affirmation is a big flaw in me, an idol. I think I can let go of my tradition of listening to Joe Stowell tell the story of the shepherds and angels (hey – I can listen all by myself after everyone goes to bed). I don’t have to force it on everyone else. I am thinking, instead, of just giving everyone a blessing – something positive I notice about everyone. My oldest son – his adventurous spirit and determination to pursue his dream of becoming a doctor. My next son – his personal integrity and honesty and working hard in school. My daughter – you talk about a natural conversationalist…at 13 she can hold her own in adult conversation and she brings a lightness and an energy into the room; others often comment on her maturity and ability to converse. My husband is very dependable and a good provider.
        I am afraid that the suggestions of watching Ann Voskamp or Reeves, as good as they are, would only bring more “sighing”…so maybe we will do it differently tonight, if they’ll come and see I am not trying to force God on them. I can’t, anyway. That was mentioned on the program, too, about not trying to fix people but loving them instead. Thank you for your wisdom, Dee.

        1. Susan, this is one of the many things I love about you-your teachable heart. You are so sensitive to His leading and your heart so convicts (encourages) me. 

  12. Elizabeth, I am thinking about you – I hope you can give us an update on how you are…I’m so sorry you have the flu and I do hope and pray you are feeling better and the Tamiflu is helping!

    1. Elizabeth, praying for you! Came on to ask how you are, but Susan has already asked so I will just add my well wishes and prayers. 

    2. Yes, hope you are feeling better, Elizabeth. 
       
      Praying also for many others here who are having a rough time this Christmas.

  13. 2. Choose one of the following and share how a rose bloomed out of the stump this Advent:

    In the midst of sorrow, you saw a dripping of grace

     
    Christmas is  a hard time for many of us. I think many of us have a picture in our minds of what would be our ideal Christmas, i.e. surrounded by “perfect” family and friends who follow God perfectly etc. Of course, it is unrealistic, but we truly wish there was no more sin or sorrow in our Christmas. What we really want is “heaven”. It is especially hard to live in the “not yet” of our present Christmas. I suffer from this sadness as well, with far from a perfect family and living emotionally and physically far from some loved ones. 
     
    However, I woke up this morning to the most amazing “dripping of grace” from an email from my daughter, Krista, who has just finalized her divorce from Jeff. We have had 3 days of snow mixed with freezing rain. It took hubby a long time to get our car cleaned from the ice yesterday and I was worried about Krista, who has our other car. She has the three boys with her until Christmas Day, but has been apartment bound for 3 days (thankfully we have not lost power). I didn’t know how she could get the car cleaned off and watch the boys as well. This is her story so I will let her tell it:

    I went out as soon as all the boys were asleep, and, though it wasn’t too slippery, I tried to break some ice away so I would at least be able to get in the car to turn it on and warm it up, I just couldn’t do it. Too much ice on it. Was going to see if I could get someone to help me tomorrow, but then Jeff came over to drop off some gifts that the boys had made for me, and I asked him if he could help me get the car door open. He did, and also cleaned off the car, shovelled all around it, and even got me to move the car so he could plow it out more (he had his boss’ plow truck with him). I thanked him and said all he really needed to do was open the door for me, but he said it was fine, he figured it would have taken me quite a while to do all of that with the boys. So I was grateful he helped. Glad I will only have to clean it off some tomorrow before we go anywhere. The hardest part is done.

    Considering all the animosity toward Krista from Jeff during the last year, this just makes me tear up every time I think of it. I know Jeff can be kind but he has no idea how much his gesture helps me personally “remember” that God will look after my “little girl”, even using Jeff to look after her at times, though Jeff has, in other ways, abandoned her. Life is a mystery. God is still at work.

    1. Wow, Diane…that Jeff would be so gracious in Krista’s time of need…I am sure it helps you on your path of forgiving him for so hurting your daughter.

    2. Diane, this made me tear up as well….Merry Christmas 🙂
       

  14. 3. Read Isaiah 11:1-5
    A. Why is it surprising that a shoot would come from a stump, or that the lineage of Jesse would produce someone so pure? I don’t know much about the lineage of Jesse but from what Dee said they were known for bloodshed and rape. We tend to do the opposite of the verses, we judge by appearance instead of looking on the inside, so we are surprised when something good likes shoot comes from something ‘bad’. Like a dead stump. We are so quick to have expectations which a stumbling block to many in seeing God for who He is rather than what we expect Him to be. 
     
