Psalm 111

Praise God!
As Mary praised and magnified God
Who had done great things for her
So I give thanks and praise to God
With my whole heart I praise God
Who counts me among the upright
Among the congregation
Despite my failings
God’s own work in my life is great
Delighting me and those who love me
God’s work in my life is honor and majesty
Forever enduring righteousness
Despite my failings
I know God’s wonderful deeds for me
I know God’s grace and mercy to me
God nourishes my soul, sustains my peace
When I but remember Her

God remembers Her promises
God is faithful even when I am not
God shows me, time and time again, Her power
In my life, for me
God welcomes me as Her child, Her heir
I recognize God’s work in me
As faithful and just, trustworthy and upright
God redeemed me; God loves me forever
Holy and awesome is God’s name, God’s power in my life
My reverence for God is, always, the beginning of wisdom
My forgetting of God is, time and time again, the forsaking of wisdom
May my life forever praise and honor God. Amen

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Psalm 112

Praise God!
I am happiest, most peaceful, most content
When I live within awareness of God
When I delight in following Her way
The psalmist is right
The two ways of living contrast so completely
When God is a daily part of my life, my awareness
I move through my life with quiet assurance
I am thankful for my children and their children
I forgive easily
I feel blessed
I know myself to be rich in every way that counts
I trust God’s righteousness in me, guiding my life
God’s light can shine through me for others
God’s light can shine through my own darkness and doubts
Because God is gracious, merciful and righteous to me
I can be kind and generous to others
I can work for justice
How I love these times when I feel secure in my faith
When I feel that I will never be moved from living with God
Then I am not afraid of troubles, of my own dark tendencies
My heart is firm, secure in God
My heart is steady, I am not afraid
I know that, with God, at the end of my life
She will give me triumph over my struggles
Meanwhile, I hope to live generously, wisely
Sharing what I have
Sharing God’s righteousness all the days of my life
With God, through God, my own wickedness will melt away
My terrible Ds will not win
Out from my desolation, God will lead me to Her consolation. Amen

Psalm 113

Praise God!

Let me join the great cloud of witnesses

Who praise the name of God

Blessed in my life be the name of God

From this time on and forevermore

From my waking to my sleeping

May I praise God and what She does for me

God is highest, bestest, greatest

God is sovereign

In the world and in my life

My spirit is often troubled

My doubts return again and again

I struggle again and again with the familiar problems

Depression, doubt, despair, darkness, desolation

Rage and bitterness, jealousy and competition

They are real, they can be terrible

But God is greater

God is higher than my deepest depths are low

God is brighter than my darkest night is dark

God raises me from the dust of my troubles

God lifts me up from the ashes of my efforts

God clears my mind, my heart, my soul

So that I feel secure and honored, loved and protected

Just when I feel I have nothing left to give

Nothing worthwhile in me

God’s fills my emptiness with Her grace, with Her joy

Praise God! Amen

Psalm 114

When God frees me from my slavery to discouragement
When Lady Wisdom blesses me with Her peace
My days become a devotion, my hope a sureness
My depression lifts
My doubts subside
My darkness brightens
I pray, I write, I love, I laugh
Whence these miracles
Is it magic or medicine
For me it is psalms, simply psalms
Not church, not theology, not deep contemplation
I will never understand it completely
But I observe it time and again in my life
My mountains of doubt fall
My drowning seas of rage retreat
My valleys of depression rise
When I welcome Lady Wisdom
When I turn to the God of Sarah
Of Miriam, Deborah, Ruth,
Of Elizabeth and Mary
Of Lydia and Priscilla
God who softens my hard heart
God who waters my parched soul. Amen

