... Even the worst heartaches can become heartstrings to God's hope, comfort, encouragement, joy, peace and love...

Welcome! As a fan of the cartoon character Maxine, I enjoy her witty remarks. But when I
read my blogs & other writing to her, she's not very responsive- even when I'm wearing my bunny slippers like hers! She just doesn't get it!
Although she's funnier than I am, I do pray that this site will bring encouragement to your day! I'd love to hear from you! Unlike Maxine, you can leave me a message via the Comments. Shalom, Connie


Monday, December 20, 2010

"Comfort Ye My People"

This song from Handle's "Messiah" stirs my heart.

"For unto us a child was born..." a baby that cried when hungry and wet; a child that learned carpentry from Joseph & the meaning of the Torah from His Heavenly Father; a child Mary knew was unlike any other. A man, who when baptized brought us God's declaration: "This is my Son...in whom I am well pleased." 

The Son became a healer, a teacher, a man of prayer & so much more. Jesus, the Christ came to comfort... to give us hope, joy and peace.


with child

a gasp, a cry
an exhausted mother’s sigh
a father’s teardrops
a heavenly umbilical cord cut and tied

a sweet aroma of fresh hay
a tiny gurgle as rosebud lips find milk
a whispered prayer
a naming as God commanded

a squeak of rafters as birds and mice gather
a gentle breeze to fan the fire
a clip and clop of a donkey’s feet
a quiet baa-aa and a hushed moo

a ray of starlight
a flutter of angel wings
a silence
a moment realizing God’s sacrifice-
His only son

a yip of a sheepdog on the hillside
an owl’s hoot as he hunts
a rowdy laugh from the inn
a braying camel on the dusty road

a mother and babe sleep
a father watches
an angel guards
a world waits

                          © 2005 Constance Gilbert

I keep Yeshua haMashiach (Jesus, the Messiah) deep in my heart as my comforter, encourager, and hope. I eagerly await His return when I can praise Him all the day as part of His angelic choir.

I pray that you know Him, too.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

December 1st through 8th, 2010

Hannukah – Feast of Dedication
Written by Jan Snyder – Edited by Rabbi Adam Spears

Many times throughout history nations have sought to destroy the Jewish people but the Jews were saved from their evil designs. The Rabbis established two of these occasions as annual holidays commemorating their miraculous salvation, providing an opportunity to remember the Lord’s kindness and to thank Him. One of these holidays is Purim, and the other is Hannukah.  Hannukah is not part of the “Seven Feasts of the Lord” ordained by G-d Himself, but Adonai did allow His people to hold two feasts of their own choosing.  Hannukah, the last of the feasts to be established, is seen as the deliverance from spiritual annihilation and is observed in a more spiritual manner.

In Hebrew “Hannukah” means dedication, thus it is known as the Feast of Dedication and in John 10:22 Yeshua is recorded as honoring this Feast. It is also called the Feast of Lights. In fact the Jewish historian, Josephus retells the Hannukah story and is credited with being the first to give it this name.

It is said that the Hannukah story is a combination of fact and legend, with a little miracle added. Hannukah commemorates a battle for religious freedom by celebrating the rededication of the Beit Hamikdash (The Temple) and the lighting of the menorah.  Despite its spiritual aspects, it is still only considered a minor holiday.  Though it is observed mostly in the home, Hannukah services in the synagogue include the Hallel (psalms of praise) and the special Al Hanisim prayer - “for the miracles.”  Special Torah portions are read, the dedication story is retold, and there are special readings that reflect the Hannukah theme (Zechariah) 4:6 – “Not by might, not by power, but by My Rauch (Spirit) says Adonai-Tzva’ot (Lord of Hosts).”

Hannukah is a fun, festive holiday, especially for the children. In addition to lighting the Hanukkiah (nine-branched menorah), there are family songs that are sung, and children receive Hannukah gelt (money). A newer tradition is the giving of small gifts on each night. Some feel this is in reaction to the Christian holiday of Christmas, which occurs about the same time of the year. 

There is merriment through games (the dreidel game), as well as festive meals. Popular foods include latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiayah (a fried jelly donut). 

Seeing these celebrations taking place, many Christians mistakenly associate these with their Christmas celebration.  Sometimes Hannukah is seen as a type of “Jewish Christmas” which is not true at all!  In fact, Hannukah is one of the major events that set the stage for the advent of Messiah’s birth.  To understand Hannukah, a brief history lesson will help set the stage.