    B. Share one specific way God hags taken the ashes of your life, or the bondage of your sin and brought beauty from it. The most obvious answer for me is 2 1/2 years ago I walked through some very painful, hurtful, horrible circumstances. It broke me. All the way. But because I was a pile of rubble God then was able to start rebuilding me. Of course, I thought I should help, and then the part I built would break down and God would continue slowly rebuilding….and now I know intimacy with Christ that I never knew before. But the beauty wouldn’t have come I had not first walked through the ashes. 
     
    c. What do you learn about the character of Jesus from these five verses? I find it interesting that even though the “tree of Jesse” is obviously gone, his roots are still there and good? Is this because Jesse had his roots in God? “…from his roots a Branch will bear fruit .”
    Christ has wisdom, understanding, counsel and might, knowledge, fear of The Lord, He delights in the fear of The Lord, He does not judge by sight or what He hears but with righteousness, His words are powerful and His breath can slay the wicked, He is righteous and faithful. I do not fully understand how Christ can fear The Lord? I suppose this is part of the trinity concept that I do not understand. I get that He delights in the fear of The Lord, meaning He delights in the Father’s will. perhaps fearing The Lord is a way of describing respect. 

  15. oh Susan, Jill, Diane–thank you for your kindness and care towards me. This is my first morning since Friday out of bed and no fever! This is a first in 20 years of marriage–I hate being in bed sick, really hard for me. But what a gift to come on here and see you care for me–the Tamiflu and/or many prayers seems to have helped a lot, SO thankful. I know I cannot catch up much–but I have been so moved by Jill’s great devotions–so thankful the Lord brought you here, Jill.
    I had tears reading of Jeff’s kindness towards Krista and the gifts the boys made her–beautiful grace.
    And Susan’s response to Dee and Rebecca really ministered to me. I relate so much to the being the baby of the family, struggling to find my voice…but I was moved by Susan’s plan “I am thinking, instead, of just giving everyone a blessing – something positive I notice about everyone”, I want to do that for my kids. I had so many crafts and extra things that got thrown out the window the last few days with me being sick–but it has also allowed me to really focus on what is most important. My husband has kept up the advent tree and readings each night, and I feel hearts prepared. Thankful. Thankful for all of you.

    1. Elizabeth, So glad your husband is there for you to help-what an awesome kiss from God! :))  Wonderful to hear your fever is broke and you are on the mend..Love that He prepared hearts and is taking such good care of you and everything else!

  16. 2. Choose one of the following and share how a rose bloomed out of the stump this Advent:

    A carol took on new meaning and impacted your mind and heart

    For some reason I have been taken by “The First Noel” this season. I guess I am struck by the permanency of the words…..the first birth was certain, the light shined in the east (we see the sun from the east each morning), the light gave great light and stayed, the wise men followed the star everywhere it went. I could probably go on and on here 🙂 It has helped me remember that Jesus is where I need to focus, just like the wisemen did.

  17. Christmas Blessings, everyone.  I have been on here everyday this week, reading, listening, praying for you.  Elizabeth and Jill, thankful for your health updates — was praying and wondering.  (Elizabeth, within the last year or two, I decided that Tamiflu is my new “favorite” drug)
    Dee, I appreciate how you’ve woven so MUCH into this lesson.  The shoot from a dead stump — reminds me of the phrase from O Come, O Come Emmanuel, “O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free Thine own from Satan’s tyranny.”  Gives me hope & thankful that I am “Thine own.”

  18. 3. Read Isaiah 11:1-5
    A. Why is it surprising that a shoot would come from a stump, or that the lineage of Jesse would produce Someone so pure?
    Well, I feel like I should know more of the Bible to be able to answer this question, but here goes anyway! I don’t know much of “Jesse.” Who was he? I’m guessing he wasn’t a very wealthy person with a rich heritage. The stump represents a “basic” heritage, like mine. Out of ashes comes beauty?
    B. Share one specific way God has taken the ashes of your life, or the bondage of your sin and brought beauty from it?
    My life is certainly a mess most of the time! Whether it is dad dying when I was 12, or my kids being the “worst” kids you could know; it is messy. No matter how messy, He ALWAYS blesses me/us with enough of everything I/we need to survive. We ALWAYS “make it.” He has always provided a job for me/my husband so I/we could earn enough to live. He has always helped me in my work so that I am blessed there. Thank you Jesus for helping me and my family no matter what!
    C. What do you learn about the character of Jesus from these five verses?
    He bears fruit (us).
    He has wisdom, understanding, counsel (if we listen), might, knowledge and fear of the Lord (if we are smart!). Is this true fear? Or, is it more about practical fear….like Tim Keller spoke of in his sermon last week? That fact that God is a “force” not to reckon with, lest we are physically hurt. 
    He doesn’t judge with earthly capacity; He will judge those who are needy (us?) and poor by striking those who are wicked on earth. He is faithful.
     

