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Dec 7 22

Skipping at seventy

by davesandel

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Memorial of Saint Ambrose, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

(click here to listen to or read today’s scriptures)

Skipping at seventy

Lift up your eyes on high and see!

Skipping down the sidewalk? On Buddy’s date with Jovie in Elf, Buddy can hardly believe it himself. “I’m skipping! I’m skipping!”

Was Ambrose a “skipper?” The Franciscans say he was a “passionate little man with a high forehead, a long melancholy face, and great eyes, a frail figure clasping sacred Scripture” in his hands. So, maybe he didn’t skip down the street, not even at Christmas.

But he was a man of action, and his teaching turned St. Augustine toward Jesus and resulted in baptism. Consequently, Augustine’s mom Monica “loved Ambrose as an angel of God.”

Do you not know, have you not heard? The Lord is the eternal God, creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint nor grow weary, and his knowledge goes beyond scrutiny. Bless the Lord, O my soul, bless his holy name.

Yesterday at ADRN (Austin Disaster Relief Network)’s thrift store, my son-in-law Aki, George and I mostly put together a Bowflex someone donated. Aki is like the doctor, and George and I hand him tools. Aki puts together thousand piece jigsaw puzzles in just a few hours. But even Aki couldn’t put together parts that were missing. At least he figured out what those parts were, and if they are available somewhere, maybe next week we can finish the job.

The Bowflex is over six feet tall and weighs more than a hundred pounds. Probably a lot more than a hundred pounds. At one point I sat down on the floor in the middle of it all to insert and tighten four bolts. No problem. Except the bolt threads didn’t quite fit the holes cut into the metal. It wasn’t long before my right leg started to cramp. My 73 years caught up with me in that moment.

He gives strength to the weary and the weak. He heals all your ills and redeems your life from destruction.

Sometimes I pretend I’m younger than I am. I push my body further in public than when I’m alone. I can remember leaping and jumping and praising God, even skipping, yes, with my girlfriend, down the street. Those were the days. I do not want them to pass me by.

They that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength, they will mount up on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint.

Teach me, Lord, to wait. I won’t be running on my legs like that again. Skipping along the streets of Manhattan isn’t in my future. But still, writing this, imagining this, my heart speeds up, my breathing too, and I notice how happy I am. This is the nature, I think, of what people sometimes call “awe and wonder.”

Tonight, instead of skipping, I’ll turn out the lights, sit in front of the Christmas tree, watch the animals and people in our nativity scene and join them, singing some simple songs to Jesus. Just a word or two directed toward the Lord. Do you hear what I hear?

Come unto me, all ye who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your soul.

(Isaiah 40, Psalm 103, Matthew 11)

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Dec 6 22

Putzing, more than it’s cracked up to be

by davesandel

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

St. Nicholas Day

(click here to listen to or read today’s scriptures)

Putzing, more than it’s cracked up to be

Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God.

St. Nicholas lived in the third and fourth centuries, in a Turkish seaport. He became famous for secretly dropping three bags of gold on successive nights into the windows of three impoverished girls, so their father would have a wedding dowry for each of them.

Nicholas became Bishop of Myra, where he was born. Perhaps he attended the Council of Nicea and helped shape the Nicean Creed. Centuries later, his bones were taken to Venice during the First Crusade.

On St. Nicholas Day, we can give three gifts ourselves. We could call three people and appreciate them aloud. We could carry $5 bills in our car and give them to three people at streetcorners, then ask their names and wish them Merry Christmas.

Speak tenderly to Jerusalem and proclaim to her that her service is at an end, her guilt is expiated; indeed, she has received double for all her sins from the hand of the Lord.

St. Nicholas is surely the most famous saint of all. Children love to hear his name and they circle round to receive gifts from St. Nicholas. Father Christmas and Santa Claus are named after him. In many European countries, gift giving takes place today rather than on December 25. He is the patron saint of Russia (yes!) and Greece, as well as sailors, merchants, archers, repentant thieves, children, brewers, pawnbrokers and students.

Jesus said to his disciples, “What is your opinion? If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills and go in search of the stray?”