After the Babylon Exile, the Jews returned to Judea* and rebuilt their temple although their land had come under the control of the Persian Empire.  In 338 BCE (Before Common Era) Philip of Macedonia successfully invaded Greece.  At his death two years later, Philip’s son, Alexander (the Great) continued to conquer territory that would eventually extend across the Persian Empire, including Israel and Egypt.

Alexander attempted to create a universal culture that blended Greek religion and Eastern philosophy known as Hellenism.  We know it today as humanism and/or New Age.  Hellenism’s effect upon the Judean hills was to splinter the Jewish people, literally pitting Jew against Jew.

To many Jews, the Greek culture represented the future and success.  They assimilated much of the culture, even abandoning some aspects of Judaism such as claiming that only the written Torah, not the oral law, needed to be followed.  Many of them, mostly the upper classes, even spoke Greek and later translated the Torah and writings into Greek.

However, other Jews held firm to the Torah and rejected Greek values.  This group became known as the P'rushim (Pharisees) and was made up of ardent rabbis and priests.  The Hellenist Jews became the Tz’dukim (Sadducees) who used their power and wealth to gain influence with the Greeks.  Eventually the Tz’dukim secured control of the position of Kohen Hagadol (The High Priest) and the Sanhedrin (the highest Jewish court).

Upon the death of Alexander the Great, his kingdom was divided among his four generals, resulting in the division of the Empire. The Ptolemies took control of the South, which included Egypt. The Seleucids took the northern area around Syria. The Ptolemy Dynasty, though proponents of Hellenism, let the Jews practice their religion, feeling that the allure of Hellenism would draw them.

However by 199 BCE the Ptolemy Dynasty had weakened and came under the control of the Seleucid Dynasty. They were not as tolerant of the Jewish religious practices and made prohibitions on Shabbat observance, Kosher laws, the study of Torah, and B’rit Milah (circumcision).  Violations of these laws were punishable by death. This was an attempt to strike at the heart of Judaism itself. The Greeks did not anticipate that their suppression of Torah study would actually result in a greater devotion of time and energy to Torah study.  Under the guise of playing the dreidel game, Torah study continued.  The Greeks (and later the Romans) were fond of games, especially gambling games, and let the Jews play their game.

In 167 BC harsher measurers were undertaken to force the Jews to adopt Greek practices.  The Greek king, Antiochus IV banned all practice of Judaism and placed a Hellenist (a Tz’dukim – Sadducee) in control of the Temple. Greek symbols had already been placed in the Temple but Antiochus required the sacrifice of a pig (their sacred animal) on the altar.

Mattityahu, an elder and leader of the distinguished Hasmonean family, was ordered to offer a sacrifice to a pagan god.  Not only did he refuse, he turned his fury on the Greek soldiers.  As another Jew, a Hellenist, attempted to carry out the sacrifice, Mattityahu killed him and the government official who gave the order...  Thus began the Maccabean Rebellion.

Mattityahu and his five sons became known as the Maccabees which in Hebrew means “men who are as strong as hammers.” 

The nickname must have been indicative as the small Jewish forces under the command of Y’hudah (Judah) Maccabee ultimately defeated the mighty Greek armies.  On the 25th day of Kislev, 164 BCE the Maccabees reclaimed the Temple.

Since the Temple had been desecrated, it had to be rededicated, thus the origin for the name of this Feast. Part of the rededication was the lighting of the Temple Menorah, which was to be lit everyday, but only one flask of Temple oil with the High Priest’s seal was found; enough to burn one day.  A rider was dispatched immediately to Mount Ephraim where olive trees grew that provided oil for the Menorah.  It would take at least a week for more oil to be secured.  However, that small quantity lasted the one-day plus the seven days until the rider could return with oil – thus the eight days of Hannukah.

Some believe that the eight days of oil were a miracle wrought by God’s hand while others feel it is just a lovely legend.  In fact, the episode of the oil is not even mentioned in the Book of Maccabees but the miracle is recounted in the Talmud (the combination of Mishna (Oral Torah) and Gemara (commentary) completed about 200 CE.