  19. MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL MY SWEET SISTER’S IN THE LORD HERE….MAY THE LORD BLESS YOU BEYOND  YOUR WILDEST IMAGINATION NOW AND FOR THE COMING NEW YEAR!!!!   LOVE YOU!!!

  20. My Christmas Day will be crazy busy and I need to get to bed as we have an early start and a long day, so Merry Christmas my dear sisters. I so LOVE being on here and getting to know you all and pray for you all. Such a wonderful oasis is this blog!

  21. MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE…so thankful for this place! I hope you all enjoy a very special day with your family and friends and sense His presence! Love to each of you!

  22. Merry Christmas all! “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you,” Phil. 1:3
     

    1. Dee, you are so brave. Christmas alone, oh my. I had such a struggle having Christmas with just the two of us a couple of years ago. That would be such a challenge for me! I am sure Christ was very present with you today. I hope your time at the care facility was blessed. I hope you are having a nice dinner with Twila. 

  23. just thinking of you all and thanking Him again for each of you and this fellowship we share. Loved Scotty Smiths’ Prayer for Christmas Day

  24. 3. Read Isaiah 11:1-5
     
    A. Why is it surprising that a shoot would come from a stump, or that the lineage of Jesse would produce Someone so pure?
     
    When I picture a stump, I think of a tree that has been cut down and the stump is what’s left – but it’s not alive like the tree was when it was standing and had its leaves. A tree won’t grow back from it. So the idea of a shoot coming up from a stump is like something living coming from something that is dead.
     
    Jesse was an ordinary man and he had a lot of sons. I know that God chose David, the shepherd, to be the future king of Israel. But David was imperfect as were his children; somehow God worked with their “mess”.

  25. Merry Christmas my sweet sisters! Thinking of you this morning and praying you are sensing Him. Love you! 

  26. 3. Read Isaiah 11:1-5
     
    A. Why is it surprising that a shoot would come from a stump, or that the lineage of Jesse would produce Someone so pure?
     
    The stump is dead..the law of sin is death, not life..and so it is surprising that out of a stump of death, a lineage of dead sinners, would come someone so pure-without sin- to bring us life and freedom from the bondage of sin.
     
    B. Share one specific way God has taken the ashes of your life, or the bondage of your sin and brought beauty from it?
     
    Unforgiveness toward my dad for leaving my mom and us the way he did.  After I came to know Jesus, He freed me from that bondage by giving me the strongest love and forgiving heart toward my dad. I can’t explain it-it was just there. it was TOTALLY Jesus. After I forgave him I met with my dad face to face and told him I have forgiven him and I love him. 
     
    C. What do you learn about the character of Jesus from these five verses?
     
    HE is the polar opposite of the kingdom that was destroyed-I guess part of the representation of the stump was oppression of the poor and needy, no fear of the Lord, men doing things that are righteous in their own eyes and stepping on and hurting others-with no thought, delight or adoration of God-man was the center of their rule. Whereas Jesus is the opposite! He is God-He has God’s perfect wisdom, understanding, righteousness, and will bring justice to the poor and needy, and He will delight in the fear of God-God will rule.

    1. Rebecca, your forgiveness of your father is beautiful. It so touches my heart.

  27. Still pondering the shoot from a stump and Someone so pure coming from Jesse and went looking in the book of Job in chapter 14. These verses seem to help solve this puzzle:
     
    Who can bring what is pure from the impure? No one! (Impossible for man to do, but not for God)
     
    At least there is hope for a tree: if it is cut down, it will sprout again, and its new shoots will not fail. Its roots may grow old in the ground and its stump die in the soil, yet at the scent of water it will bud and put forth shoots like a plant.
     
    So when a man dies, he is gone from this earth…of course he can have descendants-children, and grandchildren, etc…but the word picture in Isaiah almost seems to say that this shoot is coming from the stump of Jesse-the stump of Jesse meaning the dead man (?) which, of course, is humanly impossible. Still puzzling….

  28. B. Share one specific way God has taken the ashes of your life, or the bondage of your sin and brought beauty from it?
     
    I seem to see more “soot and ashes” in me than beauty…I said I wasn’t going to make anyone do the Advent wreath on Christmas Eve if they didn’t want to and I didn’t…after spending Christmas Eve with my husband’s family, we came home. My husband went into the den to watch TV, my boys went off to play video games together, and my daughter and I spent time together talking and reading some favorite Christmas stories, then she went to bed. But I’m afraid on the inside I didn’t have a good attitude about it – I felt kind of upset, then sorry for myself. I may not have said anything, but my attitude was not like Jesus when things didn’t go His way.
    On Christmas Day, having my family at my home for the first time, I was a little nervous about making the day as special as my mom always did when it was at her home…Ann Voskamp kept running around in my mind about how we can’t “make” Christmas special…at one point I got a little testy in the kitchen with my one sister who didn’t agree with something I was doing…I had to apologize. I still can’t seem to get the Tim Keller thing about “The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness” – I worry way too much about what others are thinking about me which proves that I am still self-centered in my thinking.
     
