Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Celebrating the End and the Beginning by Jaye Lewis

Hello friends,

This has been a heart-breaking year for many of us. People from all walks of life have lost jobs, homes, and life savings, all because of greed and lack of oversight. We have seen, yet, another year of bloodshed on the battlefields of two wars. I cannot help but ask myself, will we ever see the end? Even those of us who have a steady income, find ourselves afraid of the future. Will the ax fall upon our hopes and dreams? Will our financial problems ease? Will we live months and months, perhaps years, constantly holding our breaths.

Finding answers at the end of a year such as this, is not easy. Is there evidence that things will change for the better? Will our financial systems finally have oversight? Who decided that it was okay to allow so much wealth to be governed by the incompetent and the greedy? What in the world was our government thinking?! Without answerability, it is as though we simply open the bank doors, and allow the robbers in. It’s just plain stupid!!! So, how can we have hope for the future?

Well, we have a new beginning. We have a new President, a new Congress, a new Senate, and a new year, all rolled into one. For some this new administration is downright scary. President Obama seems exotic and strange. However, I have grown to realize just how much he loves this country and just how much he cares about my children’s future. My prayer for this new President is this: that God will bless him with wisdom and humility. My prayer for this Country is that we will give our new Administration a chance, even as each of us wants a chance, for ourselves and our children.

So, this next year is full of promise and trepidation. We are about to enter the center of a storm of change. Pray that each of us will meet our Maker in the eye of the storm, and cling to Him.

The Eye of the Storm

Words and Music by Jaye Lewis

Keep me, oh Lord, in the eye of the storm,
Where my heart can beat without fear.
In the silence so deep;
In the warmth of Your love;
I know that Your presence is near.

For though it is dark, and the silence so still,
Your Light still illumines the place.
You are with me, oh Lord;
You surround me with hope;
In the dark I can still see Your face.

In the eye of the storm, I can hear with my heart;
The beautiful tones of Your voice;
And though I may dread,
The destruction I hear,
In my soul, I still can rejoice.

They surround me, oh Lord, with their visions of hate;
I can see that they've singled out me!
With my hand tucked in yours;
And my hope in Your love,
I know that I truly am free!

So, I wait on the storm, with a joy in my heart
-- A gift that I know comes from You --
So, how can I fear?
I am safe in Your arms!
In the eye of the storm, You are here!

© Jaye Lewis, 1999

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Just for Today by Jaye Lewis

Just for Today by Jaye Lewis

Hello friends,

There are times, in our lives that we can feel everything we have worked for slipping from our grasp: perhaps a career, or a marriage, or relationships with our family and friends. No matter our financial situation, we have seen our dreams crumble, in a day. We may ask: God, why have You forgotten me? These are uncertain times. We have been told that we are in a world-wide recession (thanks for stating the obvious), and no one knows where or when it will end.

In our region, we are seeing families lose their homes, some of which have been in the same family for more than 200 years. It makes my heart ache every time I see a new House for Sale sign. Why? Why is this happening? We’ve been given the fill-in-the-blanks excuses, but we are not amazed. Like a house of cards, tumbling down, we are experiencing the falling apart of pieces of our lives.

Many times in our family, we have been at the brink of poverty so deep, we thought we would never climb out. Due to events beyond our control, everything we thought we had came to nothing. Our lives were in turmoil, and we couldn’t see the end of it. During this time, I began to compile a poem, a prayer, an understanding, that taught me that each day can be lived with greater meaning, if I lived my life just for each day. The following poem is a part of my soul which I hope will be an encouragement to you.

Just for Today

Lord, just for today
I will not fight You,
Nor anticipate Your desires for me.
Just for today,
I will be happy
Doing Your will, instead of my own.

Just for today,
I will laugh more, and complain less.
Just for today,
I will not only count,
But see my blessings.
I will remember that home is heart,
And not hearth.

Just for today,
I will not belittle myself;
Goodness knows, there are plenty of others
To do that for me.
Just for today,
I will remember that I am a child of God,
And that in belittling myself,
I belittle the One who made me.

Just for today,
I will remember that You are, not only, with me,
But that You are holding me close.
Just for today,
I will feel special to myself;
And I will love me, even as You have loved me.

Just for today,
The only person I will rescue is myself.
I will not try to save the world, just for today.

Just for today,
I will feel peace;
Knowing that there is Someone greater than I
To deal with my problems.

Just for today,
I will allow You to be God.
I will be Your reflection.
I will not try to create You, in my image.

Just for today,
I will cease to block Your love,
And I will allow the passion within me,
To embrace the lover of my soul.

Just for today,
I will remember the little child within me.
Just for today,
I will take that child out to play.

Just for today,
I will have hope in You,
And in my ability to do Your will.

Just for today,
I will let You be in control.
I will let You know more than I.
I will let You be in charge of my troubles.
Just for today,
I won't have any.

Just for today,
I will not hate.
Just for today,
I will forgive the one who hurt me.

Just for today,
I will ask God to forgive me.
Just for today,
I will let Him.