Although the Jews did achieve a measure of independence with the Hasmonean family ruling for the next century, the Maccabee rebellion was fought over religious freedom, not over land or political sovereignty.  The Maccabees belonged to the Hasmonean family of priests and therefore could not own land.  Later, the Hasmoneans were swayed by the Hellenist culture they had fought against.  Another group of Jews splintered off in outrage over the corruption of the priesthood – the Essences – and retreated to the wilderness. Rome then conquered Judea and through alliances with the Hasmonean family, Herod the Great came to power as the much-hated King of the Jews. Fiercely loyal to the idea of freedom and to their faith, the Zealots fought both Rome and Herod in anticipation of the Messiah to come restore the kingdom of David. So now all the players were ready and the stage was set for G-d’s plan to unfold – the birth of Messiah.

Today, the observance of Hannukah features the lighting of Hanukkiah.

On the first night of Chanukah, one light is lit and on each successive night, another light is added until the eighth night all the candles are lit.  When one lights on the first night, one places the candle on the extreme right and lighting it with the Shamash (center light).  The following night one candle is added immediately to the left of the previous night.  The same procedure is followed each night always adding from right to left but always lighting from left to right.  The reason for this procedure is that the additional light recalls the greatness and growth of the miracle.

Part of the purpose of lighting the Hanukkiah is to publicize the miracle that took place, and share it with the world.  It is customary for menorahs to be placed in front of a visible window.  In Israel, some homes are constructed with cut outs in the wall next to the front door for the menorah to be displayed. During the time the candles are burning, it is also customary that women relax and not work.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Monday, October 25, 2010


I am going to take a stand that is not popular.                                     No Halloween.

3 days ago, I was walking through one of those "we have it all" stores for a few groceries, when 2 elementary school-age girls past me with this year's Halloween costumes. Racks & shelves of costumes, candy, decorations surrounded us.

To be honest, our family "did" Halloween.

When my son was a preschooler, I'd invite 2-3 of his friends over for cookie baking on Halloween. We'd cut out pumpkins- by the time we were done, there was flour everywhere! While the cookies baked, we read stories. Then the mothers returned for cookies & milk with us. It was fun & Halloween was never mentioned.

But things changed when my son started school. Halloween was a big deal & I gave in. Except costumes were homemade. Later, in private school, they wore costumes of important people. And they had to tell the class about that person.

Churches began having "Harvest" parties, but the trimmings were the same: candy, decorations & costumes. (No witches, fairies or ghosts allowed.) The games kept the kids off the streets, but it still was Halloween.

Time past & I continued to give coins for Unicef & healthy, wrapped goodies for the little trick or treaters until my son was in high school. But those little ones grow up, too, & true to the night, pull pranks. I can't count the times I cleaned up smashed pumpkins & soap off my windows.

Then I discovered a phenomenon. As the Halloween items were bought, Christmas gifts and decorations replaced them. (And maybe, one small shelf for Thanksgiving.) Along with that, attitudes were being affected. My staff's behaviors began to change. They were becoming irritable, short with one another, & grumpy. Their emotions simmered & intensified. Because my staff were caregivers, their patients were also affected.

It took me a while to figure this out, but the sight of Halloween stuff in the stores- especially as the shelves were emptying- triggered thoughts of Christmas. My staff was counting the weeks, the number of paychecks & trying to figure out how to buy all the things "needed" for Christmas. They were frustrated & becoming depressed.

After I recognized what was actually happening, I developed a plan & used it effectively for years. I presented an inservice called "The Cinderella Syndrome" around Halloween time, & instituted a Celebration Tree.

"The Cinderella Syndrome" discussed the illusions of life, the false expectations of Christmas and their effects on them as individuals, and to those around them. Each year, I challenged them to change one unrealistic expectation.

Uncle Joe is always going to get drunk & ruin the family's get together. Why are you going year after year only to be miserable? Your children want this & that, but a week after Christmas, they quit playing with them. Maybe new sleds & mittens for all & sledding together as a family would be a better option. Rather than trying to buy for everyone, you could exchange names with your families. Traditions had to begin somewhere. Why not start a new one?

Our new tradition was placing leaves on a 6 ft. paper tree to recognize good deeds. At first, putting up a paper tree, like in preschool, was seen as... yep! Childish. But everyone wants to be recognized & "named." As the leaves began filling the tree, some were figuring out what good deed to do, so they'd get their name on the tree. I laughed a lot behind closed doors, but most important, I heard & saw behaviors change.