    C. What do you learn about the character of Jesus from these five verses?
     
    He is wise and understanding…He is the “ultimate Counselor”…He has all knowledge…He delights in the fear of the Lord (He willingly submitted to His Father)…He looks beneath the surface of what can be seen with the eyes and heard with the ears and so judges righteously and is just…He will not tolerate the wicked…He is faithful.

    1. Ah, Susan. I too have the same problem you seem to be struggling with. 
       

       I still can’t seem to get the Tim Keller thing about “The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness” – I worry way too much about what others are thinking about me which proves that I am still self-centered in my thinking.

       
      I want others to do things my way and grow critical when they do not. I am learning not to necessarily say what I am thinking but my attitude ruins my enjoyment of the other good moments around me.  Then I stew and inwardly punish myself for even thinking negative thoughts. All the while trying to figure out if there is a way I can “fix” them. And then, if someone even hints criticism of me, I bristle and then fret and fret trying to figure out if there is a way to win back their approval. I am hopeless without God. The lies of the devil “You aren’t good enough” go round and round in my head. The only thing that works is turning my eyes to Jesus again and again. Yes, I am way to self-centered.
       
      Jesus Christ. Son of God, Saviour, have mercy on me. 

      1. Wow, Diane…you have exactly described my patterns of thought, too…”my attitude ruins my enjoyment of the other good moments around me. Then I stew and inwardly punish myself for even thinking negative thoughts…I fret trying to figure out if there is a way to win back their approval.” Yes, then in comes the enemy…I was hearing “if you were such a good Christian, you wouldn’t have snapped at your sister…you are a total failure at the Christian life…you should have done….”
         
        I need His mercy, too.

    2. Susan and Diane, I also struggle with the need for approval that you are describing. Forgive me if I have already shared this. I often can’t remember If I have shared something in conversation or on here.
      I came to the point where I sensed that perhaps God was removing the approval of certain people from me. With some people I could just do nothing right. That really got me thinking and I am far from figuring it out but it has saved me so much angst. Now I often remember to step back, not in anger or even hurt but into His protection. This is His banner over me, even His direction. I also realize that with some people He has given me unmerited favor. These relationships are my precious jewels. I have the sense that He is preparing them for redemption.
      For examples, I have been backed out of close relationship with my sister and her family. It isn’t that I don’t see her or love her. I just don’t need to visit as much and I don’t share my spiritual heart. It seems to push her farther away when I do. But with my new daughter in law, a relationship that I really worried about, I seem to have much favor.
      Sometimes, when I quit worrying about a relationship, it eventually turns around. And then sometimes I come to see that the lack of approval was blessed protection over me.
      i hope this is a helpful direction for thought.

  29. 4. Read the following article
     
    A. What verse from the Song of songs inspired this song? – Songs of Songs 2:1, “I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys.”
     
    B. Some in Catholicism thought the rose to be Mary, but Protestants referred to Isaiah 11 and said it was Jesus. How does Romans 15:8-12 clarify this rose is Jesus?
     
    In verse 9 it says that we will sing hymns to (His) name, and in verse 11 our praises are sung to the Lord. In verse 12 Paul cites Isaiah, saying that “The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; the Gentiles will hope in Him.” Here, clearly, Jesus is identified as the Root of Jesse.

  30. C. Read Christina Rosetti’s poems in this article and find something that quickens you.
     
    She wrote that Jesus is the Sun that lights up the moons through their radiant hour, which reminded me of Song of Songs 6:10, “Who is this that appears like the dawn, fair as the moon…” She is reflecting His light; it is He who makes us radiant.

  31. Good morning, sisters, and belated merry Christmas to you! I had a message composed yesterday but I got pulled away and my iPad reset before I could post it and I didn’t get time again after that. 
     
    4. C. Read Christina Rosetti’s poems in this article and find something that quickens you. She seems to be arguing the case that Christ is the rose and Mary is not. But then in the second poem she says “Herself a rose..” That confuses me. But then she says ” She bore the rose and felt its thorn…” This interests me. It probably speaks literally of child pains, but, too, its an illusion to our suffering with Christ. I read Ann Voskamp’s blog entry “The Christmas Tree that Blew Our Minds … & Hearts” and she talks about the more we die, the bigger our life becomes, obviously because when we die to self, Christ then lives through us making our life bigger, and more joyful, even if a tad more painful, too. Good read. I don’t know how to link on my iPad, sorry. 

