The Last Page and the First Page

This week, I attended a memorial service in which I celebrated the life of a dear friend. Barry died, at what seemed to me, before his time.

Yet, who am I to determine when the last page of his life should be written and what it should look like?

I’ve determined to trust God in this matter because I agree with the Psalmist who prayed, “My times are in Your hand”(Psalm 31:15).

God, whose wisdom is much greater and whose love is much deeper than mine, ultimately decides end of life issues for everyone.

During the last pages of his life, I had the honor of spending time with with Barry and his family. I was with them when they received the dreaded diagnosis–cancer. As the year progressed, we saw both miraculous answers to prayer and an unexpected setback.

Although he was not without some sadness, Barry faced death without fear. In the midst of pain, he had peace. In the midst of uncertainty, he was calm. In the midst of fatigue, he reached out to others. He knew and believed, as my following poem states, that Jesus has power over death.

Sometimes when reading a book of suspense,
I feel so anxious, so worried, so tense;

I turn to the back of the novel to see
If the ending is happy; I hope it will be!

In life when I’m tired, discouraged or sad,
I turn to the end of the book and I’m glad.

I see on the very last pages of life
Jesus is Victor; He’s conquered all strife.

His word is not fiction; it’s certain, it’s real.
Faced with this knowledge, with pain I can deal.

I join those through the ages who plainly can see
Jesus is greater than death even can be!

With courage, with hope, I go on–persevere.
Gods’ love is forever; my heart holds no fear!

I had the honor of being with them on the day Barry departed into heaven. The last page of his life became the first page of a different life for his wife Judy and their son Jason. Because their faith is in the same Jesus that he relied on, they are going through this transition with remarkable courage.

My faith has been strengthened by this dear family. I honor them and thank God for them. Because of them, the next pages of my life will be different.

In a Town Called Nazareth

Image result for free images christmas mary


Each year during the Christmas season , I like to read the Gospel records of Jesus’ birth. This year, I’ve been reading about Mary and reflecting on the great favor God gave to her–the privilege of giving birth to Jesus Christ, his beloved Son. I’ve been focusing on what it means to have God’s favor.

Blessing, acceptance, and grace are a few of the things that favor implies. The realization that she was carrying the Christ in her womb caused Mary’s heart to overflow with joy, she said, “Oh, how my soul praises the Lord.How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!For he took notice of his lowly servant girl, and from now on all generations will call me blessed”(Luke 1:46-48 NLT).

What extraordinary favor! What blessing! What joy! Yet, Mary’s joy was mixed with sorrow. When she brought the babe Jesus to the temple to dedicate him to God, she received this word–“A sword will pierce your very soul” (Luke 2:46 NLT). Although she did not know on that day about the kind of death that her son would suffer, she knew that pain would be involved.

Mary was a “commoner”; she did not have a college degree; she was not rich and famous. Yet God called her to do unimaginable things. She responded with a heart of faith, receiving the honor of birthing Jesus and staying with him at the foot of the cross. 

Reflecting on this, I wrote the following song.

In a Town Called Nazareth (audio)


In a town called Nazareth
Lived a girl named Mary
She was just a commoner
Like you and me.

But the Lord saw her heart of faith
And he sent an angel
With a message marvelous
These words he said

Highly favored
You are highly favored
And I have for you

Something unbelievable
Something inconceivable
Something far beyond
Your highest dreams

Something you could never do
Something only I can do
How will you respond?
Will you believe?

It was such a strange request
With her mind she couldn’t grasp
What the angel said to her
All that it meant

But she said, “I’ll agree to it.
For I know my God is true
The one who created me
Would never lie.”

Highly favored
I am highly favored
And God has for me

Something unbelievable
Something inconceivable
Something far beyond
My highest dreams

Something I could never do
Something only he can do
How will I respond?
I will believe!

In the time  called “here and now”
Lives a girl like Mary
She is just a commoner
Not known for much.

But the Lord sees her heart of faith
And the voice of his Spirit
Has a message marvelous
He says to her

Highly favored
You are highly favored
And I have for you

Something unbelievable
Something inconceivable
Something far beyond
Your highest dreams

Something you could never do
Something only I can do
How will you respond?
Will you believe?


Now to you who are wondering
To you who are asking
Where is that woman?
Who can she be?

