Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The "Breath" Of A Tree

I truly couldn't put my finger on "why" exactly but I can say most assuredly that I have a mysterious love of trees. Oh, there could be a myriad of reasons from green outstretched boughs full of life that render a shady and cool respite in the heat to the spectacular show of colors that take my breath in the autumn change. Many, many times I have stopped along the road as I travel to just marvel at a particular tree. I do see them as one of Gods wonderful and amazing creations. Trees are mentioned aproximately 56 times in scripture which speaks highly to me and tells me to do what I am drawn to do, 'stop and notice them'! Everything about his creation of trees has been intricately and meticulously thought out by our creator. He made them purposeful, with every part being useful to life, much like he made us. From the design of their expansive root system where their nourishment is obtained to the expanse of their boughs that gives shade to man and a nesting place for Gods creations. Their wood has been cut to fashion everything from an ark to a bowl to hold our food. Homes have been made, furniture to sit on in those homes and strangely enough, even a set of teeth was carved for President George Washington from the wood of a tree. The paper I write and sketch on
is available because of Gods gift of a tree! I could literally write all day and beyond on the innumerable wonders of the tree but I certainly would overwhelm your ability to absorb it all. One very interesting fact that I feel compelled to mention in the big scheme of the glory of God in trees is the balance that our creator designed in them of carbon and oxygen. In the lifetime of a single mature (98-100ft) tree, it can absorb 50 lbs. of carbon dioxide and that same tree can also produce 6,000 pounds of oxygen in a year, which is enough to support 2 people. Amazing! So, are trees breathing? Why, yes, I believe they are! They take in or absorb carbon dioxide and then in turn put out oxygen into the air. We, as human beings, take in the oxygen and then in turn breathe out or expel the carbon dioxide. What an amazing, supernatural and unsearchable thing that our creator has done here!
Recently, a sweet and gifted friend drew a prophetic picture and placed it online. I was immediately taken by its beauty because it looked so very much like a tree. But upon closer examination it clearly was not a tree but an intricately etched drawing of the lungs. In the picture of the lungs she had placed Gods creatures resting and residing. Under her drawing she had written the words to a familiar worship song. . . "It's your breath in our lungs. . So we pour out our praise. . . ". Those lungs were designed to be inside of our wonderfully made bodies and they held the same intricacies of the trees that were outside in nature! MY BREATH HAS BEEN TAKEN AWAY HERE! Oxygen and carbon dioxide in and out; life sustaining branches to allow life to flow and to protect us; He (God) is indeed the air we breathe, the air we take in. The air intake system that he has created had been mimicked so to speak through the trees. God you are unspeakably rich in your goodness to us. Today my prayer must be this:
"Turn my heart to you O Lord. Sow seeds of your Word in humble, open soil and send its roots down into my heart. Send more roots deep into my lungs so that your breath fills my lungs, bringing wisdom. As I breathe out, may songs of praise fill the air all around me. As my heart beats, sending blood to every vital part of my body, remind me of your blood that had given me newness of life and is vital to apply to every area of my life. Amen"
So, here, once again I am reminded why the poet in me holds one poem most dear to my heart. The first line goes like this, "I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree. . . . ".