    1. 4. Christiana Rossetti’s poem thoughts
      Yes, I am pondering the part about the thorn

      Herself a rose, who bore the Rose,She bore the Rose and felt its thorn.

      I too thought of Simeon’s words to Mary at the temple when they took Baby Jesus for dedication.
      How much Mary had to go through with her son – illegitimate, fleeing to Egypt, rejected, Jesus’ trial, crucifixion. I think this ties with Dee’s choice of her Christmas song on Milrose Club (radio), “Borning Day” that talks about Jesus and Mary being poor and hungry. I haven’t associated Simeon’s words about the “sword piercing” Mary with the thorns of the Rose before. 
       

  32. Oh, I so want to absorb this lesson–but I can’t seem to get my brain all the way working yet–don’t know if its remnants of flu or medicine, but I feel I can “think” very well. And yet, there is one thing that he has shown me so rich -Dee said above-“Who is this One who gives us hope in the midst of pain? Who is this fairest of ten thousand? Our Lord Jesus Christ, born to us this day.”

    I barely made it at our table of 4 for Christmas for 20 minutes but I did, and I am thankful. So thankful that Christmas truly is a simple thing–it is all Him. My ideas of a neighborhood party making clay dough ornaments never materialized, but there has been great joy, and I think we’ve all been reminded that in the slowness, the simplicity of staring at our Christmas tree lights or driving to look at house lights and singing carols in the car–there is beauty wherever He is.We know He is the gift, and this has been a great reminder that He is the only gift we need.

    I woke early this morning with a clear answer to many prayers–too hard to give all the details, but He had opened my eyes further to an old pattern I was repeating in a relationship with one of my children. Finally it wasn’t the weight of what they had done. It wasn’t the weight of my guilt. It was a clear path He was pointing to and the strength to follow in it. So I obeyed and the time was sweet. There have been “times” before and I’m sure we will stumble and get up a million more times. But there is something I cannot repeat any longer. There is a pattern, a role I play–its foundation is my own insecurities and past rejection. I cannot play that role any longer. Forgive and initiate. When it seems there is no returned love or care, I want to remember what it was to be that age. My own pain, my own loss, and let Him create something new. He wants to, I feel it. I know I have been vague, but needed to write something for my own accountability. Forgive what was done to me. Remember what it felt like to have the weight of guilt for a broken parental relationship as a child–and the feeling that it was my fault but I had no clue how to fix it. I cannot let me child feel what I felt. I longed for that parent to seek me, to initiate. I must be that now.
     

    1. Elizabeth, this is beautiful. I think we can all learn from you, “There is a pattern, a role I play-it’s foundation is my own insecurities and past rejection. I cannot play that role any longer. Forgive and initiate. When it seems there is no returned love or care, I want to remember what it was to be that age.”
      Forgive and initiate, even when it seems there is no returned love or care.

  33. http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=FhvXOIVsRv4
     
    wanted to share what touched my heart today. 
     
    Elizabeth, I am touched and inspired by your sharing. Thank you. 

    1. oh Jill–it sounds almost self-absorbed for me to say this–but I do feel the Lord used you to specifically bless me with this song you shared. Its been so long since I’ve heard it, and that version is BEAUTIFUL, but the words, oh how they penetrate me now, tears, and healing. “Love so amazing, so divine, Demands my soul, my life, my all.”–THANK YOU for sharing this!

  34. A. What verse from The Song of Songs inspired this song?
     
    Song of Solomon 2:1: “I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys.”
     
    B. Some in Catholicism thought the rose to be Mary, but Protestants referred to Isaiah 11 and said it was Jesus. How does Romans 15:8-12 clarify this rose is Jesus?
     
    “There shall come the root of Jesse”-this is referring to Jesus.
     
    C. Read Christina Rosetti’s poems in this article and find something that quickens you.
     
    This screams the Song of Songs. What quickens me is Mary being transformed to His Likeness-like when the Shulamite maiden is being transformed to His Likeness. In this poem He calls her His Dove, His Sister, His Spouse..his Mother..this is Mary-She is a mirror of Him, but she isn’t the fairest lily-although she is a lily, she only is because HE is the fairest lily, sweeter, whiter and He makes her beautiful.

