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So beautiful, so true, and I am so thankful!

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Christmas and the Puppy Dog

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Christmas and the Puppy Dog

This remains one of my favorites!  It reminds me after every Christmas to hold onto the things, and the lives, that truly matter, because after the wrappings are thrown out and the fudge is gone, it is the Love in the Living that lasts.

Enjoy!

 

CHRISTMAS AND THE PUPPY DOG

By Rebecca Lamarche – from an original poem by my brother, Steve Lamarche, 1960

The wooden floor is getting worn, the hearth is warm and bright,

The frosted foggy windows hide the snowy winter night.christmas country hearth

Father is a carpenter and thinner than  before;

And mother, knitting mittens, thinks on Christmases of yore.

Oh! how the singing of the carols and the tinseling of the tree

Had brought a light to Christmas that shone eternally;

Of bustling down crisp, narrow streets so early in the day,christmas walk to church

To worship the Babe on Christmas ~ to bow their heads and pray.

Yet somehow substitutions for that spirit have been made;

The number of gifts, with bows and tags, are what makes, or breaks, the day.

It’s doubtful their son Christopher will receive some kind of toy,

For Santa overlooks him, he’s a poor man’s little boy.

Although his stocking bulges with apples, walnuts and the like,

He thinks about pistols and baseball bats – or maybe even a bike!

His friends around the neighborhood all get a toy or two;

But Chris, not understanding, wishes he’d get something new.

Yet, on this special Christmas, Dad’s arranged a big surprise!

A furry little puppy dog with playful, happy eyes!christmas puppy3

The mittens now completed, the fire almost dead,

They put them in the stocking, and climb the stairs to bed.

Christopher is wide-awake and straining hard to hear

Santa coming down the chimney …shh!… is that sleet, or hoofs of reindeer?

Then early in the morning (with his parents still asleep),

He tiptoes down the stairway to steal a little peek.

Dashing to their bedroom, he pulls the pillow from Papa’s head,

“C’mon it’s Christmas morning!   Get up!  Don’t lay in bed!”

Mama’s soon made coffee and sweetbreads, Papa’s fire is blazing hot,

Impatiently, Chris tries not to pout, while he waits to see what he got!

The stocking…look! …it’s moving!  Chris approaches with some doubt…

Two paws – an eye – a puppy dog!  timidly peeks out!christmas puppy in a stocking

“I didn’t want a puppy dog; all I wanted were some toys!

Something I could play with, like all the other boys!”

His parents were astonished!  They did not realize

Nowadays, what Christmas meant to a little boy his size.

But soon his friends’ toys were broken, bikes no longer did they ride,

Yet Christopher had a puppy dog that was always at his side.

They quickly loved each other, as boys and dogs will do,

The dog was part of Christopher ~ Mama and Papa, too.dog fetching bone

Christopher taught his dog some tricks – how to sit, and fetch a bone,

When the wind brought aromas of suppertime, the two would head for home!

The starlit skies of summer’s heat would find boy and dog outside,christmas boy & puppy sleeping 3

Beneath the moon’s adventure they’d sleep, in brave, whispered dreams they’d hide.

And nestled close in the patchwork quilt of his bunk, on stormy nights,

The dog stayed wrapped around Christopher, calming all his boyhood frights.

Seasons brought tries…failures…tears…boasts and wins – and love’s first stolen kiss;

Inseparable through thick and thin, were the puppy dog and Chris.christmas boy & puppy

Ah, but Christopher grew older, he soon would be a man;

His loyal friend had lived as long as almost any dog can.

In benediction of sweet memories, and grief,  the beloved “puppy dog” died;

Tears falling, unhindered,  his heart wrenched in pain, Chris whispered “farewell”, and cried.dog grave

For he remembered that Christmas morning,  and – being like other boys –

Chris didn’t want a puppy dog … all he wanted were some toys.

Berries and Thorns…

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Berries and Thorns…

     This time of year, where I used to live in the Pacific Northwest, we find it easy to be overtaken by wild blackberry vines.  Along the trails, along the roadways, on vacant lots and in city parks, beside streams and rivers, and deep inside the vast woods and forests they grow in profusion.  I have walked inside literal “caves” where they have vined so thickly over the tall evergreens that coyotes made their dens inside, and lilac trees grew wild from within them!  When we purchased our third of an acre in Southwest Washington they grew so thickly that we were unaware of shrubs and fully grown trees beneath them on our back hillside, and an entire flat upper yard that existed underneath their growth above the hill’s crest! 

