these delicate hues of sapphire, turquoise, and indigo
Recognize beauty manifested though fragile and scarred
Malleable are lists of sins we accrue
a barter between gains we’ve won and debts we owe
Embrace unlimited shades of blue
Exhausting – holding this constant guard
Even stormy melancholy seas are drenched in
these delicate hues of sapphire, turquoise, and indigo
Healing power pulses in each flaw
like a broken heart that still beats
Recognize beauty manifested though fragile and scarred
I was going to call my blog today “Embrace Healing,” but the I came across the post above. I decided that post is a gift in blueness – and it speaks more to my mood today than “healing” does.
Today I am blue… because the note I received from my former student’s mother-in-law, Marilyn, left me with no hope for Ty Stiles’ earthly healing. I studied my broken heart and looked again at Marilyn’s words. “He told Roxann [his wife] that he is ready to go to Heaven.” As I prayed for Ty’s last days, I looked at that broken heart again.
Did you ever realize that the two parts of a broken heart are angel’s wings? Look again!
God’s angels spoke to me and reminded me that death is not final. Jesus conquered death. Ty is a believer. Ty is called according to His purpose. Yesterday Ty’s church members gathered outside his home for a prayer vigil. One of his cousins made the gathering into a FaceTime chat so he could see/hear the prayers being offered on his behalf (and if he was unable to hear and comprehend, at least I know his wife, Roxann, could. The prayers were for her, as well.
As I shared in my “Embrace Reassurance” blog a couple days ago, God hears. God cares. God answers. Sometimes HEALING does not come in the form of a magical cure. Sometimes it comes as RELEASE.
Ty is ready to let go pain. God is asking me to let go my blueness. Release the melancholy that blue sometimes represents, and instead, embrace the “delicate hues of sapphire, turquoise, and indigo” – and the promise of the vast blueness of Heaven where “Healing power pulses” and God is ready to transform the broken heart into angel wings.
My heart is with you as you leave the pain and embrace the beautiful blueness of Christ’s Kingdom. Someday I’ll join you there, Ty. Meantime, keep the Pearly Gates polished!
Thanks for joining me at JanBeek and thank you for praying for Ty and Roxann. See you tomorrow.
What? Embrace Extravagance? I have to be kidding, right?
Extravagance is kin to outlandish. Extravagance means excessive. Right?
Wrong! Extravagance doesn’t need to mean outlandish. It can be thought of as abundance.
Extravagance is Abundance of some good food – Okay if it’s shared!
Extravagance is An abundance of pure love – Beautiful when shared
Extravagance is The overflow of blessings – Lovely gifts from God
When the night sky touches your soul, When other bloggers touch your inner core, It’s a sign of the extravagance of others That keeps you longing for more
In his “Keys to Living Life”
Today, January 24, 2021, Rahul Gaur wrote a blog so powerful that I HAD to share it. First I tweeted it. I have never shared someone else’s blog by tweeting it before. I have reblogged a few. This one is so impactful that I need you to click on Rahul’s name and go to it. See it for yourself. It is extravagantly beautiful! Here are a couple of sentences that particularly touched me:
“The soul is the lost intuition and the listening switch of your body. When you need to see things beyond as they are, to see things as they were meant to be, you listen to the orchestra of your soul.”
Sermon by Rev. Steve Hundley at the Madison Valley Presbyterian Church Ennis, Montana
Thy Kingdom Come
“Thy Kingdom Come” is a political statement – Except we believe in a heavenly kingdom.
It’s not a worldly kingdom. It is “THY” kingdom come. Let God’s Kingdom reign, Not MY domain – not MY will.
As a pastor, I am sometimes Guilty of saying, “Look at me!” I do the “my” and not “Thy” message And have to learn to lose self.
We all need to learn to be De-throned … and let God’s Kingdom be the focus. Peace, reconciliation & hope are God’s.
God’s Kingdom is not attainable On our earth. It is not! Utopia here in our world Is not within our reach.
