Jesus Lamb of God and Human Trafficking, 10FEB – #64

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Jesus Lamb of God and Human Trafficking, 10FEB

two complete separate thoughts united in my subaru and in my brain driving this morning in the beautiful sunshine –
when they fly out of my head this fast and into my phone microphone to capture the words it scares me  – it down right scares me…maybe it is because I got 7 1/2 hours sleep last night – the most in a while – I got 2.5 hrs, up for 2 hours, then 4hrs sleep  then 1 hour sleep… hmmm…

I was listening to a praise song that I was calling “Lamb of God, worthy is your name” (I subsequently found out the right name of it – “You are my all in all”)
Its lyrics are:  “Taking my sin, my cross, my shame, rising again I bless your name”…. “when I fall you lift me up – when I am dry you fill my cup….You are my all in all “.

I was thinking of the different Lamb of God” “Lamb of the Ages” song versions out there… but listening to the words today and thinking about my UMW meeting tonight and the human trafficking huddle we are going to do – and remembering that I want to bring up “Shores of Grace” ministry that Pastor showed me…  and thinking about the one child policy in china that my friend told me is causing human trafficking (I had no idea and found out in 2011 that 13,000 abducted children were rescued (and I can’t even imagine the number that weren’t rescued!) – and I was also thinking whether one of my essays or devotionals would be appropriate to read… but instead…”CLICK” – and this social action devotional came out of my head with a few tears that came out of my heart. I had to speak it into my phone while driving in the subaru in the sunshine… I will read it tonight at the umw meeting…

Jesus Lamb of God and Human Trafficking Devotional: 

“We think and we pray and we sing about Jesus being the “Lamb of God” – we acknowledge or yearn to accept how this “Lamb of God” made a sacrifice for us – he was humanly sacrificed to spare the life of a guilty man and we pray to understand that He was sacrificed to allow us sinners to enter the gates of heaven by God’s Grace. So long ago, the lambs were sacrificed – animal sacrifices and even people sacrifices were common – and we can not understand why – and we scoff at those people who sacrificed their own people – shame on them…  Well we are still THOSE people – no we don’t personally do the sacrificing – but we do unthinkingly sacrifice the weak people in the world – we do sacrifice them because we too often ignore all the terrible human trafficking that takes place.  NO, we don’t maliciously do this – we don’t always turn a blind eye – and Lord knows there are so so many who do reach out and try to prevent human trafficking.

One such example is a ministry team which now reaches out to the streets of the far away country of Brazil. This family-based mission team “Shores of Grace” www.shoresofgrace.com is ministering to the children and modeling Jesus’ life to the fellow villagers. They set up street music – attracting young children and their parents – embracing the children and trying to protect them from the human trafficking that is predetermined for them by their cultural circumstances. Yes people are ignoring these children… which mean they are sacrificing them today – in our day and age – similarly to ancient times – by not preventing the wasting of the innocent lives.  In China, the one child policy actually caused a hushed-up problem… people are still having multiple children and often the girls (especially if they are born first) are not documented – they are ignored by the system – they don’t receive health care benefits and sadly, in lieu of accepting them, these girls are often sold   they are then human trafficked like lambs to slaughter.

In America we do it too!  We turn our backs on the forgotten people – on the levels of people forced into prostitution, horrific working conditions and undocumented labor.  We turn our backs on the needs for mental health miracles to help people overcome drugs, alcohol, and all kinds of addictions… If Superbowl Sunday sees an uptick in human trafficking, then we have been too complacent in our acceptance of it.

We really don’t always know how to stop human trafficking.

We really don’t always know how to achieve peace.

We really don’t always know how to take action.

We DO know that we need to raise awareness.

We DO know that above all, we need to PRAY.

JESUS, Lamb of God…HOLY is your name.

We need to PRAY and we need to protect all the LAMBS OF GOD.

emails to Pastor(s) 08FEB-10FEB #63

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emails 08FEB-10FEB:
63A to Pastor:
I notice every and all rock and mountain references because of vacation Bible school! That’s also an awesome reference to Peter being imperfect and being the rock of the church…one of Jesus’ knuckleheads 😉
anyway – I loved your sermon yesterday – but actually what I also loved was how strong you were in the delivery of the message – – it was clear that some folks have to remember that Jesus chose those knuckleheads on purpose… I myself relate to Peter having denied Jesus for quite the time – having made a spiritual growth and change in voice (just like Peter between first and second Peter)…
 
63B to former Pastor:
I swooped by the dollar store and saw some Jesus stickers and thought, I am buying these for me!!! I do feel like a new kid, a new adventure, a new energy… I also got some St Pat’s crosses……
And a true amazement is that two months ago today (dec10) I wrote this 5 page diatribe…confession of faith blocks..that I gave to A. and only him…saw him by “chance” the very next day at a random car repair place (that was no chance)…and I praise God for where I am now…i thought maybe this will pass, maybe I will shake this, maybe its hormonal, maybe I am going crazy… I don’t think so…
And Gods timing is his timing… And the others awakening…whoa…I thought I might get chastised…but I am being embraced…my cup runneth over. Today I sent a devotional… I sent it to 26 people (bcc’ed) – from one to three to six to incrementally more…wow…26
One of the best parts is now I can sing and play praise music at home without covering it up…without hiding the cds I copied… Thanks for being the One and ONLY person who replies to EACH of my posts…your encouragement was so vital in this journey.
Love you!

Christmas Today, Trust God Everyday, 08Feb – #62

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Christmas Today, Trust God Everyday,  08Feb

A truly blessed day…emotionally exhausting…but blessed day…

The powerful worship service and the personal prayers after moved so many today…the message of Jesus choosing his disciples…who were just like us…not perfect…plus the music and the mix of people…moved so many. In the pew in front of me was this candle…a Christmas eve candle forgotten…perhaps it was there for me… I did say at Christmas I burn my candle at both ends and chew on the middle for food…I took it… a refresher candle…and I will treasure it…as I treasure some healing steps this week…

…see I had Christmas just after Christmas, moved to Easter just last Sunday on Feb 1st (Superbowl Sunday) when I made that move from a 99.44% upto 100% commitment to believing in Jesus…I made this in the 911 Garden of Refection, holding the steel, when I picked up a coin with the scripture of John 3:16 and accepted 100%…

…and yesterday became Valentine’s day… today Christmas again…a true gift…

After the moving service we got to eat as family at cracker barrel…(parked near a blue Subaru Forester) … the long wait was fine because one of our children’s beloved daycare teachers was there with her newborn 6-week old son,…a Christmas baby, Dec 26…
…After lunch, I was waiting to pay the bill with a Christmas gift card…just behind me someone said “you have to trust God”….Huh? did I hear that right? In the middle of a store? I turned to the lady behind and asked: “Did I just hear someone’s say Trust God?’ “…she says “Yes that was my sister”… I didn’t know the context but I just had to reaffirm that you should always trust God… & the lady agreed…
… two minutes later we were in the parking lot and I walk by a car with the license plate “you have a friend in Jesus” … and that lady? She hops into yet a third blue Subaru Forester.

I shivered.

I will always Trust God, 100%. Amenchristmas candle #62.PNG

An Open Love Letter, 08FEB – #61

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08feb..

Easter came early, so Valentines did too!!!

An Open Love Letter to God, on Valentine’s Day, thanks to that Subaru

A friend of ours had a car accident – he wrecked his truck… first I texted to make sure he was okay and then I texted:  “Look on the bright side now you can buy a Subaru…” 😉 I immediately texted another mutual friend (who was going to see this first friend in just 5 minutes from that moment) and said “Hey when you see him  – ask him when he’s going to buy a Subaru…”  hehe funny… 😉

It dawned on me just a couple days ago that my beloved Japanese Subaru had a true connection to the Japanese Kintsukuroi pottery – where gold is applied in the cracks of broken pieces – restoring them to beauty.  I have discussed this sermon from our pastor a few times because it so fits me and so many I know… it is my favorite sermon of his (so far).. when a piece of pottery is broken, the Japanese artists recreate the piece with the cracks filled in with gold. This makes its cracks and flaws look beautiful and it is even more artistic and beautiful after is repaired.  This is just like when God puts his golden repairs in our cracks and flaws and we are more beautiful because of them….we don’t need to hide our flaws – but we should show off our God-golden repairs.
… I wasn’t looking for that Kintsukuroi connection to my Subaru – I really wasn’t – until it dawned on me while driving this week, that the physical location where I have been repaired most by God, for my cracks and flaws, took place INSIDE my Subaru, which is Japanese,  just like the Kintsukuroi pottery….. and My Subaru has been MY temple – MY place of worship – in my hour commutes –  I have worshiped in it by listening to sermons on CD and I am able to sing with all my might … Christmas music and some divinely stirring praise music and mainstream artists whose songs strengthen me…and lately we have been kissed by the wispy snowflakes that make my Subaru Forrester dance and make me smile and appreciate the gifts from God.

While my Subaru is dancing in therapeutic ways, God’s messages have stuck in my soul. Some people hope the snow doesn’t stick …some people hope it does….no matter what, we should always hope that God’s corrective action sticks within us….  God’s golden repairs… I had no idea where this road would take me and as a extra bonus, I can see and appreciate God’s wanting to sending some golden repairs to improve the future.

Recently I have renewed a college connection in the form of a pastor, coincidentally or God-cidentally, a press release came out about his new book (he graduated about 6-8 years after us) and he lives super close to us… I don’t know why God chose him to inspire us and put him in the mix to unite us – but you have to take notice when God does those things!

At my college, the telescopes were/are amazing, some hand built and some purchased… All of these are easily accessible to the public and even freshmen can get their hands on them. It’s cold there…. Freezing temps would be nice and warm compared to the average temp, because at midnight in those barely insulated telescope domes… whew, that’s COLD!!!…. The remote location is ideal as there is very little light pollution… the only problem is… it does snow and rain there a lot… it’s often very cloudy… but when the skies are open they’re really open! You can look in wondrous amazement at the Milky Way any clear night.  Once I even saw a guest appearance of the Northern Lights… Head out of this one traffic light town into the way way outskirts…and the sky’s the limit….there is no limit to the amazement of the beauty in the sky!

So, in one astronomy class, a marvelous photography project showed a great telescope photo (think old school film developing – nothing digital back then) of the Pleiades, a star cluster – with blue stars, which is located near Orion in the winter sky… Orion is the most visible-distinguishable of winter constellations…and the Pleiades are nestles near…444 light years away…

So, guess what the symbol of the Subaru car is… you can find it right on the front… can you guess? It’s so divine….it’s a picture of the Pleiades… I did not know that fact until I was well into my 16+ year history with my 2 Subarus…I have traveled nearly 400,000 miles in these two Subaru foresters…one green and one blue… the 2008 blue one (I got pre-owned in 2011) helped me get over my mourning for my 12 + year 1999 green one (my first new car ever in the fall of 1998 – a gift to myself for graduating with my PhD and landing an awesome postdoc position) – the green one lasted 271,000 miles…. after it died I contemplated installing it in my yard just as a quiet thinking place….12 + years green ….  3 + years (so far) blue subaru…. always moving….16 + years….

One last mention about the LOVE of my Subarus and the connection to the Pleiades which UNITES all of these thoughts in this essay (an early valentine’s day)….   Do you know what the word Subaru means in Japanese? I only discovered that definition today – It means UNITE… Yes divine God-sightings continue….

Thank you God for using the Pleiades and my alma mater and all our extended church family to continue to UNITE us all…

Thank you God for using my Subaru in a Holy Way, with the help of my church family, and your Word to UNITE me to You Heavenly Father and to Your Son…

Thank you God for using the Heavenly stars to safely travel me approximately 400,000 + miles and 444 light years in YOUR TIME. I guess I always wanted to be a wiseman – wisewoman – I had been following the stars all this time – I will always follow the stars to YOU!

THANK YOU GOD FOR YOU! I LOVE YOU!

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Emails with faith friends, 05FEB – 06FEB #60

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Emails with faith friends, 05FEB – 06FEB

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60A – I just made praise pockets for work for heart health month and I will use the same stuff for church and get them put up this weekend – one big pocket for God and then smaller bag pockets for our church staff (to start) – and then we can decide if we want to continue with more church families…  I love it when I can do one task for two completely different places! On Thu, Feb 5, a friend wrote:

“Just made me think of an item that I bought years ago when our previous praise band leader was still at church. It was a porcelain bowl with a pitcher attached to it. It was set up to look like the pitcher was pouring something into the bowl. It came with a short pencil and small pieces of paper. The idea was that when you walked by the bowl, you would think of a blessing, write it down and then put it in the bowl. It was called a blessing bowl, and it was designed to show your blessings overflowing. Gonna have to find that bowl now.! 🙂

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60B – soul on fire 2.PNGOn Feb 6, I had an amazing email conversation between three of my women’s retreat friends with whom I shared my faith opening early – they were crucial in their support…

Two emailed me the link within 30 minutes of each other about this great contemporary praise song….  Third Day “Soul on Fire”  – and the third, to whom I forwarded it to,  bought that same album that same morning – wow – I am glad so many are running until their soul is on fire! And my aerobics this morning with my neighbor, who picks the dvd we use…was a FIRE theme, lol….And that day I was wearing red hot red for heart health too!

1st friend wrote: “https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=i7lv9oMjv_0    The latest from one of my favorite contemporary Christian groups, Third Day – Soul on Fire, every time I hear it I think of you Debbie because you are a soul on fire right now!!!!”

2nd friend wrote: “ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i7lv9oMjv_0    Hope you like this.”

I wrote to all 3 friends: “whoa – when 2 people send you something that means i better watch it – cool – i mean HOT that was an awesome song… i am forwarding this to someone who prefers the hot to the cold – running a mile a minute is TOTALLY how I feel these days – maybe that is why i need the snow to cool me off!!!!!  I can go outside in my barefeet in this weather anyway!

thanks both of you!”

3rd friend wrote: “HA!  Great minds think alike!  Also my fav Christian group.  Saw them last year & sat in the 2nd row!  Just pre-ordered their new cd THIS MORNING!!! I am tapping my feet & dancing in my chair!!!”

2nd friend wrote back: “she and I were on the same page, we both see you as “on fire”. 🙂 “

LET’S LEGO Again / It IS Possible, 05FEB – #59

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Had this short one done yesterday – with that nice snow squall while driving, I got three written (by speaking into my phone): the praise one I sent yesterday – one I am saving to release next week (about Subaru’s and valentines)…  and this one – which talks about 2nd Peter chapter 3 – God gives each person the time they need to come to repentance….God is patient…and it IS possible!

LET’S LEGO Again / It IS Possible, 05FEB

The praise song lyric: “one thing I am sure of … I was born, you were born, everything was made to worship Him!”

If I flip back in time to one of my first writings – Lego Christianity Piece, 18DEC – I find that it was a short time ago – that is in calendar days but YEARS in mental time.  – It is just like written in 2nd Peter 3:  “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

I see my Lego Christianity piece as a confession…a mental work in progress… a piece of where I was… a realization I had to come to…I hadn’t fit my Lego pieces of belief into my brain the right way in order to let my heart sing His Praises… and WOW… how I have been snapping the pieces in now…building and building…

The praise song lyric: “I used to wonder… so many questions like… is it really possible?”  and the worship leader sings back  “IT IS POSSIBLE!” …   Yup it became real to me…building and building….

I just turned on the radio, and a Lego artist is going to be exhibiting his art work (over a hundred pieces) at the local museum starting this weekend. He creates art from Lego blocks…

…these beautiful LEGO creations are made with glue – he uses glue from day one, building life-sized masterpieces…  but sometimes he admitted that he has lost days of work when he made a mistake – and he had to get his chisel out and remove wrong LEGO pieces….  Yep that was me too, I had to unsnap some pieces of my Christianity and disbelief and find the right pieces to fit…  It’s not a masterpiece – yet – but I’m at the peace with the progress I have made and there are still more Legos to build.

I will make you a deal, God,  I’ll grab the Legos and You grab the Gold and we’ll ride together (in my Subaru and in my heart and in my brain) in this journey.  I made a new lyric for the praise song, so in addition to: “I was born to worship my Lord, that is why I sing…. “…. I now add:  “I was born to worship my Lord, that is why I think!!!”

The Power of Praise, 05FEB – #58

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58 – The Power of Praise, 05FEB

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This praise theme keeps going on and on… came across a pocket of praise my son, that he got for being a “rockstar of the week”… he was never more excited to go to school than that week…

I think the best thing about praising and encouragement, is that it is presented as a preemptive strike… even when things are down in the dumps if you can find the small thing to praise, that will likely lift that person higher than they were… of course you have to commiserate with them to some extent, but when you can find something to praise it will lift your heart too… otherwise their issues will drag you down too… and to be honest they probably came to you to be encouraged…
Better to give than receive… and if you can praise in God’s name you have already received – big time…

Fun Yellow and Always Look on the Bright Side, 04FEB – #57

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Fun Yellow and Always Look on the Bright Side, 04FEB

Before the 9 am hour, the radio station plays a favorite Monty Python song “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” from the “Life of Brian” movie which is both hilarious and religiously-interesting…  Brian (Jesus’ next door neighbor) is caught up in a sweeping messiah-searching plot – and one of my mentor-friends in college was so amazed that I loved the movie – and he was amazed that I wasn’t upset at it, being raised catholic… But seriously, how else do you end a film that shows mass crucifixion? Eric idle is a “happy go lucky” soul destined to die next to Brian…  he gets the whole crucified hillside singing…”always look on the bright side of death….”

The song was perfect on this sunny morning – after I had just finished re-painting touch up work in my kitchen – in “FUN YELLOW” color.  Yes, after 10 years and a great renovation removing the old air-conditioner, I had to re-paint and was so pleased that the paint store still make my kitchen color – Fun Yellow…  yes – I made a re-commitment to this fun and refreshing color which gets soaked in the sun in the morning from 4 huge windows – in the sun the room is warm and is inspiring to be cheery and upbeat…  Yes – with yellow paint specks still on my hand I type this  – and I also put on all the fun yellow clothes I could find – not many – but still fun to remember my re-commitment to FUN.

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life: Eric Idle, Monty Python

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ECUtkv2qV8

Some things in life are bad
They can really make you mad
Other things just make you swear and curse
When you’re chewing on life’s gristle
Don’t grumble, give a whistle
And this’ll help things turn out for the best…
And…

…always look on the bright side of life… (Whistle)

Always look on the light side of life… (Whistle)

If life seems jolly rotten
There’s something you’ve forgotten
And that’s to laugh and smile and dance and sing
When you’re feeling in the dumps
Don’t be silly chumps
Just purse your lips and whistle
– that’s the thing.
And…always look on the bright side of life… (Whistle)

Come on.

Always look on the right side of life… (Whistle)

For life is quite absurd
And death’s the final word
You must always face the curtain with a bow
Forget about your sin – give the audience a grin
Enjoy it – it’s your last chance anyhow.

So always look on the bright side of death… (Whistle)

a-Just before you draw your terminal breath… (Whistle)

Life’s a piece of $%#%, when you look at it
Life’s a laugh and death’s a joke, it’s true
You’ll see its all a show, keep ’em laughin as you go
Just remember that the last laugh is on you

And… Always look on the bright side of life… (Whistle)

Always look on the right side of life…

C’mon Brian, cheer up

Always look on the bright side of life…

Always look on the bright side of life…

Worse things happen at sea you know.

I mean – what have you got to lose?
You know, you come from nothing – you’re going back to nothing.
What have you lost? Nothing.

Always look on the right side (I mean) of life…

what have you got to lose?
You know, you come from nothing
– you’re going back to nothing.
What have you lost?

Always (Nothing.) look on the right side of life…

Nothing will come from nothing ya know what they say?
Cheer up ya old bugga c’mon give us a grin! There ya go, see!

Always look on the right side of life…
(Cheer up ya old bugga c’mon give us a grin! At same time)

There ya go, see!

An open letter of praise to the praise band, 04FEB – #56

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An open letter of praise to the praise band, 04FEB

Praise – that’s what I am all about right now – I will praise my Lord – I will praise the awesomeness in the universe…. so if this sounds too gushy – don’t worry about it – ‘cause it is what it is…

So… I have to admit – I have binge-listened to praise band music – I admit I made a “mixed tape” of praise band music – because it spoke to me and I needed a continuous mental track of stabilizing, spirit-filled music…. I listen to lots of music – and the return to this song-track is very therapeutic…

See, I had some awesome corrective action by God on my heart and in my brain – I entered the time of “open enrollment of corporate Christmas benefits package” as a cynical questioner and I came out a sincere seeker…   I was able to solve some gaps in my brain – and let a Christmas flood carry me though the last couple of months with a new song-track in my heart…

So, Praise Band, I want to thank you for what you bring to the music – I want to thank that I can hear you as individuals in the mix – sometimes you blend and sometimes you don’t – sometimes an out of tune glitch snags things – but either way I hear it – I hear you….  to hear the people and know their stories – yup, it’s more than just the music…

Actually I hadn’t have been to a contemporary service in person in a while – and the Christmas Concert  was the only service I got to in December …  but I heard that one loud and clear – I got to hold a little baby during the wonderful song “Come to the Cradle, Come and Find Peace…” this was so moving…  I also copied the Christmas band concert CD – and the Praise Band version of that “Come to the Cradle” song was strong and loud – And the event host said afterwards:  “Well, I didn’t have any problem hearing that!”.  Well I didn’t have any problem hearing either!  BUT – it wasn’t just the song I heard, I actually heard the energized enthusiasm in his voice for this kicked up addition to the whole concert event – perhaps you remember the pain he and his wife had a few Christmas’s ago – the pain must have been tremendous and still must burn deeply… because they lost their daughter to a long illness at Christmastime…  the pain replaced (at least for the moment) with the music-led energy of spirit…  His wife mentioned to me recently that she misses it when the choir doesn’t sing at some weeks of the year – because she gets her worship in song… Yup doesn’t matter what song you are singing – the phrase holds true – “those who sing pray twice”. Music lifts us up – and I hope we all pray twice when we sing and play.

So – I urge you to keep singing – to keep feeling the music – to let it go sometimes and just pray it. One of my favorite songs (and I have many) ends with the praise band in giggles and mini cheers because you kicked it out so well – that is the joy I like to hear!

Praise you Praise Band!!!

Feel the Lightning, 03FEB – #55

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Feel the Lightning, 03FEB

I wonder what people think of my journey – but I don’t worry too much because it is still between me and God of where I was and where I am…

I certainly benefited from preparing my fields for rain and I took some time to contemplate almost everything around me… sure – you could suggest I over analyze everything – but when exciting times are all around, you don’t want to miss out on ANYTHING!

…and yet I wonder if people think this journey was TOO easy – well it wasn’t – yeah sure it was a quiet journey and wasn’t filled with blockbuster movie scenes of tormented pain, tragic losses, marvelous car crashes, health hells… nope – wasn’t like that at all – and I don’t think your journey has to be the “movie of the week” material….  slow and steady wins the race – God’s time and patience – yes, that is my story…  quiet yet moving – filled with grace that was already given.  Before I took Jesus up into my heart, I was half way (well two thirds there – believing in God and the Holy Spirit – and always praising – but this last third, accepting Jesus, was a juggernaut in my disbelief system – a mountain which I have moved now – I feel I am still growing but so so there….

Sure – sometimes we think (I think) that coming to Jesus should have involved a momentous experience – me in the Dukes of Hazard car going airborne  – screaming at the top of my lungs and a miraculous appearance of a 60-foot snow drift – or tractor bed filled with soft hay – to catch us and return us safely back to earth…. and yeah,  I have certainly have heard those tales of awakening –  I was certainly held on the edge of my seat wanting to know more….

Perhaps you did or want to feel a lightning bolt – or maybe you fear feeling a lightning bolt because you don’t want to be changed… Ben Franklin supposedly felt a big lightning bolt during his kite and the key experiment – how brave – how stupid… But then, how did he utilize that info? Whom did he tell? How did he take what he learned into a movement towards the amazing age of electricity?