Once Thanksgiving was over, we took down the paper tree & began Christmas decorating contests, & special events. The staff's attitude remained positive & the patients stayed in the spirit of the season.

All this flashed through my mind, as I watched those 2 little girls chatter about their costumes.

Halloween stems from pagan practices, but I won't even go there. Simply said, I strongly believe we should not have Halloween. And that includes the false substitutes.

The store racks & shelves become empty of all that Halloween stuff- so somebody buys them... many somebodies. In this economy, money spent on costumes & all the Halloween candy & decorations, could be better spent. We have hungry people- children to seniors, the homeless; and many, who are barely surviving on small wages, that need help. That probably includes some of the costume buyers.

There are other ways to have fun! Making popcorn balls, playing charades, having a picnic on the living room floor, playing Monopoly... as a family. Even putting up construction paper trees that say I love you & thank you.

Churches could have a family potluck on Halloween night with a non-Halloween movie & pj's encouraged for the 2-10 year old children. Or make pumpkin cookies or pies to share with those who can't afford "treats" or seniors living alone. Or giving the money usually spent on "Harvest" parties to local agencies to keep the food banks filled.

Recognizing what we do have, remembering the many people involved with bringing the harvest to our tables, and spending time with our children will produce wonderful memories for a lifetime! I think that's the new tradition to start!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Ministry Appreciation Month

Encourager, teacher, pastor's wife, mentor & friend:


Thanks for all you do- from giving hugs to teaching Hebrew, SaltKeepers, traditions and crafts; to critiquing. You are appreciated & are a blessing to me.  

Blessed be He, who provides us with Godly women to encourage us. Amen.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Great Wake-up

Began my day, as usual, checking e-mails. Much to my delight, they included "Constance, Congratulations!"

I have placed in the final 100 in a short story writing contest. 25 winners will be chosen by the 2nd week of October.

Whether I win or not, it was great seeing "...your excellent writing..."!

Maybe I should get a tee-shirt with that on it.   : >)

Will let you know, Connie

Saturday, September 18, 2010

It's All Decided

      I'd made up my mind... no books. I will continue writing short stories & articles, but a book is no longer an option. Then...

      A sweet young lady said, "God knows we are a forgetful people!"

      "A Forgetful People" I couldn't get that thought out my mind. For days it hung there 24/7 waiting for a response. Finally, in prayer, the answer came before I asked the question.

      "The Lord spoke his word to Connie. He said, 'This is what the Lord God of Israel says: Write in a book everything that I tell you.'" (Jeremiah 30:1-2 with name changed, God's Word Translation)

      Thus, I have been preparing my heart, writing, studying, & researching:

A Forgetful People: a Study of Remembering is written to increase our awareness of God and how He expects us to walk in His ways. 
Using a combination of storytelling and scripture, we look at items in my home- silver boxes, Pogo, a crystal frog, bees and apples, a wildflower collage, teacups, a basket and snowflakes- to learn how simple things can bring us into God's presence, promises, provisions, and pleasure. 

      Snoopy usually writes "Once upon a... The End." I'm already further along than that!

      A crucial need for any Christian writer is prayer support. My 25 prayer team members will keep me free of distraction, focused and accountable. Their prayers will flow into the golden bowls of heaven. (See Rev. 5:8) The second team are reviewers for writing content and for scriptural accuracy. I am blessed to have such faithful support.

      My own heartstrings are reaching into the heavens for guidance.

      To keep you updated, I will be journaling this writing adventure; and I am planning on providing a free e-book in January to give you a peek at "remembering". 

      If you'd like to join in praying for A Forgetful People, send me an e-mail at (constancegilbert@gmail.com) with your address & I'll send you a reminder bookmark. 

~ ~ ~

      Two of my short stories were published recently: "Morning Glory" in Lori Wagner's A Patchwork of Freedom and "Oy, the Rust in the Golden Years" in Lynn Johnston's Lessons of Life.

      More of my writing can be found here:
www.4Him2U.com and Connie's Coda at                        www.positivelyfeminine.org/Beautiful/beautiful.htm

Friday, June 25, 2010

A Tiny Book

Do you want to stimulate your little gray cells? Do you want to make a change in your life that matters? Do want to grow close to the Lord?

If so, get The Devil's Inbox by Barbara Laymon.