When I write these devotions, I sometimes think of them as sheep. There are hundreds of them in the ever-increasing flock. But each one matters. Each one takes us down the lectionary passageways, deep into the words of the Bible. Stories abound of people and events during the thousands of years of bible history. Together we get to explore the passages, the caverns and the caves that appear when we click on “Today’s Readings.”

If he finds the stray, he rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not stray. In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost.

Many of us want to share our happy experience with the gospel. I think stories are the best way to do that, and these devotions are often simple stories. Stories pave a path into deep thoughts, and also into quiet sitting, when thoughts are not particularly welcome.

Today, while Jasper was here, he and I did a lot of putzing. I wound some nylon rope around a piece of wood to keep it from tangling. We burned the ends to keep it from fraying. Jasper picked out the matches, but he didn’t light them. Maybe next time.

We took our recycling to the apartment recycling dumpster, and Jasper rode in the front seat. We cut strawberries for Margaret to make pie and jam. How can there by strawberries in December? But there are, and we picked them last week.

We opened a set of wrenches, pliers, knives and saws I got on Black Friday. Jasper used a saw for the first time, and he cut a wooden tongue depressor right in half, one gentle stroke at a time, getting back into the groove every time his small saw slid out. Construction sites continue to fascinate him. One of these days he will be building skyscrapers or bridges, and maybe he’ll remember using a saw to cut a tongue depressor.

Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill shall be made low; the rugged land shall be made a plain, the rough country, a broad valley.

I couldn’t figure out how to close the folding knife, but we watched a YouTube video that showed how. Jasper won’t be touching that knife anyway, but once it was open it needed to be closed.

We installed a stationary disco light in the bathroom and watched the lights spin. I remembered dancing, a long time ago. Jasper, entranced by the lights, well, I have no idea what he was thinking.

Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together.

On Sunday our pastor shared his favorite Bible story (also mine), from 1 Kings 19. Elijah is waiting for God in a cave. The wind blows, the earth shakes, the fire blazes, but God is not in them. Then God appears, in silence, with a still, small voice. Pastor Kevin’s favorite translation is that God spoke in a “low whisper.”

These days, when Margaret and I both get tired more easily and seem busier than ever, I hear God’s low whispers more often when I am putzing than most any other time.

Fear not to cry out, “Here is your God! Here he comes with power.” Like a shepherd he feeds his flock; in his arms he gathers the lambs, and carries them in his bosom.

(Isaiah 40, Psalm 96, Matthew 18)

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Dec 5 22

There is a highway

by davesandel

Monday, December 5, 2022

(click here to listen to or read today’s scriptures)

There is a highway

The desert and the parched land will exult; the high desert will rejoice and bloom with abundant flowers, rejoice with joyful song.

Big weekend for our family. Marc is back to work at Bunny’s after three months recovering from an accident and awful hamstring tears. He is healthier than ever and very happy. And they love him being there.

They will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God. Strengthen the hands of the feeble, make firm the knees that are weak, say to those whose hearts are frightened, “Be strong, fear not! Here is your God!”

Aki’s parents have made the move to Austin and arrived yesterday evening. They will be settling in, still working on Zoom, letting their grandkids jump all over them. It is a long way from Buffalo, where six feet of snow fell two weeks ago, to the high-dry-seventy degrees-in-December desert of Austin and the Hill Country.

Streams will burst forth in the desert, and rivers. The burning sands will become pools, and the thirsty ground, springs of water. And a highway will be there, the holy way. No one unclean may pass over it, nor fools go astray.

And with the help of two small boys, those same jumping-all-over-grandkids Miles and Jasper, our apartment is decorated for Christmas. Margaret made fabulous chili and we put together a smart Sunday lunch among all those decorations and Mom’s twenty-year old living room Christmas tree, which was never taken down until this November. We’re all glad it can have a new life in Austin. While we ate panettone and fruit for dessert, we pretended to be a pre-school library class, and I read Margaret Wise Brown’s book, Christmas in the Barn to everyone.

No lion will be there, nor beast of prey go up to be met upon it. It is for those with a journey to make, and on it the redeemed will walk.

As I write it’s getting dark, the traffic is quieting and the moon is waxing toward full, deep in the dark cloudy sky. Andi and Aki are going to the Alamo Theater for dinner and to watch for the umpteenth time the quote-a-long version of Elf. We’re taking Miles and Jasper to a goodbye party for our friend Sandy, who is leaving Austin and Grace Covenant Church after twenty-five years, to return to her home town of Great Bend, Kansas. There will be hot chocolate with marshmallows and whipped cream, and candy canes.