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Got Cha Covered

Yesterday I came across one of the most beautiful pictures of a rock wall in the painted desert in Arizona. It's colors were breathtakingly beautiful beyond description. As I paused to enjoy the beauty of it I was quickly reminded how it looked exactly like a quilt that my daughter had covering her bed. The delicate lines of color mirrored her quilt in every way. It of course made me think of coverings and what they do. Sorry, but that's the kind of thing that kicks my brain into "wonderment" mode. So here's what I began to think. . . How comforting is the term "got ya covered"! In the hustle bustle of all that we do, to have someone step in on one of your busiest days and say "go, I've got ya covered" is a deep sigh of love and relief isn't it? When someone cares enough to see that you need help and they jump in with the biggest heart of a servant you've ever seen and make that declaration to you, well, there are few words to describe how grateful that would make anyone feel. Covering someone means taking care of their needs, protecting them from harm or weariness in this case. Covering means being the one who takes the reins of responsibility and guides the wagon when we are weak. It's taking the protective role at its most vulnerable moment to bring shelter and care. Covered! Hmmmm Well, you probably know where I'm going next so just come along for the ride and relax. Covered, isn't that what Jesus did for us when he stretched out his arms on that cross and cared for us in the single greatest act of love and protection ever made? We needed a Savior, He covered us. We needed protection from death, helll and the grave, He covered us. We, in our absolute lost and most weary and vulnerable states needed someone who would cover us, protect us and care for us by stepping into our world and saying, "Got Ya Covered"! By doing what He did, dying on that cross and caring for us when we certainly didn't deserve covering, shows us every second of every day how very beautiful his protective, loving, selfless and caring quilt of compassion is over us. The painted desert quilt. . . . . Well. . . . as beautiful as it is, it can't quite or ever will, hold a candle to our Jesus covering. We are covered with a love that can't be illustrated or even painted on desert rocks. His covering can only be accepted and embraced by those who are tired, weak, hungry and in need of a Savior and. . . . that includes us all!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Dusk To Dawn

Before dawn I sat and drank my coffee; all was dark except for a few twinkling stars and a home in the distance that obviously had left the porch light on. I was surrounded by quietness. It is said that its always darkest before the dawn, onimous for sure...but isnt that how it feels in our spirits sometimes? Our lives are so dark with sin before we can see the light of Jesus in our darkest hour. Oh, we can't see it at the time but that's how it always is and always will be. You see, the darkness of sin so blocks out most light of any kind, especially the light of the love of Christ. We get so buried deep in our sin that it is all encompassing. Yes, maybe in the distance we can see the glimmer of another light here and there but that's about it. We see the light of Jesus shining in others' lives but the dark shroud of sin is so thick over our own lives that it's hard to imagine walking in such light at all. It seems impossible to even dare hoping to walk in such light. It looks and probably feels like being caught up in a never ending nightmare of darkness. 
Ahhhh, but here is where the veil gets torn! The sun is creeping up to the edge of the horizon. The light of a new day sheds hope over the landscape and the dawn is here! Someone, probably with a familiar face, bumps into you in the supermarket, invites you to share lunch and the light is shed! Someone calls you on the phone perhaps, comes to your door as you felt the unction to invite them over and the light creeps into your house. Maybe, you stand at the bedside of a dying loved one and wonder if the pain will ever subside and a hand slips quietly into yours as a prayer is prayed. Whatever it looks like, your dawn is here. The sun will go down and the sun will rise and it ALWAYS rises and the hope of glory slips into that tear in your spirit, that wound, that gap where your vulnerability is exposed. The hope of glory dispels the darkness and the day is new, his mercies to you are new. Your old things, the shroud, the yoke, the burden and the weight of sin and darkness are gone. The light has come.

As I sat on my porch watching the darkness before the dawn I noticed in the distance another light from another farm come on and then another and then another until the darkness is hardly noticeable for the twinkling of the lights on the horizon. It's as if one light was triggering another to come on. It was as if a chain reaction of lights were whispering to each other, "wake up, it's time to wake up. It's a new day"! I smile as I think about how dark it had been and now here was the sun peeking over the horizon to bring the ultimate light to my day. The rooster crowed and I knew undeniably that my day would soon be filled with things like phone calls or prayers with a friend and maybe even a chance meeting or two. I rose from my porch swing and turned off my porch light for the light had indeed come. 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