No earthly political order Will ever be the Kingdom of God. God’s Kingdom is like a seed. It’s like a net in the water.
The seed one day will sprout. The net will gather fish. God’s work on earth is extravagant, But the Kingdom is elusive here.
The Kingdom of God is at the door. It takes eyes of faith to see What lies beyond the threshold. It is there though we see it not.
When we say “Thy Kingdom COME,” We might more easily say GO. Go from You into me… God’s Kingdom lives in each of us.
It’s an awesome fact that The Kingdom of God is in you. We must not lose hope or faith And we must not live in satisfaction.
Never be satisfied with what is. Only when we submit to God’s Kingdom Does it really COME. So care! Care for the poor; release greed and pettiness.
It’s liberating to know when We turn our lives and our futures Over to our Extravagant God – We’ll see His Kingdom coming into the world.
“Listen to the orchestra of your soul.” Rahul Gaur Keep you ears open to soulful listening… Thank you, Rahul, for your blog. Thank you, Rev. Steve, for your message. Thank You, God, for your Kingdom of Love.
Let’s all embrace calm Quiet our souls and listen Hear each other’s hearts
Let’s all embrace calm Be still and let minutes pass In loving silence
Embrace calm with me Sync your heart to the tick-tock Of peaceful minutes
Embrace calm today Reflect on the poignant words Of Amanda’s poem
Anderson Cooper Interviewed that young lady Then posted a link
Many people wrote Responded to interview With posts like this one:
Replying to @andersoncooper and @TheAmandaGorman “Awww I loved that, you all sat and talked about poetry for at least 5 minutes. So relaxing. Probably the least stressed ya have been for 4 years. Words have power for good too.. let’s rinse off the negative.”
Amanda Gorman’s Inauguration Poem: “The Hill We Climb”
It was posted in paragraph form. I am sure that’s not how she wrote it. I have tried to separate the stanzas as she might have, I am sure I don’t have them all right, but I tried… and the poem is so beautiful that even written as prose – it is downright gorgeous!
Mr. President, Dr. Biden, Madam Vice President, Mr. Emhoff, Americans and the world,
When day comes we ask ourselves where can we find light in this never-ending shade? The loss we carry a sea we must wade. We’ve braved the belly of the beast. We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace. In the norms and notions of what just is isn’t always justice. And yet, the dawn is ours before we knew it. Somehow we do it. Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished. We, the successors of a country and a time where a skinny black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother can dream of becoming president only to find herself reciting for one.
And yes, we are far from polished, far from pristine, but that doesn’t mean we are striving to form a union that is perfect. We are striving to forge our union with purpose. To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters, and conditions of man. And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us, but what stands before us. We close the divide because we know to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside. We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another. We seek harm to none and harmony for all. Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true. That even as we grieved, we grew. That even as we hurt, we hoped. That even as we tired, we tried – that we’ll forever be tied together, victorious. Not because we will never again know defeat, but because we will never again sow division.
Scripture tells us to envision that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree and no one shall make them afraid. If we’re to live up to her own time, then victory won’t lie in the blade, but in all the bridges we’ve made. That is the promise to glade, the hill we climb if only we dare. It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit. It’s the past we step into and how we repair it. We’ve seen a forest that would shatter our nation rather than share it. Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy. And this effort very nearly succeeded.
But while democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated. In this truth, in this faith we trust for while we have our eyes on the future, history has its eyes on us. This is the era of just redemption. We feared it at its inception. We did not feel prepared to be the heirs of such a terrifying hour, but within it, we found the power to author a new chapter, to offer hope and laughter to ourselves so while once we asked, how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe? Now we assert, how could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?
We will not march back to what was, but move to what shall be a country that is bruised, but whole, benevolent, but bold, fierce, and free. We will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation. Our blunders become their burdens. But one thing is certain, if we merge mercy with might and might with right, then love becomes our legacy and change our children’s birthright.