Those whom the Lord has ransomed will return and enter Zion singing, crowned with everlasting joy. They will meet with joy and gladness, their sorrow and mourning will flee. Our God will come to save us! And we will hear what the Lord proclaims.

I feel/hear/see/taste/smell great healing in the winds of our big weekend. Like many, our family works long hours and days and weeks with little fanfare, and then sometimes God’s powerful life, which always pulses beneath the surface, comes up in rivers and highways and waterfalls of splendor. It’s in times like this that the instant immediate presence of Jesus and his low whispers of creativity sound in my ear.

If there is a paralytic in the house, let him be let down through the roof for the touch of Jesus the Healer.

Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “What are you thinking in your hearts? Which is easier to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven’ or ‘Rise and walk?’ But that you may know the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins …” and he said to the one who was paralyzed, “I say to you, rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.”

 (Isaiah 35, Psalm 85, Luke 5)

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Dec 4 22

Christmas in a barn

by davesandel

Second Sunday of Advent, December 4, 2022

(click here to listen to or read today’s scriptures)

Christmas in a barn

Welcome one another, then, as Christ welcomes you, for the glory of God. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to think in harmony with one another.

Promise, our Compassion-sponsored child in Uganda, became a handsome teenager since we “met” him via Compassion in 2019. Although we could communicate much more than we do, we send letters to each other now and then. He will be fifteen years old on March 31 next year. I wonder how Promise is spending this weekend, where he goes to church, what he does in the afternoons, who he hangs out with. I suppose he has some school homework, maybe math? I’m guessing he likes some kind of sports, maybe basketball? Is he a runner, like some of his famous countrymen?

Financial support is a small way of expressing our love for Promise. Often I forget to write, even when he writes us first. I don’t think about him very often, or pray for him. Clearly, God’s love for Promise cannot depend on me. God’s love is different in so many ways from what shred of it we share with Promise or, really, with anyone. From an article with the wonderful title, “A Gospel of the Ground” by Daniel Stulac in Plough Magazine, here is an interesting thought:

The Bible is clear: God loved the world in such a way that he gave to us his only Son (John 3:6). God loves the world with a passion that exceeds our own. God loves this planet and all its many inhabitants. When we fail to appreciate that God is human with us, that he made himself nothing and is the dust of the earth with us, the gospel comes to be more about psychology, more about feelings and fantasies, more about escaping, and less about God and God’s deep and abiding love for his material creation.

Most of the folks I spend time with at church think of Jesus mostly as God, and only occasionally, as man. I fall into that trap too. If I were a social-activist Christian I’d think of God as mostly man, and only occasionally, as God. Either way, we know better. I know better. But I forget, and it affects my prayer and my side of the relationship with God. Here’s another part of Daniel’s article:

The gospel begins with a birth. Christians claim that the God of the universe has made a remarkable intrusion into the human predicament. The God of the Precambrian soup, the God of the Carboniferous forests, the God of the Cretaceous and the Pleistocene, the God of the triceratops and the wooly mammoth: that same God, Christians say, was born in a barn.

Margaret Wise Brown wrote children’s books, sometimes lived like a jetsetter, gave up much of her life to care for her angry friend with leukemia, and kept finding her way back to the God-man who was born in a barn. In her own book about Jesus’ birth, Christmas in the Barn, here are her words:

In a big warm barn in an ancient field

The oxen lowed, the donkey squealed.

The horses stomped, the cattle sighed.

And quietly the daylight died

 in the sunset of the west.

And a star rose brighter than all stars in the sky.


The field mice scampered in the hay

And two people who had lost their way

Walked into the barn at the end of the day

And they were allowed to sleep in the hay

“Because there was no room in the inn.”


The little mice rustled in the sweet dry grass

Near the lambs and the kine and the ox and the ass.

The horses pawed the golden straw,

The little donkey brayed, “Hee Haw.”

And there they were all safe and warm

All together in that ancient barn.


When hail – the first wail of a newborn babe reached the night

Where one great star was burning bright

And shepherds with their sheep

Are come to watch him sleep.