I'm Gonna Make You Love Me. . . . Yes I Will, Yes I Will

Now the title of that old song by the Temptations came to my mind while I was doing my bible study today. I know, go figure!  I was reading in the book of Genesis the 29th chapter of the account of Rachel and Leah. Now why would that song come to mind? Well, let me explain. The story begins around the 14th verse. It tells of Jacob who went to work for Laban and the wages that he desired to work for were for the hand of Labans daughter Rachel in marriage. Laban agreed to let Jacob have Rachel's hand after he had worked for Him for seven years. Yes gentlemen, this was a woman worth waiting for as far as Jacob was concerned. But after the seven years had passed Laban deceived Jacob and on Jacobs wedding night he unknowingly had Rachel's sister Leah in his tent instead of Rachel because Laban said that their tradition was to have the oldest daughter married first. Jacob was of course furious because Rachel, the beautiful one, was the one that he desired and had worked for seven years to have. After Jacob protested Laban agreed to give him Rachel as well but only if Jacob would agree to work for Laban for another seven years. So Jacob took Rachel also as his wife and worked for Laban. At this point you may be thinking, "how sad for Leah", she knew her husband loved Rachel and she just wanted him to love her. Here's where I have to ask the question, " have you ever felt unloved by someone you wanted to love you?" For some it may be the very person you are married to or in a relationship with. For some it may be or have been a parent who didn't show love for whatever reason. I can't imagine the depth of what you are going through or have been through but I do know that God sees. I believe he saw Leah. Not as a replacement for love but as a blessing God gave Leah children. But instead of seeing the gift of children as a blessing, Leah viewed her children as a way to capture the heart of her husband. You see this was Leah's thinking, she desperately wanted to be chosen and loved and hoped that by having these children it would win the heart of her husband. Aren't we sometimes like Leah here? We, in an effort to be loved think that by being better, looking better, achieving more, doing more that it might attract attention. But here, for Leah, no amount of children or attention was going to change the fact that Jacob didn't really love her, he loved Rachel. Now it may seem like the moral to this story would be "those who are beautiful and desired by men are happy and those who are homely and unloved are miserable"! But let's take a look at the other woman, Rachel. Rachel was miserable too! Rachel had everything that her sister Leah wanted and was convinced would make her happy. She had Jacob who loved her exclusively, she was physically stunning but she could have  no children. If only, she thought, she could have a child then she would be truly complete and happy. So here's where we see that Rachel became jealous of her sister Leah because she had children and Leah was jealous of Rachel because Jacob didn't love her he loved Rachel. How sad! There had to be a better way! Well as the story progresses, Rachel cried out to God for a child and He heard her. She had a son. So here's the happily ever after part, right? Wrong! Rachel had the exclusive love of her husband and she was stunningly beautiful and now she had a child but she was not happy. She should have been satisfied, filled, content and had a heart that was at rest but we find Rachel near the end of her story lying and cramming idols into her bag on the way out! Where she should have been happy she was discontent and grabbing idols to try and fill her discontent.  So, here's another poignant question for you. "Have you ever gotten that thing or person that you so longed for and it didn't make you as happy as you thought it would?" I think that is the exact point! The answer seems to be that it doesn't matter if you have it all and get everything your heart desires or if you're left wanting and unloved. Neither works! You see even though Leah and Rachel had very different circumstances they both were left wanting. Why? Because God was not their ultimate thing. The "ultimate things" for them were, children, their husband, their beauty or social status and in the end that just wasn't enough. A better way does exist! All of the "ultimate things" that these sisters had set in place were simply NOT the ultimate thing. If you are one of these that are desperate for love and affection but your searching has led you down unimaginable paths of devastation then maybe your "ultimate thing"is not the "ultimate thing". If you find yourself feeling miserable in your lack like Leah or miserable in your fullness like Rachel then the question comes again. God has created each of us uniquely and specifically. God knows the longings of our hearts and sees our pain. He hears our cries. Your life does not need to end up like either of these women! It says in John 10:10 that Jesus came so you no longer have to strain for what you believe are the "ultimate things". "He has come that you may have life and have it to the fullest". So, here's my final thought. In this New Year when many people are making their new resolutions for the coming year, I would suggest maybe instead of making resolutions that you probably won't keep. . . .try this. . . Be "resolute" about loving God and making him the "ultimate object of your affection"! You are more likely to find the ultimate thing that Rachel or Leah never found! And that just might look like a "happily ever after" for you!