So let us leave behind a country better than one we were left. With every breath from my bronze-pounded chest we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one. We will rise from the gold-limbed hills of the West. We will rise from the wind-swept Northeast where our forefathers first realized revolution. We will rise from the Lake Rim cities of the Midwestern states. We will rise from the sun-baked South. We will rebuild, reconcile and recover in every known nook of our nation, in every corner called our country our people diverse and beautiful will emerge battered and beautiful. When day comes, we step out of the shade aflame and unafraid. The new dawn blooms as we free it. For there is always light. If only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.
-Amanda Gorman, USA national poet laureate
Let’s embrace calm – and be brave enough in our calmness to “step out of the shade aflame and unafraid…”
Ready to join the cause of unity and peace. Ready to work for social and racial equality. Ready to do our part to make the world a better place.
This is the image I put on the front of this week’s church bulletin:
If you’ve followed my blog for a week or more, you know that Sunday afternoon’s blog usually is devoted to sermon notes from this morning’s worship service at the Madison Valley Presbyterian Church in Ennis, Montana – sermon by Rev. Steve Hundley.
Today’s sermon, “Listening for God,” was based on the story of Hannah, Samuel, and Eli as told in 1 Samuel 3:1-20 and John 1:43-51.
Listening for God
Sermon by Rev. Steve Hundley Poetic notes by Jan Beekman
I was known to be able To sleep through anything. I inherited that trait from my grandma. You could sing At the top of your lungs And she would not awake. That’s a trait I retained Through most of my life’s daybreaks.
But later in life I found I would awaken at midnight And be unable to go back to sleep. I couldn’t nod off, try as I might. And in the wee hours I find The bad things seem worse. They magnify in the darkness. Sleeplessness is a curse!
So, how must it have been When Samuel heard God’s voice In the middle of the night – Must’a made him puzzle – not rejoice! His mother, Hannah, also Heard God’s voice when barren. He told her she’d give birth, So she promised her babe she’d be sharin’.
When her baby, Samuel, was born, She kept her promise to God And gave her child to Him By delivering him to Eli’s sod. Samuel grew up in the church. One night Sam heard the sound Of a voice calling out his name. He went to Eli in a running bound.
Eli told him it was God Calling him to listen and hear. It took courage to listen and accept That it was the Lord speaking clear. Samuel’s whole life changed that night As he suddenly became a man. He learned to listen without fright And obey God’s voice… just as we can.
There are lots of voices we hear In our nights that lack sweet slumber. Are we listening to the true voice of God Or is it somebody else – or thunder? While we wake to the world’s troubles, Sometimes it’s hard to discern and hear The Word of God – and live what He commands. Declare our willingness, and know God is near.
There is grace and hope knowing When Samuel listened, he changed From a boy to a Man of God – And his future was rearranged. Take courage and respond with “Speak, Lord, your servant is ready To hear and respond, and live out Your words to me. Keep me steady.”
There were a couple dozen of us tuned in to this ZOOM church service today. Thank you for joining us via this blog I pray you are tuned in to hear God’s voice, too.
“My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.”
To be sure your steps Are on the path the Lord sets Embrace Listening
… and practice obedience! Here’s one of the hymns we sang during our ZOOM service this morning:
Embrace Compassion Be kind to one another Be quick to show love
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. … Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ God forgave you. “
What the world needs now is love, sweet love … and it needs to be exhibited by showing compassion to one another… especially to those whose attitudes, beliefs, and ways of expressing themselves are different from our own. Be a compassionate listener!
“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.”
What can people do In a world filled with trouble? Display compassion!
Try to understand – Look for commonality. Rise above the fray.
Don’t join arguments – Don’t fuel the fires of anger. Instead, be the frey!
Frey:the god of fertility and dispenser of rain and sunshine. No, I’m not suggesting you can be a god… But you can be a dispenser of sunshine, right? You can take a deep breath, smile, and rain on the fires of hate.
Each person has strife. No one’s life is perfection, But we’re God’s children.
As such, we are called To bear each other’s burdens. Embrace compassion.
What the world needs now Is more love and compassion. Start spreading it now!