    This also stood out to me: “He was the fountain, she the rill-(I looked it up and rill means a small stream.) Her goodness to fulfil And gladness, with proportioned pace He led her steps thro’ good and ill.” -This is almost just too beautiful to comment on..He the fountain and she the small stream that comes from the fountain-oh.

  35. The beauty of Him being Mary’s sustenance and strength as she walked through the low and high valleys in life really is speaking to my heart right now. 

  36. 6. Listened to Dee on Susie Larson’s program – can’t say only one particular thing stood out because it was all wonderful, from the first minute to the last. I liked how Dee describes the mentoring relationship of Elizabeth and Mary; like two tail lights on a car getting you through a blizzard…how God put them together for that purpose. Hearing Dee share her journey through her grief after losing Steve always touches my heart…Martin Lloyd Jones on speaking to your soul rather than listening to it…learning how to lament to God opens a dialogue with Him. Dee said when something bad comes out of your mouth, it is evidence an idol is operating (ouch).
     
    Often, Dee points out how we have seen a sister here on the blog grow and change. Well, over the past few years since joining this blog, since we went through idols even before Dee had the book written, I feel like we’ve been on Dee’s spiritual journey with her, watching her transformation…and it is truly beautiful.

  37. I am so impressed with all of you who have been posting during Christmas week!    I don’t know how you have managed to do that — I didn’t seem to be able to get going on it.      I have peeked in a few times, and I have done almost all of the activities, but I couldn’t seem to gather enough time to post.  I had a very fulfilling Christmas eve and Christmas Day, but I was exhausted when it was over!   Obviously I must have made a few mistakes.
    1. What stood out to you from the above and why?  

    Ten days after her husband died of cancer, a giant oak in Luci Shaw’s front yard was split by lightning and had to be felled. Men came with their screaming saws, echoing the pain in Luci’s grieving heart. They burned the stump until it was no more.

    Yes, the very beginning sentences of Dee’s post seemed so dramatic — so traumatic– that it impacted me.    When the men were attacking the tree, to me, it seemed as if there were forces attacking Luci Shaw’s grief, right down to burning the stump!   I think grief can be like that — and after we have burned the stump, trying to rid ourselves of the awful grief, then one day there comes a young, green shoot — a memory that we can tolerate, that brings us comfort, and healing and salvation begin.
    2. Choose one of the following and share how a rose bloomed out of the stump this Advent:
    My husband has two sisters who are not speaking to one another.  It has caused a schism in the entire family — how do you invite one and not the other — which one do you invite?   Neither will come if they learn the other is going to attend a family event.     Several of us have talked with them, trying to broker a reconciliation, but unfortunately these are strong, proud women.   Finally one of them, Violet, decided to go to see the other one (Yvonne).   However, Yvonne’s son, Jim, said to me, “Do you know how embarrassing that was for me to have to go out and tell Violet that my mother saw her coming and went to her room and locked the door?!!”     So this post is not to tell you that reconciliation has occurred, but that at least one sister was willing to make the effort.  I took some joy in that.   I think this matter is going to require much prayer, however, something needs to give soon as both of them are in their 80s — how much time do we get to accomplish these things?!

     

  38. I so enjoyed listening to the Milrose Club!    Especially the discussion about whether one should have a “live” tree or a life-like tree (artificial).    It took me back 40 years to the last time we had a real or “live” tree.  Our family bundled up for the -0 temperatures and drove out to the Christmas tree farm.  We huddled together and picked out the “perfect” one.   The girls and I climbed back into the station wagon, while my poor husband braved the cold to cut the tree down.   We lashed it to the top of the station wagon, and came sailing back home — feeling like we had conquered the world!   However, despite nursing that tree along with sugar-water, by Christmas Day it was so dry and brittle that we were afraid to turn the lights on.   That did it — we got right out in the after-Christmas sales and purchased an artificial tree.   So I guess we felt like Steve did, fearing a fire.  
     
    3. Read Isaiah 11:1-5
    A. Why is it surprising that a shoot would come from a stump, or that the lineage of Jesse would produce Someone so pure?    
     
    Jesse’s lineage included a whole line of people who were far from perfect or pure.  In their history were a variety of sins including murder and adultery — not a lineage you would expect a pure Messiah to come from.
    B. Share one specific way God has taken the ashes of your life, or the bondage of your sin and brought beauty from it?
    I have shared last week the joy that came from seeing Penny, the daughter of my recently- killed friend, Peg, come forward at church to renew her relationship with Christ and the Church.  If there is an example closer to home, I haven’t recognized it yet!
     
    C. What do you learn about the character of Jesus from these five verses?
    That Jesus has the Spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel, power, and knowledge, and that He is a just judge and will favor the needy and the poor.