After we have felt a lightning bolt of faith growth,  what should we do with that lightning? that info? that feeling?  … I bet our friend Franklin did that experiment a few times again  (why wouldn’t he?) he experimented in the country and in the city – I have to think that he kept doing this experiment to have more data….

I can be assured that lighting strikes many times in your area – of course they do. But what do you do with a lightning strike to your faith? Would you make good use of it? Will lightening strike again and again if you need it to?

What if  Benjamin Franklin tied his kite string to a fence and what if he cautiously approached the key… I wonder if he wanted to know what the shock felt like. Some people probably approach the throne of God as they tantalize about the concept of Jesus but they are afraid to touch the key… perhaps they are afraid of the shock – and yet, little do they know, that they would be in for the most energizing boost of all their lives.

Have you felt lightning? I have… I was maybe 20 feet away from a strike – I was outside running between a pavilion and my car… yeah tempting fate and ended up getting too close to the lightning before I was safely in my car.  The heat was unbelievable! The flash hurt my eyes. And the sound was as loud as you could imagine God’s roar… I would not tempt that kind of fate again… well – maybe…

So I went on this unknown journey of faith – I don’t know if I was worried about being struck by lightning… Did I feel the energy in the air?  Yes most definitely!!!  Did the thunderous sound of God catch my attention? You better believe it did! Did it make my hair stand up on end? Oh yeah!!  In my faith journey I was tempted to touch the key… I got closer and closer and I then prayed for the key to touch…  and the key fit into my soul… the energy transferred… the Lord came to me in the most gentle of ways.  I will use my God lightning from here on out to serve God at to give Jesus the honor He is due.

Would you approach lighting?  Don’t let it get so bad that lightning has to kill you – don’t get so dead that lightning has to be used like a defibrillator to wake you up …… maybe you know people who need a jolt to wake up… maybe they or you just need to feel the energy and taste a little zap… you will want that zap again – trust me – you will ask for it everyday…

Would you dissipate all the gained electricity as heat – screaming? Maybe you should be an engineer and hook up the machines and capture that lightning for future use. Only a few are called by terrific heartbreaking jaw-dropping blockbuster-movie lightning strike… and only a few of those people are called to spread that lightning in the form of energy to others.

Nope, my journey was not a blockbuster movie…  there was no direct lightning strike…but yes, I did feel the electricity all around me – and I did approach the powerful energized key….  my excess energy emanates now – not as heat but now as writing and in praise… and in song…

PERHAPS (yes I know the answer to this) perhaps there are many many people who can relate to my story – a quiet story – maybe you are on your own journey to find your own key…

So many people still need to come to terms with their faith –  many people have hearts that need to crack open and yes, they need to feel the energy…

God is Good – feel His energy inside of you… long for that repeat lightning strike…

Holy Family Girl Scouts, 03FEB – #54

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Email, 03FEB, (check out the “Rock Climbing” and “God sent ice” essays in Jan)

Holy Family Girl Scouts, 03FEB

rock climbing jan2015b

This cross was in the background of my rock climbing buddies on that most moving of nights when I failed to learn to belay, and it was the ice storm that enabled me to stay there an extra hour and complete my training – guiding me was a most calm and consistent trainer – Keith is his name….  (see writings in Jan)

My Girl Scout Leader and my “Holy Family” fellow scout moms were both there for me and also gave me the space I needed to decompress that night…
——————–
Date: Feb 3,
To: GS leader

Now that I have shared that first set of 50 writings with you, I have to tell you… that the first thing I saw on this photo was the cross on the back wall…

I love my holy family girl scouts…
Thank you for your most amazing support that night…I truly needed it. thanks

The Rising, 01FEB – #53

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The Rising, 01FEB

From: debbie
Date: Sun, Feb 1,
Subject: RE: thanks for great sermon
To: Pastor
Oh…I need to mention that I got a little lost on my way from the restaurant to my women’s retreat friend’s house… which brought me to road near the 911 garden of reflection… I had never stopped… but of course felt compelled to…I went and held onto the steel girder and prayed for those lost and for peace…I thought about the 3000 people Peter converted with one sermon all those years ago, and remembered it was 3000 people lost on 911…I prayed that they were found that day.

I picked up one of those plastic coins caught on the sculpture…turned it over…it was John 3:16…on Superbowl Sunday…my first time accepting it 100%

Smiles…

—-

On Feb 1, 2015 9:27 PM, “Pastor wrote:   Thanks!  The Spirit used you to inspire me.

—-

From: debbie Date: 02/01 6:39 PM

To: Pastor

Subject: thanks for great sermon

that was a great sermon and H said she knew you were talking about me in the first service and I KNEW you were talking about me in the second service – I liked how you said something like – “just going to go with it…”  and I thought you were very strong in your message…   I was just smiling all the way through…     🙂

Post email note – I added these links after the email chain:

Sting, one of my favorite artists performed a tribute to Bruce Springsteen, with his song “The Rising” – here are the links to Sting’s song and the original and live versions by Bruce – it is a tribute to a firefighter rising to the sky to the world trade center fires and then rising to heaven in that tragic day…  was so on my mind the day I finally committed from 99.44% to 100% in my belief of Jesus that day at the 911 garden of reflection….

Sting:     https://youtu.be/tmWYg4W9CaY

Bruce:     https://youtu.be/6i-fiRgbpr4

“The Rising” Bruce Springsteen

Can’t see nothin’ in front of me
Can’t see nothin’ coming up behind
Make my way through this darkness
I can’t feel nothing but this chain that binds me
Lost track of how far I’ve gone
How far I’ve gone, how high I’ve climbed
On my back’s a sixty pound stone
On my shoulder a half mile of line

Come on up for the rising
Come on up, lay your hands in mine
Come on up for the rising
Come on up for the rising tonight

Left the house this morning
Bells ringing filled the air
I was wearin’ the cross of my calling
On wheels of fire I come rollin’ down here

Come on up for the rising
Come on up, lay your hands in mine
Come on up for the rising
Come on up for the rising tonight

Li, li, li, li, li, li, li, li, li – li, li, li, li, li, li, li, li, li – li, li, li, li, li, li, li, li, li

There’s spirits above and behind me
Faces gone black, eyes burnin’ bright
May their precious blood bind me
Lord, as I stand before your fiery light

Li, li, li, li, li, li, li, li, li – li, li, li, li, li, li, li, li, li – li, li, li, li, li, li, li, li, li

I see you Mary in the garden
In the garden of a thousand sighs
There’s holy pictures of our children
Dancin’ in a sky filled with light
May I feel your arms around me
May I feel your blood mix with mine
A dream of life comes to me
Like a catfish dancin’ on the end of my line

Sky of blackness and sorrow (a dream of life)
Sky of love, sky of tears (a dream of life)
Sky of glory and sadness (a dream of life)
Sky of mercy, sky of fear (a dream of life)
Sky of memory and shadow (a dream of life)
Your burnin’ wind fills my arms tonight
Sky of longing and emptiness (a dream of life)
Sky of fullness, sky of blessed life

Come on up for the rising
Come on up, lay your hands in mine
Come on up for the rising
Come on up for the rising tonight

Li, li, li, li, li, li, li, li, li – li, li, li, li, li, li, li, li, li – li, li, li, li, li, li, li, li, li

Ripple from God not Man, 01FEB – #52

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Ripple from God not Man, 01FEB

My goal in this spiritual journey was to find peace for my conflicted brain and heart and then later on I thought that at least I would at least find my spiritual voice to lead the many church groups I am in charge of… but this ripple effect of seeing faith is the nicest present…

A great ripple of my faith journey is the hearing of the ripple effect into other people’s faith journeys – three directly told me today –  a couple yesterday – people who are being more dedicated to their own prayers – people who are reading into things and praising more… even our pastor alluded to it in both his sermons (didn’t hurt I was sitting smack dab in front of him in the second service 😉 haha)

Maybe even more felt this ripple effect – and I certainly got the direct eye contact of some people as I walked the halls of church today – I felt this ripple effect – and I didn’t feel it boastfully – but humbly…

(AND later in church I was running (yes running in church) in my new balance sneakers after a sunday schooler – who decided he didn’t want to be there – he bolted all the way to fellowship hall… ugh… thankfully it was God’s timing for me to catch him – to rein him in. He was previously my kindergarten sunday school student and that knowledge of  him, and people in general, is INVALUABLE – if you can read the clues you can intercept…. you have to have open eyes to the clues… just like you have to praise or else the rocks will praise.)

So I pause now to remember and reflect that our faith journeys have to be ours – ours alone with God – yes with the help of others – but everyone has a different road…  I pray my ripple effect is really to help people learn to praise –  I have to praise God for this journey and everyone has to praise on their own – you have to praise all the time – good or bad you praise!

The song “Ripples” struck me yesterday – not even knowing what the title was – I was perusing a new old Grateful Dead album ) – “Ripples” still resonates with me today – because I know God needs to make the ripples (with no pebble tossed by man) and I pray that God ripples into my friends’ faiths like he did into mine.

Lord, may our cups be filled…

“Reach out your hand if your cup be empty
If your cup is full may it be again
Let it be known there is a fountain
That was not made by the hands of men”

————-

“Ripple”    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=671AgW9xSiA

Words by Robert Hunter; music by Jerry Garcia.

If my words did glow with the gold of sunshine
And my tunes were played on the harp unstrung
Would you hear my voice come through the music
Would you hold it near as it were your own?

It’s a hand-me-down, the thoughts are broken
Perhaps they’re better left unsung
I don’t know, don’t really care
Let there be songs to fill the air

Ripple in still water
When there is no pebble tossed
Nor wind to blow

Reach out your hand if your cup be empty
If your cup is full may it be again
Let it be known there is a fountain
That was not made by the hands of men

There is a road, no simple highway
Between the dawn and the dark of night
And if you go no one may follow
That path is for your steps alone

Ripple in still water
When there is no pebble tossed
Nor wind to blow

You who choose to lead must follow
But if you fall you fall alone
If you should stand then who’s to guide you?
If I knew the way I would take you home

 

Emails praising awakening – 01FEB- #51

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Email, Feb 1, morning:

Hi, Debbie,

PRAISE THE LORD!  HE and the angels in heaven are rejoicing in your new life in HIM!  God bless you richly; I look forward to reading your 89 pages. Love in Him,

——-

Email to Pastor, Feb 1

that was a great sermon and H said she knew you were talking about me in the first service and I KNEW you were talking about me in the second service – I liked how you said something like – “just going to go with it…”  and I thought you were very strong in your message…   I was just smiling all the way through…

🙂

—————

Email to a friend, Feb 1, evening:

was thinking of our conversation and was singing amazing grace  – thinking of how much the lyrics pertained and then it started snowing….  graceful snow …   🙂

smiles

——————-

Email from a friend, Feb 1

Still reading through your writings Debbie, loving the Lego one right now, after a brother, son and now grandson who all love Lego I can so relate to this.  One block at a time, wonder what God is building in me today.

 

 

 

email to women’s retreat organizing folks – to L.H. whom I wanted to share my journey with, 31JAN – #50

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email to women’s retreat organizing folks – to L.H. whom I wanted to share my journey with, 31JAN

OH L.H.!   I am so so sorry – I know it must be terrible to be in such pain and also to not be able to do all the things that you want to do – having thrown out my back a few times…

I have to tell you now – by email – writing – that I have been called by God to write out this whole last month of my experiences, so it totally doesn’t surprise me that I have to write this all out to you…  and it is likely the best thing for me to write this because my words are not there when I speak – but boy do they flow when I type…  so – you may want to have a tissue nearby 😉

Of course I want lunch together with everyone so badly – but honestly it was really my enthusiasm that I could not wait to tell you, personally, with my words of the most amazing journey that I have been on last year and acutely this past month…  I thought I would tell you directly first – but as I have been sharing more and more – this is coming out in God’s terms and in God’s time… which is pretty darn fast at the moment…

So – I knew/know that you will be happy – I wanted to tell you so much that I finally get it —-   I finally, finally, finally accept Jesus……

I have been so blessed – I have finally had this flood of emotions coupled with my brain getting in sync with my heart and whoosh – a journey I wouldn’t trade for anything – it took me 45 years – but I am here.

I wanted to tell you in person and then tell everyone else – and yet I know that writing is my method…  I probably couldn’t have gotten through the conversation anyway – without the tears – I just now finished a good 5 minutes of tears at my sorrow that I couldn’t give you the biggest hug – because Lord knows that you won’t want that for your bad back!!!!!,  I am so so happy now and humbled that I HAVE FOUND AND ACCEPTED JESUS TO BE REAL FOR ME!  yes I feel like SCREAMING it – but I so want to make sure my words are right – and I want the Holy Spirit to guide my words and not my Blarney-Stone-induced gift of gab…  and this has been the case – my opening of speaking it has been with people who already saw it in me – wow…

With our retreat women, I have been blessed to have real wonderful conversations – and the women’s retreat was so needed in my mental therapy for peace after a busy year each year and before a busy Christmas season each year…   the first one I attended was the 10th anniversary one and sure, I saw it as a chance to get out of the house of a one year old and four year old – who wouldn’t want the break – and I said  “If I sit on a rock all weekend, I will be happy”   and I didn’t do that  I was like “wow – I already know these women – they aren’t scary bible-thumping women that I feared – they are the most gently and God-loving and people-loving … and at the end of the retreat, I had such the best cry with Pastor S – when I was able to let down and release the bottled up stress of life….

LH – you have been the most gentle soul – my canoe partner – my roomie…  With you, I realized that one doesn’t have to be a bible thumper – excuse the term – but one can be the witness to the power of God and Jesus – to live the life – to walk the walk and not just talk the talk – you certainly have and live Jesus’s words everyday –  and to be human – i know you put that cockroach on wheels in my shoe in the bathroom which I proudly displayed afterwords on the shoe because it filled the crack and everyone took notice…  yup – fits with a sermon Pastor J preached (jan11) about filling cracked Japanese pottery with beautiful gold – Kintsukuroi – God fills in our broken cracks beautifully with golden repair so others can see where we were healed…well God has filled my cracks with gold and beautiful plastic cockroaches on wheels… smiles…

So – I have been sharing my story with writing – with first “A”, then “Pastor S” and my friend-counselor-ace-in-my-pocket “K”…  truly blessed to have this as a digital release valve for my thoughts and prayers…. then I was able to open up my pieces to a few more  and a few more – very specific pieces for very specific people… and that list now includes Pastor and a couple others just today… when GOD walks the person into my path I know it is time to tell of my journey…  I must tell you that it has been a LONG process in a short amount of time – easing into what is right to share – and I am getting there still – small openings, telling of where I am – rather than where I have been  – and I feel so blessed!

ah…..  so I will now send you some of my writing – again I have been writing to therapy-myself through this – I actually have over 40 pieces now – and I have been so blessed to have three initial and now about a dozen people on my journey with me…  I had not an eureka moment – but a snap in my brain (I wrote about this in the second essay that I will send you- my LEGO Christianity essay) I had this aha moment when I was teaching my sunday school class and made up my own lesson using a well know experiment using hydrogen peroxide, dish soap and yeast  – where yeast acts as a catalyst and brings about a change in the hydrogen peroxide – causing fun oozing warm bubbling of oxygen…  I called the yeast Jesus – acting as a catalyst to bring change to people more quickly than had been taking place – an “oooohhh  – maybe I can now see that is the reason for Jesus” and that became my mediation for my questioning – for about a year ?  maybe more? I can’t remember – but then my “Christmas Flood” came…

LOVE YOU – and thanks for letting me share like this 😉

I pray for your back – for others to come around you and for God’s hands and His breathe to blow that back back into place…  for others to pick up your heavy pans of life and lighten your load – and most of all for your continued health – for the doctors to do the right things to help you and I pray and sing this with words from a song that ring truer to me now than ever before: “Jesus, may you receive the honor that you are due” Amen

——–

On Sat, Jan 31,  at 6:01 PM, LH wrote:

Hi, all,

I am also looking forward to our lunch date, BUT if I don’t show up at church tomorrow it is because: On Tues. I fell in our big kitchen, wrenching my back.  On Friday morning, after a nearly sleepless night, I told my husband to take me to the emergency room.  Well, I have a compression fracture in my lower back, and am on pain meds.  My husband could drive me tomorrow, but I won’t know until morning if I feel up to the ride.  I am waiting for an appointment to see an orthopedist; hopefully they call with a time on Monday.  Pray for me.  This is a very busy time at our campus, with our new candidates in training, and the kitchen opening (only for two nights a week, as our volunteer cooks cancelled out the day they were to arrive.  sad.  I can do some supervisory work, but not lifting the pans, etc.

Love,   LH

On Sat, Jan 31,  at 6:22 AM, debbie wrote:

So looking forward to our lunch!!!!!

Smiles, 30JAN – #49

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Smiles, 30JAN

yeah God is all around …I stumbled into this conversation today – from a fellow (younger) scientist…  we had a great talk about HER – not me… so good…   and God sent beautiful snowflakes here too, smiles….

—–

From:x

Sent: Friday, January 30,  4:05 PM

To: Debbie

Sometimes I definitely feel a bit alone in being a Christian around here. I’m encouraged in your faith being a scientist. I feel like so many I meet just can’t believe because of “science”. I feel like the beauty of science and how it works just supports my faith in God even more.

x

—–Original Message—–
From: Debbie
Sent: Friday, January 30,  4:04 PM
To: x

Sure! And anytime you want to come talk I would love to sit down with you!!!!
Debbie

—–Original Message—–
From: x
Sent: Friday, January 30,  3:59 PM
To: Debbie

Thanks .
I love the prayers included and look forward to using them to pray… It is so crazy. Here AND around the world! Thanks for the info, I like to be as informed as possible!

x

Sir Issac Newton – Email to Pastor et al.., #48 (follow up to #47)

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48 (follow up to #47)

Email to Pastor et al.., an early observation that God was bringing thoughts and people and direction to me to climb…

LOL, Pastor, you sent me a five minute video… And I sent it to my friend… now I have to read this huge tome from Sir Isaac Newton, sent to me by my friend, a trusted soul advisor… He is an amazing scientist and philosopher…he is a Thomas Jefferson-Ben Franklin-Isaac Newton and true God believer who uses science to prove God…he walks the fine line with teaching science and God philosophy…thank God he has tenure! His lab was immediately next door to my lab back many years ago, and he lives in one of the houses in the neighborhood that my great grandfather and grandfather built -I have carpenters in my blood 🙂

But actually I only had to read pages 544-555, that’s it, to get the gist… Of God creating the universe…I will read the rest later…

Such a blessing…
Thanks again

Dear Debbie,

A bit of Isaac Newton that I have my students read. Thanks for your thoughts and the video.

Thanks,

sir issac newton 1sir issac newton 2sir issac 3sir issac 4

email to Pastor et al, 30JAN – #47

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47 email to Pastor et al, 30JAN

Subject: Re: VIDEO: Atheists Confounded as MIT Scientist Offers Proof that God Exists!

Thanks Pastor – you are a true blessing to me – always were but I realize it more now…

Yeah – good concise video – great explanation of the universe…although I always worry when a scientist says “proof” because in real science theory there is no proof – just an ability to “disprove” a null hypothesis –  but that really doesn’t matter here and the video is really is a good explanation of the universe – and it is so clear to me that the big bang theory, evolution and God are totally in sync…  “something from nothing”…  (where nothing is a really BIG something – GOD!)  and I do appreciate the video scientist discussion that God still works in everyday life – and not in an existentialist point of view that something came from nothing and that nothing is still nothing – that God is dead…  I shall have really good discussion with my atheist friends – because they are my friends first and atheists second…

“Something from nothing” …  and yes, now I have to tell you of a God sighting from this video. you sent… I listen to a radio station online with a good mix of old rock and my favorite morning show and my favorite dj – edgy I know, but funny and makes the commute zip by… (besides the DJ is an ordained minister too and always says “God Bless the Grateful Dead” LOL – but I digress…).  So, there is this new song – I have been hearing over and over again – and I really like it (even though I am not a foo fighters fan at all… a huge band, but I never listened to their songs). This new song was played on the radio over and over again – it was strong and spoke to me right away and it amplifies from mellow to stronger and stronger – and yes it grows like the universe – it is called “Something From Nothing”   So there you are – when the video scientist said that phrase “something from nothing” – God got a STRIKE – in bowling terms  – yet more proof that God exists BIG TIME and thinks about me and reminds me that he is taking care of me …

 

My music tastes connect me to God every day – over and over again… the best part about God is that we appreciate Him – that we notice Him – that we tune ourselves into him… those who don’t are lacking and I also just read tonight in a quick scan of a book  “The Reason for God”, the author states that Hell is:  “soul disintegration that self-centeredness creates” – and he related the story in Luke 16 – Lazarus and the Rich Man – hell for the rich man is spiritual blindness, denial and no identity of God… even when he is IN hell, he cannot see why Lazarus is in heaven…  I see that Hell could really be “Nothing from Something” – bitterness and spiritual denial takes all the good somethings away…

I really don’t need much more proof that God is alive – but it is reassuring to see –  I just look all around and it is so evident to me – those “rocks cry out” – I have to praise what I see… I always did – but now I feel like I am screaming it – which I have to find my quiet voice again to tell it more calmly…  that is why I write – – I can’t get the words just yet – it comes out in bursts – but writing just flows….  I send these writings to about 12 people now – whom I have shared my story with – trusted souls – and that number is growing – every day I think of someone else I could encourage and say ‘look God does exist in the little things and the big things and we don’t need just tragedies to turn us to God,  God is there all the time for you…..”  I don’t want to turn anyone off – or be boastful – but it feels so gosh darn good…. I didn’t know I could get MORE joyful than I was – but it’s a true gift from God – I am getting “something bigger from already having something” – an underlying music track of praise in my brain and a music track of love in my soul… it’s childlike I know – but hey – everyone seems to call me “kiddo” anyway… 😉

Today a small wisp of snow on the turnpike – it wasn’t snowing so where did this set of wispy drifts come from?  it must have failed from trucks – but snow is snow and God danced the wisps around for me – just like in my poem from a few weeks ago – He reminded me that He is there in everything…

Wispy, Jan

up early leave early
a Northerner awakened
wispy white wondrous
snowdrifts dance on the untreated Turnpike
dancing under the direction of the wind
occasionally caught in the imperfections of the road

the Subaru danced me all the way to work

 

On Thu, Jan 29,  at 9:03 PM, Pastor  wrote:

http://blessings.buzz//01/27/video-atheists-confounded-as-mit-scientist-offers-proof-that-god-exists/#.VMq1W8UnCjY.mailto

Roll Easter Rollercoaster, 29JAN – #45

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Roll Easter Rollercoaster, 29JAN

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God signed me up for an Easter rollercoaster…bought me the ticket, moved the coaster right to me…they say God can move mountains, but when he moves them deliberately INTO your path, you take notice…I noticed. It’s time for me to ride the ride and tackle the Easter mountain…and it is time for me to accept Jesus 100%, not just at 99.44%, where I am currently holding on. I got the Christmas part down now… Jesus is real to me now, been an awesome merry-go-round. Amen.

Easter is my rollercoaster… Hop on.

I also plan to try to pull in extra rollercoaster riders to travel with me. Actually, there are lots of people I want to ride with…

Do you LOVE old wooden rollercoasters??!!! The slow ascend, the bumpy bone jarring rattles, the click click click as you come to a screeching halt, glad it’s done. YOU LIVED! and so so ready to ride again…. It’s the closest thing to tempting death … with a thrill of escaping death to ride again. Got a wooden cross? I got a wooden rollercoaster. I realized that you take out the letters “rco” from “RollErcoASTER”, and you get “Roll Easter” (why or why do I notice these things at 2am, then get forced to take to my processing therapy writing?)…anyway…
Wouldn’t it be great to go ride an old coaster? Yup, the trip to nowhere which is somewhere…talkshow host Larry King used to say “Altoona, go ahead” to the phone callers…Well, there is something big near Altoona…MY rollercoaster…MY childhood rollercoaster…the Skyliner…dismantled from my childhood park…rebuilt in this little park in Altoona…..there are actually four coasters there, one being the oldest in the world. I rode the Skyliner with my cousin every summer, when we visited my Aunt and Uncle for a week. One time we rode like 23 times in one day…there was a huge rainstorm, but then cleared…and cleared out the park…talk about the best day ever as a kid (remind me to tell you about the rutabagas some other time)…

Once a friend and I rode a double coaster both times together…because you can never ride alone…you shouldn’t ride alone…you might slip out of the seat… I approach Easter this way too…with friends for help, ask them to pull on my seatbelt. I want to use this opportunity to seek out… I really want to be a fellow rider for so many now… to help them not slip out of their ride… to pull their seatbelt a little tighter into life… I don’t know if I can do this, if I can get thru to everyone who crosses my path… I will pray on this, pray for the right words, right opportunity to speak, pray that others continue to draw these folks in and engage them in life, pray that I might have any impact as an encourager… a seat belt tightener…

Well, I am in this Easter rollercoaster ride cue now…I’ve had a couple of months now to walk in my faith closer to the gate…I’ve got my ticket validated… I really am going to accept Jesus as my Lord and savior…I so want to drink that cup. I so want this rollercoaster ride.