Friday, June 9, 2017

The Shadows Of Morning

I believe we all know what a shadow is don't we? Websters defines a shadow as a shape or dark area produced by a body coming between rays of light and a surface. Simple enough I think. As a small child I can actually remember seeing my shadow and being afraid of it. I know, but I had no idea what it was or who that person was and why they were chasing me. I certainly didn't understand why I couldn't get away from them. That was a very scary memory for a little one but as I came to realize that the person following me was simply "me" then my shadow quickly became my playmate. The reality of shadows are that they cast nearly exact replicas of what the shape or the person is. Directionally observed sometimes they can look distorted but generally they are the exact shape and form. This morning as I was enjoying breakfast on my front porch the sun had come up, it was casting shadows of everything. I could see my figure as I sat in my chair and I could also see the shadows of my hanging pots, my wicker furniture and even the wind chimes that were hanging there. We were all exactly reproduced, reflecting dark images across the porch floor boards and clapboard siding. Another interesting fact to note is that shadows can also come in the form of shade. On a larger scale I must say as in the shade of my enormous oak tree in my yard. It's shadow casts shade to sit under bringing a much needed refreshment from the heat of the sun. Whichever the case I have to tell you that the visions of shadows, whichever of these forms they take, causes me to wonder if the shadows that I cast or impressions that I leave look exactly as they should. What I mean by that is simply, "do I leave impressions for others that look like someone I'm trying to be or do they look exactly like who I am?" I don't know about you but I don't ever want to be classified, or "identified, as the term is so quickly used these days, with anyone but who God is creating in me. I want to be the 'real deal' as they say, someone who speaks the truth in love, holds no secrets, says what she knows to be truth, and always genuine. If I'm around highly educated and intelligent people I don't want to pretend and say things that would make me sound and appear to be on their level. When I'm with those who are financially well off I don't want to do or say things to try and impress so they will take me on as their equal. When I am around those who may use offensive language often, I never want to morph into their verbal gutter speak. I just desire to show them love and kindness without cruel judgement. I guess I've said all of that just to say, "I want to be a shadow of the person that I've asked the Creator to shape in me and I do not want my shadow to ever shift from that position".  I never desire for my shadow to look distorted or mishapen from attempting to look a different way from what and who I am! I want others to come under my shadow as well and find a place of rest and encouragement when they are exposed to the heat of struggles in their lives. I want my shadow to look like Jesus. That's my heart! It says in James 1:17 "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows". In the King James Version of the Bible it doesn't say "shifting shadows" but it says "shadow of turning". "Turning" in the Greek in this passage is 'entropy' which means "shame". I believe that through all of the false pretenses that people can make that this passage is saying that if you remain steady, in Gods will and living and looking like God even in your reflection that there will never be a 'shadow of turning' there will never be any 'shame' because you will look and be an exact reflection of the one who matters the most. So this morning, and every morning, I pray that as often as the sun (son) is shining on me that my reflection, my shadow in the light of day will look EXACTLY like the image of my Creator. Shadows can be amazing!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Ebb and Flow