Written in the style of C.S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters, this tiny book is a collection of e-mails from the devilish Anesthesia, Anasty 1 for short, to Termite N. Festor or gnawingirl.

Anasty 1 is attempting to guide her young tempter-in-training through her first assignment ~ leading a young woman astray . . . away from God.

This tiny book- only 123 pages- is filled with insights that will leave you pondering and re-considering your life choices. A quick read that won't end with the last written word.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Recommendation/Book Review:

Thin Places, a memoir by Mary E. DeMuth is being released today by Zondervan Publishing. I had the privilege of reading an advance copy.
It isn't a book for everyone. But if you've had a life of heartaches, Mary's search through her past may take you to the “thin places” also.
She removes the multi-layered masks of her life so you, the reader, can see how her heartaches of abuse, abandonment, addiction and more are in the on-going process of God's healing love. She calls the “thin places” those “snatches of holy ground, tucked into the corner of our world, where we might just catch a glimpse of eternity. They are aha moments, the beautiful realizations.”
It is not a happy-ever-after book in the sense of being sugar-coated with total, instant healing. It is a long, winding road of hope, as she puts it: (of) my titantic struggle with God's love for me...He loves me, this I know. And yet I struggle. Because I don't measure up. My mind says yes, but my heart says,”He will love me ONLY IF I...”
Sound familiar? It did to me.
Mary's deep love of God flows throughout her unforgettable story. It may be just what you need to give you hope... to bring you closer to the Lover of your Soul.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

No t-shirt

Ended up with my right hand in a splint due to infection. Reminds me of a poem called "Shelf Life," It talks of those times when your confined- usually at home- and you're unable to do what was planned. Whatever the reason, we're put on the shelf for a reason.We need to be contend and rest, but that's not easy for most of us.

Well, this chipped cup called "me" is on the shelf & trying to rest. I have a tendency toward depression at times like this. My head and heart understand, but my emotions aren't matching up. I need to keep upbeat music on, keep my blinds open to the sunshine, read encouraging books, share my need with a close friend and, if it warms up, go for a walk.

I also need to keep my cup clean- no negative thoughts. Wash them right out!

When I look back, my shelf life times really weren't very long. It just seemed that way at the time. So I know I'll be filled and overflowing in no time.

How do you cope with your "shelf life" times?

Thursday, January 14, 2010


I just visited a website with t-shirts for writers. One design proclaimed being rejected!

As a writer, I've received a variety of rejections. As a child then an adult, I've been rejected. So what is there to proclaim, like a walking billboard, about rejection? I had to think on it for a bit.

With the wisdom of reaching the "golden years," I've decied rejection isn't all bad. It is an opportunity!

I will be a student for as long as I am able to read. I love learning new things. In fact, I am taking Beginning Biblical Hebrew so I can study scripture better. I am learning new things everyday via the Internet. including new ways to use this cyber-space technology.

So rejection can be an opportunity to learn, to tighten up my writing, to recognize what my readers are searching for, to fine tune my submissions.

Finally, I appreciate rejections of my writing, especially when they say why, versus nothing. (I have to admit, I don't like the unknown. Tell me why then I can improve.)

Life's rejections can be harder to cope with.One thing to understand is they are not always personal. Sometimes it is just the wrong time... the wrong place... or someone is having a bad day that's not associated with you at all.

One rejection that knock the wind out of my sails was when I was fired for being too compassionate. Excuse me? Isn't that what Hospice nursing is all about? Once I could stand back & be more objective, I realized why I was actually fired; and that three other good nurses had been fired in the few months I'd been there. We were all due for raises. We were a means of balancing the budget. As long the administrator could keep hiring, she was paying low salaries. And her means of coping with complaints was either "she's new" or by firing that person to keep the client happy. It didn't matter whether the complaint was legitimate or not.

Who actually had the problem? The administrator. I was a good Hospice nurse. Also I had administrative experience and may have been seen as a threat. Finally, I was hired to solve a problem that had occurred with physicians at various hospitals. I had solved that issue at each hospital.

Once I calmed down, my sadness was for my patients, who would never know why I didn't return. As for me,
another opportunity came, which resulted in a better paying job with set hours and much less stress.

If I am rejected for being too compassionate, so be it. That's a trait I want!

Being rejected, as a writer, is part of the "dues" most writers pay so maybe I'll consider getting one of those t-shirts. What do you think?