I LOVE old wooden rollercoasters… and YES I want to see and feel this bumpy ride…feel that old wooden rugged cross… I want EASTER.

Stretching and Sharing Spirituality, 27 Jan – #44

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As I practice this new balance of spirituality I am practicing stretching… not to connect with my inner Zen, but to connect with my forgotten inner C-section muscles…

Breathe at all times, full deep breathes…

My neighbor (who works out 7am every morning) offered to help me, one week we did aerobics, one week stretching…very comfortable setting to reintroduce myself into exercise – which, until I stopped a couple of years ago, I really enjoyed and gave me greater energy…

I need that energy again…and I am afraid for my health…so many close folks with diabetes, heart issues… I wonder if I am next…

At my neighbors, I had rescue dogs who licked my feet, questioned my downward dog, and gave me the comic relief I needed, especially Bear, a giant puppy, a Burmese MOUNTAIN dog…who plunked down next to me ready to pray… I mean play…

I took the tape home, to practice more frequently than once a week… Here I bump into furniture… and at first had to endure the family members giggling…but I pushed thru that…slowly they just might accept…understand what/why this time and place makes it easier to practice…

Addition of the breath…that’s important.  That’s most important in sharing spirituality too…get the deep breathe in to push thru the conversation you know you want to have, and exhale and listen to how your message is received.

Sometimes you take warrior pose, sometimes child’s pose to come back to your breathe…
The instructor on the tape says “we want to be challenged, but never straining”… Yup, that’s Christianity too…just breathe and move…keep the movement fluid.

“The light in me salutes the light in you.”

Email from a friend 27JAN- #43

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Email from a friend, 27JAN

Thanks, I am all choked up…I know that I am only a product of HIS light shining through me

Thanks

On Jan 27,  10:42 AM, “L” wrote:
Thank you Debbie, this is a beautiful essay full of gratitude written by you (you have the writer’s talent here ) but felt by many I am sure.  We often do not thank those we take for granted, but that is a dangerous practice, I feel all of us should put more gratitude in our attitude.  That being said, I want to say a collective thank you from myself and many others( I am sure ) to you for all you do for our church.  Most of all I want to say thanks for the positive , encouraging and EXCITED optimism that you bring to everything you have a hand in, and that’s a lot!
There are many of us in the church who admire you and are thankful for you ~ some ( like me ) wish we had just a smidgen of your energy, but God has blessed us all differently and abundantly and you definitely use your talents for the greater good.

It is a blessing to know you and love you.  God Bless,

L.

 

God Decorated my Christmas Tree, 27JAN – #42

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42 God Decorated my Christmas Tree, 27JAN

Oh crud (not the word I used)…I just realized that this is nor’EASTER snow…not Christmas snow but Easter snow….guess Easter’s roller coaster is here for me to start my ride…  😉

I see God decorated my Christmas tree even more beautifully then I could have ever done…. Countless tiny decorations…Not the snow amounts I expected, but the snow I needed, and it’s still coming…and I thank God for SNOW and Christmas…

Weird Dreams, Snow and Jesus, 26JAN – #41

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Weird Dreams, Snow and Jesus, 26JAN

I am so impatient – I am waiting for this snow – I want the fluffy snow that quiets life – makes things still – the snow I wrote about previously: “…waiting for the snow for those who enjoy the quiet – enjoy the sound-dampening air-pocket filled piles of big beautiful fluffy flakes covering the muddy-ucky ground – absorbing sounds – preventing hustle and bustle and causing peaceful quiet all around. no driving, no school, no work, no fuss, the world takes a rest. World peace exists. Perhaps you might hear God say “Be Still and Know that I am God”

Well – school is pre-cancelled – the boss already knows I am not coming into work and I have both my computer and enough vacation time to take… but on principle they promised a foot of snow and we have barely an inch… ugh
I am impatient with God too – I both want Him to speed up and to slow down… I am wishing that God would slow down and let me stay on my calm Christmas merry go round – where I FINALLY accepted Jesus (Praise the Lord) – I am telling God – slow down – I am not ready for Easter yet – THAT roller coaster – I have to wait in line for it – are you sure it is my time? I keep asking God… and yet God moved so quickly and moved my challenging mountain right in front of me – where I couldn’t go anywhere but up… he threw the ropes down and he gave me so many wonderful guides – and yet I hesitate – not trusting God fully… God says “GO!” So, yes – I know I am to climb THIS year – but THIS Easter – I thought it would take years but God said “GO!” …..

…….and so I want to go now – I want to just climb climb climb – I want the SNOW – I know that God never promised snow – I am impatient… I have all I need and yet I want more… God laughs – He won’t give me my snow until I deserve it.

But oh – to have that gentle fluffy white pristine snow…. NO! – I have wind – I have granular sticky slippery slope snow… God sent 50 mph gusts – going to blow me up that mountain if I keep pausing…

I became bold enough to speak yesterday about my spiritual growth and I didn’t even need my words – my Pastor could tell!! – he could tell that I had been changed by God – that I was so different – oh the joy we both felt was SO wonderful – He described Naaman to me – from Kings (and God-sightingly one of our VBS stories this year) – how Naaman had to not only dip himself into the river – he had to let himself go – he had to 100% completely let go – get himself out of the way -allow God to baptize him – and he had to BELIEVE 100% – well that is so much of the way I am feeling – I got myself out of the way by studying and finding where I lacked faith and found the faith – and yet my toes are just so barely touching the bottom of the river – I am so barely holding on – I am like ivory soap at only 99.44% pure – I am so so close – I WILL get there! I know it is God’s time – and I am to be patient… I just want to let myself GO – I feel I have to share my story and I know the people who are next to hear it – it is incremental – it is fast and slow – it is deliberate – it is in God’s time… with God’s words…

A crazy dream I had two nights ago – my unconscious dreaming finishes up random thoughts of mine – no I don’t think that God is speaking through angels in my dream – I think I am finishing thoughts – gluing them together – wrapping up loose ends…. a wacky dream and a profound dream back to back on Friday night – first wacky – I was being berated by the nicest person – randomness – about a rope hanging from a projector screen – no connection I can find with that – but the people and I have a connection – and the one yelling at me in that scene was the person being scolded a few weeks back for some misunderstanding by the other person in that scene – that seemed to be odd to me – and I spoke out to the one doing the scolding… and just a minute later everything was fine – laughter and no harm no foul – but that scolding – perhaps that populated my loose end random dream is what I accept and I move on…

THEN – the not so random dream came next – a VERY prophetic dream to me – I was hearing music – hearing Warren Zevon music and all of a sudden he was there – I think of Warren Zevon in his last days – his last album and “Knocking on Heaven’s Door” song rendition – knowing he had terminal illness – month to live at the most… how poignant … knowing you are going quickly to death. well – the music played and Warren Zevon was close to me – and the music played – there was a lyric about Jesus and I stopped to over-analyze – and somehow rewinded the music as if I had a cd player in my brain- and I listened to the song part over and over again – and oh how I wish I could remember the song when I woke up – the only stretch of the lyric I could remember was “come to Jesus – come and drink my cup”. and Jesus was walking towards me and holding the chalice and enticing me to drink from the cup. …. and then I woke up – UGH – I so wanted to just drink from that cup – UGH I now wish I had grabbed it and gulped – impatient!!!! Why did I wake up???? BUT – it was the most gentle beckoning in the dream – gently and “dreamy” – I was less than a foot away from Jesus when I woke up… so tried to repeat the dream – but it was gone…

No – I don’t believe it was any saintly vision – I feel it was ME wanting to draw closer – to “drink the kool-aid??” as they say??? I do feel it was me wanting to finish this journey and drink the cup – let go of that ledge with my toes in the river and just float – I so want that – I will get there – I am 99.44% – 99.44% is Ivory SNOW! UGH – “SNOW” – I just connected that in my brain – thanks God – you are ever present in my mind – and you pull it together when I try to unravel it… I need to be the one that “lets it happen” and doesn’t “make it happen”…. “Be still and know that I am God”

Christianity is a journey – ongoing – forever a trek – no promises for easy walks – sometimes a roller coaster – sometimes waiting impatiently until you accept – Maya Angelo wrote about Christianity: “It is in the search itself that one finds ecstasy”

My snow – God will bring it and float me in it – and make me 100% pure – I just have to let myself go…. snow…..

VBS email #2, 25Jan – #40

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40 – VBS email #2, 25Jan

Everest – Vacation Bible School  –

Every year, one month prior to our summer vbs, we get to hear the reveal of the newest “easy vbs” kit from Group Publishing for the following year…when hearing “Everest”…Conquering Challenges with God Almighty Power…we got excited and knew that this was the perfect theme for us here at church!
Everest involves climbing, camping and snow (yes, you all know snow lovers even if you aren’t one), but Most Importantly it involves CONQUERING CHALLENGES…that is something so central to who we are as a church, who we are as Christians, and where we are going on our life-climbing journey. We can faithfully plug in anywhere here on this VBS journey.

Climbing and conquering challenges is not done alone. We have heard horror stories of those who go off the marked trails by themselves, of the avalanches-the catastrophies caused by snow, misguidedness and by life….we need help…we need a solid base camp (that’s YOU our whole church family) – we need YOU as our base camp to help us safely climb, to give us direction, to nourish us, to pray for us. We need YOU in our base camp for your experience and advice.

We all know we aren’t supposed to climb alone. Last year when calling out…so many were found… so many stepped up to the plate…These are our climbing buddies….This year we are all going on an expedition together, to not only climb the mountain, to conquer challenges with God’s power, but also to lead an expedition – it is our most important climb EVER – a mission to bring so many new people (young and not-so-young) with us to experience God’s Almighty Power and God’s Unfailing Love.

We are going to rely on our spiritual sherpas, our expedition guides, as well as our church base camp to collectively carry out this mission.

We hope you will join us! Look for more specifics in the months to follow. Please join us in this quest, whether as part of the base camp or as part of the expedition team. We are all in it together.
AMEN!

 

Told my Pastor – rather he told ME! 25JAN- #39

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this is an email chain soon after I realized I was awakening and my pastor knew it without asking – he didnt’ know where I was – nor did I – but he noticed the spirit change in me…  cool…

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Told my Pastor – rather he told ME!

—–Original Message—–

To: Pastor
From: debbie
Sent: Sun, Jan 25,

wow wow wow  I was still reeling from our conversation after the dinner tonight and how you said you noticed….  wow

smiling from ear to ear!

I even had to share after with our friends xxx – who were waiting with me for youth group to finish up  – so excited to tell my tale – one by one – individually – personally – because that is how I so connect with people…

I am so glad you shared some of your personal story in your sermon – like I said that is what reaches me…

I am going to send you some of my writings – not want to overwhelm you – and these are going to some day go into something bigger – but right now I am sharing them personally with certain people…

thanks!!!  love ya!

Future discussion planned with my professor -25JAN- #38

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this was an email discussion where I was realizing that the Lord lined up a theology professor as one of my facebook and church friends – the right person at the right time to “show me the data” about who wrote the new testament – critical in my understanding of the “realness” of Jesus.

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Future discussion planned with my professor

On Jan 25,  2:06 PM, Professor wrote:
These are the kinds of things I know a lot about. 🙂

—–Original Message—–
From: debbie
Sent: Sun, Jan 25,
Subject: Banned Bible

Oh boy, history channel… Random tv flipping while up home visiting…funny to come across this show, banned bible on the History Channel.. flipping between this and 80s videos on VH1 classic

They talked abot Marcion creating his own Bible…banning the old testament… “marcion’s eraser”

And in Oct 28, 312….conquering Constantine becomes Christian…looking for order and unity…to bring all people together… He summoned all the bishops, Nicea…Jesus was declared man and God.

Eucebius ???…church history, 18 books…which should be accepted… Which are heretical…

You know, my father would see the TV show “Happy Days” reruns that I would watch after school, and say ” that’s not accurate – that’s not how the fifties were”….one has to wonder about those types of discussions at Nicea, how romanticized the Bible writings were….1800 bishops invited, 200-300 showed….

Hmmm….

Climbing Mountains, VBS email #1, 25Jan – #37

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Climbing Mountains, VBS, 25Jan

Did you ever feel like you had a mountain-sized challenge in your life? Did you ever ask God why? Why do I have this struggle? health problem? issue? dark hour?
I ask this question, and you possibly do too…

And although a mountain can be right in front of you, God can give you the tools, put fellow climbers alongside you… He sends down the ropes, and say “It’s time to climb…the only way is up!”

Having been a child, I know our collective children have these challenges too – and they are just beginning their lives and hopefully realization of their journeys with God. They have miles ahead of them…and they need YOUR help! They need OUR help! Our church Vacation Bible School strives to put our collective children on the right path of discipleship, a life-long journey.

“Everest, Conquering Challenges with God’s Almighty Power!” will be an EPIC adventure. We will challenge the children and we will be challenged ourselves…we can share our mountain climbing experiences and success stories, and be their spiritual sherpas to guide their way.

We ask you to join us, as part of our church base camp, supporting the climb. Perhaps you would like to join us that week as a helper, mountain guide…we would love have you join our team!

Friends, please remember that God can move mountains…Mark 11:23 “I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart. ”

 

Wifi, first-second Peter, and Sermons, 24JAN – #36

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Wifi, first-second Peter, and Sermons, 24JAN

Strange to find the tablet picking up somebody’s WIFI at 430am…it’s not in this house that we are visiting, perhaps a neighbor…  At 430am, everyone is sleeping, except me, no phone battery to connect you to the outside world…no flashlight for a book, well thought I could play a game on the kindle…. Ok…. WIFI? Well that was a surprise! Now what could I look up?  Ok, been meaning to actually read the Bible more, good time for that…Peter I thought, been thinking of Peter a lot, his imperfections, my imperfections…

Except for that tough to digest first Peter 3rd chapter about wives and husbands, the advice is good…especially second Peter, the seven traits – Christian life goals…

What speaks to me is not just the advice, but the way it is framed…Peter says “my dear friends,”…that makes all the difference in advice giving… a term of familiarity and comfort with your audience, a term that shows your concern for them…you are telling them for their good, not for your personal gain. Your audience may actually listen and take the advice to heart…

I am a thinker with a good memory but I connect the emotional content of conversations, meetings to my memories…both at work and at home…I can tell you the tone of voice, the reactions of the people… this is attached to the dialogs in my head. That’s just the way I am.

Just like a Bible study or sermon given from the heart, when the audience is in the right frame of mind, private conversations have tremendous impact when you connect on a personal level.  I have benefitted from sermons and advice which have spoke to me…came from a trusted source…and had emotion-backed truth that made it stick. So much of me wants to gush in overflow about my personal spiritual experience, as if I had won the lottery… like you want to release a huge bombshell, but no, that would fall flat or worse cause bombs to be lobbed back towards me. I shared just a little info that I learned about Biblical writing history with a friend and got the response of: “she’s just a scientist, she doesn’t know God”, well it could of hurt my feelings but I just laughed it off, but that taught me that you have to frame your message – know your audience…   I have to have the armor of God for both those who think they know him and for those who don’t.

The Serenity prayer prays for wisdom to know the difference between thing you can change and things you can’t. I want to urge other certain someones I know to speak more personally, share their emotional attachments to the scripture lessons… because that works for me… but that is tough to do for some…seems easier and easier for me…but only one on one… if I spoke to a wide audience I think I would have to pick out someone in the crowd as if I were speaking to them personally, as a friend.  I pray for the Holy Spirit to give me words…the Serenity prayer for wisdom… And not my Blarney Stone gift of gab to blow it… to look for the small cracks in conversation, like a gentle breeze… Peter found his voice in between first and second Peter, I should too… I will get there, I will keep writing for now… But some day, I will be able to be bold and say “My dear friends”…

Feeding our Church Family, 22 Jan – #35

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35 an email to Pastor (a few days before I told him about my spiritual growth)
From: debbie
Date: Thu, Jan 22
Subject: Feeding our Church Family, 22 Jan
To: Pastor

Hi Pastor, I write allot these days…it is a good dumping of my brain on to “paper”..  Sometimes essays, sometimes random thoughts…

I hope to share some with you sometime..

This one I wanted to share today…with you, and perhaps I will share with council of ministries folks…either individually or collectively, to say thank you.

I have been thinking about the stewardship meeting I crashed earlier this week, the VBS meeting, and the council of ministries meeting next week… and how I wish to encourage our church and ministry leadership…as I have been blessed to have a supportive church family and wish all people could feel the closeness and love that I do.

So this essay is called:

Feeding our Church Family, 22 Jan

A friend of mine is struggling…  has no church family – lost/tossed away her religion years ago and has been shaken by multiple stressful situations lately, with very few people to turn to…  So, through all this, I am reminded how blessed I am that I have my immediate and extended family, my friends, and I ALSO have a wonderful church family.  I have amazing supportive friends at work – and the most loving supportive family and friends… but my church family is where I can freely speak of God’s amazing work in my life and where I see and call out God working in others’ lives. I know it is tough for churches to keep track of everyone – but a strong network of support is the backbone (the safety net) of the church – that is Christians living in communal care of each other.

A different friend recently said she didn’t believe in God but kinda believed in Heaven and Hell – well, hmmm… – I know she is a good person and always “thinks good thoughts” when others are praying…  it reminded me of a hypothetical depiction I once heard – where heaven and hell have the same things – there are tables heaping with plentiful food – and giant long chopsticks. In hell, the people are starving and hungry and can’t eat because they can’t get the long chopsticks filled with food to their own mouths.  BUT, in heaven, the people sit at the tables of nourishing food and use the same long chopsticks….  but these heaven-dwellers and are super happy and well fed – because they share the food with each other – they use their long chopsticks across the table to feed the others – and they themselves are fed by others’ generous outreach.

Surely this generous outreach found in Heaven also pertains to our churches – to the communities which grow due to the purposeful nourishment of each other – to the church families who are actively involved in knowing each other’s business – not in a pushy nosy way but in a caring considerate way.  This cross-table feeding of fellow churchgoers is not JUST exchanging pleasantries on a Sunday morning in collective worship – it includes partaking in the many opportunities to emotionally bond, nourish each other, and to explore living communally as Christians.

I am grateful for those in the church who are constantly sharing their God-given talents and spiritual gifts on both the small and large scale. I have witnessed and I appreciate when my family and I have been fed spiritually by our church family and I appreciate the opportunities we have had to use our God-given talents to share with others.   When one does not feel fed by their church experience, they slip away…  It is not a deliberate act of leaving – it is just a quiet slipping away… people get caught up in the hustle and bustle – they forget to come to the table to get fed – they think sometimes that they are all ready full and satisfied and forget that they should come back to the table anyway to talk, to pick up the chopsticks and feed others. So I praise and thank all of you church leaders, ministry leaders, and all those people in the middle who are feeding our church family members everyday – I appreciate both when the regular diners are fed and when our church family recognizes that occasional diner who is still hungry and intercedes before they leave the table and start to drift away…

A kitchen worker may set up the tables and then set out beautiful and scrumptious foods for dinner. The partakers in the feast will not only enjoy the meal but also appreciate that this wonderful dinner was available to them. They will tell their friends that they were fed at church not only on food but in friendship, kindness, and a sense of community – an outward sign of sharing God’s love.

A music leader sets out the tracks and the chords, the musicians follow the conductors lead – and when they come together and they feed off each other’s musical talents, the sound is harmonious and is bolstered by their mutual enthusiasm. Sometimes, there are subtle reminders by the music leader in between sections of the song – so that the musicians remember to keep on track or to move onto the next section… These quiet reminders are so important – and the end product is a beautiful song that holds together.  Subtle and not so subtle reminders are also needed to stay on track with our faith journey – so that we stay true and become the best we can be. It takes our ministry leaders to remind us to move and be challenged in our faith – to grow and encourage others to grow…  harmoniously…

Thank you, our community of church ministry leaders and workers alike. You set up the tables, and encourage the others to come eat…you provide opportunities for members to become effective as Christians and together we can be harmonious and spirit-led. You enable the continual growth of God’s love.  Thank you.

Rain, a Floating Rain, 18JAN – #34

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Mon, Jan 19 –
Ok we had ice, we had rain, can you pray for snow for me? Thanks. Someone said to me “this has been a terrible winter”, at the same time I thought-“when is winter actually going to come?” We all have our own takes on life, don’t we 😉

Rain, a Floating Rain, 18JAN

Been thinking (a lot) about rain today… pouring rain and God’s rain (and reign)… the rain washed away the ice from this morning’s ice storm, my section has a great flood plain built in so that no houses get flooded, the rain allowed me to check out my newly re-attached rain gutters (they work!), and I thought about my future rain barrel project.  The song at church was “let your mercy rain on me”. My friend from college posted a rain quote about digging drainage ditches for all God’s rain. And I had written a piece about my Christmas flood one month ago yesterday.

I have been thinking of how to explain my spiritual growth this past month. Today is one month and one day after that Christmas flood essay, where I explain how so much good “God rain” fell on me and how I hope I can make it last… I have been thinking about God, the Holy Spirit and figuring out my acceptance of Jesus in this spiritual growth NON -STOP for over a month, not one day goes by when I don’t think about this. Every thought when I am not thinking of something else…”what is wrong with me?” Or is it “what is right with me?”… Everything is reframed in my new balance of life.

How am I going to describe this new thought train? I did not ask for this, but I allowed it to happen. I thought it is like low hanging heavy gas which sinks down and permeates… Like poisonous gas? Like fog? No…it is NOT poison or cloudy… it is life-enriching and clear… it is like rain. Yup, rain into my brain… Ugh, why does brain have to have the word rain in it? Instantly I noticed that just now. After the letter “B”, as in “Be still and know that I am God”, comes R A I N. It’s nourishing rain, but not drowning rain… instead, the rain has floated me up…the rain water has blocked more negative, non-nutritive thoughts. The rain in my brain is washing me clean and floating me closer to God.

This rain from God, I hope others can understand how it has helped me, floated me…and filled those tiny crevices in my head. Time to take some thoughts out, and set then aside to dry. Time to plant new seeds. Time to share some of my rain with others… maybe my writings are like my future rain barrel… they give me something to pour out when rain is needed in a parched dried soul of one of my friends.

Yeah, rain… RAIN on me, REIGN in me, REIN me in.

Thanks, God, for all of it.

How I Lost My Religion, 17JAN – #33

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Last induction of the Christmas tree glow…  I am going to have to take this tree down soon – not taking it down until sunday 🙂 or maybe monday….

This is a piece has been in my head for years (25 yrs probably) – with the new additions – it is long but it flowed, it is a deliberate piece… I had to get it out – I brainstormed it a few days ago – and now it is written – nearly uninterrupted 2hrs writing last night, 2hrs editing/writing this morning – so good to get this one out of my soul!!!!!! YEAH!!!!!!!

this piece is about losing a religion – but retaining – gaining – regaining a spirituality – there is a very very very important difference!!!