Have you ever gone out to sit on the beach for the day? You probably had everything with you so that you could enjoy the day uninterrupted. Your beach chair gets positioned in just the right place where you aren't too far from the water to walk on the hot sand. Your cooler is there with all the food delights and drinks for the day and your blanket and umbrella positioned just right as to lend the appropriate shade that you need. It's a peaceful little scene on that beach as you watch the waves break on the shoreline. Children laugh as they leap into each oncoming wave and dads build sandcastles with the toddlers who can't brave the waves yet. Your book is in your lap as you doze off with the warm sun shining on your face and a feeling of peace and calm that only the ocean air seems to bring to you. Then it happens. . . . . You are awakened suddenly to find the flow of the tide has reached not just your feet but your cooler, your blanket and umbrella which is now listing from the lack of sand to properly hold it up! You jump up and squeal as you start grabbing your items and retreating back to drier ground with all of your now drenched essentials. As you watch your sunscreen bottle gulped up by the newest wave and subsequently float out to sea you stand there wondering what has just happened. Well, I can tell you sheerly from this little scenario and maybe my own experience, you have just been privy to another of life's "ebb and flow" moments. Just when you think you are in the middle of the peace-filled "ebb" of things where tranquility is washing over you and your troubles are drifting away. . . . . the "flow" happens! The fast approaching tide of life events takes you by surprise and jolts you back to reality.
That seems to be what the painting looks like folks. The "ebb" and "flow" of life is a natural occurrence, a dance if you will that looks like we will have to learn how to move to. Carefree childhood days jumping in the puddles. . . . the scraped knees from falling off of that first two wheel bike ride; standing at the altar saying "I do" to the love of your life. . . . . .the overwhelming cries of babies, dirty dishes and laundry; watching your children graduate from school with such immense pride that you could burst . . . . . . having your electricity turned off because you are drowning in a mountain of debt. There it is. . . . . The ebb and flow of life. Sometimes wonderful, sometimes, not so wonderful. But nonetheless it's the way of life. What we must learn to do is to adjust our thinking and reaction to the flow part. The ebb is wonderful in all of the joyful memories that it seems to make but when the rush of the unexpected flow hits us, well, we don't always embrace it with as much gusto and happiness do we? In Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8 it says, "For everything there is an appointed time, a time for every matter under heaven:a time to bear and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to root up what is planted; a time to kill and a time to heal; a time to break down and a time to build up; a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance; a time to throw away stones and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek and a time to lose; a time to keep and a time to throw away; a time to tear and a time to sew; a time to be silent and a time to speak; a time to love and a time to hate; a time for war and a time for peace." 

What will we do when the unexpected time,or flow, washes in quickly and unexpectedly to our lives leaving us drenched and wiped out like the waves of a fast moving tide? Here's what we will do.. ... . We will gather up our stuff, move to drier ground and regroup. We will make it regardless of what that wave seemingly did to us. We will dry out, reposition our umbrellas and at some point recline in our chairs again with that good book, take a deep breath and be grateful! We will "count it all joy" and be able to smile or even laugh at ourselves and know that maybe just maybe being caught in the flow isn't always a bad thing but sometimes a necessary thing. For there is certainly one thing I'm now sure of. . . . . and that is just how far to position my beach chair to the ocean in the future! For as surely as the sun comes up in the morning bringing the light, the sun will also go down in the evening bringing the darkness. The tides will ebb and the tides will flow. Just make sure you've equipped yourself with what ever you need to face the darkness of the flow. It will also help us to appreciate the peace filled days much more. 
II Timothy 3:17 ". . . So that the man of God,may be complete and proficient,outfitted and throughly equipped for,every good work".

