Reflections…with Love

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Like you, I can’t help but embrace this season as a time of reflection of where I have been this year, but more importantly, where I will be going.  This has been a kaleidoscope type of year.  It has been a mixture of tears, laughter, victory, challenges, illness, healing and basically redefining much of what my life consisted of for a long time.  Wow.  I have…

So many blessings. 

So many opportunities. 

So much family.

So much love. 

And so much Jesus.

I am so excited.  Can you tell?  I don’t have to redo yesterday and tomorrow is still being created uniquely for me.  It is like watching 2012 fly away like sand in the breeze but yet, instead of seeing what is gone I see the treasure than remains.  That’s it!  It has been a treasure hunt of a year!

Just like the precious stones in the foundation that Jesus promises in the new Jerusalem to come, are the jewels in the days ahead – for me – and you.  Let’s whisper to Jesus.  Ask Him what He has for us.  Plan for new always – but be sure to keep care of our current valuables.  Remember His word….be faithful over a few things and He will make you ruler over much.   Matthew 15:21

Glory Hallelujah!  Increase!!  That reminds me.  I want to increase my knowledge.  You know, read books about things I don’t know for one thing.  I just checked out a knitting book at the library.  Yep.  I am going to learn how to knit so that I can create beautiful gifts and keep my hands occupied.  Let’s face it.  If I am holding a knitting needle I can’t hold snacks!  Smile.  I feel called to fast.  Not because of the flesh but just because of what God has put on my heart as spiritual intercession for others.  See, there are many ways to love on others and that makes me very happy.

Take me on a love journey this year, Jesus.  Wow me.  Wow all of us. 

In Jesus’ name,

Patti Corbello Archer

December 31, 2012

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The Church Carpenter

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With one finger he tilted her chin up and watched as her lips parted with the hint of a gasp.  His crooked smile flashed then faded as his lips got closer and closer to hers.  He paused and let their breath kiss… before their lips ever did.  The tension between them grew.  He felt her going soft in his arms so he put his other arm around her and pulled her tight into him.  After a quick look into her surrendered green eyes he crushed her to him.  They kissed.  Finally. 

The lights came on and the credits began to roll on the screen.   The audience began to shuffle, gather their popcorn and coke cartons and move on to another part of their day.  Amanda still sat there stunned at the beauty of the love she had seen on that screen.  She finally began to breathe again and bring herself back to the present.  Not that she wanted to – she would rather stay in that embrace with that look in his eyes.  Now THAT was her kind of Christmas story!

Her cousins sat on the right side and finally noticed her preoccupation.  They began to pick at her as they gathered their purses and made more mall shopping plans.  “Come ON Amanda!  We have to go!”  And then they all talked at once as they joined the line to leave the cinema.   They all laughed and dramatized the last love scene in the movie but Amanda knew that they had husbands to go home to.  Maybe not perfect husbands, but someone that loved them, missed them, held them, and kissed them.    Shaking off the thought, Amanda began the goodbye process with her 4 cousins with lots of fanfare. Southern style goodbyes came with hugs, kisses, hair touching, hand holding, encouragement and love.  No proper southern goodbye would last less than 10 minutes!  It was great.

She walked to her car and smiled.  Her cousins could always be counted on to make her laugh…or cry, they were the best.   Her phone buzzed once she got in her car.  She worked at a small country church close to home and there was a Christmas play tonight.  She still had many things to finalize before the cast even arrived.  “Oh no!” she said as She glanced at her watch.   She knew the new carpenter the church had just hired would be there to finish the manger scene at 3 p.m. and it was 2:30 p.m. now.  In fact, that was him that had just text’d her.

 By the time she returned all her phone calls she was back at the church.   She unlocked all the entrances and walked back through the church.  She paused in the church sanctuary itself, loving the stained glass picture stories in the windows, the baptismal pool behind the platform, the wooden pews and the tall rafters that covered the ceiling.  Church was always a place that Amanda loved.  Even alone in the building she loved knowing she was never alone.  Jesus was always with her…and she knew it.  Spiritually He had opened her to so much of Himself and she literally took Him at His Word. 

She had learned that many people saw Jesus in the way that they needed Him, i.e., Healer, Savior, Provider, Comforter, Warrior, Father, King and many more.  But for Amanda…Jesus, the Lover of Her Soul was the one she spent a lot of private time with.   Since He lived on the inside of her, let’s face it, how easy was it for Him to rise up and make Himself known to her in any situation?   Like today, well, today, she needed more hands than she had to get everything done!  She laughed as she walked onto the platform doing a mental check off list of things that still needed to be put in place.  The Star of Bethlehem needed to be hung, the Kings set up with crowns and gifts, and the manger brought in with baby Jesus… 

She turned at the sound of footsteps and saw the new carpenter coming up the church aisle toward her.  “Hi Amanda,” Lee said in his deep voice. 