How I Lost My Religion, 17JAN
If you sense any burning in my voice in some of these pieces, it’s because I feel the hot glue gun that God is dripping on me to force me to get some of these harder pieces together – to force me to get them out, set them on a shelf and move forward…  Sometimes it is like “throwing up on paper” – get it out and then clean it up – and you will feel MUCH better…

I have a few friends who appear to have never had a religion… never got a religious or even a spiritual upbringing.  I, on the other hand, have the religious upbringing but my spirituality is self taught, God has shown me beauty in all things…pretty easy for me to believe in God. One such friend, who doesn’t believe in God, says she can’t “pray” for people when she sees strife – but she does think good thoughts for them. Although she doesn’t believe in God, she thinks there is a heaven and a hell… Well, at least she has some structure in her lack of belief system, hmmm….

Being Catholic was not always easy (that’s not unique to me, I now realize) – it was all I knew for a while as a child – but growing up in a progressive, international and diverse community that was and is my hometown, it was inevitable that I would have access to people of many faiths.  My family on my Dad’s side was catholic by default – from Irish background – and my father and his 5 brothers all attended our school/church (their 8th grade graduation photos line the walls of the school)….  my mother had no religion – and I remember at my grandmother’s passing the discussion that they were pretty sure she was baptized – even though there was no religion – there was an underlying spirituality that I saw existed at funerals. My mom had to go through baptism, confirmation and pre-cana all in one to marry my dad.

At Catholic school and in church as a child, I was taught that to worship you had to sit on your hands. Yup, I can remember Father John instructing us to: stand, put our hands behind us, then sit down.  Father John was in the service club with my father and bridged both the worlds of being a regular-type person and a priest . Yes, I was grateful that I have the religious background and I would never trade most of my life trials for anything now – but sometimes I wonder if what I learned was truly good for me.  I was glad that my parents weren’t super religious about going to church – my father didn’t like the sermons, he said.  Since I went to catholic school, I didn’t have to go to CCD class.  As a school, we would walk two blocks to church on feast days. One week my brother pulled altar boy duty at 7am every morning for a week, so my mom said “This makes up for lots of the times we missed”.  I remember often the prevailing emotions in my life experiences- but not always the facts that surround those events. I have social awareness naturally and my book knowledge is self-taught.

My long hours in forced mass attendance did benefit me to this day – I learned to sit (on my hands) and do nothing – and to sit and not fall asleep and to sit and just let my mind go. It was a Godsend to learn how to sit still – an hour at a time – charting the time going by – making it easier to sit through college and grad school classes and boring seminars later on… let your mind go – but don’t move and don’t appear to be not paying attention… got that down – thanks catholic upbringing… don’t remember the sermons. I remember the rote memorized prayers and the tune of the most wonderful arrangement of the Lord’s Prayer… I remember my first communion – so special… sat right up in front – I remember my pink dress, my white gloves and carrying the tray… I remember the bells rung by the altar boys – their white robes and SAM’s instruction to look up before looking down in prayer.  I remember my favorite retelling of the Easter resurrection story told in different parts by the many priests – it must have been special if more than one priest showed up that mass!  I remember the faces of the priests – the young ones who came in the 70’s in their scruffy hippie style – as well as the demeanor of the older priests.

Father C was our pastor – he was there for over 25 years – very nice man – good with the financial and social aspects of running a church – he once ran a stamp club for us in school – I remember him teaching us the word “philately”. He also had us make unleavened bread for our class’s first communion. I remember the gift of a special rosary, reciting the Hail Mary like there was no tomorrow. I loved the school carnival – my mom ran the rummage sale – my father made  “Dandy Candy Apples”.  I remember spending my money on games, raffles, winning a pink and grey afghan and those old Italian ladies yelling “Hot pizza fritta’s ! – Get’em while they’re hot!”   And the bingo… the smoke-choking filled gym in which parents were forced to work – “shake’em up” the permanent fixture bingo ladies would yell. It’s not just attending Mass that defined my catholic upbringing.

Catholic church Masses at college weren’t the same – first off, it was too far across the main thoroughfare of our tiny town –they were held at the other school across the way  – a 70’s incarnation of a church – modern with no stained glass saints which you could study while sitting through that long hour mass – no families – just college kids – guilt brought Catholics to church  and I guess these kids were no exception – they had been guilted well.  A few times I attended – not really worth the trip….

Then a friend said – let’s try the local community church – for all denominations…  first and foremost, we ran into our professors – whoa! – my chemistry and biology advisors – their families – other professors – community members…  there was a WOMAN minister – with children’s time at the beginning of the service – when the stories were entertaining for the children and enriching for the adults. There was the coffee hour afterwords – say what???  My catholic upbringing had none of this – and you call yourselves Christians, lol?  Drinking coffee together?  Shaken – but happy to see that the people were happy… WAIT where’s the guilt?  HEY – didn’t you have to go to confession before you were allowed to have that communion???  Yes I was raised with tolerance, compassion for my fellow man and an open eye view of the people of the world – but coffee and talking after church with cookies?  where was this in my catholic upbringing?  Again I don’t remember the sermons but as an emotional learner – I remember Rev D – I remember the personal connections – her reassuring smile and the people’s faith in what was preached.

World Religions class in junior year was a pass/fail formality for me – some easy credits to accumulate –  it wasn’t part of my core classes, so my major professor, chemistry teacher and overall good egg, Dr B, let me take it pass/fail to reduce my stress levels, knowing that my energy had to be focused on P-Chem and Biochem and oh yeah – that new boyfriend of mine 😉 … World religions was an eye opener to my catholic apartment-mate – she never heard of half these religions  where as I luckily knew people in my hometown who practiced them  – diversity in your upbringing makes a HUGE difference… For some strange reason, the world religions professor loved my writing – that had never happened before – I whizzed through class – left after 20 minutes during the final exam to the horror looks of the other exam takers – “it’s ok” I said out loud to the exam takers and again to the professor, “It’s OK! I am only taking this pass/fail and I have to study for Chem….”  😉

Back to that boyfriend…  time for marriage… time to find a church back home… we had moved back to my hometown to start our grad school careers.   Well my beloved childhood fairytale wedding – in my home church – stained glass, was dripping with flying wood buttresses – and faithful Father C…  Fairytale wedding? not so fast…  our first or second meeting… there was  “the paper”… Guess what, my fiancée was Methodist (born Presbyterian and transferred to Methodism) – that’s not Catholic… hmmm…  There was/is one Christ right?  Hmmm… not catholic… Not just a formality to breeze over this oversight on my part, a few extra Hail Mary’s on his behalf – no, I had to sign a paper – had to promise to raise my kids catholic – WAIT!  KIDS? WHAT KIDS?  Yup, they were pre-calling me on the carpet… Where was my upbringing? Where was my faith? Where were the tenants of my religion? If I wasn’t true to my religion then how could I be true to anything??  Discouraged – looked down upon for my situation – no mercy from Father C.  I know others had been in the same boat – but worse – not able to get married in the catholic church.  My future husband was supposed to sign away his rights to raise our kids in his faith – he didn’t actually have to sign the paper, just verbally agree… hmmm…  My Dad said -“Eh, just sign it – whatever” with the thought that it really didn’t matter what I signed – it was a later decision… My Dad’s words of wisdom were – “Your Mother always wanted you to be married in a church – don’t disappoint your Mother” … there it is folks – was I to lie to God to make sure I get married in a church?… No, that was one thing I couldn’t do – lie to God – nope – so I didn’t sign it – I didn’t even call Father C back up – I just wrote a letter retracting my request to be married in my home church – I lost my fairytale wedding I thought – move on…

The REM song “Losing My Religion” – That’s Me in the Corner – That’s Me in the Spotlight – Losing My Religion – yes, that was my theme song for 1991-1992.  Profound and prophetic – coincidence or music therapy?  Let me be clear – it was not just my lack of willingness to sign the dotted line about my unknown unplanned kid’s religion – but it was truly a year’s long process of my disagreements with the tenants of the Catholic church – with the heresy disguised as traditions – with my opposing views on euthanasia and abortion – sure I liked the Pope (John Paul II), but I really had been losing faith in my Catholic religion for years….   The forced paper for the wedding was the last straw.  My biggest argument then and now is – ‘It doesn’t matter whether you go grocery shopping –  to X or Y (two local stores) – it is the same food, just different packaging. That is the difference in these Christian religions – same food – same take home message – but packaged different – repurposed rebranded for a particular store.’  It was so clear then and now that Catholicism had its stronghold on churches and people but Christianity was and is much bigger than an individual church and an individual religion.  It was a good effort on my part to harden my heart and to tell myself it didn’t matter – but with the  REM song in my head – IT HURT – it really hurt to lose my religion.

Methodism – yes – an opening at the Methodist church – same date – same Christ – beautiful church – and actually this was the same church where my Godfather’s wife – a Methodist – attended…  He did sign that paper – he took his kids to catholic church himself without his wife – she went to the Methodist church and he came to catholic mass – equal but different – a testament to the strength of faith in one’s own religion and the strength of marriage – they agreed to be separate to be together – she agreed to it – and he was and is a wonderful loving dad and godly man – and they are still amazing in their togetherness, and their kids are amazing too.

The Methodist church – a beautiful church for a wedding – and guess what? Recovering Catholic – guess what?  ALL the “pre-Cana”-like classes we had were filled with former Catholics – talk about an exodus…  nearly all couples had a former catholic – including one whom I went to catholic school with. The term “Recovering Catholic” was how my librarian friend and work study mentor described herself way before I became a “Recovering Catholic” – a term I still use today – when people ask my religion – I say I attend the Methodist church – we practice Methodism – I was raised on Bingo but now I am into covered dish suppers…

Methodism – just a year or so after we got married a new pastor came to town – a spitfire – the most powerful preacher I have ever met – and also a great mom and grandma and pastor too. She lit up a room when she preached and brought me to tears so many times – especially in my later years through horrid grad school experiences… I still want to re-hear her Christmas sermon with children about gold frankincense and mud – I can’t remember why the mud – but I remember the emotions – the power.  Her Baptist-raised, Southern-bred soulful fire brought personal heart-touching stories – ones I long to hear again.  Methodism is yes, methodical but it like any sermon can be personalized and the result is unmatched in my opinion.  My good high school friend, now a Pastor, happened to attend as well – a friend who herself is a preacher now in the cold north country.  Her dad passed away suddenly quite young and the most vivid words from Rev RD will always be with me – “It Sucks!”   Yup, there is no way around it – there are good words to give at funerals – but when it comes down to it – “IT SUCKS” to have a family member die – a Dad – with so much more spirited life to live. She was grieving with the whole church in addition to the family – she showed us that it is ok to grieve his loss – it is ok to cry – it is ok to trust God too while we mourn. Those sentiments echoed in my head a week or so ago at another friend’s 51 year old mother’s funeral – it sucked for the family – our current church’s Pastor was visibly moved by the emotion in the congregation at the service – it was a therapeutic cry for all.

…..

There are more verses for this essay which are not lived yet – more stories for people who believe and who don’t believe –

 

Why? I ask: Why do we cling to religions that provide structure but provide strife? Why are people forced into pigeon holes of beliefs when it was supposed to be one church! and yet, I have found that many people are not schooled in why there are different religions anyway – they just find a place that they like the people and the pastor and stick with it for a while – there are some people who are hardfast into one religion – but others are just floaters…

 

It was a good effort on my part to harden my heart 20-25 years ago and to tell myself it didn’t matter that I lost my religion – but with that REM song in my head – it really hurt to lose my religion – and it DOES matter that I lost my way.

See there are more verses – more dos-i-dos – more losses and regains to be found for me and for others…. this is a good time to stop this essay – regroup and them come back…

Religion is not a fairy tale – beliefs gets lost in the shuffle – religion is nice while it lasts.. but it just doesn’t sustain me like spirituality….  God’s Spirit in us is what really matters…

And God Sent ICE, 18Jan – #32

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32 (make sure to read #31 before this)

This is an important follow up to last night’s post… It is not lost on me that while hot tea would be appropriate to drink here on the cozy couch by the Christmas tree (I wrote this after the Ice storm) that instead the extra drink from my kids’ happy meal is (yes) ICE tea…I am drinking ICE tea…

And God Sent ICE, 18Jan

After my fails at belaying and trusting during rock climbing, I couldn’t wait to get back this morning to try again. Luckily we stayed overnight; I had good therapy of silly moms until 1am, a good solid five hours sleep. We had 2 hours to climb in the morning. but I knew I had to leave an hour early to get to church class… and because of Girl Scout falling ill with fever, I was leaving even earlier – which meant only half an hour of climbing for my daughter… she was not happy at the least because rock climbing appears to be her life calling now…

But then God sent ICE. Icy freezing rain covering everything… Church  at 8 o’clock cancelled 9 o’clock canceled… I zip through social media , phone calls, texts … will my 10 o’clock class be cancelled too?.. prayerfully hoping (not that we should have left anyway because the roads were the worst…  shut down, many car pileups)…ICE…terrible to say, but the JOY as I knew they would cancel, and they did…I could tell my daughter that she could climb the whole two hours…and climb she did, wow she is amazing!

After the flurry of texting etc about church canceled, I turned my attention to myself…it was time to retrain, refocus, retest …it was time to belay again, this time I was so determined, practiced and said I will belay my own daughter…I will never take my eye off of her…I would give my whole hand to keep her from falling…not worry about a possible pinch like I got last night. Well, she was too exhausted, I asked for a volunteer…guess what?  The daughter of my friend who I left hanging last night when I pinched my hand…she is the one who volunteered…yes I would give my hand for this daughter too…
With steady, even-keeled serious Keith our trainer, by my side, we started the test…she climbed, I belayed, I gave her advice for foot holds…I had good technique Keith assured me…I didn’t take my eye off her… She was to randomly fall four times in my test…she did, I found the right position for my hands…I didn’t drop her or forget about her…I saw her safely back to the wall…and safely down when we were done. I passed. No, I didn’t make a fuss…quiet victory, humbled achievement.

Now that I am certified, and my daughter will be wanting to go to the climbing gym, I know there will be more pain and pinches ahead…but I have better technique, better focus…it is not just rock climbing I am taking about…it’s counseling, it’s reaching out to people, it’s LIFE. Focus on your technique, never lose sight of the climber, keep the faith, and pray for God’s guidance.

The ice gave me extra time to climb my personal mountain, made us slow down and not be over confident on our drive home… And on my ride home, one of my teenage passengers was named Grace. I drove home with Grace, the free and unmerited favor from God.

Thank God for the Ice and the Grace.

Rock Climbing and Life Lessons, 17Jan – #31

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31 (make sure to read #32 after this one)

Rock Climbing and Life Lessons, 17Jan

Tonight I failed, twice. Everyone is fine, but rock climbing fails can be fatal. We are fine and having fun rock climbing with the girl scouts. But I failed my belaying test…was I over confident? Or just a beginner’s mistake? I got my hand caught in the mechanism and I was stuck and in pain…I was testing so the trainer had the rope too he had my back and the person wouldn’t have fallen (this time) but still I was in pain and I twice lifted my hand off…he failed me right there…says it happens all the time, he will retest me in the morning…I was and am  upset at myself, for over confidence, for not working thru the pain…for taking my eyes off the climber and my hands off the rope…now, I know this was a common mistake the first time doing it…but I hate to fail…and worse I interpret everything that happens these days as God trying to tell me something..and I relate this to my helping people…what if I extend my hand, my ear, my compassion, and then let go of the rope?… what if I take my eye off the climber…if I am going to stand for something and offer to help and be bold in what I do…how am I going to handle if the person falls?….I try to watch out for people…I feel pride sometimes in helping people whereas I should feel prayer not pride…I should feel humble that God showed me someone hurting …chose me to help…

I ask myself, what if I can’t stay consistent…I will so try try try! There is no easy answer…my tears…I had to remove myself from the fun scout event in this overwhelming sorrow and stress. I was so blessed to have my troop leader, my silly sister,  come up beside me… comfort me and tell me what I would tell anyone else…these things happen..and you can’t always prevent the crashes…you can’t always stop the pain…

Tomorrow I will take that test  again…I am going to put myself out there again…and I am going to pray and keep my eye steady and my hands moving, listen and watch…it’s too important to me to not help people, it’s too important for me to not trust God…
My second fail tonight was my lack of trust and my motions on the rope may have caused my belayer to slip with her hand too…she will be ok, but more painful than mine…her hand was stuck…I didn’t trust when I saw too much slack in the rope…I didn’t trust and she got hurt…I found I was next to a fenced wall and scaled it as fast as I could… Sometimes God closes a door but opens a window… I scaled myself to safety.
So how can I trust God unfailingly? I am weak and only God can help me learn how to trust Him 100%. I have to trust… I have to get out of the way and just put 100% of my trust in Him,….otherwise it is going to cause someone pain and I will come crashing down.

Another Poinsettia, Stress and God’s Healing 16JAN – #30

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Another Poinsettia, Stress and God’s Healing 16JAN

Stress bring flowers – a last ditch effort for the plant who is struggling, stressing to do the one thing that is most important in carrying out the biological mission of reproduction  – of passing on ones genetic material…  not only do plants flower when the nourishment, timing is right for the best survival of offspring seeds.. but they also flower as the a last ditch effort – this often happens when the plant who is struggling, stressing to do the one thing that is most important in carrying out the biological mission of reproduction  – of passing on one’s genetic material…When a new tomato plant is transplanted, the gardener must pinch off the first few rounds of yellow flowers to encourage the plant to spend its energy into vegetative growth – to keep the plant growing until it is big and strong and then able to produce big juicy tomatoes…those first few yellow flowers are a stress phenomenon – while the plant is getting established, its roots damaged, it has no idea that the caring gardener will feed it, water it and nuture it…

I don’t have a green thumb but poinsettias and me seem to do well together – I have at least three rescued ones – people ask if I put them in the dark, starve them to make them flower – and no – I just keep continually caring for them…  the stress comes naturally to them (my bad green thumb) and I don’t have to force the stress…  

This past fall I dug out and brought inside a a giant poinsettia  (the big one in the top of the photo) which I had previously rescued  from being tossed out at work a year ago after its usefulness as a decoration at work was done… – I watered it and planted it outside later in the late spring and it thrived so much!  I brought in before the frost.   and damaged one section of it – but that section did recover and although the whole plant lost most of its beautiful green leaves – it has been re-growing the green leaves again over the last two months… but the only part of it that is red and flowering is the one third that I accidentally damaged in a big way when I dug it out of the ground – the roots were damaged and it had a hard time taking in water.  So, now two months later, the whole plant is doing fairly well – and only that damaged area, that I stressed by transplanting, is now growing the red beautiful leaves. The stress of the damage – the repair was new root growth to take in water… well now it is beautiful!

Does stress make us more beautiful? 
A broken person recovers and is more beautiful from the stress.
Is it God’s way to show us where we need to grow? Put some new roots down?  To stand in front of others and show our cracks and how we are healing? To reach out to other broken people? To let God use our secrets and our damages to be examples to others?

I think that when we are in need of healing – we can ask some friends to help hold up the pieces – to provide emergency nourishment… but God has to grow us new roots for life-giving water. We have to reach out to God for repair. Only then can we show our real beauty.

another poinsettia 30.PNG

Carpentry, Friendship, Imperfect Snowballs and World Peace, 15JAN – #29

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29  This is a lighter wispy piece that preceded my spiritual piece that I emailed earlier…

Carpentry, Friendship, Imperfect Snowballs and World Peace, 15JAN

My Subaru was dancing again – very briefly for a short flurry on the turnpike – those dancing swirly wispy snow drifts on the dark pavement – I have been praying for snow – not just for me – not just for those kids at heart who long to sled, play, and have snowball fights – but also for those who enjoy the quiet – enjoy the sound-dampening air-pocket filled piles of big beautiful fluffy flakes covering the muddy icky ground – absorbing sounds – preventing hustle and bustle and causing peaceful quiet all around.  no driving, no school, no work, no fuss, the world takes a rest. World peace exists. Perhaps you might hear God say “Be Still and Know that I am God” – if anytime you could, it is probably more likely when it is snowing….

I need snow for my beloved vacation bible school this year – snow balls are free – they are fun to make – they store well in the freezer and what a treat for the kids to have a snowball in the 100 degree heat the last week of July – big kids and little kids alike will be awe-struck.  so in order to do this – I need snow – I need packing snow – um…I bought discounted fake spray snow – to give that niveous snow look on the windows… but  where is the real snow?  I am from upstate – there is plenty of snow there, and worse to worse I will have to make a pilgrimage if needed – I will get my snow – but wouldn’t it be nice if snow came to me?

While waiting for the snow this winter, I am happy that a friend and contractor/carpenter – came to me yesterday.  I have so many little and big projects that they accumulate and then I am gifted the opportunity to get them all done as superfast speed – when he comes on occasion from a long distance away…  it is beneficial to not only be able to accomplish tasks, but his friendship allows for the honest open discussions of the attributes of different types of dishwashers – different grades of wood flooring – and open discussions of how much work and cost each level of repair will take.  You have to count your blessing when you can have an honest discussion on anything – and the trust factor is so key when you are talking about the improvements in life and house that will impact your day to day micro-world – home where you rest and where you draw your strength from to face each day with a fresh attitude – home for you and your family.

Well – an unexpected gift came with the expected arrival this contractor friend, the gift was the snow.  snow from far away – melted, refroze, cemented on the van – it was the first thing that caught my eye – I ran for a plastic bag  – I knew what I had to do – I had to have that snow. But sadly it was icy – it was hard to chip off – it was dirty and salty from the road… ice that used to be snow is imperfect… clumps of melted ooze – snow on cars gets melted, refroze, and cemented down. but chipped it I did and put it in a bag – still a snowball even if it was imperfect snow – it still evokes the images and feeling of snow – it still works…it wasn’t the snow I thought I was going to get when I prayed for it – it was imperfect but still it was snow – and it reassured me that more snow was going to come – at some point – in some golden silent time.

Then as I dashed off to work, snow flurries came down – while listening to a song sung my by daughters church choir – “Thank You Lord” – “he sends the snow in winter”.  Snow kisses while dreaming of snow, a cozy repaired nesting house, and world peace…  A nice gift from God just like a few weeks prior when I wrote the poem:

up early leave early.
a Northerner awakened.
wispy white wondrous
snowdrifts dance on the untreated Turnpike.
dancing under the direction of the wind.
occasionally caught in the imperfections of the road.
the Subaru danced me all the way to work.

Speaking of a Carpenter…, 15JAN – #28

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actually I have four pieces flying out of my head today – but this piece came out the fastest at lunch and is likely the result of me brainstorming (and almost finish writing) the other three pieces… getting those brainstorm thoughts down on paper to get them cleared from my brain and getting me out of the way… that’s how I could get this piece out.

Speaking of a Carpenter…, 15JAN
As I gush over my recent great home improvements, accomplished by a contractor friend, progress in leaps and bounds, repairs of an accumulated list of both big and small projects… it is impossible not to address the elephant in the room – another contractor – a carpenter – at work every day… Jesus was a carpenter trained to be a carpenter in human form… actually I have heard (from a tv program on the history of biblical people and places) that in Jesus’ day, the carpenters were actually stone cutters, stone masons… They were building Roman Coliseum-like stone buildings – either way they were workers – they worked with their hands … and that is a very good mental link to think of Jesus as our personal stone mason, laying down the bricks for a good foundation upon which to build a church, working on our own personal temple.  Sometime we need to contract out the work for speedy work that we can’t do ourselves – asking God/Jesus to help us in times of need – helping us restore some sanity – helping our “nesting” and building a safe and comfortable place to exist.

They always say things happen in God’s time, not in our requested timeliness… well I guess that means that God’s work could also be super fast not only super slow… could be calculated but accelerated. I often remind my Sunday School students to marvel about the fact that it was only three short years of teaching during which Jesus performed so many miracles and connected with so many people. He laid the foundation for a church growth, a spiritual movement, and one of the most profound statements I have ever heard: that Jesus knew He had to die and go to heaven in order that the Holy Spirit could come to the apostles…He had to physically “get out of the way”, to allow the extremely-needed Holy Spirit to take over and enable the forward-reaching mission of spreading the word of God Love. Over and over I hear – once you “get out of the way” and let things happen – that is truly giving it up to God and the result is amazing. If you are going to ask the contractor to do the work – then you have to let him do his work – you have to get out of the way…  If you are a child of God – then let His Carpenter do His Holy work on you.