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Midnight Weavers

There is a sort of magic that happens outside of my house in the wee hours. That's when the weavers come out. They can't be seen too many times during the day but they work their magic when all gets quiet and the darkness settles over the mountains. It's sort of a wondrous thing to behold. The sun comes up over the horizon and floods the nooks and crannies of my front porch and their handiwork becomes visible. At times their weaving is highlighted by little droplets of dew that make their amazing works of art sparkle when the sunlight hits them. I find it simply beautiful. Now, I haven't always found it beautiful. When I first moved into this house in the country I saw these striking works of art as "nuisance cobwebs". I would come out onto the porch and find them everywhere, every morning! I could go around with my broom and sweep them off of the chair rungs, the storm door and my plants on the rails grumbling as I swept away their industrious nights work. I soon realized that it was simply fruitless. As I sat down to drink my coffee with the sunrise one day, sighing that I had to brush yet another cobweb off of my rocker, I succumbed at last to the futility of my morning task. I sat rocking and noticing really how gifted and creatively talented that God had made these little midnight weavers. In my quest for web-free living, I had not stopped long enough to see the beauty of their work. Every fiber that they wove had to be attached to something. Every circle that they spun connected to every anchor strand as if a master architect had painstakingly designed it. They worked their weaving towards the center forming a beautiful tapestry of lines that are breathtaking when I took the opportunity to actually notice their form. Their little canvases were formed everywhere; they worked their magic between my porch rails. Their creative work could be seen on my wicker settee  and they even connected the branches of my potted jade tree on the post. There seemed to be no nook or corner that was left untouched. The morning light revealed their nighttime spinning and it was really quite glorious. Their soul task and focus was to weave their web, the tool that God instinctively designed in them so that they could capture their food. Small bugs and insects get caught in the web and the midnight weavers gather their sustenance from the prisoners of their handiwork. It all is wonderfully thought out and planned so they can be provided for as our Masters plan. The birds of the air do not toil or spin but they know that their Creator has provided food in nature to meet their needs. The deer find the streams when they are thirsty and the eagle has the sharpest of vision allowing him to soar and swoop down to find his provision. Our creator designed all of it and it's a perfect and beautiful dance. It allows us to see and be reassured that He will do the same for us when we need our provision. And just like my little midnight weavers, my life needs to have anchor points. I need my relationships and family to anchor me. I need fellowship with other believers to encourage me. I need to study and read Gods Word to truly anchor me in my faith. All of these things form the warp of my life's tapestry. God will then make a finished work of me with all of the other strands of life situations, struggles, tears, joys and triumphs to form the weave of my tapestry. It's alll a part of the Master Architects design you see. Purposeful and perfect. It's all, I'm totally convinced of, a part of the amazing plan that once more points us ever to Christ and His perfect work. Col. 2:2 says, "I want you woven into a tapestry of love, in touch with everything there is to know of God. Then you will have minds confident and at rest, focused on Christ." How beautiful and purposeful and perfect is his plan for us. It's intricately woven for us, for our benefit. Isn't that just like a good good father, always and ever thinking of his children. I love his plan, woven just for me! It makes my heart smile. Now, every time I come out with my coffee to sit I purpose to see the handiwork of my little midnight weavers and be reminded of my own tapestry of love that is still 'under construction'. I truly desire it to be as glorious with every mornings light as the spinnings on my front porch. Thank you God for allowing me to see that beauty through your little midnight weavers. 