Sermon Notes from today’s ZOOM worship service of the Madison Valley Presbyterian Church Delivered by Rev. Steve Hundley Poetic notes taken by JanBeek
One With Us
Have you ever spoken honestly And in the process provoked A person to anger? Perhaps you even joked
About what you said. You’re trying to be forgiven. Be careful what you say and do. Beware the life you’re livin’.
Jesus was with a crowd Of sinners at the Jordan. What had Jesus done to need Forgiveness? What secrets hoardin’?
Sometimes we find ourselves Guilty by association. So Jesus had reason to be Thought a sinner by the Jewish nation.
John the Baptist, however, Knew Jesus was sinless. So he didn’t want to baptize Him. But his protest was winless!
Jesus was determined to be Baptized by John, even though He was sin-free. So we wonder, Why did He need it? Want to know?
He wanted to be baptized In order to be One with us! Like Him, we need to be One in Christ and eliminate fuss!
If Jesus was willing To step down and be One With all of us sinners, Who are we, when all’s said and done?
We are all sinners, invited To come to the river, too. Be one with our brothers and sisters. I’m all for it. How about you?
The sermon was inspired by the scriptures: Acts 19:1-7 and Mark 1:4-11 which were eloquently read to us by our pastor’s wife, Elaine, from Eugene Peterson’s “The Message Bible”
ACTS 19 1-2 Now, it happened that while Apollos was away in Corinth, Paul made his way down through the mountains, came to Ephesus, and happened on some disciples there. The first thing he said was, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed? Did you take God into your mind only, or did you also embrace him with your heart? Did he get inside you?”
“We’ve never even heard of that—a Holy Spirit? God within us?”
3 “How were you baptized, then?” asked Paul.
“In John’s baptism.”
4 “That explains it,” said Paul. “John preached a baptism of radical life-change so that people would be ready to receive the One coming after him, who turned out to be Jesus. If you’ve been baptized in John’s baptism, you’re ready now for the real thing, for Jesus.”
5-7 And they were. As soon as they heard of it, they were baptized in the name of the Master Jesus. Paul put his hands on their heads and the Holy Spirit entered them. From that moment on, they were praising God in tongues and talking about God’s actions. Altogether there were about twelve people there that day.
MARK 4-6 John the Baptizer appeared in the wild, preaching a baptism of life-change that leads to forgiveness of sins. People thronged to him from Judea and Jerusalem and, as they confessed their sins, were baptized by him in the Jordan River into a changed life. John wore a camel-hair habit, tied at the waist with a leather belt. He ate locusts and wild field honey.
7-8 As he preached he said, “The real action comes next: The star in this drama, to whom I’m a mere stagehand, will change your life. I’m baptizing you here in the river, turning your old life in for a kingdom life. His baptism—a holy baptism by the Holy Spirit—will change you from the inside out.”
9-11 At this time, Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. The moment he came out of the water, he saw the sky split open and God’s Spirit, looking like a dove, come down on him. Along with the Spirit, a voice: “You are my Son, chosen and marked by my love, pride of my life.”
PRAYER OF CONFESSION:
God of all mercy, in our baptism You have marked us as Your own; You have given us a new identity and made us part of the body of Christ. In doing so, You have called us to rise to new life and live together in community. However, we have not been faithful to Your call. We have forged our own identity and held to destructive habits. We confess we have failed to welcome others, and broken our bonds with our brothers and sisters, and served ourselves more than You. Forgive us, we pray, for the sake of Christ, our Savior.
ASSURANCE OF PARDON: John 1:12
Hear the good news! God said to Jesus, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with You I am well pleased.” We have a high priest who is able to sympathize with our weakness, who has been tempted as we are, yet is without sin.
In Christ’s name we may draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, and there find mercy and grace to help in time of need.
As forgiven sinners, may we go out into the world and make a positive difference. May we…
If you have not heard former Republican Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s You Tube message today, I recommend you click on the link here. His message, reinforcing the need for UNITY in our USA, is quite powerful. God Bless Arnie! We all need to step up in support of Democracy as he has done!