  39. A. What verse from The Song of Songs inspired this song? 
    Songs 2:1  — “I am a rose of Sharon…”
    B. Some in Catholicism thought the rose to be Mary, but Protestants referred to Isaiah 11 and said it was Jesus. How does Romans 15:8-12 clarify this rose is Jesus?
    Romans 15: 8-12 does not even mention Mary.  It is all about Christ. In vs. 8,  it says he is the one to confirm the promises made to the patriarchs.  In vs. 12 it says “The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; the Gentiles will have hope in him.” 
     

  40. 4. C. Read Christina Rosetti’s poems in this article and find something that quickens you.

    “Christ’s mirror she of grace and love, Of beauty and of life and death:By hope and love and faith transfigured to His likeness, ‘Dove,Spouse, Sister, Mother,’ Jesus saith.”

    This reminded me of the Song of Songs 4:9  “You have stolen my heart, my sister, my bride.”  Also vs. 10: ” How delightful is your love, my sister, my bride.”

  41. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
    It stood out to me how the verses from Song of Songs spoke to Luci’s heart in her grief, how they seemed spoken to her heart by The Lord. They began her journey up and out. So beautiful.
     
    2. Choose one of the following and share how a rose bloomed out of the stump this Advent:
    The drippings of grace that I see this advent is in my daughter in law. There is still a lot of brokenness in her life because of what she has been through but what I see and my hope for her is bright. It is drawing her toward God! 
    She is volunteering with a group of nuns in NYC that ministers to women in crisis pregnancies. She and my son have hearts for life! He blew me away with his heart when he shared his thoughts with me. Whatever else is happening, God will take care of, but this was for me and I am so blessed!
    3A. Why is it surprising that a shoot would come from a stump, or that the lineage of Jesse would produce Someone so pure?
    I have seen shoots sprout from a stump. I have a deformed tree on the edge of my yard that is the result of a stump not being destroyed as the one in Luci’s yard was. It has sprouted trunks around the stump which have left a well in the middle that harbors mosquitos. Not pretty.
    In the case of the stump of Jesse, the tree itself was quite imperfect, nvm the stump. It is amazing that One who is perfect could sprout from it!
     
    B. Share one specific way God has taken the ashes of your life, or the bondage of your sin and brought beauty from it? What God has done through the idol of approval in my life (shared above) is a good example of this. 
     
    C. What do you learn about the character of Jesus from these five verses?
    The Spirit of The Lord rests on Him. Wisdom, understanding, counsel, strength, knowledge and fear of The Lord. 
    His delight will be in the fear of The Lord. That says so much to me! Could it be that fear of The Lord is knowledge of Him? 
    He will execute justice not by human power of sight and evidence, but by the omniscient knowledge of God. 
    His omnipotence will discipline the land and kill the wicked by the word of His mouth.
    He is girded with righteousness and faithfulness.
    He is God.

  42. I wasn’t able to access Dee’s appearance with Susi Larson.   However, I did watch Ann VosKamp’s fourth video.    I was almost distracted by her very icy cold-looking (and sounding) setting.  I was watching her breath condensing in the air.  I wondered why she chose to do that — maybe to show the cold of world contrasted to the warmth of Christ’s love.  I found it interesting that she quoted Carl Sagan, and made reference to the fact that our earth is just a little blue speck in the cosmos.  However, we are not left alone.  She said our world is a mess, but Christ left heaven and came to earth to be with us in our mess, and that the last word is always LOVE.  
    I had not encountered Ann VosKamp until on this blog.  However, what I have seen in these four videos whetted my appetite for more, and I put  One Thousand Gifts  on my wish list this Christmas and my daughters got it for me.   🙂  

  43. I woke up feeling horrible-bad headache and nausea-I can’t make it through the study this morning, and we have a family gathering tomorrow that I need to bake for today..oh my..if you could pray that would be wonderful!