Oh the Tears, 13 Jan – #27

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Oh the Tears, 13 Jan

So I wondered why I hadn’t gotten teary in this searching which is an emotion-driven new awakening, new thirst for knowledge and understanding, a most profound spiritual change for anyone… been questioning “why no tears?” My Mom will cry at anything and I was this way as well… but apparently seven hard years of grad school, plus the many trying times in my life, I have built walls…  not hardened my heart, but built retaining walls to withhold emotion when I choose, I learned how to keep the tears in.

Music therapy works for me…overplaying a song or album in a loop until I myself get out of that repeat loop situation…the Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers album “She’s the One” and songs “Walls” and “climb that hill” was my music therapy during the last couple years of grad school, still the most difficult process I have ever accomplished, getting done… getting out… in spite of the issues, and because of the people in my foster-home-like second lab, who saved me, cured my ailing projects and allowed me to grow and move forward. “Some days are diamonds, some days are rocks.”… Over and over again Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers would sing and I would listen… I would HOPE!

So the tears, some tears did finally come, when reciting the Lord’s Prayer at an emotional funeral for a friend’s 51 yr old Mom, who had a massive heart attack…I couldn’t finish the prayer, tears for sorrow, apologizing to God to Jesus for my doubts. Tears blend right in and come easy at a funeral…I said, ah yes… here are my tears…

Then the tears came again this morning – with good therapeutic release…  While getting ready to hit the shower before work, I overheard a video (the preacher was quite the character – bomb-blasting people with scripture trying to convert them… hmm…)…  Well, the video preacher was saying to some heckling doubting Thomas in the audience, that he didn’t agree with that audience members take on the non-existence of Jesus…  “History really did show Jesus was real”… ok .. but then the preacher actually said “You are just making yourself look like an idiot, for ignoring the history.”  WHEW! Maybe some people really do need to hear when they are off-base, BUT, those were NOT Christ-like nonjudgmental words to my ears coming from a preacher!  If that were the reaction to my open questioning (which I shared privately), well my walls would have gone right up, sealing me off from that person.  But thankfully I picked (or was led to) the right people to share my story with.. So now I heard that preacher chastise that doubter, ugh… Oh, the tears… Oh how I felt regret for that interaction – probably made that doubting person even more angry with bigger walls… oh how if I were in that preachers shoes could instead have said: “I know you’re doubting… I know where you’re coming from… I know because I’ve been there…” – or at least I could have said, “let’s talk”.   Being a non-judgmental preacher with a more Christ-like answer would have been better… An urging to that disbeliever to go back and look at the history… consult the scholars…. seek out the answers… don’t do it alone… find people who will help to answer your questions.

I have been blessed these days with some dear friends who have given me non-judgmental support and guidance; this is how I have been able to grow… I reached out so slowly at first but then openly and honestly to 5 people whom I felt could be non-judgmental, who knew me not as a heathen, but understood me as a sincere seeker who didn’t want my heart broken. I also was gifted right now with two Biblical scholars with sincere academic knowledge combined with faith.

My “Supernatural Radio” (another Tom Petty song) has been playing certain music in my car – this music has carried and flowed thru my thoughts, keeping me afloat. All these things have all helped me to continue to grow in my faith… slowly, nourishingly, on a seemingly laid out path paved with love.

The most powerful Christ-like behaviors we can have are to be non-judgmental and to love.

Walls have to come down sometime… oh the blessed therapeutic tears…  they finally came.

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“Walls (circus)” was written by Petty, Tom.  video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZfS6Nl962Qg

Some days are diamonds
Some days are rocks

Some doors are open
Some roads are blocked

Sundowns are golden
Then fade away
And if I never do nothing
I’ll get you back some day

‘Cause you got a heart so big
It could crush this town
And I can’t hold out forever
Even walls fall down

And all around your island
There’s a barricade
It keeps out the danger
It holds in the pain

Sometimes you’re happy
Sometimes you cry
Half of me is ocean
Half of me is sky

But you got a heart so big
It could crush this town
And I can’t hold out forever
Even walls fall down

Yes they do

And some things are over
Some things go on
And part of me you carry
Part of me is gone

But you got a heart so big
It could crush this town
And I can’t hold out forever
Even walls fall down

Baby you got a heart so big
Oh you could crush this town
And I can’t hold out forever
Even walls fall down
They fall down

Ah, yes they do
Yes they do
They fall down”

Strike, 10 Jan – #26

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Strike, 10 Jan

If God were a bowler, he’s rolling a pretty good game right now. Not a perfect 300 score, but I think he might put in some extra frames on me, just because he can, he’s GOD for God’s sake…not a perfect score because I have successfully blocked many a shot, kept a pin or two standing (hot glued them to the lane), and maybe even fudged the score, which I knew He had actually earned….and yes, I took a couple of fallen pins and snuck them back up to standing position.

See the pins are my disbelief system, and lately God’s been rolling quite a few strikes…loud, smashing, pin-splintering strikes. A spare in there on occasion…but that awe-achieving sound off all the pins dispatched…all smashing with such force against the lane walls that even the people and pins in the lanes to my right and left are starting to notice.

Some of my pins were not really standing strong…I do have a tremendous belief in the Almighty Power of God… I know He is the maker, the mover and shaker, and he likes to tweak the system in this sandbox experiment He calls Earth….

And God has such a sense of humor…”God never gives you more then you can handle”, the saying goes…”well thanks God, but haven’t I had enough now?” is what many people probably say when they are in the grips of tragedies, uncertainties, and just plain bad luck. Do you believe in fate? Or is life a pop-up round of game show questions? Do we determine our own fate? I think so… God gives us freedom or does God give us just enough rope to…?…… Well, maybe for some people… but if so, then I see him loosening those ropes, cutting them from time to time, throwing an angel in there for corrective action and yes, rolling strikes in our disbelief systems all the time. Strike and collect the pins… bring you back to Godly ways. Maybe it isn’t rope that God has given me… perhaps it is elastic… let’s see how far you can go before I reel you back in… sew you down and correct your belief system….

So why have I kept some disbelief pins up? Why do I re-rack some of them intentionally or innocently? It is not my intention to taunt God. I just like to know things, I want to bring a checklist to heaven and say: “what about that healing? What about that meteor crashing into earth? What about that flood? How’s your angel count? And could you tell me all the rest of your secrets too?” Did you ever wonder what heaven looks like? The thought that it is seven or more layers…and is there a holding pen for babies who didn’t get baptized? Can you refute or prove those thing my sixth grade nun teacher told me?… What is the real answer for those times I had to say “that seems like you are making that up”.?. Imperfect man trying to describe a perfect system… Yeah, I don’t buy it all… my shaken belief in man-made religions.

I accidentally, uninformed-ly, mixed up the terms religious and spiritual leader when introducing a now good friend at a women’s retreat…I get it now…and I am more and more a spiritual being too…lifting away from worldly religious trappings, not forgetting my foundations, but building on them, snapping in new spiritual Lego pieces.

Yes, your belief system has to start somewhere, you can’t learn about God in a vacuum. You need religious rigidity at times to click you in, obligate you, to surround yourself with believers and teachers. I am confident that some who disbelieve in religions still believe in God, because of their religious foundations. I felt compassion for one of my grad school advisors who stood strong against the belief in God. I think he might still be at the gates right now saying “oops”. I pray that God let’s him in anyway… a friend once told me that his religious training as a shaman included a belief that when you die, you have to wrap up loose ends and that is why you shouldn’t be cremated…that your soul is tied to your human body for as long as it takes to repent, repair… not exactly like Jacob Marley in Scrooge… but you might have some fixing up to do.  Whether that is true or not, it behooves us to make our peace with people now on earth, not wait to ask for forgiveness, not wait to repair old relationship rifts, etc… Either way I don’t want to be cremated (and I want balloons at my funeral too)… I will try to repair my rifts now. And I will let those people, who are God-sightings in my own life, know how much I appreciate them, right then and not wait. I will try to hug and kiss my parents and my kids physically or mentally each time I say goodbye just in case I or they meet an untimely death. I will try to live and love in the present.

Back to bowling… I don’t know God’s plan but I know it involves me… I don’t know why, when, where he will strike down disbelief or put up new pins for me to follow, to become pillars in my soul… I don’t know how many frames are in this game, how many more strikes I am going to see… either way, I am sure He will keep trying until He and I can faithfully record a perfect score when it’s my time to meet Him.

Emails with my professor about bible history, 09JAN – #25

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Emails with my professor, 09JAN
From: “R”   Date: Jan 9
Subject: Re: Fellow alumnus–he is a pastor

The NT canon was not finally established until the 4th century. Yet on the core of it, the gospels, and the letters of Paul, 1 John and 1 Peter, there was pretty much universal agreement by the mid 2nd century. In the 4th C, church was still debating whether Revelation, 2 Peter, and James were canonical, along with the canonicity of, such as the Shepherd of Hermas, 1 Clement, and a few others which ultimately did not make it. But the four gospels were accepted (and the other noncanonical gospels widely rejected) by the mid 2nd C.

 

—–Original Message
Sent: Fri, Jan 9

Holy S#$%!

 

I can’t believe that this fellow alumnus is a pastor (Pastor P) who wrote a 13 page paper that addresses one of my key issues – “how can a perfect book be written by imperfect humans?” … this is right up the alley of R’s sermons and research and right what I am just scratching the surface on – researching to teach this small but significant section in my “timeline of the bible curriculum” …  ok – I am going to say Holy S#$%! once again – excuse the french – but it was the first thing out of my mouth!  haha

 

His paper has an interesting take on the writer Marcion…  and people calling him a heretic – that’s a hot topic later many times – when people like Jan Hus were trying to translate the bible..and was burned at the stake…  People didn’t know who was a heretic and who was not… tough question!!!!!!

 

I am not sure if my journey will take me into all the ins and outs of who and when the new testament was written – I am certainly not looking to be a revisionist historian – but it’s cool to know that there are good discussions/debates for the origins of the bible – when and if I am ready to tackle that…  right now I am going to let sleeping dogs lie and focus on my Christmas merry go round for a little more…

 

but I think I will email this fellow alum anyway to introduce myself and say hi…

 

 

New Balance, 08JAN – #24

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New Balance, 08JAN

I knew when I opened a box of my new sneakers this week, that this piece was next to get written. See, I change my sneakers every 6 months for proper support with my orthotics and the wear and tear on my knees.. I buy them two pairs at a time, once a year and instead of 2 pairs of Nike’s this time, I decided to switch up the rotation and try one pair of New Balance, which I had pre-determinedly slated for wearing 6 months in the future –  this week, the first week post Christmas…

Well, most all of my thoughts this week about God have been about finding balance.  I’ve been talking to myself and others about rebalancing my spiritual mind.  I’ve been praying to find balance and discernment between sharing Holy Spirit-given words and the gab from my blarney stone-generated words. I want to share so much about this awakening and yet not look foolish or blasphemous. I want to open when the time is right – to the right people. New Balance is allowing me to find my spiritual voice… the voice I knew I was lacking and that I longed for…a voice to faithfully share God’s Word with others, to share it in truth.

I’ve been really searching for balance for a whole month now…writing and writing, twenty pieces so far from Dec 10th to today Jan 8th, surprising myself – but that is how God chose to provide therapy to me.  How did God know when I bought sneakers over six months ago, planning the rotation for this first week of the year, that I would be rotating in New Balance shoes to match a new spiritual balance? Hmmm…

So I opened that box three days ago and acknowledged that I had been rebalanced – I had a new balance and I now have to step forward… new sneakers and a new mindset. of course I had to take a little time to break them in first – both the sneakers and the mindset.

See, I am sure God put me on this ride –  He didn’t rebalance me by taking off each of my tires,  spinning them fast and readjusting the weights like on a car…  But instead He put me on a Christmas merry-go-round  ride at a steady pace… sure, when you reach over the edges you will feel that you are going faster… and now I find myself reaching out grabbing for the brass ring allot and being determined to keep going around again and again on this Christmas ride… that’s because I am still in Christmas – inside of Christmas – still acknowledging that Jesus was born in me in a new way this year…  Someone at work even told me it was time to take the wreath off my car –  I said “no, it’s still Christmas!” I still play Christmas music, I still have my tree up, I still haven’t finished my Christmas cards…No, I don’t want to get off this merry go round!

I have steadied myself now – finding a way to keep working on normal life projects and still ride the ride (you can do things on a merry-go-round as it can be a very smooth ride but yes, there are ups and downs). Hopefully you choose the right horse – sometimes you’re up – sometimes you’re down – but none the less I keep riding and writing…

I have steadied myself on this merry go round by playing certain music – music has always been a therapy to me – I’ve been playing the same selection of contemporary Christmas carols, plus some philosophical and spiritual music from Sting (Last Ship, Soul Cages, Winters Tale) and a few regular music pieces that speak to me. I’ve been listening to steadying Bible sermons too. I’m trying to keep this ride going.  My favorite lines in the song, “Come to the Cradle” are: “Come and find peace” and “So you are chosen and called out for prayer…” which is exactly what I had to do this past month, this past week because my head was really spinning too fast – I was scared by this intensity (still am a bit scared) and yes, calling out for prayer helped immensely –  I find it has settled me down enough to keep riding and writing.

This week also was Epiphany, and I also called out to two of my most wisemen friends by email… two well-educated, thinker-er, twenty year plus mentors from my past… whom I know have balanced their facts with their faith. Both have been very generous to me with their time and their counseling… most importantly they listened so that I could talk it out and settle the dust in my brain… So it felt so right to reach out to them again, and yes again they helped me reaffirm this new balance of mine. I am so blessed to find the right people at the right time… dust is settling more now. I am getting ready to move forward.

I’ll probably get off this merry go round at some point… you know that I’ve got a few roller coasters to ride this year too… but I know I will return to this chosen Christmas merry go round… why not? It has been the best ride of my life!

Amen.

Rock Age, 07JAN – #23

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Originally for one new friend then sent again other dear friends on their birthdays:rock age

Rock Age, 07JAN

There are only a few fossils for the abundance of life that existed – and only a few that have made their mark as distinct as these – perhaps the marks we make in life are not going to be permanent etched in stone like these fossils -but they are marks indeed – on the people around us.

When you feel your age – when you are feeling old, remember that you are not old – you are young. The fossils and the rocks are much older than you – an unimaginable number of years old – millions if not billions. You are young in the universe.

If God’s church was made out of a rock of people – an imperfect set of people, then this rock can remind us of how far we have personally come – how hard we are working on our imperfections – how God’s greatest joy is when the prodigal sons and daughters come home – and how far we still have to go. Blessedly, much more time lies ahead of us than was behind us.

From Amazing Grace: “When we’ve been there ten thousand years, Bright shining as the sun, We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise Than when we’d first begun.”

07JAN – emails with a dear friend #22

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07JAN – emails with a dear friend

Debbie –

It is always a journey and it is different for each of us.  I am glad you are finding a way that works for you.

T

From: debbie
Date: Wednesday, January 7
To: T
Subject: Re: Question of faith

oh yes – thanks – it helps immensely – it helps to talk my thoughts out (as you may remember from experience 😉 you gave me wisdom and I knew all those terrible things that happened to you and that helped me put my own thoughts into perspective – and you listened, the greatest gift).

I have been reaching out to other good friends like you who can help me – who are thinkers like me and who get it…. Something (well God of course) has been working inside me for the last year or so to force me to rebalance my knowledge and my faith.  I actually have started writing – it has allowed me to get these thoughts – some so deep – so some light – like a brain download of everything in my head – and after that initial download – I started writing what I am seeing – “God Sightings” is our vacation bible school term – God sightings in my life – and wow – in less than one month I have written 19 pieces…  it’s when God keeps you up at night and says – “now you have time to talk?” . I am also working on a curriculum which I taught twice in sunday school so far – it is a timeline of bible events and also up to current and addresses people who translated the bible – when the printing press was made – when they buried the book of kells – lots of fun activities for the kids and also thought-provoking issues for adults.  I start with Moses on the actual timeline – and of course have noah etc before that for the little kids – but then say “….a long time….” in between.

So – I totally feel this leading into a new balance for me – and a gift of finding my spiritual voice – I have written a piece that talks about my wish for discernment – to know what is the Holy Spirit leading me to say vs my Blarney Stone-generated gift of gab…  I would love to send you some of my writing – if you would like-most everyone has come out so fast that I can’t type fast enough to keep up with my brain- many I had to speak into my email to get them out while driving –  I am sharing them privately only with less than 10 people – they are written for me – to help me process – but this process will hopefully help me help others (other thinkers) find their belief systems…  maybe I will share some pieces publicly at some point – maybe not – what has helped was just writing them…  and I knew I needed to find a spiritual voice in my leadership roles at church (sunday school, running vacation bible school, running our women’s group) – I want to speak from the heart with my brain backing me up  – I know my heart is in it – just have to catchup my brain.

Thanks for being there for me – spiritually and literally – you have no idea how much you helped me out in my grad school days – I am sure I have told you before, many many times…  thanks….

I have found so many friends in my church family who are amazing – they rally for each other – it is truly wonderful and within that group I have found a few sermons from a former youth pastor – who is our contemporary praise band leader – someone who really has been and is moved by the Holy Spirit and who guest preaches from time to time… I got a copy of those sermons (I was rarely in the actual church service even though I am in the building for three hours every Sunday because I am teaching, I am doing whatever… but these CD sermons really spoke to me and I listened in the car to them – and both the true meaningful messages and the spirit-led contemporary music has really steadied me on this path of re-balancing – of new balance.

thanks and thanks for listening

Debbie

On Wed, Jan 7,  at 9:21 AM, T wrote:

Debbie –

Yes, “keep smiling” is something I have used for a long time.  It is particularly meaningful for those who have such a good smile – like you!

Wispy, 06JAN – #21

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Wispy, 06JAN

up early leave early
a central New Yorker awakened
wispy white wondrous
snowdrifts dance on the untreated Turnpike
dancing under the direction of the wind
occasionally caught in the imperfections of the road
the Subaru danced me all the way to work

06JAN – duplicate heart swelling #20

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06JAN – duplicate heart swelling

I was reading the UMW devotional for this month – I found a duplicate match in this bible verse for my feelings in my Christmas flood piece…

Isaiah 60:5 “Then you will look and be radiant, your heart will throb and swell with joy”

From Christmas Flood: “delineate between your heart bursting with Christmas joy (think Dr Seuss’ Grinch’s heart growing “three sizes that day”)and your head saying ‘slowdown, wait, don’t get swept away with emotion’ ….either way, you need to prepare your fields for rain. today the rain came as glorious snow.

—————

Isaiah 60:1-6 New International Version (NIV)

The Glory of Zion

60 “Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth
and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the Lord rises upon you
and his glory appears over you.
Nations will come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

“Lift up your eyes and look about you:
All assemble and come to you;
your sons come from afar,
and your daughters are carried on the hip.
Then you will look and be radiant,
your heart will throb and swell with joy;
the wealth on the seas will be brought to you,
to you the riches of the nations will come.
Herds of camels will cover your land,
young camels of Midian and Ephah.
And all from Sheba will come,
bearing gold and incense
and proclaiming the praise of the Lord.

06JAN duplicate RE-words – email with Pastor and a friend # 19

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06JAN duplicate RE words – email with Pastor and a friend

So cool when I saw and read these “re-” words in Pastor’s sermon after I had just written some RE- words too a few days prior….I was thinking about vacation bible school – and thinking about outreach for our church – about how we need to reach out to others to retain them – and we have to continually do that…  repeat….

It’s not just that we do them but that we do them again and again!

REPEAT

———- Forwarded message ———-

From: debbie

Reduce Reuse Recycle
Redisciple
Retrain
Retain
Reach out
Reinforce
Repeat

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Pastor
Date: Tue, Jan 6,  at 9:54 AM
Subject: RE: Sunday’s sermon

Relationship – set apart time beyond the on Sunday to deepen your relationship with God.  Consider what sins are in your life and what Christ would rather have you choose to do.  Be honest with God.

Reverence – have a sincere respect of holy awe for God.

Reliance –  claim God’s covenant and rely upon His promises of giving you His grace and the strength you need to keep your promises.  Trust not in your strength.

Resolve (determine)-  to be faithful.  You have given the Lord your heart, you have opened your mouth to the Lord, and you have dedicated your life to God.  With God’s power, never go back to the old ways.

Renew – your covenant with the Lord.  Humble yourself before Go, lift your hands toward heaven and open your heart to Him and ask Him to fill you to overflowing with His Holy Spirit.

email about spirituality 05JAN – #18

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Email with a dear friend, 05JAN

On Jan 5, “debbie” wrote:

You know, like you said, people don’t want to be told about what to think about spirituality or religion…they only come to out by their own free will…now there are many seekers like me who appreciate resources, appreciate other’s descriptions of their processes and find God-higher power-a governing spirit. But if the time is not right for them to hear it, or it comes from an unusual source then it may fall on deaf ears, may sound like lecturing, or may even sound blasphemous…it’s all due to your audience….perhaps the best audience for moving someone spiritually is the people you know who trust you and where you are in life and know what you tell them is a gift to you and you want to let them in on a secret that you have had a revelation…

I wrote a piece couple weeks ago about my prayers for my discernment between the Holy Spirit and the Blarney Stone, as I have received both as gifts for communication, I just have to figure out which is coming out of my mouth, which I want to come out when I talk about my spiritual awakening, and which will sound genuine.

Prayers and hugs
Debbie

An Epiphany, 05JAN – #17

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Mon, Jan 5

I can see that this one was strong when I jotted down ideas at the beginning – but then when I had to flesh them out.

I have written over the course of nearly one month and this is #17 – wow – I never asked to write these – but felt compelled – a new way of therapy for me and my questions..  16 items written – I printed, folded them and dated them and have them in a now special box – I don’t know what to do with them – but I know what they have done for me – so I am grateful… and I am gladly out of this vacuum – I only shared with a few to start thinking someday maybe I will find the right audience – one piece and one person a time.

 

An Epiphany, 05JAN

It’s epiphany, the three wise men are coming. It’s AN epiphany and THE epiphany. The three kings – the scholars – the astronomers – they see the star – not just any star – but THE star. History would say it might be a comet, but regardless it was something in the sky that they knew was new, it was different, it was a sign… The wisemen found a star to a new king – finding that king that has been a personal epiphany for many.  But by the time the kings arrived, this baby was perhaps three years old (that’s the trouble with history, we try to force our Hallmark-guided, rigid, mathematical calendars to describe a tremendous amount of unwritten history – that which was passed by word of mouth. We have to remember that if it wasn’t written down then who are we to say what exactly happened and what time it happened…).

I long to be one of the Kings,  well not exactly a king – and not exactly a queen – but I certainly would like to be a wiseman –  a wise woman that is (sometimes I’m even a wiseguy). I try to be very learnered, I try to seek the truth, to understand the science, to get it, to establish why and how. I try to bring the universe into my sphere of understanding.

After bestowing their gifts, the wisemen left the child to return home. An angel came to them, gave advice to return by another route to their homeland, skip King Herod – don’t tell him where the child was –  spare the child’s life. Wise as they were, they probably never saw an angel before… but this angel must have been beyond disbelief. unexplainable by science, divine intervention, the Word of God. Luckily the wise men were wise enough to listen…and travelled home in a new direction.

I wonder am I a wiseman? (a wise woman or a wise guy?). Perhaps I am not wise but just full of factual info – without the wisdom to apply it.  Have I seen the star? maybe… but have I actually followed it? Am I still looking? Perhaps…

Perhaps I have seen the star and perhaps I have followed it.

Perhaps I am just not sure of the way home yet.

Perhaps I am not sure of the direction to take.

Perhaps I am still depending on my learnered state without applying the wisdom and perhaps I want the easy way out and am waiting for an angel to make it clear for me –  to show me the way.

Perhaps I am waiting for an epiphany – a “EUREKA” moment – perhaps  will not get that moment…

Perhaps I am waiting for an angel rather than taking in the spirit of Christmas here and now – I know I should not wait for this baby epiphany – but I should take heed of the child before the baby is grown.

