by Jay O'Toole
We live much of life amid unique choices. Joy is anchored in The One beyond our life.
"Failures, repeated failures, are finger posts on the road to achievement.
One fails forward toward success."
C. S. Lewis
"I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen:
not only because I see it,
but because by it I see everything else."
C. S. Lewis
“I have come home at last!
This is my real country!
I belong here.
This is the land
I have been looking for all my life,
though I never knew it till now...
Come further up, come further in!”
― C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle
“The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say”
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
Full of noise, the world it spins.
Will the silence ever win?
Hopeful hearts contend with noise.
Thicker, thicker cloth employs.
Youthful heart remembers when
“waiting turns” was the rule back then.
Now, the tongues of men all speak
as Silence looks for a place to seek.
Noise about, and noise of heart
Noise increases from the start.
Noise it etches on the ears.
Noise creates the worst of fears.
Peace, that’s found within the noise
is blest by One each child enjoys.
Peace of heart ‘mid noisy waves
is the Gift of Christ o’er what enslaves.
Noisy noise, arrested rest
is anything but truly blest.
A piece of peace, a whole of the same
Is strong in itself, and ne’er lays blame.
The noise demands. It must be heard.
It has its plans with others blurred.
The peace has grace. It waits unspoke.
It has its place. It is no joke.
Both Noise and Peace are cut from cloth
With strength of days, with neither sloth.
But Noise must work to yet remain,
While Peace will stand as free of pain.
Peace exists in lasting form
as silent strength without alarm.
Peace will end these noisy days
as the peaceful heart in worship prays.
by Jay O'Toole
on January 11th, 2021
The lights of Christmas still they shine
in the room, and in my heart.
What colorful glow, they cheer so fine
from new year's pleasant start!
Four colors in the beauteous strand
do lift my spirits now.
Four corners of the Earth by Plan
will one day 'fore Christ bow.
The music of the season fills
the room with Christmas Joy.
The two in tandem always thrill
my heart without alloy.
Aromas of the season, best
bring back my memories
of a joyful child, so daily blest
in playfulness most free.
The orange peels, and cinnamon spice
make my nose as light as air.
I close my eyes and breathe in thrice
to smile without a care.
The bark of pine a fragrant gift
to make the tree more real.
The pleasant scent my soul doth lift,
and emotions fully heal.
But all the things are merely signs
along the road, called Grace,
for Christ, the Lord, the Best of wines
was born to take my place.
"I'll honor Christmas in my heart,
and keep it all the year.
I'll live the Present, Past, the start,
and Future, now, so clear.
"The Spirits of all Three befriend
as they, now, drive me on.
I will not deaf ears them attend,
and lessons learn anon."
The glow of Christmas still it shines
for Christ has come to save,
restores my soul, erases lines,
expunges writ of grave.
I think of Christmas every day,
and often every night
for "Christ is Lord" let my lips say.
My heart doth hold Him tight.
This precious Lord has come for me,
and Christmas is the peg
to hang my hat, and daily see
He drank the latest dregs.
Yet, Secret Christmas, tandem love,
it thrills the deepest place
within my heart for Christ Above
did die to Sin erase.
At Secret Christmas, we do find
a thought in Mercy's grip,
"The best of Presents, and so kind
begins the lasting trip.
'Twas Hope for which we always pined.
'Twas cry upon each lip.
'Pon greatest Gift, we e'er shall dine,
which left the shroud of strips."
The greatest Truth we all must know
is that the two are joined.
This Christmas with its wondrous glow,
and Secret Christmas coined.
For Christmas with no empty tomb
would have no value, rare,
but with no Child from a virgin's womb,
it's just a cave out there.
"The best present of Christmas
is opened on Resurrection Sunday."
“I will honour Christmas in my heart,
and try to keep it all the year.
I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future.
The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me.
I will not shut out the lessons that they teach.”
― Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
(Outside of The Bible, this is my favorite Christmas quote. JOT)
by Jay O'Toole
on January 8th, 2021
Soft and quiet flows the air.
Slowly daylight fades.
Gentle in His loving care,
wings are truest shades.
Honking comes from flying geese,
Swooshing from the cars.
Color lights do always please
the depths of heart by far.
The grass, a blanket for the night
to cover dirt and root.
A rumbling stillness dons each light
as waiting owls hoot.
by Jay O'Toole
on January 5th, 2021
The Lord Alone can be my Guard
to keep my every way.
With Hands so strong, yet ever scarred,
He's with me every day.
"I lift my eyes unto the hills.
My help will come from there.
My help comes from the Lord, Who fills
the Earth and my sins bear.
"He made the heaven and the earth.
My foot shall no one lift.
His blood was shed for my new birth,
my greatest lifelong Gift.
"He will not let my foot be moved.
No sleep will He e'er need.
He keepeth Israel, His Love.
No slumber He will heed.
"The Lord, thy Keeper, life as long.
The Lord will shade thy strength.
The Lord will give thy daily song,
and victory at length.
"The sun won't harm you in the day.
The moon won't harm at night.
The Lord preserves in each display
from evil by his might.
"All evil tries your death to be,
but He preserves your soul.
The way of life is made for thee,
and e'er you shall be whole.
"The Lord preserves thy going out.
Thy coming in as well.