… we need to embrace God! We need to lean on Him and let Him enfold us in His loving care. We need God now more than ever! Feel God hugging you as you reach out to Him.
Today during our ZOOM worship service, Rev. Steve Hundley delivered a powerful Pastoral Prayer. As he explained to us (the two dozen members of the Madison Valley Presbyterian Church in Ennis, MT who logged in) during his introduction to the prayer, “I am relying heavily on the prayers of the Reverend Dr. Peter Marshall, who was elected Chaplain of the United States Senate on Jan. 4, 1947.”
“We know, Almighty God, that in this desperate hour, we as a nation need You. We need Your strength, Your guidance, Your wisdom. These are problems far greater than any human wisdom can solve, for what shall our leaders do in such an hour? May Your wisdom and Your guidance come upon the President, the President elect, the Senators and Congress men and women, to whom have been entrusted leadership. May the responsibility in the midst of this pandemic and civil unrest lie heavily on their hearts, until they are ready to acknowledge their helplessness and turn to You. Give them courage, and the moral integrity to confess that they don’t know what to do. Only then can they lead us as a nation beyond human wisdom to You, who alone has the answers.
Strengthen the courage of all our elected representatives—sincere men and women who want to do what is right, if only they can be sure what is right. Make it plain to them, O Lord. And then, start them out on the right way, for You know that we are hard to turn.
Forgive them for the blunders they have committed, the compromises they have made. Give to them to courage to admit mistakes. Take away from us, both as a nation and individuals, that stubborn pride which, followed by conceit, imagines itself to be above and beyond criticism.
Save our leaders, O God, from themselves and from their friends—even as You have saved them from their enemies.
Let no personal ambition blind them to their opportunities.
Help them to give battle to hypocrisy wherever they find it.
Give them divine common sense and a selflessness that shall make them think of their call to service and not gain.
May they have the courage to lead the people of this Republic, considering unworthy the expediency of following the people.
Lord, we pray for the families of the thousands who have died this week alone of this terrible and relentless virus. We pray too, for the families of those who lost their lives and were injured in our nation’s capital. Bring an end to the violence that would cost just one of our citizens their lives. We pray for a peaceful transition of leadership, in our nation’s capital in the coming weeks.
We pray for those within our own community who have contracted and been exposed to the Corona virus. Heal them and protect them from any long-term effects of the virus.
We pray too for those people whose needs You place on our hearts. Hear and answer, we pray, that You will forgive us all our unworthiness; cleansing us from every ignoble thought and unworthy disposition that we may be renewed in spirit and mind and heart, through Jesus Christ, our Lord… Amen.”
Thank you for visiting JanBeek today. I will post my sermon notes a little later.
Teachers aren’t supposed to have favorites. Right?
See that young man on the left up there? His name is Ty. He is my favorite!
(Well, in honesty… don’t be dismayed if you’re one of my students…. I have lots of favorites, OK? But Ty… well, read on!)
Ty was my kindergarten student in 1962-3. Every day when he stepped off the school bus, the girls all stopped what they were doing. “Hi Ty!” they would swoon. Yes, even kindergarten girls recognize a sweetheart when they see one!
And every day when it was time to go home, the girls all waved to Ty, “Bye, Ty!” they would swoon.
I was a newlywed. It was my second year of teaching. I decided if I had a boy someday, I would name him Ty. And I did!
Ah yes, my Ty is a sweetheart, just like his namesake!
So why the HOPE title?
Yesterday I heard the devastating news that my favorite student, Ty, has been diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. It has metastasized. He needs our prayers. My heart is heavy, but I am a believer… and HOPE is what believers do, right?
Day before yesterday I posted this scripture:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.”
I know God has Ty tucked into the palm of His hand, just as He holds our world in His hand.
I know God is watching over Ty and his treatment process. But, won’t you add your prayers to mine? “Dear Lord, please give healing to Ty.”