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Black Faced Sheep

There is something beautiful about a black faced sheep. I can't quite put my finger on why but I know that when I look at them they always bring a sort of serenity and they always make me smile. We as Christians have been compared to them in the Bible. When Jesus was spoken of in the bible he was referred to as the shepherd and we as the sheep. Without the shepherd leading the sheep they would be scattered and lost. It was the duty of the shepherd to keep the sheep together because wolves would try to get in and harm the flock from time to time and try to separate them. His aim was to divide and conquer! Now shepherds would customarily create a sheepfold at night, an enclosure topped by thorns to keep the sheep in and the predators out. The shepherd would sleep across the entrance becoming virtually a "door" to the fold, effectively barring the entrance so nothing could creep up on the sheep as they slept. " Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me". (Psalm 23:4) There were also times when the sheep would wander into dangerous circumstances, getting caught in a thicket, passing near a predator, floating down a river, so the shepherd uses his tools, the rod and staff to defend and protect and to rescue and bring his sheep back into his protection. The crook of a typical shepherds' staff will many times be used to hook a sheep's neck or leg to redirect, hold or nudge them-- not to hurt them but rather to keep them safe. Sheep are the most precious and valuable asset a shepherd has; therefore a good shepherd treats them as a treasure. We likewise can find ourselves in bad situations. God will never abandon us to face those challenges alone. Sometimes when bad things happen to us we automatically want to blame the wolf (enemy) for the wrong that we are feeling. What if it was simply the shepherd trying to keep us from the path of harm? It's very conceivable to imagine that could happen that way with full intent for it being for our good! He will sometimes have to nudge us or redirect us back onto a path that is much better for us to be on. He is good and He loves us and he will support us and bring us through to the other side if we trust Him. If the shepherd couldn't be trusted then the sheep would be scattered and going each to their own way. There's always power and safety in numbers and the shepherd knows this well. Now, here's my little comparison to this black faced sheep that I love so much. The black face will always remind me of the sin that I have been forgiven of and the sin that will forever try to creep back over my face and into my life if I don't stay close to the shepherd. The full coat of wool that the sheep wears reminds me of the warmth and fullness of the love that I am covered with. His spindly little legs keep me ever mindful of how fragile I am and how quickly my feet can be found to fall and falter under the blackness of that same sin. I need my Shepherd to be there with me at every turn, every rocky cliff, every pothole, every valley that I find myself in and to protect me from every encounter with the wolves in my life. He will do all of that if I stay close and listen for his guidance and direction. "We are his people and the sheep of his pasture." (Psalm 100:3) We need Him! We desperately need Him to take care of us and watch over us. We need to allow Him to do his job though and not try to do it ourselves. We need the other sheep too. There is safety in numbers and if we stick together the wolves are less likely to try and charge right into the middle of the flock. There is something beautiful and genius about how all of this was set up isn't there! Like I said, "There is something beautiful about a black faced sheep"!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

The Thin Red Line

She sat for hours by her sewing machine, stitching and constructing small squares of fabric that would be pieced together for a quilt. She loved doing it but she did have to admit that there were times that the hours drug by so slowly and her back felt every minute of the aches and pains of it all. As she cut each tiny piece and measured and cut again her mind drifted to the days gone by where she used to watch her mother hand stitch all the tiny pieces together. Her mother would sit by a small lamp into the wee hours so that she could get her sewing done and still be able to get up early and make breakfast for her family. What dedication and love that she saw in those fleeting memories of her childhood. And now, here she was, well past midnight trying to secretly stitch the pieces for this quilt, a gift for her grand-daughter. As she top stitched the blocks with a contrasting red thread she looked back on her sewing lines and saw that the machine had skipped quite a few stitches,which was very evident because of the red thread. The thin broken red line was the straw that broke her. She growled under her breath as she knew that she would have to go back and tear all of those stitches out to rework them once more. As she pulled the fabric out from under the sewing needle of the machine she pricked her finger sharply on the needle and blood flowed down onto the fabric. She sighed and laid her head down on the machine and sighed heavily,not from the pain of the prick but sheerly from the weariness and frustration of it all. Why did she have to be so ridiculously finicky about each stitch being perfect? If only she had let it be she wouldn't have this blood stain to deal with now. Blood wasn't impossible to get out but it was troublesome because she knew that perhaps that block would fade a bit with the scrubbing. She had already put so much time and effort into it though that she couldn't bring herself to think of casting the whole block aside. " If not for the blood, if not for the blood" she thought wearily. Then, as quickly as it had slipped out of her mouth she caught herself. Again, she slumped over with her head on the machine and this time the tears flowed freely. She wept for a long time. After a few minutes she sat up, wiped her eyes and said, "Lord Jesus, I am so so sorry for my grumbling and my frustration. Please please forgive me." She knew that "if not for the blood" was the life tune of her heart! If not for the blood of the one who gave it all for her and everyone else that she wouldn't be living the joy filled life that she was living. If not for that thin red line of missing thread she wouldn't have pricked her finger and come to this place of realization and ultimate thanksgiving. She breathed in the moment, and as the tears were already beginning to dry on her cheeks she placed the quilt block back under the sewing needle and continued her task. She left that blood stain there on the fabric along with the missing threads of that thin red line. They would stay there as gentle reminders of all that she had gained from the moment and all that she'd gained because of the thin red line of the blood on the cross.