Christmas is like a “open enrollment” for Christians – get in while there is a 12 day open window – get in to Christianity while it is easy to love and seek a baby – and there is a big ole star shining your way, you can’t miss it…  Perhaps it is not a problem for many Christians to get “into” Christmas – but perhaps it is harder for them to find their way home afterwards – they are waiting for that angel to tell them their path – when really they need to chart it for themselves.

As much as I want it to happen, it is not going to be an angel who is going to tell me how to act – where to go – or to tell me who to share my new found beliefs with – and who NOT to share them with… just as the wise man had to avoid telling King Herod, who would have done the baby harm, I have to pick and choose who is open to my tale of my spiritual Christmas gift – I have to discern what are the holy spirit’s words and what are just leftover words from this Christmas’ flood of emotions…

Yes I/we must discern how we share our faith, those blessings of God’s effects on our lives. we must find the right audience, must find the people who will believe us, who can consider us “genuine” .  We need to find the people who don’t think we’re spouting blasphemy – we need to find the people whom we already have a personal relationship with – and to whom we can connect.  When we are bold enough to speak, we pray the Holy Spirit will gives us the right words for the right audience at the right time.

So – it’s epiphany – its baby Jesus revelation to the world – hoping Christians will stop by, and be wise enough to find their way home with grown up Jesus in their hearts and in their minds. I hope for an epiphany that lasts – for the wisdom of the wise – for the wisdom to take the baby home.

Miracle on 34th Street – “I Believe, I Believe, it’s Silly but I Believe”, 04JAN – #16

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Miracle on 34th Street – “I Believe, I Believe, it’s Silly but I Believe”, 04JAN

My favorite movie – not just Christmas movie – but all time movie – is Miracle on 34th Street.  Not the ’70’s version, not the colorized version but the original 1947 version – Edwin Gwynn as Kris Kringle – Maureen O’Hara, Natalie Wood as mom and daughter…  and Fred Gailey the lawyer (John Payne) who was an early believer.  Yes, my favorite movie of all time – ever since I was a teen…

Little Susie says “I believe, I believe, it’s silly but I believe”. She was talking about Santa Claus – but the movie goes much deeper than that – see Santa (Kris Kringle) was looking for belief in people – in everyone who didn’t believe – looking for hope to continue in his line of work – to continue hoping for the world.  Fred was asking Doris (Maureen O’Hara) to believe – to believe in him – to believe in anything – she swore off fairy tales, swore off any belief in what she wasn’t in control of.  she suffered from too much reality check – “should be realistic and completely truthful with our children and not have them growing up believing in a lot of legends and myths” … “And by filling them full of fairy tales they grow up considering life a fantasy instead of a reality.” Fred will work on Doris – Kris Kringle work on Susie too – together they can make this happen – it is a movie after all – together we will see how it all unfolds…

At the pinnacle of the movie – Doris is upset that Fred throws away his career by taking on the seemingly win-less case of proving that Kris Kringle is indeed Santa Claus – the one and only Santa Claus… Fred urges her “Faith is believing in things when common sense tells you not to. It’s not just Kris that’s on trial. It’s everything he stands for. It’s kindness, joy, love, and all other intangibles.” “Someday, you’re going to find out that your way of facing this realistic world just doesn’t work. And when you do, don’t overlook those lovely intangibles. You’ll discover they’re the only things that are worthwhile.”

Fast forward to Doris trying to reassure Susie that Mr Kringle will be ok – Doris is not sure she yet believes what she is telling her daughter – but Doris tells little Susie that she has to have faith – Doris even adds to Susie’s letter that “I believe in you too” – win – Kris Kringle gets the letter and all the other dead letters at the post office and Fred wins the case – Kris is recognized by the federal government to be the “One and Only Santa Claus” – WIN!

Susie has asked Mr Kringle for something big – bigger than a normal present – she asks for a house – one of those Long Island cape cod’s – similar to the suburb house that I live in today  quaint, quiet and family friendly… Susie expects Mr Kringle to deliver – big time – expects a miracle – expects that snap and she will have this house – puts it as a test to him…  No – she doesn’t get it at the Christmas morning party – Doris has to say – “You must believe in Mr. Kringle and keep right on doing it. You must have faith in him.” … “you’ve still got to believe in people. I found that out.”

“I believe. I believe. It’s silly but I believe” – Kris has orchestrated a car ride home with Fred – down a quaint quiet street – in a family neighborhood. “I believe. I believe. It’s silly but I believe” – Susie repeats and repeats – and then – oh snap! there it is – the house – on a quaint and quiet street – the perfect house – it’s for sale – it’s unlocked – with a swing in the back – WIN.

Fred learns from Susie that Doris told her “Mommy said if things don’t turn out right at first, you’ve still got to believe. You were right Mommy!”  – WIN – Doris to Fred “I never really doubted you. It was just my silly common sense.” WIN – BIG WIN. Kiss – realization that believing is seeing – believing came first – then seeing Kris Kringle’s cane in the house – hmmm….

Believe – it was and is that belief has to be there first – the rest follows – you have to believe  – to have faith when common sense tells you not to…  BELIEVEfaith pic miracle on 34th

God made me a thinker-er, 02 Jan – #15

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God made me a thinker-er, 02 Jan

God made me a thinker-er.
I am not content at being.
God made me a do-er.
God made me a philosopher.
God made me a thinker-er.

I am not a doubter of God,
But a doubter of man,
Of man made realities,
Of twisted truths.

I am not a doubter who brushes aside the question at hand, “forget about that nonsense”.
No, I am a thinker-er. I am a tinkerer. I toy with ideas; I let them take root in my mind.

I am a teacher, a tinkerer who explores ways to teach, to expand concepts, to keep an open mind, to teach an open mind.

I am not just a thinker, I am a thinker-er, a rehash-er, a process-er. Its just who I am, It’s who God made me to be.

Now I have to think about why. Why can’t I just accept – hook, line and sinker.
God made me just the way I am, a thinker-er.
God gives me a purpose,
To teach the other thinker-ers and help them find God too.

God made me a thinker-er.
God made me.

 

Christmas Bug, 31Dec #14

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Dec 31,
Ok, this one goes in the hallmark card category, not a deep piece, but I am sending it to you anyway… I didn’t intend to write anymore for now, but this popped out after last night’s good night sleep.

Christmas Bug, 31Dec

I caught a bug this Christmas
But NOT the viral kind
I caught a bug this Christmas
Of a LIGHT that always shines.

I assembled a manger scene,
one in my mind,
Filled with friends that fit the bill, of every shape and kind.

Here is my Joseph, adoptive loving Dad
who took pause, raised a very fine lad

Here is my Mary, labored a king.
but she will lose Him come 33 spring.

Angels came excitedly from all around,
flutteringly exclaiming: “go to the baby, He must be found”

Shepherds watched by night
And all day…they saw the LIGHT.

Kings, scholars all brought him gifts
Broken families healed their rifts.

Here came a woman sick with fear
A comfort healing we pray is near.

In my manger, my friends are near
So many I hold so dear.

Praying for such pain relief
Praying for superhero eternal peace.

That manger scene now moves on
Discipled masses soon caught on.

Temple scholars would find pause,
a young Savior tests His cause.

The fish, the loaves, water into wine.
fishing for men time after time.

Healing, teaching, demons quiver,
Sinners schooled – they’ve found favor.

So later came the mobs,
the mobs who tore him down,
Tried to rob him of his holy crown.

“Crucify him” they all would cry
Scoff at him, beat him
And watch him die.

Dark clouds overhead
A worldly dread.

How could they know
His death a GIFT.
A rainbow PROMISE fulfilled,
An Easter people thrilled.

That God gave his only Son,
so our sins would be undone.

Some praise Him, some shun Him, some cast him out
some witnesses still have doubt.

Disappearing sickness and strife, heaven-bound hearts set free…
But still we doubt,
we cannot see.

We ask, we pray – we wonder “Is He for me?”

God of Matter – The Holy Spirit, The Blarney Stone, and my namesake – the Song of Bernadette, 30DEC – #13

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13

Tuesday, December 30
Subject: God of Matter – The Holy Spirit, The Blarney Stone, and my namesake – the Song of Bernadette

again the glue finally came for this piece – this one took more industrial strength glue – and I had to set it down twice to set up  – but I knew I needed to finish it and send it off – I want to return to my “regularly scheduled programs” return to this new post-Christmas/pre-VBS state…get onto Girl Scout cookie season – and oh yes – regular sleep patterns, LOL – was my own fault for crashing at 7pm and turning in for the night – 4 hours of the most restful sleep – but up at midnight –  2am now and WIDE awake – luckily I only have a small chunk to finish – the piece of the Holy Spirit vs. the Blarney Stone….that piece can stand on its own  and I may send that to you separately….  and I have tomorrow off – so I don’t feel guilty for wrapping this up at this “Godly” hour… I am telling myself that this is the last writing for a while – I have a few more titles written down – but I want to let myself take a break.
God of Matter – The Holy Spirit, The Blarney Stone, and my namesake – the Song of Bernadette, 30DEC

 

Everything that matters in life is made of matter. Three parts: gas liquid solid, plus plasma too! All that matters comes from God. God was there at the Big Bang. God is the end all and be all. God got the ball rolling and exists to this day.

God as matter is un-definable and yet we as human are drawn to pigeon hole everything we see – we back God into a corner – we fail to understand that all things are possible – the scripture: “All things are possible for one who believes.”  – the colloquialism that I misquote would be: “if you believe in God nothing needs explanation- if you don’t believe in God – no explanation would suffice”

If God existed as the plasma state – then this state that started the big bang – the state before all other phases – the Greek word plasma stands for “anything formed”.  the quark-gluon plasma state is thought to have existed immediately after the Big Bang.  It is not a contradiction to have the Big Bang and God – I refute how the atheists would put it: “on the first day man created God and it was not good”. God is good and not to be pigeon holed –  those who shun the existence of evolution fail to see the goodness of God in an amazing flexible design that was either planned out or allowed to exist – that life was and is allowed to evolve – that it was and is allowed to play out and continue to play out on earth. If earth is God’s sandbox of the universe and that predates our understanding and OUR existence then who are WE to say that the beginnings of life can’t have the co-existence of simplicity and complexity. It’s not just the fossil record, the complexity of the genetic codes within every living creature but current daily alterations in the genetic makeup of our living beings that prove that God is so complex.  Evolution is not something that happened long ago – it is a continuous non-stop process – it has just played out over billions of years and continues every day. We cannot even hope to grasp the concept of billions of years – just as we cannot and should not pigeon hole what and who God is.

States of Matter – Yes we do try to break God as a whole down into parts – to help US explain what we see – and yet this is probably the wrong way to approach God – but sometimes it helps US to split of God into parts that we understand.

If God could be defined like we define matter – then one of these multiple phases would be the solid phase… This phase is also called God – but its “our God” – God in what we see, interpret…our personal internal TV or tablet screen – our interpretation – what we bring to the table – ourselves lighted by the non-extinguishable light.  often god is dimmed in people who shun this lights existence – covered by baggage – covered by deliberate cloths thrown over the light…  but God IS.  who and how we see God as solid – our teachings – our interactions – our delivery of our own making… What about those leprechauns and angels and ghosts – do they exist?  are they transitional states of matter? do they fill in the gaps that we don’t understand?  Do you believe in angels? Do you believe in miracles? I do.

I am not exactly my confirmation namesake, Bernadette Soubirous, who was canonized for her vision of the blessed virgin Mary – Our Lady of Lourdes in France..  I certainly loved the movie “the Song of Bernadette” and maybe I would have loved to be her  – to see a vision – to be the miracle – but I am not her, as she didn’t ask for these visions – she didn’t ask to be a vehicle for the masses to come closer to God. The peasant girl is portrayed in the movie as an uneducated sweet simple girl – one who never asked for the visions – one who suffered a great deal of pain quietly – one who died early never failing her belief in the vision. She didn’t know what she saw – but she knew most definitely saw this beautiful woman. this is the form that showed up on her TV screen in her mind.

No I am not her – she didn’t call out for this vision of the beautiful woman – I on the other hand have been on a recent quest to find meaning to the miracles I see – the small and the big – the ordinary and the unexplained. Are they miracles or every day coincidences – or is everyday a miracle? “So you were chosen and called out for prayer” – the movie Bernadette didn’t call out for prayer – she just was forced to share this vision because she didn’t know why the others didn’t see her too…  I am thankful for the miracles I have seen – and I feel I have seen many (those  brought on by good science, doctors who heal the critically ill, and the unexpected God-sightings which occur when you wake up and watch God all around us – and oh, that time I didn’t smash into that Fed Ex truck head on when I was texting while driving – thank you God for my life…got to see it real fast before my eyes that day). So are these visions? are they like those that Bernadette’s woman asked her to share with the world? Or are these everyday miracles that are shared with us? Because we all have them – they are shared with us when we “tune in” our internal TV screens…

I appreciated our pastor’s sermon message last sunday – that there are gaps in the bible – where we don’t know what Jesus was like between birth and 12 years, between 12 years and 30 –  and it was good to hear that – the gaps could be there intentionally – that we don’t really need to know… and that we need to focus on the other parts. I remarked to three different people that I enjoyed the message and I got three different interpretations – none of which were my own – everyone has their own TV screen – their own intake and processing – their own spin on God.

So – I am ignorant on much of the scholarly interpretations of the bible – essentially I am like Bernadette of the movie – in that I don’t know most of my catechism – and what I have learned affects what comes up on my internal TV screen. But one does not need catechism to know God –  I know God – and I see God in ways not written down.

—–

God as liquid would be Jesus – perhaps we are a desert – we cannot conceive of the life giving water that is so dried up and nonexistent in parts of the world and parts of our lives – this is a working piece and this piece of my state of matter is more dry than I would like.  probably too dry for many people – I can’t write fully about that living water yet – I know the stories  – maybe someday I will be able to fill this section out more with my personal experiences with Jesus….I think it is most difficult for me because I am hung up on small details – I will get there I pray – but this may take a whole lifetime.

—–

God as a gas would most totally be the Holy Spirit – I so 100% believe in the Holy Spirit – this is an easy one! Oh… but to know what is comes from the Holy Spirit and what does not – that is the problem…

What is the Holy Spirit?  Does it predate consciousness? What is the consciousness that dwells in us and allows us to transcend human physiology – why do we think? – Why do we communicate in the way we do?

Is the Holy Spirit flames, wind and power – is it the ability to speak in different languages – to speak in the native tongues of the masses – or is it the ability to speak to one person at a time?

Why do I want the Holy Spirit – or why do I want to understand whether it is the holy spirit is guiding me and when it is not just the Blarney Stone’s gift of gab…

I have kissed the Blarney Stone – kissed it twice actually – I needed a refresher kiss after using up all my first spell of blarney in graduate school…  this second dose of blarney has served me well – I do have the gift of gab – I love to talk – I notice when people listen – I hope I don’t overtalk – I then remember my shyness as a child and wonder if I am trying to make up for it now….  one old friend of my parents remarked when I was young at how fast I spoke – and they said – it was probably because my father spoke so much that I had to rush to get a word in edgewise….  my family is full of big talkers – big personalities –  we love life and love people – and want to share in all things exciting.

But the Blarney Stone and the Holy Spirit – they don’t always mix well… blarney gives a speech of boastfulness, of animation and engagement…  the Holy Spirit has to keep it real – has to inspire on a personal level – has to find the right timing for the right words…  the holy spirit is what I want…

It has never been so evident for me when the holy spirit has led my words – versus when it is just me that is trying to fill dead air time – only certain people have been privy to my private conversations with God – I don’t know why just some and not others – I know that my mind has decided who to trust – I have gone out on a ledge a couple of times – testing the waters and found – nope – time to hold you tongue…  its not like people want to hear me – its not like I want to hear the intimate conversations of others  between them and God – but I do want people to know that I do have these conversations –

The Blarney Stone and the fire in my soul will serve me well for my life – has helped me be a leader – has helped me rally the troops – but my Holy Spirit connection impacts people when I speak from the heart – when I quiet down – and share a small secret from my soul…

I don’t know if you could call it a miracle but certainly I appreciate when something falls into my hands at the right place at the same time – like two days ago when I pulled a loose piece of paper out of my purse – one that must have landed there sometime in the last few days spent at church – a paper that was not mine and I have no reason to own except I was probably cleaning something up and grabbed it to recycle it .. this paper was about the holy spirit.  I have mediated on the meaning of the holy spirit for the last month or more –  and only one day prior to accidentally finding that piece of paper I had already written the partial title of this piece – the blarney stone and the holy spirit… coincidence? God sighting? freaky!  let’s just call it god-incidence…

This except from a book chapter  titled “Forgotten God”; “Real Relationship” by Francis Chan, page 110-11, a xeroxed page hand marked up on oct 26  (my cousin’s birthday…my special cousin who had made me a cross necklace this year – God probably told him I needed help in that area). This paper was probably for a bible study – but I think I found it in a pew or in the choir loft…I had never heard of the author – but now see from the web that he has youtube videos and is about my age….

“Part of His [Christ’s] answer to how we are to have peace and be comforted is through the provision of the Holy Spirit, the other Counselor, who He promised would come once He left.” … in the xerox copy the words “the other Counselor” are squiggle underlined – someone really got some meaning out of this part.

“It makes sense that Jesus would say it’s to our advantage to have the ‘other counselor.’ After all, Jesus merely walked beside the disciples the Spirit would actually enter their human bodies. (John 14:17)” … the word “merely” was circled.

“The Spirit of God is in you; that is why Jesus said it was better for Him to go and the Sprint to come. Don’t walk away from this. Delve into it and let it impact you deeply, first internally and then outwardly.”

 

Boom – if God were bowling, I heard a strike in my head !

Those lines:   “Jesus said it was better for Him to go and the Spirit to come”  – “Jesus suffered a grueling death so that I could have the amazing gift of the Holy Spirit. How dare I take that for granted.”

….There is it – I closed my circle of matter – Holy Spirit (GOD) at the beginning predating the Big Bang – Jesus in the middle – Holy Spirit (GOD) here now.

….Don’t pigeon hole God anymore …

I am trying not to worry what form of matter He takes – that is really what matters.

Fathers, Coffee, Journeys, and Soul Cages, Dec 27th #11

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Dec 27th

Had a great party tonight – now I am sitting quietly by the Christmas tree – in just the glow of the lights, and this time the moon is present, sinking so quickly in the bright clear sky. Here is a piece that came together easily tonight – I had written most of it in two parts in my head – for years – but I knew they always went together – just found the right glue tonight….

Fathers, Coffee, Journeys, and Soul Cages, Dec 27th

Fathers – my father is great – only a few pieces of advice that I didn’t take and follow in life – the rest I took in – listened and then decided whether it was pertinent or not to my situation – but best piece of advice was something like this: “no matter what a person does or has achieved – the worth of a person can be measured by whether you can sit down with them and have a cup of coffee” – meaning they were worth something to the world if they were someone you could talk to – one on one – someone who was real and someone who took the time and listened. My father has met millionaires and poor folk – Carl Sagan (not impressed) and the Dali Lama (impressed) and countless normal everyday folks through his service club and work and Boy Scouts and life.  Doesn’t matter who you are – none of that counts – unless you can sit down and have a cup of coffee with someone.

He met Princess Fergie of England one while we were in Niagara Falls – he called out “How’s the water?” she said it would cool you off! (impressed – a real person in an unreal situation that then was played out on TV). Bet he would have loved to have a cup of coffee with her – to listen to her story and her issues…

I don’t like drinking coffee but  I like the concept of coffee – of sitting down to have a chat – I don’t get to do that much – but I try to clear other things off my plate to do that once in a while…can I be my father?  I am like my mother and busy busy busy – and get things done – I need to be more like my father and take the time – the important time to talk.

Our fathers are there to protect us and give us advice – the ones we need to hear from to dispel the vast amounts of knowledge we need to proceed through this journey of life…  Unfortunately for some others their fathers (and probably many men) are stuck in what one of my favorite musical artists, Sting, wrote about in “Soul Cages”…Sting was dealing with his own father and his rebellious drive to leave his town and his existence and start a new separate journey… Later Sting wrote a follow up album and musical, the Last Ship, again dealing with these “Soul Cages “in the journey of life.

Maya Angelo, one of my favorite writers, penned “I know why the caged bird sings”. I am not a reader but after you read her book – there are probably few other authors that could compare –  in content, meaning – and that you could take to heart. Her journey was long and hard – anguish and joy – more life and experiences than we will ever journey through ourselves… she wrote it in the year I was born – a harsh life that caused her to write – caused her to seek release of her torments.  The book itself is a coming of age story and deals with subjects that are not easy to speak of – and as a teen reading the book, it is filled with all those taboo subjects that you don’t get to experience because your life is so smooth sailing compared with hers… I was shocked that this would be required reading — brave of my school district in the early ’80’s to make us read such worldly books like this and Albert Camus’ “The Stranger”, and George Orwell’s 1984. oh so eye-opening in so many ways.

Another Maya Angelo book – “Wouldn’t take nothing for my journey now” is a fitting title in that she wouldn’t have been such a strong woman (late in life) with a strong message of the importance of your life’s journey – if she didn’t struggle so much.   This book, by Maya Angelo, was in front of the one I was looking for – I felt obligated to take it off the shelf and so I opened randomly right up to an essay about exactly what I was feeling at that moment I was looking for the other book…  (that’s another essay later that I might write). that essay talked of one of the most important journeys in life.

Journeys – Soul Cages –

Sting, has been on a journey recently – he has written a Broadway musical that deals with lost relationships – especially with his own father – it deals with death and with coming to terms with loss.  “The Last Ship” is a follow-up to his “Soul Cages” album – it follows the return of a son who leaves his father and dying shipyard industry…turning his back on not only the lifeblood of the town but a woman who unknowingly will bear his child. it deals with a mother’s angst, and a woman’s choice of whom she will love, a son who finally meets his biological father – but acknowledges his adoptive dad is his “real father”, and lastly it deals with death – when the last ship sails, so to speak. I had the pleasure of seeing this musical recently with a dear friend. (songs from it at https://youtu.be/TbMY9lf58FA)

Sting writes in “The Last Ship”:    “when the last ship sails… whatever it was that you come to be here… it’s the sum of your hopes your despairs and your fears…whatever you promised whatever you’ve done and whatever the station in life you’ve become… in the name of the Father and the name of the Son… and whatever the weave of this life you have spun… on the earth or in heaven or under the Sun… when the last ship sails….”

“Soul cages” refer to the forced or deliberate caging – blocking – your own soul.

“I know why the caged bird sings” and “Soul Cages” were always linked to me – two artists – convergent evolution or just a common theme because of a common life condition – keeping your soul in a cage…

Sting writes in “The Language of Birds” :

“Your old man had a cage for his pigeons,

But that’s really where he kept his soul,

And when he watched them fly he would see himself,

Least that’s how it was told.

 

“But his soul was still trapped in the cage son,

While the birds they soared to the sky,

But he couldn’t find his own way out,

Least not ’til the day he died.

 

“Oh, a man builds a cage with the tools he is given,

His casket is sealed with a riveter’s gun,

This solitary madness is where he is driven,

It was him who was trapped in the soul cage son,

It was him that was trapped in the soul cage.

 

I know that he loved you, but he hadn’t the words,

He’d be easier speaking the language of birds,

For to speak of emotion, it just wasn’t done,

It was him who was trapped in the soul cage son,

It was him that was trapped in the soul cage.”

———

It’s a set of albums (Soul cages, and the Last Ship) I would recommend to anyone trying to deal with their own thoughts of their fathers – as well as a seeing the musical in person. Sounds somewhat silly, as I don’t know Sting personally, but I am very proud of Sting for coming to terms with his father and his relationship and his roots – for returning to appreciate all that was there – even though he saw and escaped his father’s world as a dead end world – dead man’s boots.