Father in heaven, help us to live each day as though it is the only day we have. Help us to focus on one thing, one day, one love. Help us to deal with what we can, and grant us the grace to let go of what we can’t. Help us to see in every sorrow, the ludicrous in our situation. Grant us laughter, and when we love may we love passionately. Help us to live each moment with honor and truth. And most of all, Heavenly Father, grant each of us a closer walk with You. © Jaye Lewis, 2000

Friday, December 12, 2008

A Time to Hold On

Hello friends,

It has taken much searching to know what to say today. I’m always overflowing with words. I can usually hand out advice in colorful metaphors, and to tell you the truth, I’m ashamed. Who am I to tell others how they should run their lives? And, honestly, it always annoys me when it is done to me.

We are living in dangerous times, and the enemies at the gate are poverty and want. One out of seven families are being evicted from their homes. Thousands of Moms and Dads, sisters and brothers, spouses and sweethearts will celebrate yet another year, without a loved one, or perhaps more. Loved ones are gone. Our children of every age have made the ultimate sacrifice. Little ones will grow up without parents. Oh, the list goes on and on. It’s hard. I know. And it’s hard to hold on while the rope is slipping between our grasp.

So why would I choose this picture of my dachshund, Happy Dog, to illustrate my message today, “Hold On.” It’s very simple. Happy Dog is the epitome of holding on in the face of adversity. Kennel cough. Mange. Two spinal surgeries, a month a part. From each of these Happy has come through with unmitigated joy. Barking. Dancing. Leaping. Loving. Always protecting and loving me. Happy not only survives, he LIVES!!

So, here is my little gift to you, the story of Happy Dog and his courage in the face of fire. Even now, he lays with a broken tail that must be surgically removed. I fully expect that Happy will survive this step also, and teach me again, how to live.

Just Hang On By Jaye Lewis

He dogs my every footstep. With each step I take, he’s right there with me, guarding me and ready to die to defend me. I have seen him take on the most aggressive vacuum cleaner salesmen. God help the one who sticks his foot in the door without invitation, because my little powerhouse of faithfulness and aggression will give that foot a fight for it’s life, shoes, socks, and laces!

Make no mistake, a dachshund may be small, but they are quick, and relentless in an attack. They aren’t called “badger dogs” without cause. In their natural habitat, a dachshund has been known to track a badger - one of the fiercest animals known - hurrying down into it’s tunnel, and locking onto it’s snout, never letting go, not even in death.

When I leave the house without him, whether it’s just a walk around the yard or a day trip to the next town, Happy will keep watch at the top of the stairs. With every sound, he will launch himself onto the back of the couch, to get a good look out of the window, to see if I’m almost home. I can hear him announcing my arrival before I even get out of the car.

“She’s home!!” he cries. “She’s home! She’s home! All is well!” As I open the door, he immediately gives me a tongue lashing, yelping with joy! I try to always have a “present” for him, and I delight at his enthusiasm, as he roots through the bag until he finds it.

Happy has a perfect bandit face, a black mask surrounded by rich, golden tan. His ice-cube nose is ever questing for a treat or just a warm place to cuddle. He has shoe-button eyes that never miss an opportunity. And when he locks those intelligent eyes onto mine, I lose all power to resist.

Happy, like all dachshunds, loves to tease and play. Every clever thing he does is simple evidence that even a woman my age can be taught “new tricks.” He brings me the ball. I throw it. He steals my slippers. I chase him. The worst thing you can do, in the face of improper behavior, is laugh! I, joyfully, failed that test long ago. I am Happy’s willing slave. No matter how dark my mood, Happy can always make me laugh.

Happy doesn’t know that there are not “badgers” lying in wait. He’s always prepared, just in case, and I have learned much from this little dog. I have learned that a faithful life is one of constant vigilance. I have learned that some things are worth fighting for, and if necessary, dying for. However, the greatest lesson that Happy has taught me, is to live my life in the moment, just as he does, ever joyful for each blessing, ever vigilant for those “badgers” that are certain to cross my path. And when life takes a nasty turn, I have learned from Happy, to grab a hold and just hang on! By Jaye Lewis

© Jaye Lewis, 2003
Father in Heaven, in this helpless, sometimes hopeless time, help us to cling to hope...the hope that only You can give. Grant us peace in knowing that You, not "man" is in charge. Let the noise of the world become powerless before Your peace of soul. Lord, show us the way. Grant us a vision of Your light, and set our feet upon the right path. Father, may You grasp our feet and make our path straight before us. We believe, Lord, help our unbelief.
With love,
Jaye Lewis