What child is this who is born here

Where the oxen stomp and peer,

Away in a manger, no crib for his bed,

What is child is this who lays down his sweet head?


In the big barn in the ancient field

The little child sleeps, the donkey squeals

The star goes down

Yet the wise men stay to see the dawning Christmas Day.

The child was sleeping in the hay

And there they were

All safe and warm

All together in that ancient barn.

My memories of Dad’s dairy barn in the bleak mid-winter come alive. The cows’ breath warms the air as we turn on the nighttime lights. Our fly specked radio plays Christmas music and broadcasts news from Lowell Thomas. All safe and warm, yes we are.

On this day a shoot will sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom. The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, and his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.

(Isaiah 11, Psalm 72, Romans 15, Luke 3, Matthew 3)

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Dec 3 22

Strawberries in December

by davesandel

Saturday, December 3, 2022

(click here to listen to or read today’s scriptures)

Strawberries in December

In the car Mike and I squeezed into the back seat. Miles and Jasper were in the middle. Diane drove, and Margaret kept her company. We piled a bunch of lawn chairs and snacks in the back and headed to Marble Falls for pie, a parade, and a walkway of lights.

What a fine day we had, walking and talking and praising God. Stories from past decades of our lives. Sand art for Miles and Jasper at Sweet Berry Farm, which is open for one last weekend because big beautiful strawberries are ripening on hundreds of vines. The sign offers strawberries in March, April and May. This year, add December. When we began walking the rows it was 74 degrees.

And yes, they really did look just like this. On December 2. And they tasted even better.

We ate lunch at the Blue Bonnet Café, open since 1929. It’s nearly world famous for its pie, and there is usually a line out the door. We stopped in at 3 pm, and only had to wait 20 minutes. Around the table we had cherry, coconut cream, apple, lemon meringue and chocolate meringue pie. Jasper had the chocolate meringue, which was taller than his face.

We found a perfect spot for our lawn chairs and waited for the parade. Marble Falls is kind of a small town, and the parade reflected that perfectly. One high school band, several floats full of cheerleaders, and an older white haired Baptist lady in a red dress reading stories to the kiddos on the float. “Christmas on Noah’s Ark” the float was called.

Jesus said to his disciples, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few. So ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.”

A black bulk water truck was all decked out in lights. Two firemen hollered out “Merry Christmas” from the ladder truck’s gondola. And a whole bunch of teenagers walked along the floats handing out handfuls of candy to every kid along the street.  Miles and Jasper filled their plastic bags almost to the top.

The light of the moon will be like that of the sun and the light of the sun will be seven times greater like the light of seven days.

Mike and I looked up at the moon and a bright star not far from the half full moon. He pointed his phone at the sky and said, “That’s Jupiter.” An app called Skyview told him all we wanted to know. Above Jupiter were stars that made up the constellation Pisces. Seeing the stars so clearly felt right in December, in winter weather, although at 6 pm the temp was 70 degrees.

No longer will your Teacher hide himself, but with your own eyes you shall see your Teacher, while from behind a voice shall sound in your ears: “This is the way, walk in it.”

Austin’s Trail of Lights starts soon. Marble Falls’ Walkway of Lights has been open for a couple of weeks. Fancy fire trucks and Santa’s sleigh and an airplane and the North Pole Express, and lots more. We walked along the Colorado River and stared at one creation after another. Then we drove the hour home through the dark, back to the too bright lights of Austin. Happy to be celebrating Christmas.

(Isaiah 30, Psalm 147, Isaiah 33, Matthew 9)

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Dec 2 22

Watching Jesus pray, watching Jesus wait

by davesandel

Friday, December 2, 2022

(click here to listen to or read today’s scriptures)

Watching Jesus pray, watching Jesus wait

I believe that I shall see the bounty of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord with courage; be stouthearted and wait for the Lord.

I wait better when I have what I need. If I’m hungry I get restless. If I’m cold I resent the air around me. And when I’m sick, well, I am not patient. I am, as they say, a terrible “patient.”

Mary heard Gabriel, and she saw him. Unlike Job (who had only heard of God), she had a face-to-face, a one-on-one. She heard the angel out and asked him one question. “How can this be, sir?”

He answered. Unlike the habit of her soon-to-be adult son, he did not ask her a question in return. And she responded with just a few simple syllables.