Psalm 115

Never mind congratulating myself
Getting all puffy and proud
All the credit belongs to God
Steadfast and faithful
Loving me even when I forget Her
God, my God, saves me
Why can’t I simply rest in that belief
My soul wanders among other gods
I long to see accomplishments
To hear praise
To taste revenge
To curse those who hurt me
To smell wealth
To touch this world’s best
I forget God, I doubt Her reality
I am blind, deaf, dumb
Senseless
Until I turn again to God
Until I believe and trust God
God who is my help and my protector
Until I trust the God of Sarah and Mary
God who is my help and my protector
Until I trust the God of generations
God who is my help and my protector
God remembers me, God will bless me
As She blessed Sarah and Mary
As She was with generations of believers
And doubters and even non-believers
Though I do not understand Her ways
Her whys and wherefores
Though I doubt Her wisdom and existence
Still I hope, hope that this is true
Because otherwise there is only silence and death
Otherwise I am lost
So I chose to believe and bless God
May it be so in my life forevermore.  Amen

Forgiveness

I continue to be led to think about forgiveness. My thoughts this morning are that forgiveness is grace: unmerited favor. Often, when I feel that someone has wronged me, I focus on trying to understand the why of it – I go over and over it in my mind, twisting and turning it, trying to see it (as I was taught to do) from their point of view. Too often, those efforts just intensify the hurt for me, lead me into lengthy internal “dialogues” with the person who hurt me – dialogues that I always “win.” None of that leads easily to forgiveness.

This morning I have been thinking about Jesus’ interaction with the woman caught in adultery. He was not interested in her reasons, justifications, mitigating circumstances. He forgave her and asked her to do better in the future.

I am a long way from that but this morning I am thinking that forgiveness is not about understanding or excusing, but about willingness to continue to love the offender and to believe that the future can be better. Faith, hope, love and grace are needed to forgive – a tall order.

P.S. I also posted this on a closed Facebook group that I belong to. One of the women in the group took the time to write a long comment that ended with this:

Forgiveness is more a gift to yourself (via God’s grace), a firm decision not to let the harm caused by the other stop you from being free.”

I want to print this large and frame it, keep it before me always.

The Midwife

Ruth, the innkeeper’s daughter, came for me
Sarah, her mother, had sent her
“Mom says she thinks
The young woman will need help soon”
So I went.
The innkeeper
With a worry frown
Called his wife to the door.
Sarah came with a lantern
And led us around back
To the caves
There we found the young woman
Her eyes wide with fear and hope
Leaning against her husband
As they sat on a blanket
Stretched over the straw
I knelt next to her, spoke gently
Let my hand rest for long moments on her huge belly
Sarah sent Ruth back to the house with instructions
I took the young husband’s place
And set him to heating water
At the courtyard fire
Ruth returned with Leah, the serving girl
Their arms full of cloth
Rags and sheets and swaddling
We replaced the good blanket with old sheets
We waited, we comforted, we encouraged
We had the whispering girls ready a bed for the baby.
When it was time
Sarah and I got her onto the low stool
Sarah behind her, supporting arms around her
One last gasp, groan, push, gush
And I gently guided another wet baby
Out of another mother
Thank the Lord the night is mild
The young mother is strong
The baby is healthy and crying loudly
Even before I deliver the afterbirth
Sarah spoke quietly to the young mother
“Praise and thank the Lord, a healthy boy
You have done well.”
I tied and cut the cord
Cleaned and swaddled the baby
We kept the girls busy helping to clean up
When we left
The young mother lay on the blanket
Stretched again over clean straw
Suckling her newborn son
Her husband at her side
Stroking his firstborn’s head
Holding his wife’s hand.
I told them I would return later in the day
To check mother and child
He shyly asked about my fee
I told him to rest, to enjoy
We would talk about that later
Sarah said she would send Leah back
With bread and hot sweet tea
They smiled their weary thanks
We left then
Sarah, Ruth, Leah and I
Tired but pleased
The baby was healthy
The young mother was strong
The girls had learned more about birth
A good birth
That was all I ever asked of the Lord
Praise and thanksgiving for a good birth
Such a birth always made a night’s work
Holy work