  44. Good afternoon sweet sisters!
    It’s me Tammy Luccioni. I had to leave you two years ago because I had a mental breakdown. My Daddy came from Alabama and my mother came from North Carolina. I made the choice to go home with Daddy because I wanted to go to my childhood home. That was the best choice I made during the beginning of those dark days. I was hospitalized and diagnosed with Psychotic Depressive Disorder. I want to share with you all how God took care of me.
    He knew I needed to hear His word for I was not able to read it for myself. Early in those dark days I had told myself that I didn’t belong to God. I went to the church of my childhood one Sunday but it is a church that does not want to hear God’s truth. Over the years they have fired preachers who preached the truth of God’s word. I never went back. So how did God use His word as an ointment on my hurting soul?
    He sent me to Reform Jewish synagogue. My Daddy’s brother’s wife is Jewish. After I had been home a few months she invited me to go with her to temple. I went and was intrigued. I would look at the symbols of their faith and think of Jesus. I got to hear God’s word in the original language. I would attempt to sing. I attended until I was ready to return here to Georgia. By the time I was ready to go home one of the ladies told me that I should stay and become one of them. The time spent there is now very precious to me.
    After I returned to Georgia I did not return to church. Remember I had told myself I did not belong to God and I was not going to go play the hypocrite. But as you all know God’s timing is always perfect. I have been back in Georgia for a year. I ran into a couple from church at the post office. I admit when I first saw them I almost turned around and went back home. I got in line behind them and they turned around and spoke to me. They told me they missed me and looked forward to seeing me back in church. After that encounter I realized something. It was not church I missed but God. I began to think upon a certain scripture and I came to realize that only God’s Spirit brings scripture to remembrance and that meant I BELONGED TO GOD!    My soul cried out to God I NEED YOU! And the only way I can describe what happened is by telling you it was as if a curtain had been opened and the light flooded in.
    I would have never made it through without your prayers. THANK YOU FOR PRAYING FOR ME!
    It’s so good to be ‘home’.
    Love you. 

    1. Oh, Welcome back, Tammy. I have often wondered how you were. I was quite new to this blog when you left, so I’m not sure you would remember me but I remember you. I’m sorry you went through such a dark time, but I am so glad that God is moving and has moved in your life. I am so glad to hear from you! 

    2. TAMMY !!  SO GLAD YOU ARE BACK. CELEBRATING YOUR RETURN!  I was praying for you about a week ago — and wondering how you are. So thankful that God came to you during such a difficult time and that you see Him working.

      Earlier today (on the road), I was thinking about times when I wasn’t able to read — and how for centuries, Scripture was spread to most people orally because so many people couldn’t read.  I know I purchased the Bible on mp3s at some point and was thinking about that today, wondering if I could find it.  Because my life is heavy on the reading and writing, I’ve been thinking that I’d benefit from listening more often to people reading God’s word now, too.

    3. Tammy – I can hardly believe my eyes!! I am so glad you are back as I have often thought of you, and how wonderful those “dark days” are behind you, yet God was with you the whole time. Welcome, welcome back!

  45. Hello everyone,
    Just finished reading Is:40 – how I love Is:
    This is what I wrote and I thought I would share it while my spirit is still singing and my heart is still soaring with the presence of my Lord and Saviour
    Our beloved Lord and Saviour
    My eternal sisters
    Blessings!
    Blessings and hugs and Happy New Year:)
    All the best in 2014
     
    The power and majesty of the Lord
    Is like the mountains of my province
    When I drive though them they call out to me
     
    Like the Lord does
    They stand tall and vibrant
    Like the Lord does
     
    Before you and me
    His voice, like the mountains
    Ring out, shouting the name of the Lord.
     
    Who can stand in the shadow of the mountain of my Lord
    Only those with a pure heart
    But still He stands
                      calling out
                          to His people
    Calling us home
                      one by one
    To the mountain of the Lord
     
    And I come
    And I turn
    To the majesty, to the power, to the authority of my Lord
     
    His voice rings out sure and clear
    Like the mountain before me
    Full of majesty is my Lord.
     
    Whom is like Him?
    Whom will I compare Him to?
    No one
    All fail, all fall down in the shadow of my Lord!
     
    I bow down
    I fix my eyes on my Lord
    The author and finisher of my faith!
    And I bow down
    Will you?
     
    Whom do I look to please?
    Whom do I look to
                  put my
                       trust in?
    The Lord God Almighty
    That is who I put my trust in
    To whom/what can I compare Him to?
     
    A summer’s night?
    A starry sky?
    A peaceful whisper?
    A song on my heart?
    A poem in my book?
     
    No!
    Nothing!
    I can compare Him with nothing.
    He is fairer than 10, 000
     
    I am my beloved and He is mine!
    He has spoken
    I have lifted my head.
    I have come with no fear
                            with no guile
    I am my beloved and He is mine!
    Hallejah!
    I have been thinking of a prayer for 2014
    Bits and pieces have come to mind
    Scraps of conversation and paper pasted together in my mind.
    But how to put it all in a sentence, in a plea, in a whisper, in a poem
    Lord my prayer for 2014
    Keep me in the palm of your hand
    Keep me free from guilt, shame and fear
    Place me tenderly and carefully in your heart for evermore
    Take me to the high places and
                       let me run with you
                                 bounding from hill to mountainside
    Stopping only …..
    Blessings
    Mellany
     

    1. So great to hear your beautiful words, Mellany.