Let it be done unto me according to thy word.

And then she, like every mother-to-be before and after her, began to wait. Impatiently on some days, and patiently on others.

Jesus spoke to the blind men in much the same words as Mary spoke to Gabriel. When they begged him for his touch and healing, in the words we have adapted to become the Jesus Prayer, Jesus loved them.

Son of David, have pity on us!

Do you believe that I can do this?

Jesus asked them a single question, and quietly, they answered.

Yes, Lord.

And then he touched their eyes and spoke. I can imagine his joy as God-man, knowing Mary’s response to Gabriel:

Let it be done unto you according to your faith.

And their eyes, they were opened. As are mine, when I cry out to Jesus, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!”

Waiting for their healing was over for the blind men. When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, Mary’s waiting for her baby was over. Much waiting awaited all of them, however. When they, like all of us, were in need, they waited to be satisfied.

So will I wait patiently? Will I ask God for the patience only he can give? The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience … Against such things there is no law. Of course not, but to wait for such things when I think I can manage them myself, that is difficult.

Behold, our Lord shall come with power; he will enlighten the eyes of his servants … Jesus warned them sternly not to speak of their healing. But they went out and spread word of him throughout all that land.

And all that land looked high and low, then, for Jesus and his touch. Everyone has a sick relative, or is sick himself. Everyone has a hungry uncle, or is hungry herself. Let’s find Jesus, and he will give us everything we need.

But Jesus eluded them, found his way to mountaintops to pray, and moved back into the crowds only when his Father told him to. He knew the promises of Isaiah 29 by heart, and he knew his Father was true to those promises.

Thus saith the Lord, “In a very little while …”

On that day the deaf shall hear the words of a book. And out of gloom and darkness, the eyes of the blind shall see. The lowly will ever find joy in the Lord, and the poor rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.

And the promises go on. But suddenly I am reminded that with the Lord, a thousand years are like a day. And I remember how Jesus waited, how Jesus prayed on a mountaintop, and then I’m no longer in such a hurry to get what I need (or want). The promises are true, and they aren’t fulfilled on any timetable except the will of God. And God is not going anywhere. He’s here to stay.

I can wait much more easily when I wait in Jesus’ shadow, watching him kneel, watching him raise his hands to heaven, watching him cry out … and then be still, breathing in the breath of heaven.

(Isaiah 29, Psalm 27, Matthew 9)

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Dec 1 22

Journeys to far off places

by davesandel

Thursday, December 1, 2022

(click here to listen to or read today’s scriptures)

Journeys to far off places

Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on the rock.

On our way to the 60 degree swimming pool we stopped in at the Evolve Apartments office. Jasper and I had on jackets. The sun was shining through a brisk 55 degree breeze. We had our fishing poles.

But first we wanted to say hello. Our friends in the office, Susan and Jeff and Vanessa, have made our apartment complex a peaceful and happy place to live. They work hard, all three of them, to help us feel at home here. For Thanksgiving, they gave away a turkey. They will award gift cards to three apartments with the most beautiful Christmas lights. And they fancy up the office not just for Christmas, but for everyday.

Yesterday brought a big log fire and four red stockings hanging off the mantle. Toys and candy filled several bowls. Susan walked in from her Christmas shopping spree and said, “Jasper! I’m so glad you’re here. I have something just for you!” She stamped our hands with Christmas angels and gave him a couple of plastic slinkies and a Christmas train whistle.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, and his mercy endures forever.

Jeff told us a part for the whirlpool heater should arrive today. He is closer to heating the whirlpool for the first time in years. And that’s where Jasper and I were headed. Not to swim, not yet. But at least to let our fishes swim. We carried our 36 inch Shakespeare rods and reels, one equipped with a red rubber fish and the other with an orange rubber fish. Jasper is slowly getting the hang of casting.

I did the long casting today, across the big pool to the far off shores. Jasper reeled it back in, and when the fish came back to him, he asked, “How was your journey, fish?” In the back of my mind the stories ranged from the beaches of Normandy to Gulf Shores to Catalina Island to Cuba. Those journeys were splendiferous.