“Oh, hello Lee!  I am so glad to see you.  How could we do this without you?”

He laughed and stepped up on the platform with her.  “There is no place I would rather be, I promise you.  Why don’t you turn on some music and we can get this done in no time.  I love the music you play here.”

 Amanda walked to the sound booth and put in a Jewish Christmas CD that she loved.  She kept the sound low but where they could sing along if they wanted to.  Her phone rang.  She answered and for the next few minutes talked to the pastor.

Lee smiled as He watched her.  She made His heart sing, she just didn’t know it.  He loved the sound of her voice and her joy.  She was contagious!  He started working while she was on the phone and He got most of it set up in no time at all.  He turned and faced the manger scene and picked up the crowns for the finishing touch to the 3 Wise Men.   He placed the crowns on them and positioned them in the front of the manger.   He could not help but chuckle to Himself. 

He remembered the night that the 3 Wise Men came to Him many, many years ago.

Amanda hung up the phone and came up to the platform.  “Lee,” she said, “Is baby Jesus up there?”  Hiding a grin, Lee said, “Hmmm I don’t see him, hold on and let me look in this box.”   “Oh, I remember now!” she said, “They had to sew the blanket on him so it would not fall off when Mary picked him up tonight.  Let me go get him.” 

Lee…Jesus in fact…could not help but grin as she hurried down the aisle to her office.  

In just a moment she headed back to the platform.  “Here he is!”  She stepped over to the manger and said, “Would you mind holding him for a second?” and handed him to Lee.  She knelt by the manger and ruffled the hay…making it smooth for him.  “Lee?” she asked.  He didn’t say anything but knelt down beside her with baby Jesus in his arms.  “Yes?” he asked quietly.

“You know, sometimes Jesus is so close to me.  I can literally feel him.  Do you know what I mean?  She looked at Lee intently, searching his eyes for truth.

“Oh Amanda, I certainly do.  I know with everything deep inside of me that he loves nothing better than to spend personal time closer to us than we can ever imagine.”

She closed her eyes.  “I believe that too,” she said.   “Jesus is a unique experience not just once, but every day.  Some days He reminds me of standing on the seashore with the deep in front of me and the breeze surrounding me.  Other days, it is like the smell of fresh cut grass where I walk as His footsteps lead mine.  Or maybe, it is the sweetness of a fragrance that makes me wonder what He smells like.”

Amanda knelt there with her eyes closed as Jesus literally knelt next to her…his eyes drinking in the sight of her beauty, smelling her totally unique fragrance offering and loving her from heaven to earth.  Placing his holy hand on the small manger next to her he felt his heart explode into the Star of Bethlehem all over again.  

“How can anyone wonder if a love affair with me is worth it?” he thought.

He swallowed hard, and said, “Amanda, I think the greatest gift we can give him is the one that he gave us…”   She opened her eyes and smiled at him.  “Lee…you are so right,” as she laid baby Jesus in the manger. 

“Thanks Lee…Merry Christmas….you are the greatest Carpenter ever.”

Merry Christmas

Patti Corbello Archer

December 23, 2012

Tracks for a Miracle

 Jeremy jumped from the slow moving freight train and landed with both feet flat on the ground just on the outskirts of San Antonio, Texas.  As he stood up and straightened his clothes the trains whistle seemed to echo goodbye in the cold night air.  He watched the railcars head off into the darkness and kind of gave’em a little salute as if to say, “Thanks for the ride!”  He pulled his tattered army jacket together and saw that he had lost the last two buttons that held it together.  He groaned against the wind.  He knew he still had a good long walk ahead of him.  He yanked his knit cap down over his ears.  It used to be a plaid cap but was now just an ugly one.  But, truth to tell, he could care less what it looked like – he had learned long ago not to focus on those things that didn’t help with survival.  When you lose so many valuable things, where do looks matter in the scheme of things?  He did have to say that he missed his long reddish brown hair that had kept his neck warm these past winters.  A buddy offered to cut his hair for him just before he left the last homeless shelter.  At the time it seemed important to make that small concession toward conventionality… considering his journey.