 They sprout up quickly in the early springtime while the rains are still heavy and the temperatures uncomfortably low in the 40’s.  By the time April sunshine warms enough for the daffodils and tulips to peek out and color a smile on our faces, following months of grey skies and rain, the blackberry vines are already well on their way for their annual take-over!  Much like the Midianites who ravaged Israel preceding Gideon’s conquering army[1], or the storms of locusts that destroyed the Egyptian crops in prelude to the Exodus[2], the blackberries start growing with a vengeance quite early and quite fast, and if left alone will choke out and take over anything in their path. 

     When the long awaited blue skies have finally wrung the last of the clouds dry for a sun break of any duration, and those with wooded yards have braved the mud to start clean up from winter storms, the dreaded blackberry vines have donned their thorns and their sneers and are daring us to choose wisely and act quickly.  Our choices are only two: either surrender to their takeover for their sweet berries in late summer – or rid ourselves of them so that they don’t choke the life out of the rest of our shrubs and trees by August.  Again, much like the warning and command of God as the Israelites entered the Promised Land: either annihilate them or they will creep in and take you over![3]

     And should the choice be to rid them, they can’t simply be cut back, as the vines have a parent root ball that is probably twenty feet away from the sprout above-ground in any direction underground! Within a week of its pruning, the simply cut vine would be sprouted up once again.  No, to be truly rid of the blackberries, the vine must be poisoned with such a strong substance so as to travel to that underground root ball and kill it, or the root ball must be located at its source and dug up once and for all.  In any third-of-an-acre lot such as mine, there could easily be literal thousands of such root balls. Conquering them is a daunting task, and not for the faint hearted gardener. Their thorns are continual along their vines, like fine stingers or nettles, so that anywhere the vines are touched brings a wince of stinging pain.  In addition to these “fuzzy” hair-like thorns along the vines, there are secondary thorns much like those on traditional rose stems, large – and very sharp!  I have come in from my garden looking like I had wrestled a young cougar or two when in fact I had simply had an argument with a blackberry vine.  And once they engage, they are a ruthless opponent and they don’t let go!  Even with gloves, jeans and a long sleeved shirt I have come out looking battle torn and bloody. 

     A small reminder of the thorns that bloodied the brow of my Savior so long ago, as He once and for all rid the root of sin from condemning me to an eternity of entanglement.[4]

     But if left to blossom and grow, oh! come August the vines along the roads and in the parks and woods are laden from the ground up to twenty feet high with uncountable millions of plump, deliciously sweet, juicy blackberries!  Enough for the commercial sales as well as for the birds, the bears and all that any native Oregonian or Washingtonian can possibly pick to eat, freeze, can into jams and jellies, bake, make into wine or syrup or dump on ice cream!  It’s a ‘country charm’ sight to see families on bicycles, with plastic buckets, picking all they can.  Kids are bending low and parents are reaching high on the twenty foot mounds of vines to take the sweet freshness of late summer home for the evening. Or you’ll see a young couple gathering dessert for the evening barbeque with friends. And somewhere nearby a grandmother is still passing down to her grandchildren the art of canning jams and jellies, or actually baking a pie ‘from scratch’.  The young, the old, even the homeless and the street people…all can indulge without restraint, and still the unused berries fall rotten to the ground by late September.  The abundance of goodness and delight from the blackberry vines each year is an unrestricted resource that knows no end.

     Ah, blackberries in the Northwest: offering us each year both the blessing and the curse!  Our untamable vines running wild.

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 Blackberries Thorns

 

 

 

 

 

In the book of James[5] we are reminded that the tongue is just such an untamable vine.  Hebrews 12:15 exhorts us to “see to it that…no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many”.  The roots of what I say have far reaching vines of effect into the lives of others.  If I speak with wisdom and kindness, the sweet fruit of what I say will inspire, give incentive, calm someone’s fears, ease their suffering, make them feel less alone, or can make them laugh when their sky is gray.  I can break a spirit or share the Spirit of Life. 