We walked back, Jasper balancing on the red curbs. I promised to read him a story but kept getting sidetracked putting together Mom’s Christmas tree. I figured out what I did wrong when I stuffed it in the box without taking it apart. But thanks to John’s insistence that I take pictures of all the inside boxes, with color and number visible, the disaster inside the box was fixable. Still, it took a couple of hours to find the plugs on each set of branches. At last the lights were lit and I read the story.

A few hours later I watched as they lit the lights on Rockefeller Center’s big tree in New York City. I think they saw ours and realized they better get on the ball.

I will give thanks to you, for you have answered me and have been my savior. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

When Miles and Andi came from school, Jasper and Miles began a chess game on the beautiful Bill Fineran-made board I brought from Urbana. Jasper set up the pieces and moved them the way we showed him. When Miles showed him he could capture a piece, his eyes got wide, he shouted, “I can capture a piece!” and he swept it off the board.

Jasper lost interest after a few moves, though, so I took over. Miles won the game. “I resign,” I said when I only had my king left, and tipped it over dead. I shook hands with Miles.  I hope Jasper wants to play some more. He can join the chess club in 2 ½ years, when he’s in kindergarten.

Seek the Lord while he may be found; call him while he is near.

Margaret just came off the plane and we’re home. “One thing after another” happened, but she left Urbana at 3:30 and was outside Austin’s airport waiting for me at 9:30. And she had some great stories about flight attendants she joked with and befriended on the way.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. The Lord is God, and he has given us light.

(Isaiah 26, Psalm 118, Isaiah 55, Matthew 7)

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Nov 30 22

Complete list of November 2022 Daily Devotions with links

by davesandel

Complete list of November 2022 Daily Devotions with links


November 1                Memorizing the Bible, part by part

November 2                One more humble link

November 3                We have everything we need           

November 4                Election time

November 5                On the road to everywhere  

November 6                Freedom and responsibility 

November 7                Learn the skill of forgiveness

November 8                Who’s in charge here?                      

November 9                One fish, two fish     

November 10              Life with a transformer

November 11              God is in it all

November 12              Conversation with Jesus on a rainy afternoon, after fighting most of the morning

November 13              Sick day

November 14              Be chosen, and now that I am God

November 15              Stories from the kid front

November 16              Let everything that has breath

November 17              Lamb that was slain

November 18              Eat this book

November 19              Reconciliation, not revenge

November 20              Lights flicker at the entrance of the cave

November 21              Goodbye, Michael Gerson

November 22              The grapes of wrath

November 23              Moments with the Amish

November 24              Come ye thankful people, come

November 25              Thanksgiving Day in the morning

November 26              The end of things, a new beginning

November 27              Stand up, turn away from war, turn and worship the baby Jesus

November 28              Traveling on Thanksgiving weekend

November 29              Relax, rejoice, and be childlike

November 30              Gentling up to some truth now and then

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Nov 30 22

Haiku for every day of November 2022

by davesandel

Haiku for every day of November 2022


November 1

Polenta browning

Chicken cassoulet and greens

Sparkling winter wine


November 2   

Jasper wants a bath

Our whirlpool is kind of cold

Still, we have a ball


November 3   

Sudden time to read

Don’t need to finish them all

Books my good friends love


November 4   

All night sick to death

Time after time, ev’ry hour

Toilet beckons me


November 5   

What? How can it be?

Illini turned down win eight

They just played so bad


November 6   

Gamble: there’s no God

Food, clothing and coins, oh my!

Don’t bet on dead horse!!


November 7

Miles, Mason’s chess game

“You won, Miles,” he shook his hand

First day, new school club


November 8   

Two boys together

Screams, joy, can get pretty wild

They make us wild too


November 9

Our afternoon walk

Jasper smiles like a model

Fire hydrant pose


November 10

Ev’ry day shopping

Fine weather for November

Sun, Christmas spirit


November 11

Miles – birthday # 6

Rainy night by the river

Mozart’s Christmas lights


November 12

String of football wins

Two home games, Illini lose

No more Big Ten champs


November 13

Birthday lunch for Dave

Bartlett’s, like a supper club

With friends – Scheffelin’s


November 14

George, banana splits

Great fun all day with Jasper

This is birthday week


November 15

Mar’gret’s on her plane

Heading home to Illinois

From home in Austin


November 16

Just Jasper and me

Then straight off to Illinois

Nice Days Inn … aahh … sleep!