From this time forth, your life about
forevermore to tell."
"1 I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills,
from whence cometh my help.
2 My help cometh from the Lord,
which made heaven and earth.
3 He will not suffer thy foot to be moved:
he that keepeth thee will not slumber.
4 Behold, he that keepeth Israel
shall neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord is thy keeper:
the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.
6 The sun shall not smite thee by day,
nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil:
he shall preserve thy soul.
8 The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in
from this time forth, and even for evermore."
(Psalm 121, KJV)
The Abrahamic Covenant:
"2And I will make of thee a great nation,
and I will bless thee, and make thy name great;
and thou shalt be a blessing:
3And I will bless them that bless thee,
and curse him that curseth thee:
and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed."
(Genesis 12:2-3, KJV)
"I will make thee a nation great
to bless thee and thy name.
Thy blessings will upon thy pate
know rest and you the same.
"I will bless them, that bless thee true,
and curse the vilest tongue,
that spews his venom all on you.
My wrath on him full wrung.
"And in thee all the souls of Earth,
their families shall be blest.
For you are mine, of lasting worth.
I'll bring you through each test."
As I move forward into this new year of 2021, I am keenly aware, that I am feeling the residual effects of the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual challenge, that was the old year of 2020. I am quite sure the intensity of the challenges we all experienced in the past twelve months was due to the relentlessness of the challenges.
After all, when I trained for marathons, back in my late twenties, I had to give my body recovery days. I couldn't run 15 miles a day every day for three months, and be fit for running the marathon, although some runners could do that quite handily. My regimen called for me to run 3-5 miles on Day #1, take the day off, run 3-5 miles on Day #3, take the day off, run 15 miles on the weekend, and take a day off to end the week.
As I think back on that regimen, I would have done better to run a graduated schedule like that for the first month, then increase my mileage totals for the three training days, and even increase to four or five days a week. Stretching my memory I do seem to recall some 20 mile days as I approached the day of the marathon.
Bottom Line: The body, the mind, the emotions, and the spirit can all do intense things for a season, but there comes a time for rest and recovery. Sadly, 2020 didn't give us much opportunity for that. There is great Hope and there is a great need for 2021 to be a time of rest and recovery. Please, join me in prayer, that the Lord would give us four more years of Grace, and a time of restorative rest as those days begin on January 20, 2021.
By the Grace of God, 2021 will be The Year of Rest and Restored Hope.
Happy New Year!
by Jay O'Toole
on January 4th, 2021
Jesus, the great, the matchless, the wondrous Lord.
Who can e’er compare with Who you are?
Jesus Christ, the Son, the living Word.
He outshines our nearest burning star.
Jesus, the King, Who reigns within my heart.
Jesus, the Carpenter, makes Himself a Home.
Jesus chips away every part,
And every word, that is not set in tome.
Jesus, Blest, has made my life so blest.
He makes each day a new day, joy so full.
Like 84, the psalm, I make my nest
within Your courts, to there you draw and pull.
Jesus, Shepherd, carries every lamb.
Older Brother, God, the Great I Am.
by Jay O’Toole
on January 1st, 2021
The Seeker seeks the wayward lamb.
He came, the Lamb in a manger laid.
His Name for aye, "The Great I Am."
Salvation brought, the Lamb's display.
The seeking Shepherd, Lamb once slain,
is given souls by Father brought.
Each comes to Him with a heart so plain,
and broken spirit, easily taught.
The Lord, Who seeks, won't ember snuff.
He knows each heart weighed low by fear.
His Grace for all is full enough
to bring great peace, and dry each tear.
"Dear Sheepish Heart, the Shepherd knows
your days on Earth are not the end.
Your peaceful sleep in sheepcote grows
as you see Who now daily tends.
"So, find your rest in thorny hay.
The Shepherd lies across the door.
No enemy can e'er dismay,
while Jesus seeks their rout before."
"No sheep can come into my fold,
except the Father draws him there.
I'll raise him when all time is told,
and rest him, where there is no care."
(John 6:44; Hebrews 4:9)
"Each long-sought sheep My Father gives,
and when he comes, I'll ne'er reject.
I've sought you, that you'll ever live,
and in my arms, none knows neglect."
"New life I give to sheep of Earth.
I sense each need and meet it best.
They're raised to life through my new birth.
their Shepherd, Victor o'er each test."
by Jay O'Toole
on December 30th, 2020
Conceived in pain of loss by viral ghost,
you languored on a bed of distanced hearts.
Silent cries unheard through face unseen.
Gestation filled with lies and angry words
have caused us to seek your birth with all our fleeting hopes.
You must be better than the fading womb.
The fireworks of your first angelic cries
will give us measured hope, that good has come,
but then we'll know when lover's day is here.
Oh, Afterbirth begone by blooming shoots.
Thy bum be cleaned when roses fully smile,
and health return before the rains of spring.
The son of pain need not be pain himself
for many painful births are long forgot,
but called upon to bring us hope, today.
The Towers bowed in Judgment's painful birth.
The Arizona sank into a salty pool,
and 2020 floundered of health and well-being.
May God bring Hope amid uncertain birth.
May Joy restore your name and days anew.
May the newborn year be what we long to see.
by Jay O'Toole
on December 29th, 2020