     Days, even years, down the path of life, each of us remembers the sharp and thorny words, the searing footprints of mean kids at school, or dysfunction in our homes, stamping insecurities on our self-esteem.  On the other hand, memories of sweet words can bring to us the optimism of that friend, parent, or teacher who believed in our potential; who implanted seeds of confidence into the untamed dreams that God implanted to run wild in our youthful minds; to inspire us to do great things for His kingdom, and His humanity on earth.

     I paraphrased several scriptures below as a reminder to myself of the power of the tongue, which can serve either sweetness or leave a bitter root – in my soul or the heart and soul of another.  Each season the battle with my blackberry thorns and berries is a reminder, that:

     “No one can tame the tongue; it is an unsettled, undisciplined, unrestrainable evil.  It is full of deadly poison.  It injures, impairs and has the power to kill motivation, dreams, hope, and life.  My thoughtless and invalidating words will inhibit the positive activities and growth of someone else, and can completely change – negatively – the course of their life.  By believing the critical things that I say about them, they will feel small, and inadequate, and recoil out of their anxiety to avoid the sharp thorns of humiliating rejection.  In their woundedness, for mere survival, they learn to react to others by cowering – or by anger.  Thus, that person’s opportunities are inhibited, because through the process of growing up, or growing old, they will not possess the self-esteem to try and succeed; fear of failure overshadows them like the blackberry vines over the lilac trees. They never discover that outside their dark place awaits their hope, and their freedom to blossom and bear delicious fruit, as they mature in the light of the Son.  They will live within their inner “cave”, pierced and taken over by the thorns of someone’s – perhaps my – careless words.  They may try to cut back the sting of verbal stabs, but the bitter root remains; losing faith, they eventually won’t try at all, because they are convinced that they’re a loser.  That false identity stamps their spirit the very moment they hear the sour, angry, or ugly words I speak over them – even for years.  Thus, their attitude and reactions will repeatedly bring negative responses from those in authority over them; in annoyance or embarrassment, would-be companions will keep distant.  And so, in discouragement, they will settle and befriend other wounded company; and since bad company corrupts morals,[6] they too are then made corrupt. The sweet talent and goodness awaiting them, the harvest season of their dreams, will instead remain a bitter, fruitless shell, only to fall to the ground, wasted and trampled underfoot by others who are reaching for the sweetest rewards at the top.

     Hence, this person who was knit together in their mother’s womb,[7] this soul for whom Christ died[8], this person to whom God promised a future and a hope,[9] is kept from their intended greatness during their lifetime on this earth.  So much was planned by the Creator for them to accomplish in and for the kingdom of God[10], and the harshness of my words have the power to hinder or sabotage their intended destiny.[11]

     And just think, I’m told by Jesus, in the gospel of Matthew[12], that on the day of judgment I will be required to “give account for every empty and careless word I ever spoke.”

     May we each be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to pierce a heart in our anger[13], and may our words be abundant and sweet.[14]

[1] Judges 6                                                                                                                 [2] Exodus 10                                                                                                             [3] Joshua, OT, Prophets                                                                                           [4] Matthew 27:29, Mark 15:17, John 19:2

[5] James 3:2-12
[6] I Corinthians 15:33
[7] Psalm 139:13
[8] 1 Corinthians 8:11; 15:3
[9] Jeremiah 29:11
[10] Psalm 139:16; Ephesians 2:10
[11] Proverbs 18:21
[12] Matthew 12:36
[13] James 1:19
[14] Proverbs 26:24

The Cat ‘n the Rat

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Starting the Women’s MeetUp group has reminded me all over again the wonder that we can be so alike as women, and so different all at the same time!  Such is the beauty of friendships.

I used to have a neighbor who sat on his porch all day and smoked.  That is literally all he did!  He was a crusty old guy, prided himself on “hating people”, as if it were an art form!  People like that intrigue me, so I befriended him and learned that once some of the “crusty” was chipped away, underneath it all was a wounded soul just like the rest of us.  

One afternoon he called me over, and told me this amazing story:  As he sat on his porch, he watched as a neighborhood cat moseyed up to the storm drain in the curbside of the road.  She sniffed around, looked back and forth, and then, as if trying to make her way by stealth, she slipped into the storm drain to sit on the ledge inside.

About that time, a rat came shuffling down the gutter, heading straight for the storm drain!  She was in for a big surprise when she arrived, only to be pounced upon by Ms. Cat!  Sure enough, into the storm drain Ms. Rat went, yet there did not appear to be a scuffle, as there was no cat or rat distress sounds to be heard.  Soon, as predictable, Ms. Cat emerged with evident victory seemingly won over her long-tailed intruder!  Down the gutter she sauntered, and once around the corner, stopped, sat down, and looked over at the storm drain.  