Monday, December 01, 2008

A Time to Celebrate Memories

Hello friends,
The pictures that accompany this entry are images of the most important memories of our family. On the left, you can see, what I like to refer to, as a memory tree. On the right, you see a closeup. If you double click on these pictures, you will blow up each picture so that it is easy to make out tiny toys, ornaments, and printed messages (on the blocks). I urge you and your family to do much of the same. Collect your precious memories, and celebrate every one, because that is where your treasure lies.
We have all seen, in the last month or so, just how pointless it is to cling to money and wealth. In many of our bank accounts, IRAs, and 401Ks, we have seen our fortunes, big and small, dwindle. But all is not lost, if we count our wealth in shared memories, love, kindness, hope, and faith. There are two times that faith becomes everything: the first is when we lose everything, and the most difficult is when we gain everything.
Many of us have lost so many things, jobs, opportunities, and even our homes. In my life, I have gone from poverty and want, to solvency and a future. It's scary, because the more you have, the more you have to lose. So, I must never depend upon good fortune, I can only depend on the grace of God. We did not acquire these blessings. We have sought to be obedient, believing in God's grace, and striving to honor Him with our lives.
My husband has always said that enough is as good as a feast, and yet, God has given us more. Should this be taken away (yes, I feel the ice-prickling of fear skipping along the hairs on the back of my neck) we must be willing to walk out our front door, with those whom we hold dear, and toss the keys through the door behind us, never looking back. This is easier said than done.
You see, there are many treasures I would leave behind: the trees in my yard, which I have grown from seedlings; the flowers that I would never see grow to maturity; the view of the mountains from my back deck; breathtaking sunsets and the rosy glow of dawn. I love this place, this house of my dreams. And the garden that has taken back-breaking toil and unending prayer, I would long for it, too. In the last eleven years, we have struggled, as many have, to meet every payment for this house...this land. It has been a struggle, yet here we are, by the grace of God.
We are a small family. Our pets outnumber us, and that is how we like it. Oh yes, gone is the perfectly ordered home. Our carpeting looks like it was designed by Google Earth, with bits of blue surrounded by continents of brown. We have pukers, and we have poopers. We have tender hearts, and those fierce to warn and protect. We have our invalid, Happy Dog, who is lying in his crate at my side, so that his little tail can get well, where it was injured.
The things of this earth are temporary: houses, cars, and bank accounts; but the heart and soul of a family is forever, just as I believe that our pets are. I am not afraid to love a God, who counts precious, a single sparrow. One day we will be in heaven together, and in the meantime, there are memories, both past and those we have yet to celebrate in our own way, never to be forgotten. So celebrate your memories this year. I hope you will like my little gift to you.
Christmas Memories: Creating the Christmas Toy Tower

Christmas is a time to celebrate old memories and create new ones. As we unpack our ornaments and decorate our homes, we often come across those little things that make our hearts yearn for yesterday. What do we do with all the little extras, which fail to make it onto the tree? Where will we put the gifts that our children made so long ago? What about those character ornaments? And those little toy soldiers and nutcrackers? Why not create a new Christmas memory by creating a Christmas toy tower. It's a great family project that is timeless, and it is a lovely way to celebrate the season together. Here are the step-by-step instructions.

Necessary Supplies: 3 fifty piece bags of ABC wooden blocks; 1 Styrofoam cone (the larger, the better); lots and lots of miniatures (little toys, jewelry, antiques, religious items, character ornaments, gold balls, and one special piece to go on top); 1 wooden lazy-Susan for the base, 12 - 14 inches in diameter; 1 round piece of red felt or heavy, shiny, Christmas fabric, large enough to cover lazy-Susan base; hot-glue gun and glue sticks; plastic peanuts (optional).

Step One: Cut felt or material into a circle 2 inches larger than base; lay lazy-Susan upside down on material; pull material up, using a running stitch around the edge and pulling it tight (if using felt, steam the fabric to shrink); glue down edges of fabric with hot glue, and secure to bottom edge of lazy-Susan.

Step Two: Organize blocks into Christmas messages, such as, "Merry Christmas; Joy; Peace; Love; Noel," or include your children's names, or any message you like. Hot Glue Styrofoam cone to center of base. Glue first row of blocks to the outside edge of base.

Step Three: Keeping blocks close together, hot glue row after row of blocks, with your messages facing outward, going round the cone, higher and higher, always leaning rows towards the cone shape. Fill in any gaps, around the cone, with plastic peanuts, as you work your way up. This will give your tower stability. Continue hot gluing, building upward, following the cone, and filling with plastic peanuts as needed. Don't forget to leave little ledges on each row, as you build up.

Step Four: Once your basic block tower is complete, begin to glue your miniatures, ornaments, and gold balls on your ledges. Keep things balanced by adding miniatures on first one side and then the other, since the tower will be able to be visible on all sides. Have fun with this step, and don't hurry. Assist small children, by gluing their choices where they want them to go. You can always counter balance later, if you need to. When your tower is completed, place its chosen crown of splendor on the very top. Perhaps an angel, a model airplane, or a toy drum.

The toy tower is your family's opportunity to celebrate your lives, filled with memories of Christmases past and present. Don't insist on being perfect. Think of your toy tower as a garden of memories, always celebrating a welcome surprise, at every turn. Keep it carefully for more shared joys, in the years to come. © Jaye Lewis, 2007
With love,
Jaye Lewis

Email Jaye