Shivering again, Jeremy flipped the collar of his coat up and glanced toward town.  His eyelids hid very, very tired green eyes.  It had taken him four days to cross two states as he searched for rides in empty railcars on trains bound for Texas. There were a lot of people like him on the tracks these days.  Some chatted along the way but most didn’t have much to say because they were lost somewhere between their past and their present…homeless because of a myriad of reasons.  Hobos.  He still found it hard to think of himself as a hobo.  At 33 years old? 

Lost in thought he headed to the south side of town.  Hunched against the cold wind he walked down the alleys instead of the main roads so no one would even notice him.  He was used to preconceived notions about the homeless and tried to make himself invisible.  Shaken by a dog that snarled at him through a rod iron fence, he took a deep breath and switched to the other side of the alley.  Tonight was Christmas Eve and what a journey into irony it was.  He had spent 11 years trying to forget who he was and what had happened and yet was drawn back here, tonight.  He reached the third block into the neighborhood and stopped.  The road sign was covered with ice and he couldn’t read it – but it didn’t matter.  He knew the name of the street as well as his own.  Well, it was his actually.   Gallagher Lane. The last time that he was on this street it had been Christmas Eve. That was the night that he ran away.  That was the night that he had killed Jessie, his twin brother.  Jeremy got lost in the pain as he remembered.

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It had been a holiday accident.   They had been 22 years old and had moved back home from Texas A&M.  They had just graduated and had plans to open a business together by summer.  Jeremy was an Architect and Jessie was a Civil Engineer.  Their dad was a successful attorney and planned to give them their start in business.  They came from a large Irish family that had immigrated in the late 1800’s.  Everyone always got together on Christmas Eve – well, for as long as he could remember.  And the twins as they were called – had been responsible for the fireworks display since they were teenagers. Using their creativity that year they worked unceasingly on an elaborate lighted musical Christmas carousel in honor of their four younger sisters.

 It was meant to be the best of the best.  But it was the worst of the worst.  Jessie must not have noticed the ice that melted right under the electrical extension cord that he plugged in.  Jeremy was the one that found his brother lying on the ground not breathing after all the fireworks had ended. He didn’t remember screaming but he must have.  All he remembered was the look on his mom and dad’s faces as they shoved him out of the way to get to Jessie.  Jeremy had sent Jess to plug it in. Something inside Jeremy snapped and he ran…

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And here he was.  He had been on the run all these years.  No phone calls.  No letters.  No FaceBook or Twitter.  He had never tried to reach them.  He worked construction jobs that didn’t require identification or at homeless shelters across the country so that he could eat.  Of course, he knew that he couldn’t outrun the pain – he just knew that he had to try.   It always followed him and met up with him when he would see brothers together or the unmistakable sound of a carousel.  He never forgot and he never got away from it.  The guilt and sorrow literally ate at him every single day chiseling him into the very strong, reflective and quiet man that he was today.

 

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But a couple of months ago he had stayed and worked at a new homeless shelter in Colorado.  A preacher there showed interest in him.  After a few weeks the preacher began to call on him to help design and build additions to the shelter because of the winter cold on the way.  They became friends.  Then the preacher was in the right place at the right time and Jeremy told him his story.  That’s when the preacher introduced Jeremy to Jesus.  It seemed like he cried for days. Eleven years was a long time to hide from the truth.  Eleven years was a long time to lose yourself because you caused the loss of your brother.  After the tears, hope seemed to rise in the days ahead.

Two weeks passed and early one dawn he went into the kitchen for coffee duty and the preacher was waiting for him.  He said, “Jeremy, do you realize that Christmas is just five days away?”   Jeremy said, “Yes, Preacher – sure.  Why?  Do you need me to do something before then?”  The preacher said, “Actually, Jeremy, I do need you to do something …but not for me.”    

“What do you mean?” he asked.

“I need you to take a trip.  There is a family that has been waiting a very long time for something and Jesus has impressed upon my heart that He wants you to go and bring it to them.  Will you do that for me?”

Jeremy said, “Sure, preacher, I don’t mind at all. Traveling is all I do.  Where am I going?”

“Home,” the preacher said.  “Jeremy, Jesus said it is time for you to go home.  He has something He needs you to deliver this.”  He opened his hand to reveal the pocket watch.

“Go home?  Go home?”  It echoed in Jeremy’s mind.  It even seemed hard to say the word.  Choked up, he couldn’t say anything but look at the preacher in shock.  After a few minutes of silence Jeremy turned and began making the coffee.  All the men would be up soon.  Jeremy heard the preacher pull out a chair and sit down.    He fixed them both a cup of coffee and he sat down too.   The preacher had laid the pocket watch in the middle of the table.  It was quiet in the room. 