In a moment, to the amazement of my neighbor, Ms. Rat climbed out of the drain, all intact and acting as if nothing had transpired down there except perhaps a shared cup of tea!

Well, here is the truly amazing part of the story ~ one you will find hard to believe, but truth is stranger than fiction, as they say!  Ms. Rat walked up the gutter path, met up with Ms. Cat, and …side by side walked down the road!  No one had told them that they weren’t supposed to get along!  So, without any prejudice, they merely assumed a friendship!  No rules, no upper society and gutter-rat mentality, just two creatures who happened upon each other and shared their day, walking side-by-side to arrive at the same place, eventually.

Some days I feel like Ms. Cat, well put together, moseying through my day.  And some days, I feel more like Ms. Rat, when my attitude is in the gutter.  I am always reminded that I tend to be a little of both, from day to day.  How about you?  Is today a day that you can be Ms. Cat, and wait for Ms. Rat to catch up with you, so that together you can enjoy the moment?

 Or is today the day that you feel like Ms. Rat, and need your friend to pull you up out of the storm drain, and share her dance  in the women friends b and w in streamsunshine?

There is frienship to be found in the craziest places ~ 

about me…

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Well, look who decided to get my BLOG up and working again!  As a jumpstart for my web page, my ministry with SpiritALIVEWomen, my MeetUp with SpiritALIVEAUSTINWomen, and just because it’s about time to promote this BLOG…I decided to put my BIO (of sorts) up.  Seemed a good place to start…

 Born a California Girl, I learned at a very early age that I am wired for reading, writing, and relationships! I love nothing more than to come alongside someone and lighten their load with laughter, wisdom, counsel or just a great party! That has been melted and molded over my years, fed with the Love that is Jesus, watered over seasons and experience, and led by the Holy Spirit to become all of the above! I taught preschool and elementary music for two decades, have two grown children and two granddaughters, and through all of that, for over 35 years, I have ‘side-lined’ by learning and teaching as much as I can hold about Jesus, the Bible, and the power and transformation that brings wholeness to our lives. I decided to take the Lord at His Word, and not only see miracles, I am a living one myself! Some things in life I love to DO, like writing poetry and books about our commonality, especially to women, and like teaching the Bible with the excitement of it’s living and active work in our daily lives. But some things in life I AM, such as a Shepherd to the women that surround me or cross my path. Women shape each other in friendships, they mold who we are, as well as who we are journeying to become. Women speak into one another’s lives with soothing words and touch – a hug, a hand held, shared tears – during times of turmoil and happiness alike. Women fill the gaps that pocket our emotions. Women remind each other who they are, much like the quote, “To love someone is to learn the song in their heart, and to sing it to them when they have forgotten it.” That is the essence of women in friendship.

I live to be the Lord’s voice for the Redeemed life, the Restored strength, and the Renewed destiny available when Jesus breaks the chains of mental, emotional and spiritual captivity. He releases us from the prisons of the past, the woundedness that holds us hostage to our perceived limitations, and any number of dysfunctions in the daily maze of relationships. In my writing and speaking I focus on emboldening women to discover – or re-discover, – to grab hold of – and then hang onto, – all of the power of a sound mind in an insane world, a healed heart in the midst of brokenness, a Grace that shatters all shame, and their unique and fulfilling purpose in the Spirit of Joy! I share solid Biblical tools of faith and inner change that enables deeper intimacy with Christ, healthier self-care and fulfilling relationships. A life of wholeness in Christ is a life that is free indeed – such builds a generation of impact for the Lord’s Kingdom work on earth, and such is a legacy worth leaving for those who follow in our steps.

Here’s a glimpse into wonder and love…

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Who’s Following in Your Footsteps?

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Makes me stop to think about how I treat people…and who’s watching me,or listening to my words or tone of voice? James said that the tongue is capable of starting a whole forest on fire…hmmm…do my words spark love? gratitude? laughter? grace?  or do they burn with envy, annoyance, distrust, or condemnation?  Jesus tells us in Matthew 12:36 that we will be called upon to give account for every word we speak.

It isn’t only children who follow our lead; we all mentor the world that immediately surrounds us.