It is hard when we don’t allow people “to speak of emotions, it just wasn’t done” – especially men and fathers – and sons…  Women speak of emotions ALL THE TIME. We – or at least I – sort out our emotions by talking – this writing is a way to get it out without being considered “over-emotional”.  The hardest thing to see is when a man or a woman is robust- full of life –  and then hits a bad stretch – those who are emotionally stuck – too many soul cages – not enough keys to open the doors – not enough freedom to speak…  Many at the end of their lives would probably be proud to say “Wouldn’t take nothing for my journey now” – and yet the soul cage is built and locked and many don’t let themselves to workout all the emotional details along the way – it’s the journey of life –

 

Life is a journey – not a destination….

Stop, sit down, and have a cup of coffee with someone.

Got Myself a Professor! 26DEC # 10

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10 (an email chain that cracked open my understanding of the bible not as a “telephone game” hand me down of stories – email timeline are from the bottom up)

Got Myself a Professor! 26DEC

Oooo! I reached out a little, and landed myself a professor!!!….wow wow wow!!!!

I really didn’t know any of this attribution of the Bible, truly thought it was 100 AD, not 35-65 years after death…. well they should hand this info out! I can’t wait to get into the scholars debates!

Ran into him via Facebook when our friend started that church closed Facebook group (she is an angel who brings her own glitter)…and then again at the living nativity where I got to borrow his cutest baby (sweetest baby I wrote about in my three babies piece)…His Mom  and I are really good friends so I know him just a little, but now I really want to know him!!!  I had sent my “Christmas flood” piece, but none of the others. I am so excited…I will trade free babysitting for free education!

Wow.

———- Forwarded message ———-
Date: Dec 25,

Good question about the gospels- and one that I am equipped to answer! Every Christian should know this stuff.

In the first place, the gospels are technically anonymous- nowhere in the gospels does it say, “I Matthew, wrote this stuff down.” The gospels don’t identify their authors by name. Nevertheless we’re not completely in the dark about their identities- and in fact, it is the writers’ identities which is part of what makes the gospels credible and trustworthy as accounts of what really happened during Jesus’ life and how God was at work in it all.

There are both internal clues and external testimonies to the gospels’ authorship. First, Matthew and Mark don’t give us much to go on internally- within the text of the gospels themselves. But Luke and John do. We know from the introduction that the same person who wrote the gospel of Luke also wrote Acts (e.g. they are both addressed to somebody named “Theophilus”, and Acts 1 refers to a “former book,” clearly indicating the gospel of Luke). And if you look at the second half of the book of Acts, the narrative suddenly shifts from 3rd person to 1st person plural- from “he” and “they” to “we,” see especially chapter 20, where it begins suddenly. That indicates that at some point, the author had joined Paul on his missionary journeys. So the author of Luke was someone who knew Paul and presumably other apostles and eyewitnesses personally, though he himself was not an eyewitness of the life of Jesus. As he says in the intro to Luke in chapter 1, he carefully investigated and spoke to those who were eyewitnesses to make sure he got his facts right.

In John’s gospel, we actually see a direct attribution of authorship or sourceship to an individual called “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” See John 21:24. So even if the final text of the gospel was redacted to some degree, the core and bulk of the gospel of John was written by this “disciple whom Jesus loved,” whom early Christian testimony is unanimous in identifying with the apostle John.

Another point I should stress- even though the text of the gospels themselves are anonymous, every single early manuscript of the canonical gospels that has survived to this day bears in superscription the name of one of the four evangelists- Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John. Likewise, no early Christian author whose writings have survived to this day EVER attributes the four canonical gospels to anyone other than those who we now identify them with. This means that the four gospels that are in the New Testament were all either written by one of the eyewitnesses to Jesus’ life and resurrection, or else someone who was intimately acquainted with those eyewitnesses. The core of Matthew’s gospel (the teachings of Jesus) was probably written down by Matthew the apostle. Mark’s gospel was written by John Mark, a protégé of Paul and an intimate acquaintance of Peter. Luke was written by Luke the “beloved physician” (Col. 4:14; 2 Tim 4:11), and John was written by Jesus’ disciple John, the brother of James.

And the timing is important too. Most biblical scholars, even skeptical ones, say that Mark was the first to be written, between 65 and 70 (or only 35-40 years after Jesus’ crucifixion). Matthew was written (using Mark as one of its sources) around 80-85. Ditto for Luke’s gospel. John was written sometime after 90 or so, when John was an old man, living in Ephesus. So NONE of the four NT gospels was written 100 years after Jesus. Rather they were written between 30 and 60-65 years- well within the lifetime of the first generation of eyewitnesses, by leaders who were either eyewitnesses themselves, OR disciples of the eyewitnesses.

—–Original Message—–

Sent: Thu, Dec 25,  10:19 pm

so – I have been building this curriculum for sunday school – it stems from a “how the bible came to be” packet – which talks about the care that was taken in preparing and preserving the bible. I teach the science portion of the sunday school classes (science, crafts, cooking, music, stories…) – really I get to make a good messy fun activity that teaches some science – but looks at the bible story in a different way than crafts, for example…  I teach the crafts and the cooking too – but the kids LOVE the science lessons…

so – I have been developing and taught a few times a curriculum on walking thru the timeline of the bible – I have always been intriqued by history and certainly have always questioned the different translations of the bible…  we walk 100 year increments – stopping along the way to highlight either bible stories or historical events, like the invention of the printing press…  I had the kids make their own dead sea scrolls, make illuminated manuscripts and then we buried them in mud outside like the book of Kells (yeah – we got the water and the gardening tools out to do this)

so – I have a gazillion questions – and certainly this will be a lifelong journey for me to figure it all out for myself in the brief spare moments I have to investigate…  so one of the big questions for the new testament – who actually wrote down these mathew mark luke and john chapters and why did they not write them down for 100 years?  where is the historical knowledge for this early aspect of the christian church?  just one of the many questions I have…

thanks and I will chat with you soon I hope – I will breeze through that great “light reading” you sent – you are so lucky that you fit it in one file –

take care and Merry Christmas

——

On Wed, Dec 24, 2014 at 1:34 PM, xxx wrote:

Sure – I’m a resource guy for the church. I’m good at teaching and answering faith questions about the bible, theology, or church history. Let me know how I can help!

——-
Sent: Tue, Dec 23,  10:00 pm

so can I send you some of my other writings ? since they are coming out of my head fast and furiously…  I think God is telling me to dump my brain and fill it with other thoughts… I’ve only shared these writings with a couple people, but since you are more distant than the rest of my church family, perhaps you’ll be able to keep the confidentiality of my writings as well??? the devotional pieces are open for sharing, but the personal pieces are between me and God…and I need non-judgmental discussions to help me process… the writing is helping so much.
but I also need to do more research, consult the scholars like yourself, for my logistical questions about the Bible. I also have been preparing a Bible timeline curriculum for Sunday school and United Methodist Women… all this to do before I dive into vacation Bible School…

thanks

 

 

Christmas Decompression, 25DEC #9

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Christmas Decompression, 25DEC – an email letter to that first trusted friend…

I am starting to decompress from this whirlwind month/year. But I am not planning to scale back my journey – it has just begun. I have so much work to do figuring out where the Lord is leading me…I really am looking forward when we can sit down for a solid chunk of time to talk.

I have been wondering if this recent flood of Christmas spiritual gifts will continue. You asked on Tuesday – “what is going on with you?” and yeah – there is something so unmistakably real going on with me…  Once I dumped my diatribe of issues down and later shared them with you – the flood gate waters opened in my parched desert and wow… my heart overloaded, overflowed, I got Christmas coming out all over!   It almost wants me to forget about those nagging questions and just go with it hook line and sinker… almost… but I am still wanting to catch my brain up – I am wanting to research – to consult the biblical scholars – I don’t know where this will take me…  or maybe I will never figure it out – but my heart is so filled with the spirit that never in my life have I ever felt so ready to accept/justify/believe what the Lord is showing me is truth.

As much as I am ready – I have to say though that today’s God sighting was unexpected…  I opened a gift from my cousin (he and I share our birthdays one day apart in the same year – he always picks out or makes the most amazing gift for me – he is the one who puts the most effort into my gift every year.  we have a super special bond and I always love his gift)…  and today I opened his present – and wow – I have attached a photo – this beautiful cross necklace and matching earrings that he made specially with me in mind…  my heart skipped a beat because he wouldn’t have known about my recent journey (I have told only five or six trusted souls I have had a flood of spiritual growth – without telling even them what the spiritual growth was/is) … my heart skipped a beat because I don’t yet feel worthy to wear this in all truth and spirit – I want to be – I so so want to be, more than anything – but not yet, I am still journeying – I am still too questioning – ugh – I’ve never been so ready and yet – I have my work cut out for me – actually I should say that God has His work cut out for Himself with me…  please pray me some luck…whether it is a sign or not – I take it as a sign that God is pushing me harder than ever…

That said – I do have a tremendous blessing coming – I am ready to open that VBS shipment in the next week – I guess there is no need to worry about the Christmas let down – a blessing in a box is waiting for me!

Thanks for listening – allowing my mind to speak confidentially while setting it down on “paper”. I have so slowly found been given the right words to share what is on my heart about my spiritual journey… you think it is funny that I am questioning Jesus but believe 99.44% in the holy spirit?  hmmm….

I sat with one of our mutual friends and I was wondering if the words would come that time – but they didn’t -and I knew that my journey was/is still too private to share with most of the world. It’s actually easier to tell strangers than those closest to me.  I have found it easier and easier to open up and share – and I pray that I will eventually be able to share my revelations in real, meaningful ways and I will not off-handedly want to blast them to the world…there is no eureka here and why should there be – everyone’s path is uniquely their own.  I found, with the exception of Sunday school, that my words have come in short private one-on-one conversations. Maybe that is why God is having me write this journey down…

christmas decompression dec pic

 

Midnight God Sighting Reflections, Dec 24th- 25th #8

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Midnight God Sighting Reflections,  Dec 24th– 25th

I got Santa to pause to sit down for a cup of tea after the gifts were placed under the tree – I appreciate this year – I appreciate the time now to sit and have a cup of tea and bask in the glow from the lighted tree – an undecorated tree – but lighted – and so fragrant and soothing. It’s almost midnight now – all is still and quiet – I am going to work hard this next year to keep this Christmas spirit alive in me all year round.

I did the most important things at Christmas – but not all the things you normally want to do…  the tree is up but barely ten ornaments?  I did hang one this year – one of my kids together as babes in arms – really that is the only ornament I need to hang on my tree – they ARE my life – my tree is rooted in loving family and I never want my kids to forget how much their family loves them and how much I love them.

My God sightings for today are a selection of miracles – earthy miracles that I have witnessed with my own eyes:

1)  I delivered a poinsettia to a woman who has been battling an incurable disease – on her second liver and no one is more of a fighter than her.  Today when I brought the plant to her and her family, she was cleaning her oven…  last time a similar situation, I visited her one week out of the hospital with doctors baffled at her recovery off her deathbed – after a moving prayer service for her – well, I visited her and when I recounted her condition later to friends, they gravely asked “how is she?” – I said: “she’s doing laundry!!!”… up and kicking…  laundry, cleaning the oven – preparing Christmas dinner for a family who needs her so much…she is my hero…

2) I sat right behind another medical miracle in church today – a survivor of a rare heart surgery – only very few have had it done – his whole family was together for Christmas – pure, pure joy to see them all together!

3) I sat near another miracle near me in the church service – a young man who survived a life-threatening infection just months earlier – such a scary time for his family. Today, the joy of seeing him – a miracle.

4) Another miracle at the living nativity – I met a young man recovered from a terrible accident… a man on “Bonus time” as he puts it.

There were likely so many other miracles right around me that didn’t occur to me today – miracles so commonplace that we forget they are miracles, but they are…
I so appreciate the miracle of laughter and love – the bonding in families and our church family. we are truly blessed in how we feel so much a part of the family – especially this time of year we see so many friends. I even had real sit down conversations with some great friends over the last few days – that feels like a miracle – to pause and talk.    I so appreciated the hugs – I must have had at least 25 tonight alone – plus the hugs from the whole week – I had hugs at work – hugs at church – hugs with friends – hugs at home.  If a picture can speak a thousand words, then a hug – placed at the right time can speak a thousand pictures – that’s a million words. Hugs of hello – hugs of love – hugs of understanding – hugs of sorrow – hugs of good bye

Thanks for allowing me to share my God sightings and a virtual hug to you all!   Merry Christmas.

 

Christmas Eve Labor, 24Dec #7

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Christmas Eve Labor, 24Dec

 

It’s Christmas Eve, what was Mary doing? Ah yeah, she was in labor… I am sure her pain was less then my labor pain,  I hope it was. Yes, her unfathomable pain came later, knowing the pain that her son would have to endure during his life and the pain at the end. His public display of physical and emotional pain, no question it caused her the most emotional pain anyone  – and any mother – could have. Watching your own son tortured and crucified…none of us can even imagine her pain.

Labor pain – that I can understand – I did have two babies…and vividly remember the labors. The pain in labor is anticipatory, starts so subtle, becomes more regular, more intense…you know it’s coming, you brace yourself. The labor pain for my son, my second child, blocked out any emotions and as I writhed in agony in the car at 5am, I never gave my first born a kiss goodbye as she was being dropped off at a friend’s house. Oh, how I regretted that when I was being wheeled into an emergency c-section… Oh my agony that I might die here on this table, and I hadn’t given her a kiss goodbye. Emotional agony worse than labor pain. Ten years later, I try to never forget to give her or my son a hug goodbye. The power of love transcends all pain.

I had the blessing in the last three days to have God place three babies in my care, physically or emotionally…but really God was placing the trust of the parents in my care…awaking me to ease their pain…not labor pain, but emotional stress… The first baby was a toddler, cute but wriggly, totally in the need of entertainment during church… a baby of a friend of a friend…used my cute red dangly earrings, got to play ‘dropsies’, smart baby… waited for someone to pick it up…the gift of this baby was the joy of seeing everyone laugh. The gift of this baby was holding her at our church praise service during  the Michael Card song ‘Come to the cradle, come and find peace’ – the coincidence was not lost on me… I’ve been trying to find peace with this Christmas baby for quite a while now. This was a wiggly baby, so my entertainment value lasted only a short time, but it was a special time.

Next day another baby, but saddest of all, a baby who was struggling for life before it barely even breathed into her. I only knew the baby from her Facebook support page but she was a local, and friend of a friend. This little baby fought and fought, but a heart defect and tremendous medical issues finally took their toll. The doctors did everything I am sure. the emotional prayers that flooded to their Facebook page over 12,000 people subscribed, I hope someday they will get to read all of those posts, know they weren’t alone. I think emotional pain can be so much greater than physical pain even during labor. the grief the unreal how do you move forward. My only comfort, which I offered as a media post was the ‘Emmet Otter Christmas’ song “when the river meets the sea”…’while our mind is full of questions but our hearts will understand…’ speaks to when we pass…we will still be filled with questions… I don’t know why this baby and these parents had to go through their grief, I don’t know how they’ll get over it. 12000 Facebook followers… I pray for their support to be there for years and years and years. Right now 12,000 share their own grief, reliving their own losses, over this quandary of ‘ the Lord giveth, the Lord taketh away’…

The Lord shared a third baby in three days just last night to take care of… 3 days in a row – not surprising as I feel the Lord leading me… selective pressure, just like scientific experiments of bacteria on antibiotic plates, keeping the cells from deleting their antibiotic resistance genes, keeping me from forgetting about the baby coming on Christmas…. This cutie-patootie baby in his stroller, the grandson of a friend, was an easy happy loving cute baby – the kind of baby that induces those mom emotions of ‘I want another’… We were at the Living Nativity and I so wanted to take the baby out and give him to Mary to hold… but I certainly was not going to disturb a super happy baby content in his warm comfortable stroller, while the baby’s father and grandmother had their hands full with two jovial rambunctious and running children… this four month baby was so giggly so smiley and so cute. A friend asked me jokingly, ‘I didn’t know you had another baby?’ and I said I had this baby the easy way, I stole him. Maybe it was good I couldn’t hold this baby, it prevented me from keeping him forever.

It’s not lost on me that even in a living nativity, the baby is largely ignored. Mary doesn’t hold the baby, yes I know it is a doll as a prop, but when I played Mary I held the baby. Someone even commented that I was supposed to put the baby back in the manger… we aspire to our Hallmark card images… if I know Mary, she was probably holding the baby…

So three days, three babies, do I get an unexpected baby today too?
Today is Christmas Eve. Tomorrow is Christmas and I think I need to be in labor now, I need to anticipate the arrival of a new baby, but this one in my heart. I feel an increasing labor pain that I must give birth to a savior for me. An increasing labor pain to trump emotional pain? Or emotional pain to labor the concept the Jesus is real in me? My heart had never felt so ready to accept baby Jesus, my brain and my questions of his existence are catching up, slowly…but my heart is like a giant helium balloon lifting and carrying my brain with it…we are all headed to the delivery room. I do have spiritual doctors and nurses ready to assist. There will be tears, pain then healing and joy. There will be a Merry Christmas for me. I believe.

 

A Poinsettia Prayer, 23DEC #6

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A Poinsettia Prayer, 23DEC

A beautiful showy poinsettia is often misunderstood… botanically-speaking.  Its big flowers a beautiful splash of red. Christmas red with the evergreen brings cheer.

But, those big red flowers or white pink speckled – they are not flowers at all.

No, they are leaves (botanically speaking they are bracts). The flowers are barely noticed – if they are present at all – they are divided into yellow stamens and a nearly invisible pistil deep down below lip-shaped stigma – which is in the shape of a smile.

At the base of the invisible overlooked flower, nestled in the center of showy colorful bracts, is the place where the flower will bear even tinier seeds. The seeds will be enveloped, embraced and provided food to nurture the next generation of baby plants.

Christmas time is full of showy colorful splashes – but its real meaning is often misunderstood – it is really about a tiny baby – a hope for peace not brought on by a giant clashing war to end all wars – but instead by a non-showy tiny sweet baby – who will grow into our hearts and bring peace when enveloped, embraced and provided nourishment.

So look closely this Christmas – not at the showy leaf bracts, but at the tiny flowers – look for the tiny baby – and look for the true meaning of Christmas deep down in the middle of your heart.

Peace.

Mary and Mary, Dec 22 #5

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I did not edit the content of the initial processing writings – for good reason – i knew that one day i would look back and see how far God had taken me in my faith – and wow yes – God has brought me deeper into my faith – especially in my attributes of Mary Magdalene and of Mary in Lazarus’ story – i long to sit at Jesus’ feet these days and learn… it is time for many of us to stop being Martha – Michael Card sings: “Hustle and Business last year after year, but this little baby won’t always be here!”… there are mistakes in here – but i leave them in for understanding the depth of my growth…

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22DEC
Ok –this is the roughest of the writings I had done to date – but wow it flowed when I just stream of conscious wrote – maybe an hour for this – and half an hour in editing – done in the glow of the wonderfully fresh Christmas tree lights – no ornaments on this tree – but as bright and soothing as any tree could be…

thanks for reading – I have no idea why God chose this method of therapy for me – I am filled with questions and maybe he wants them cleared from my head to make room for better thoughts…

Mary and Mary, Dec 22

It’s Christmas – who wants to be Mary?  Every woman and every girl – all of us are jumping with our hands up to be Mary in the play – in the living nativity scenes – we all love Mary – I love Mary…

I love Mary’s blue garments – the dead snake at her feet – the roses and flowers we place at her feet… I got to be Mary once in our living nativity – oh the awesomeness of that… a lifetime of aspirations came true.

Why do the Catholics worship Mary so much and the Protestants so little?  One of the hardest things to get used to for me (and likely for others – when converting/leaving/lapsing from Catholicism to another branch of Christianity is the nagging question: where did Mary go?  Certainly Catholics do not worship Mary as they did in the old days – in the early Christian church – in the middle ages – in the enlightenment – Catholics are not supposed to worship Mary anyway but to “venerate” her…  but let’s face it – Mary is the “end all and the be all” for little catholic girls – we all want to be Mary.

The Hail Mary – Hail Mary, Mother of God, Pray for us sinners – I can still recite it at great speed – recite it word for word without hesitation and recite in a crisis – like when hearing of my father’s stroke – prayers at lightning speed.

So why is it that protestant churches shun Mary so much? Let’s save that discussion for another time – because I just don’t know – I personally don’t think she takes anything away from God or from Jesus…yes, ok, she was thrust into rock-star-like status – but that’s not her fault…she is still the mother of God. She is still the holiest chosen woman no matter what fantasy…make believe…non-historically accurate trappings we attach to her.

May is Mary’s month –  oh the first crocuses then the daffodils then the lilacs – I so looked forward to those early first spring flowers – the first ones picked and wrapped in a wet paper towel and aluminum foil to carefully carry by hand into elementary school (I went to catholic school) where every classroom had a statue of Mary…  Oh to place those flowers by her feet – their smell and their blooms so abundant – I still think of the abundance gifts of spring when I smell that scent.  Oh if we were Mary, the mother of Jesus… oh how we would love to get those flowers…

Although we (or I) aspire to be Mary –  mother Mary – I have to wonder if I am not already or supposed to aspire to be the second Mary – Mary Magdalene.  I am certainly not like that third Mary of the bible, Mary the sister of Lazarus and Martha – we (I mean I) are too Martha-ish –  I am worrying about this detail and that – I don’t think I can sit and listen to the Lord like Mary – I am certainly not taking the time to sit and read the bible enough (maybe I will get the bible on CD and listen to it in the car – multitask! ). Yes I am  truly Martha… Jesus rightfully scolds me – I mean scolds Martha:  ““you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one.” Yes – wish me luck on aspiring to be that listening thoughtful Mary – probably will take all my life to become her…maybe I will never get there.

Back to the second Mary – Mary Magdalene – my limited wiki research on her says that some accounts of her said she was a prostitute – some said she was a sinner – some were of a possessed woman – some said she had multiple personalities – which is the right story? – too many bible translations and non-bilical combating scholars – no wonder people are confused on which religion to be a part of – but again I digress – that is another discussion for another time…  and also – what about this notion that  mental illness is the devil?  another discussion for another time – intriguing….  ugh so many questions clogging up my brain….

Mary M – are we her?  We ARE sinners – YES!  We are prostitutes??? Hmm… well, let’s hope we are not prostitutes in “that” way – but yes we are all prostitutes selling our souls out for phony rewards, non-important reasons – we are caught in the trappings of modern society – so yes I could consider us all prostituting ourselves for our own gain…

Mary M as someone with mental illness – oh dear – the amount of mental illness in our world, just swept under the rug and hidden – not discussed – that is a sin – that is the plaque of our modern time – the pain and shame – it’s tragic… we can’t fix these situations if we don’t choose to see them – to acknowledge they exist!   Did Jesus cast out Mary M’s mental illness – to show a miracle to the others – and help them believe he was God? Or was he healing Mary M for Mary’s own sake?…  If Jesus thought so highly of curing the mentally ill – then why are we so blind to the needs of our time and why can we just ignore mental illnesses – ugh…tragic tragic tragic.

 

Mary as possessed by the devil…   hmmm…  another essay for another time on my thoughts on the devil….  the devil as mental illness – hmmmm….

 

Mary M was “cured” “discipled” “brought into the fold” – an apostle in her own right – one of the chosen few who witnessed Jesus’ journeys, teachings, miracles, and trials first hand.  those women apostles – whom I have heard there were a few – where are their sainted names?  hmmmm….  Mary Magdalene was so revered that she was the first – yes the first! – to know Jesus rose from the tomb – wow- not even his own mother!  she was the first to go on with her duties as a woman to take care of the dead body – she didn’t hesitate to go into the tomb when the other women stopped – she was the first to be blessed to witness and believe with her own eyes – she went from “worst to first” – she came from the furthest reaches of sinfulness – from the furthest spiritual distance (by choice or circumstance) from the righteous ways of God – she journeyed the furthest and made it into the fold – made it to the first to hear of the Resurrected Christ and then yes – she told the others too – she was bold and was able to speak of Jesus.