Before long the men began coming in for their coffee so they could get their chores done.  No one stayed at the shelter without giving back.  That was the rule.    One of older guys said, “Hey, an old pocket watch! Whose is it?”  After a brief pause, Jeremy picked it up and said, “It’s a gift that I am delivering to someone.  I leave in the morning.”   All the guys started telling him not to leave. The preacher smiled.

It was a simple goodbye when he brought Jeremy to the train tracks the next morning.  The preacher wanted to pay his way home on a bus but Jeremy insisted on going back the same humble way he ran away from home.  He needed time to think… and pray.  He pulled his train hopping clothes out and turned to face his past.

 

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It seemed a long walk down Gallagher Lane but Jeremy knew that  the man he was now was much stronger than the boy he was when he ran away.  Time and Jesus had made this journey possible.  He didn’t know what he would face when that door opened, but he knew that he didn’t face it alone.  He cupped his hand around the pocket watch in his pocket and stopped.  He turned and faced the home that he ran from 11 years ago and started up the walkway.  He wondered if they would receive the man he was now in place of the young man that had left.

 The house was all lit up for Christmas and it hadn’t changed that much.  There were a lot of vehicles in the driveway that he knew had to belong to all the voices he heard laughing on the inside.  His heart pounded as hard as the watch ticked against his palm.  It was time.  He knocked on the door.

Several people hollered “Come in!” and “Merry Christmas!” simultaneously but he froze and couldn’t open the door.  He swallowed hard and the door knob turned and began to open.  A little red headed  girl with green eyes  about five years old opened the door and said with her hand on her hip, “Come on in…who are you?  I am Holly and I am the hostess tonight.”  

Jeremy wanted to laugh and cry at the same time.  She looked just like him and his brother Jessie when they were little!  Oh my, he thought!  No telling how many times his four sisters had made him an uncle!  This must be his nieces and nephews running all over.  Jeremy said, “Is your grandmother….” and the door opened and his mother stood there. She looked older and wiser…and for a moment, speechless.  She started to say something then she stopped…tried to talk and then just screamed and grabbed him.

It took about five minutes for the commotion to reach everyone in the house.  Jeremy and his mom just cried and held each other as the crowd gathered.  No one else even knew who he was.   Finally, his mother stepped back to look at him and said, “Jeremy…I never stopped looking for you.”  At her words, the sisters finally realized who he was and they started crying and hugging too.  Then all the kids got scared and began to cry.  He heard his dad’s voice before he saw him.   His dad rounded the corner of the den and froze in his tracks.  He saw the smile he knew in the face he didn’t and grabbed me. 

You never know what going home will be like.  You never know if your fears will be your future.  But I learned with Jesus that night that going home with Jesus is a miracle like no other.   As my Mom and Dad hung onto me my Dad suddenly bellowed, “Jessie!  Get in here!”   I thought my Dad had gone crazy but suddenly I could hear something creaking and looked up to see a Jessie I didn’t know round the corner.  He was fussing about always being left for last when he rounded the corner in a wheelchair.  Gone was the young boy man….and a fine looking man was in his place.  Time stood absolutely still as Jessie and I looked at each other.  Did I tell you that we were identical twins?  Everyone just watched us as I stumbled toward him as he worked to stand up to reach me.   There wasn’t a dry eye left anywhere.

Finally, Jessie sank back down into the wheelchair and I sank on my knees before him.  We were both trying to explain.  And then we laughed.  What a glorious feeling it was to laugh with my brother and my family again.   I don’t know how this glorious gift of tonight was mine.  Then I remembered Jesus and the pocket watch.   I said, “Wait Jessie!” and he looked up as I held out the pocket watch to him.  He held it in his hand and I said, “I am here because Jesus sent me to bring it to you.  He said that it was time for me to go home.  This gift is yours.”   Jessie smiled the biggest smile that I had ever seen and said, “He always told me that He would bring you home.”

And everyone began to talk at once. 

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 A few months later, spring blossomed in the Colorado mountain side.  It was a beautiful Saturday morning and a preacher was outside the homeless shelter drinking coffee on the front porch.  He enjoyed the peaceful morning.  Then he noticed a shiny black Chevy duly towing a construction trailer round the corner of the cliff road and pull down the driveway.  It turned and parked across the front yard.  Preacher stood up to greet them and saw a Texas license plate.   About that time the truck doors opened and two red headed men got out and turned to face him.    It was Jeremy!  Two Jeremy’s!  The preacher jumped straight off the porch and shouted, “Hallelujah Jesus!”

And everyone began to talk at once.

 Merry Christmas from Patti Corbello Archer

May the glory of Jesus light your holidays.

 2012