November 17

Pizza Ranch chicken!

Birthday! Eleven hours

Driving from Texas


November 18

Marc’s at our house

Hamstrings are healing quickly

Great to be with him


November 19

Cool Secret Santa

Six bags through Country Salvage

Go home and share them


November 20

Small church, lots of friends

Their welcome never wears out

Celebrate with them


November 21

Some Aldi shopping

Miss that so much in Austin

25 cent carts


November 22

Our thanksgiving week!

Eat your heart out, boys and girls

Love the one you’re with


November 23

Leaves, glorious leaves

Here today, gone tomorrow …

Food, glorious food


November 24 (Thanksgiving)

Comstock, Sandel feast

Springfield kitchen all decked out

Marc came too – great time


November 25

Late night – Black Friday

Fun shopping, then Illini

So much fun to watch!


November 26

Left home late, at 1

Hazen, AR at 9 pm

Such a cozy bed!


November 27

Traffic slow, blue skies

You’re already in Texas

So you can slow down 


November 28

Jasper loves it all

Houseful of Christmas boxes

Let’s all decorate!


November 29

Miles loves to play chess!

Get three queens and lose them all

Capture anything!


November 30

Red fish, orange fish

Blue water, 60 degrees

Fishing with Jasper

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Nov 30 22

Gentling up to some truth now and then

by davesandel

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

(click here to listen to or read today’s scriptures)

Gentling up to some truth now and then

How can they call on him if they have not believed? Believe in him if they have not heard? Hear without someone to preach? Preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

Riding across an 80 degree Austin afternoon in late November with Aki toward our volunteer time at the Austin Disaster Relief Network thrift store, I remembered something Augustine said, which gave Philip Yancey a title for his memoir. Philip is at Columbia Bible College, he’s reading books that are not assigned to him.

In my reading I have discovered Augustine, a connoisseur of women, art, food, and philosophy, who celebrates the goodness of created things. He says of his preconversion years, “I had my back toward the light, and my face toward the things on which the light falls.” (p. 233)

And I think how much that sounds like me, too. Our living room is cluttered with boxes of Christmas, celebrated with ornaments and nativity scenes and red and green candies, with books of Christmas mysteries, pioneer Christmas stories, and several versions of the birth of baby Jesus.

Your words, Lord, are spirit and life. They are more precious than gold, than a heap of purest gold. Sweeter also than syrup or honey from the honeycomb.

The clutter will gradually clear, if we do our part. What will be left, I hope, is a quiet place where Jesus will feel comfortable, since after all, He lives here too.

I hear Jesus saying, “I’ll be comfortable if you are, David. I hope you will relax and just be with me.”

In his book Yancey continues to think about Augustine’s way of seeing the world.

The Latin phrase dona bona, or “good gifts,” appears throughout his writings. “The world is a smiling place,” he writes, and God its largitor, or “lavisher of gifts.” A smiling place—not once have I thought of the world like that. Perhaps I lack certain receptors for goodness, as Mr. H. suggested. How can I find the dona bona?

Can I rejoice in having found the “dona bona” in my life? I think so, and I hope you can too. During Advent I will read more than my share of devotions and reflections on these topics. Here’s one from Philip Britts, anthologized in a sweet book titled Watch for the Light:

We are human and finite, and thus cannot live perpetually in a sense of expectation, or in a continuous Advent. We are distracted by many things. Our spiritual awareness waxes and wanes in intensity.…It is here that we need to see why it was necessary for Christ to come to the earth.

God has come to us because we, by our own power of soul, by our own emotions, even the noblest and most sublime, can never attain redemption. True expectancy, the waiting that is genuine and from the heart, is brought about by the coming of the Holy Spirit, by God coming to us, and not by our own devices.

And I think, that coming must arrive every day, to “renew your right spirit within me,” as a Lutheran doxology put it every Sunday when I was growing up. Driving to Austin I listened to that same church in Lincoln’s service at 8 am Sunday morning, the first Sunday of Advent.

Come after me, says Jesus. And I will make you fishers of men.

During the offering I heard those words from Psalm 51:10-12. “Create in me a clean heart, O God.”

And I was happy.

(Romans 10, Psalm 19, Matthew 4)

(posted at


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