Put away your questioning?
Come out of your hiding?
Dare to believe
That girl is youImage result for free religious images of angel and mary

Highly favored
You are highly favored
And God has for you

Something unbelievable
Something inconceivable
Something far beyond
Your highest dreams

Something you could never do
Something only he can do
How will you respond?
Will you believe?

12/15/2016  Jane Ault


What Does Christmas Mean?



Expectations, cards, and gifts,
Wreaths hung upon the door–
Is this what Christmas really means?
Could there be something more?

Fancy cookies, cakes, and breads,
Snow-covered brooks and trees–
Is this what Christmas is about?
What does it mean to me?

What does it mean that Jesus came–
That God became a man?
What does it mean for me, today,
In living where I am?

What would it mean if he had stayed
in heaven–had not come?
If God had chosen to desert
this planet–he was done?

Was through, was finished, did not care,
just left us on our own?
I would not have the strength, the life
To write this simple poem.

I would not have a word to speak
of peace, of hope, of joy–
For I had wondered far from God,
By Satan was employed.

Yes, I had chosen my own way–
Wrapped myself in pride;
But I could not escape my pain–
That’s why my Savior died.

That’s why He came; He took on flesh;
He lived upon this earth.
Because He died and lives for me,
I celebrate His birth.

A Box of Christmas Lemons

Last Saturday John and I purchased a Christmas tree, and Tuesday we received a box of  lemons from our friend in California. Our house is filled with the fragrances of pine and lemon! 

For several years Anne has sent us  tree-ripened lemons,; they’re  freshly picked from a magnificent tree that sprawls over the fence in her yard. 

The box arrived this week, thankfully before the temperatures descended into single digit degrees.  The lemons were cold but not frozen.

“Oh!  Oh, Yum!” I said, as I breathed in the fragrance of fresh lemons. In a few minutes, I began the following poem. 



Living where I do
Where winter ice and snow

Often cover trees
That have shed colored leaves

A box of Christmas lemons
Is like a gift from heaven.

Santa Claus surprise—
What delight to my eyes!

Lemons in neat rows—
What pleasure to my nose!

A box of Christmas lemons—
God bless my friend who sends them.

Thinking what I’ll make—
Some lemon bars and cake

And, of course, a pie—
Can’t pass my hubby by.

A box of Christmas lemons—
I have come to expect them.

What if that aged tree
Would, one day, cease to be

And that juicy crop
Of yellow lemons stopped?

That box of Christmas lemons—
I certainly would miss them.

You may also enjoy Reflections on Christmas Lemons , which I wrote last Christmas season. 


Unexpected Gifts Are The Best Kind

Spending time with my daughter and her family took priority over writing a blog post, last week. Laura roasted the Thanksgiving turkey this year; I enjoyed not doing it. Remembering my dietary restrictions, she lovingly bought ingredients for and prepared extra dishes for me, such as a tasty quinoa and sweet potato casserole. That was one of the unexpected pleasures I enjoyed and felt thankful for; others are included in the following list.

  • Enjoying a view of the snow-covered mountains (because of the snowstorm, we did not take our usual route).
  • Shopping for gifts that my grandchildren had placed on their Christmas lists.
  • Receiving this spontaneous complement from my 12-year old grandson: “Your hairdo looks very nice, Grandma!” 
  • Being awakened by my daughter’s pleasant laughter, which I heard from a distant room.
  • Receiving a kiss on the cheek from my 14-year old grandson, who now must bend down in order to kiss me.

To me there’s something special about an unexpected gift–that’s the theme of today’s poem.



Unexpected gifts are the best kind.
They’re the ones I hoped to find

Underneath the Christmas tree.
I thought my parents, mysteriously,

Could see the thoughts in my head—
Even when no words were said.

One year they somehow picked the lock
And bought me a blue music box.

I treasured it for many years;
Remembering it can bring me tears.

Yesterday’s Christmas—must I leave it?
Not just yet; I’ll, first, rethink it—

(“Eat the fish, discard the bones”—
That’s a proverb my family owns.)

I will keep meaningful traditions—
Adapt them to present conditions.

Look at each Christmas ornament—
And write a verse of sentiment.

Then do some unexpected thing
That will cause a child-heart to sing.

12/1/2016 Jane Ault