In this time of Christmas – we await the birth of Christ – we are called to give birth to a child placed in our hearts – to raise and nurture the Jesus within us – and while we do admire Mary – mother Mary – to be impregnated by that holiest of spirits, giving up her body to birth a God – not to mention to be entrusted to raise baby Jesus – it was no small task and we dream we had her strength and could be so blessed.

But let’s also remember that we should aspire to be the other Mary too –  Mary Magdalene – let’s not hesitate to embrace our Mary Magdalene – to be willing to be healed by God for all our sins and imperfections, to witness to the miracles of the Lord, to perform our dutiful callings even in the times of greatest crisis, to be willing to be bold and enter the tomb – and most of all – to tell others of the risen Christ.

22DEC God Sighting – #4

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4 – 22DEC God Sighting

peace dove paper for 4

Today, with the thought of the Michael Card song “Come to the Cradle, come and find peace” in my head…I walked past my door decoration at work for maybe the five hundredth time (I wrap my door every year…the only decoration I had time to put up this year) …and  I put it up a month ago, thinking it was festive without being too religious in a secular work setting…

Well it hit me  just then that it was a PEACE DOVE as in the Prince of Peace Jesus… I verbally gasped…geez…really God? my inner Darth Vader said “the force is strong with this one”

Wow

Lego Christianity, 18Dec #3

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Note:  This piece is really telling it all…where I was – and OH – HOW I HAVE GROWN!  Wow! 30 essays in one months time after this  had put me right on track and ready to stop being embarrassed about where I was – and I needed to confess this to put it aside and allow God to work on me – and wow has He ever!  Please please please – don’t judge me for where I was – but I hope you can appreciate where I am now and where I am going…  because this has been the most amazing experience for me to know and accept Jesus…  

Lego Christianity, 18Dec

I have loaded up my brain and my heart with the tenants of my Christian faith for years and years. I have most if not all of pieces, probably lots of duplicates…see they are like Lego pieces, little snippets of scripture, interpretation and beliefs…also included are fluff pieces, good advice and the trappings of the commercialization of Christmas.

I carry these Lego pieces, but I didn’t snap then in yet. They are there but I didn’t have the instructions or maybe I have been purposely ignoring the instructions of how to put them together in the right order. Or maybe struggling to take them out after placing in them in the wrong order. Do you know how hard it is to undo a Lego piece?

Legos in this day and age are no longer sold as loose blocks, like when I was a kid, but instead they are puzzle kits…combining those plastic model aircraft kits of my youth with easy snap into place segments.

One of my joys of putting together those pieces is when I feel and hear the clink clink clink sound when you root around in this big batch of all the random pieces trying to find that next piece…it’s that activity of finding the right piece…a three dimensional physical “I got it” feeling. Then snap, put it into place.

I have had these Lego pieces of Christianity for awhile; just never felt my brain and my heart were in sync. Been recently pondering Christmas and Christ…I spoke in Sunday school to the kids and mentioned that “Christ is Coming” but really He came two thousand years ago and we celebrate his coming…rather than him physically coming every year. Later I was listening to a CD of an advent service from last year, which included a wonderfully moving and spirit-filled sermon of a friend,  whose spiritual messages I can relate to. In that service I heard another friend, read the interpretation of the first candle of Advent, HOPE. Paraphrasing what she said…”why is Jesus coming every year? He is coming new to so many people each year…” Oh…wish I had said THAT in Sunday school…that does make sense. Lego piece absorbed…add it to the mix.

I am too busy to attend the church service, I am in the building, mostly with the kids…but when I can, I find the contemporary music and meaning so wonderful. I have been lacking spiritual growth…except for when I prepare UMW, VBS and Sunday school curriculum…
… I had been in that spiritual growth drought for so long that when I realized that God was knocking on my brain to make it catch up with my heart, it caught me by surprise. I was preparing months ago my own Sunday school curriculum for a science-based lesson because I didn’t think there was enough science connection in the lesson about Jesus’ stories…about how his stories were used to encourage non-believers to open their hearts to the existence and good of God.

I incorporated (with a cool messy hands-on experiment) the use of a catalyst… And snap…my deliberate disbelief – questioning Jesus actually being God – maybe he was just another prophet with a good publicist – maybe it’s a great group of stories… well, all that crumbled..  my brain cracked open to the possibility that Jesus was real. It dawned on me that if Jesus was real, maybe God brought him to us to be the catalyst for change. More than just a Lego piece absorbed, more like a Lego piece and one of those green square bases to build things on…

This look for more spiritual growth lately is just like when I took biochemistry in college and had to learn it from the book, self taught, because my professor wasn’t good, I find now that I have to seek out and find my own way spiritually… another friend once said you’ve got a library card now go figure out what book you want to check out…
…I have found help… I have meditated on the scriptures presented within the 4 messages that a new friend, who also is a guest sermonist, delivered. The teachings are not cliff notes for the Bible, they are not like watching a movie to teach the Bible, but the sermons are making the Bible come alive in the context of our lives… in MY life.  One sermon on Joseph, one on the great commission… the holy spirit, one on father’s day about “I am the vine, you are the branches” and how God prunes us to bear more fruit, and one on worship:

“Worship, like salvation, is a personal decision. It is an expression of the individual’s relationship with God and it is the spiritual condition of the worshiper that determines whether God is at work. If your worship experience doesn’t change you, you should consider your approach to it. ”

John 4:23 ”Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

And song, “Come to the Cradle come and find peace..” – that is a big Lego piece.

Lego piece accepted.

While making copies of the CDs of these sermons and the church Christmas music for a couple of friends who also don’t get to sit in church, I was checking Facebook.  I noticed I was added to a group named “church” from a not so tech savvy friend, who likely confused making a group with a grouped friend lists…oh well…. Anyway, a friends’ son, who is a young new scholar-pastor-dad, posts “what is this???” I jokingly replied that its or mutual friend learning Facebook and playing with the Facebook-time-space continuum. Then I clicked his page to see his posts… I read how he was mourning this Christmas by reading the old prophets telling of the coming of Jesus. I didn’t read the whole post at first (which included so much recent world strife, mass murders close to home) and I messaged him to say “why mourning?”

I give thanks for this little nugget that he gave me to focus my mind on…  “What to mourn is the sin and death and injustice in our world, the very reason the world needs a Savior so badly”.
I have has done small and large bursts of spiritual growth over this last year, and it is likely not a coincidence that that statement hits me just right where my thought process is today…big Lego piece accepted.

The previous night I wrote a piece called the Christmas Flood. Speaking to how Christmas is a deluge of rain good rain but too much rain, that could flood us and wash away our carefully planted spiritual seeds in our gardens, unless we prepare for the excess rain and protect ourselves… spiritual uplifting, soaking nutritive rain in the form of His message comes from God but only when we prepare for this rain…then we can let it soak in…
…It was me playing with the Legos of Christianity in my head while writing it… But I was forgetting about Advent being a mini-Lent, a time of repentance and prayer not just for ourselves but for others to give up their bad ways…for us and others to realize that we need Christ to come to save the world… we need His example… we need to absorb and portray His example…. then at Easter, realize He opens our path to heaven…but that can’t happen until He comes to each person first… so yes, Jesus is God and comes each year.

Snap, I put the right Lego piece in, the little ones and the big ones… they fit, they are in the right order now. I need to builds more on them…to wiggle them some to make sure I can fit some other new ones in. You can never be done building… Amen

Christmas Flood, 17DEC #2

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2 – This is my pivotal first piece to process what I didn’t know what was coming to me – a monumental earth-shattering life change – but it came… like a FLOOD

Christmas Flood, 17DEC 

Christmas is like a flood of spiritual emotion, not a light or sustained soaking rain that allows the parched ground to slowly open up and absorb the much needed rain. Christmas is like that short downpour deluge of flooding rain, where only some water gets to the plants and the rest runs off into the gutters or low points. Like in modern construction, we (our spiritual souls) need to set aside flood plains, safe drainage areas so that the spiritual seeds that we have planted all year long aren’t washed away … that the parched spiritual soul is not choked by flood waters. So we can nurture, patiently, our delicate growing belief that God works in our lives every day.

We need sustaining rainfall. We pray for rain, yet do we prepare for it? In the movie “Facing the Giants”, the coach of a “bad news bears”-like football team is finding the need for an emotional awakening (as well as improved football skills) both for his team and himself. A colleague relates to him the story of the two farmers in a drought…two farmers looked to God for rain, but only one prepared for it, so which fields receive the much needed rain? The gist of the quote from the movie is:

“I heard a story about two farmers who desperately needed rain. And both of them prayed for rain, but only one of them went out and prepared his fields to receive it. Which one do you think trusted God to send the rain?” Well, the one prepared his fields for it. Which one are you? Mr. Bridges (the older advisor) continued. “God will send the rain when He’s ready. You need to prepare your field to receive it.”

“Which one are you? God will send the rain when He is ready. You need to prepare your field to receive it.”

Christmas finds us year after year flooded with buckets of wasted non-nourishing rain, excessive tinsel-covered giant hailstones and mud mud mud clogging and blocking our spiritual path…. If only we set up rain collection barrels to collect the deluge of Christmas excess rain to save some for watering our souls after the new year, to use all winter until we get to the next soaking rains of Easter, the greens of spring, the rebirth thru resurrection.

How can we prepare for rain? How can we dig trenches for excess while welcoming the much needed spiritual lift that comes with a baby in a manger. How can we? Pray. Pray for guidance. Pray for peace and clarity in your heart. Pray for the calming presence of God. And prepare. Prepare for the arrival for both spiritual and non-spiritual abundance. While you need to appreciate and delineate between the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season and that of the showy, wing-flapping commotion caused by angels dragging your soul to the cradle…while you need to appreciate and delineate between your heart bursting with Christmas joy (think Dr Seuss’ Grinch’s heart growing “three sizes that day”) and your head saying ‘slowdown, wait, don’t get swept away with emotion’ ….

Either way, you need to prepare your fields for rain.

PRE-AWAKENING Faith Questioning “Diatribe”

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Please Note – this is the first writing at the beginning of my awakening – Dec 10, 2014 – This is NOT where I am NOW in my faith – I did not write this first writing to a particular person – I never intended to share it – it is the pre-awakened state with the acknowledgement of something turning in my head – In hindsight it is clear to me what was about to happen – I still don’t know why i wrote it except I was up in the late night on the computer and I wrote it and then hid it for over a week – I was so embarrassed as to where I was – because I am a faithful follower of God and the president of my UMW group and a sunday school teacher and in charge of Vacation Bible School – and yet I was 50:50 iffy on Jesus being the one and only Son of God – I am so beyond this writing now – I am so 100% with Jesus and acknowledge that God and God alone caused this change in me – opening up my ears and eyes just at the right time… After I wrote this piece and the following 2 pieces (Dec 17 Christmas Flood and Dec 18 Lego Christianity) I shared them with one person only whom I was sure was sure in his faith and private enough to help me settle the dust without exposing that I didn’t know where my faith really was – I was embarrassed but really simply asleep – so I printed and hid my first 10 writings or so in my car – I held them then had to ask for help to clarify this sandstorm in my brain – I have ALWAYS been the type person who needs to talk out a situation to settle the storms in my own head…  This was the biggest storm and yet the most clear calling.

And so now – I am NOT EMBARRASSED to share this with you  – if you read forward in my posts (Dec 17th and 18th and all up until Jan 31, 2015) you will see that I was awakening, you will see how much I have changed (Feb 1st is my 100% WITH JESUS date – the rest of the blogs are sometimes processing and all praise praise praise.  

Again – if anything I pray that others realize that God is alive and He is herding us until we are hearing Jesus call us to wake up… Jesus is my Lord and Savior – I now KNOW His TRUTH. Thank you God!!!!

Downloaded from My Brain and Heart 10DEC2014

So – my doubts and my brain do not allow me to yet fully believe that Jesus existed as son of God. I do believe that Jesus existed at least as a person – but was he truly a part of God? Was he God? Was he invented by humans who wanted to believe he was God? Why was he here – why was he here recently in time and not thousands of years ago? Was God portioned in multiple existences many times in history – how would we ever even know that? i want to reconcile my brain and my heart – i want to “figure it all out” but i know that i need to be patient – i need to let God work in my heart and in my brain to bring it all together – i believe that we as humans are made to doubt – to question and to wonder – i ask for God’s patience with me and His mercy at my doubts.  i truly appreciate that i am a child of God.

I have no doubts in God’s existence – i know that everything is possible with God – i am a true believer that He created the world – He was there at the big bang – He had/has a plan for the whole universe – he has a plan for us – He is not dead as the existentialists would say – (“where there is no purpose or explanation at the core of existence… there is no God or any other transcendent force”) – i do not believe this – i often has wondered in my youth if God was invented by people who longed for a God – longed for a meaning in their collective lives – it is a wonder to me why we as humans wonder at all…  why do we have a consciousness? – i do believe that i have seen evidence of God everyday – i believe that God is the one who gives us consciousness – we are truly blessed by our emotions – by our appreciation of the world around us – why else would we perceive good and bad, sweet and sour, happy and sad… we are not limited as the only ones with consciousness – cats, dogs, elephants, dolphins, many mammals all have obtained a certain level of consciousness… yet we as humans have a sense of community and consciousness as well as compassion – we are blessed and we should be aware that we need to be stewards of the world around us.

I have reconciled my brain with my heart for many aspects of God – i am a scientist and i question – i am a fan of history and i question knowing that “history was written by the winners, the conquerors”. I have reconciled my brain with my heart for the existence of evolution- i have no doubts, i have actual proof (or the absence of disproving theories) in my everyday life – i see evolution in the DNA and RNA i study – i see fossil records – I see adaptations – it is truly real and the world has been around much much longer than some Jewish philosophers would have us believe…the world is billions of years old, not 6000. we are blessed to have a fossil record – we are blessed to be able to study the evolution of organisms – we are blown away by the complexity in the intricacies in how living creatures exist –  the world was created by God – but who are we to pencil God into just seven days – who said these days were 24 hrs – who said these days were not taking place over millions of earth years – who says these days were defined by the world having already been here and stable?  i have reconciled my brain and heart to know that with God all things are possible and we are totally not at His level to prove or disprove how he created the universe.  i have reconciled my brain and heart to the story of Noah – i love the story – and yet it may be a story for a certain region – again all things with God are possible…  but we have so much time of verbal history before written history – we can debate Noah at some other time…  I do believe in God’s rainbow- I do believe that God made us a promise that he would take care of us – I do believe we are chosen for some reason – i am humbled at the gifts God has given us – and at our ability to appreciate them.

I do believe that God has a sense of humor! Events and timing that have to make us question our motivations.  I do believe in miracles – in healing the sick – in preventing car crashes – in putting the right people in the right place at the right time.  i do not know why there is pain and suffering in the world – but why should we know that…  we are not God.  i would challenge the people who believe in only fate – and don’t believe that we can change our fate – i would challenge non-believers (even though some of my best friends and family are non-believers). i do believe the God got the world rolling – but steps in to tweak the system – angels are all around us.  and we are also called upon to be angels when needed – we are to live in community and in harmony.

i do believe that all peoples – all cultures – have one God – i do believe that the American Indians’ mother earth – the turtle – is our God. i do believe that the roman and greek gods were a way of life for many to believe – but that even though they were given many names, they were collectively our one God.  i do believe that muslims and jews, christians and everyone can co-exist with the collective appreciation that we are all one body – all worshiping and co-existing one Great God.

History – history was written by the winners – the conquerors – masses of people were lead and still are lead by rulers and philosophers and philosophies that brainwash peoples into sets of thoughts. Waring factions fight each other in the name of God – but it is the same God on both sides – why?  why should we know why this happens?
History – the rapid advances in technology – from the creation of paper, the creation of the printing press, the expanding sharing of insights and knowledge of past events – this rapid spread of information is fairly recent – was there previous knowledge that was recorded in ways that were lost to us in our current time?  what was in that library at Alexandria? – what have we lost in knowledge? what has been written by the winners the conquerors?  what has been lost to us?

i do believe that the bible is true – but i don’t know that. I would hope that everything in the bible is true  but the interpretations and translations have made by humans, not God,  humans share the bible but humans have also hampered our understanding of the truth…  the sheer number of translations and opinions of what passages mean – that leads to doubt in the true meaning…  i am comforted in the existence of the Dead Sea Scrolls – i pray for their authenticity – i am comforted in the perceived match between the dead sea scrolls and modern translations. i unfortunately believe that humans have used the bible in their own selfish ways – in directed thought – in misinterpretation for their own causes…  i am suspicious of human intentions.

i do believe that the main message of the bible is love – i believe that even if the bible were invented – that the reason behind that invention was still love – an intention to harmonize us – to achieve a higher existence as peaceable peoples…

but i do not feel God is angry with me for my doubts – i do believe that some people put their angers and biases against me and against others who don’t believe the exact same way they do.  i don’t know why God allows us to be us – perhaps its God’s sense of humor again – perhaps God is playing God….

i do believe that God has brought me to this place for a reason – He has placed my doubts in my head and not necessarily my heart – he has challenged me to search – to find the good in all things – to continue a journey of discovery and questioning – every opening of my new knowledge of God and his doings only opens more questions – more challenges – more opportunities to love God more.  i am truly blessed more than cursed that  i am a doubter. Thank you God.

i love teaching the works of God – i love showing the love of God – i love challenging us to be better.  this past year i taught a sunday school science-themed class.  it was about stories that Jesus told and how they worked to teach people – to challenge their thoughts and change their hearts… i decided to add a chemical reaction experiment to the class -to of course make it very hands on and exciting – we used hydrogen peroxide soap and yeast to make big foamy fun… Yeast (a living organism) was a catalyst for this reaction. the catalyst in a reaction makes the reaction go faster – the chemical reaction was already moving in that direction but the catalyst reduced the resistance to the reaction – it sped up the reaction.  Jesus is a catalyst – it dawned on me while preparing that lesson that Jesus was the catalyst sent by God to make the world change faster – to accelerate the reaction – to speed up the causes of love and goodness – to prepare us to be more God like – to allow us to go to Heaven for eternal peace.  It dawned on me that this scenario fit my heart and my brain – my spiritual understanding of the need for Jesus – my doubts… I still have doubts – but wow – if this were really true – it made so much sense….  it didn’t mean that God didn’t intervene before and won’t intervene again – but it allowed me to acknowledge to myself that Jesus was real – that perhaps we were the lucky ones to have this catalyst in our lives today….  perhaps the over-exaggerations by humans in the writings and teachings were still there – but either way – this was still a good move on God’s part – to allow the work of Jesus to spread.  A catalyst allows the reaction to take place without it itself undergoing a change. God never changes.  That works in my head and my heart.

I also this past year started to listen more to my needs for spiritual growth – i have had spurts of mentors and pastors and teachers who have enlightened me – people in the right place at the right time… i am not so special that this only happens to me – no – this happens to many many lucky people – God has infinite power and resources – we are not to believe that we are the only special ones in the universe and yet we are very special and unique in God’s love.

Religious figures were not always catalysts in my deepening of my understanding of my own faith – but some spiritual leaders have been… one such person was my friend in grad school – who was training as a shaman – a genuine true gentle soul with understandings of the world and the teachings from around the world. One day he told me my hands were the brightest green aura – super bright – meaning what i was going to do with my hands that day were truly profound and meaningful activities – this could have been as simple as making something – but his insight was that there was determination in my hands and my whole being that day – i don’t know how or what was his vision, but that touched me that day – we have a purpose-driven existence – to use your talents and powers to do powerful things. Once, a former pastor spoke to my heart – Rev D spoke to my heart while i was faultering and searching – I was in a rough spot just before i was able to enter my final stages in grad school – one of the most challenging times in my life – soul searching and struggling. Her personal stories and heart tugging messages were exactly what i needed at the right time. For my whole life i have been heartened by friends who walk the walk and have the genuine ability to share their genuine faith.  My faith also has grown in my understanding of my non-believer friends.  some of my dearest friends are of different religions and also of no religion – i see their goodness and perhaps cynical look at the religious establishment as the roadblock for them to believe in God – and yet they are good people – there is God in them. Sadly my faith or lack of faith has been challenged by others  yet this has enabled me to look inward for my motivations and not seek others for approval of my faith. My most motivation is to be me – to live a purposeful and optimistic life – this came when i was teen – God knows what happened – and God was there to move me back and move me forward.

Most recently my teachings to my students – my desire to figure out how to reconcile my doubts and my teachings and to seek more opening of my heart to the possibilities for me to believe in Jesus – these have all touched me recently – perhaps the ushering in of the christmas season has heightened the awareness of this movement in my heart which started almost a year ago  – and yet i am not ready to have an “Eureka” moment – i am trying to fill my soul with patience and nurturing love – so not to crash and burn – it takes time to nurture new thoughts – especially when i require my sand storm in my brain to settle down so that i can see clearly.  i needed to write this out – to ponder over it – to “download it from my brain”.  i have found new or renewed avenues of spiritual growth recently that i was lacking or ignoring – too busy to take time for myself – but i will try to keep my ears open (listen to the word more, study the bible more) and allow myself to grow in love for God and hopefully, prayerfully, for Jesus. these are private thoughts for me – but thoughts that God has known of me, forever.

Thanks God.

My Awakening blogs – background info

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These blog pages will detail my writings as I was awakening to the wonderful Life I now have in Jesus – I have been unbelievably blessed and i write not to boast but so that I could encourage you all to have deep faith discussions with God as well.    Welcome the possibilities of life when Jesus fills your heart and you put your trust in HIM.  Be a Child of God – GOD LOVES YOU!!!!!

  • These essays speak to the corrective action God placed on me – not by my choice – but I totally opened to God’s loving hand pruning me (John 15) when i realized what was happening… This is a personal discussion between me and God. It was clear to me when I started sharing that others were also encouraged by my openness of this journey and every day is a re-confirmation of how Great God is!!!

    These writings detail the journey God took me on – I changed from true skeptic of Jesus being the actual Son of God (maybe he was a good profit with a good publicist??) to become now a sincere seeker.

    God has been using me to witness to His power and I am very humbled by this whole experience – the joy i feel is unreal…. i plan to share with as many people as i can – certainly personally would be better – but i don’t have enough time to meet everyone in the whole world – although i would like to!

    Anyway – thanks for letting me share – and to speak openly about this amazing journey!!!!

    God Bless!

    “Debbie Upper” – on a mission to disprove the term “Debbie Downer”

Prologue to writings

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Prologue (written mid 2015):

So, I have been having private conversations with God – but writing them – I have no idea why God chose this method of therapy for me, but from December to January I have written over 30 pieces….  My biggest realization is that I was not feeding myself spiritually enough…even though I have been working so hard to feed my fellow church family, I was only taking tiny bites on the run… I love teaching Sunday school because it is a way to learn the material and the perspective of a child learning it for the first time.  I had a break through teaching Sunday school and this Christmas flood (the first essay) happened to me.  And this first devotional told me to save the Christmas rain and use it all year – and I have been writing and writing almost every day – just about 30 pieces now in just one month… some pieces are good for certain people in their situations and others for others…  and the writing has been my drainage ditch for the flood waters – and I can dip back into them when needed…and send the right one to the right person. Little did I know that I made a prophetic statement when I posted on facebook in early December that I needed to 1) go to see a favorite annual Christmas house display and 2) go to our church Christmas band concert the first Sunday of December – both I needed to prepare myself for Christmas –  as you would put on an oxygen mask on an airplane – put it on you first before you put the masks on others…  SO – little did I know that it was CHRISTMAS that would be my oxygen mask for the rest of my life forward…

I have reached out to others to help me in this journey – I could not do it alone – but my fear was being laughed at or judgmentally scoffed at. The most Christ-like quality I have experienced in my conversations with my spiritual guides has been their sincere non-judgmental support…

Because my brain and my heart haven’t been in sync about God and Jesus…I have been a combination of ignorant and skeptical questioning…and for me to have these beliefs while I have been in the leadership positions that I am in… wow … I think people would freak. But I am certain now that God has been putting some corrective action on me in order for me to pull in people like myself…and help others who like me have to “get themselves out of the way” and just believe, just have Faith…and I have the best church family…when I have approached the table, I have been feed so much…  I am now a sincere seeker. I have been asking to learn to “walk humbly with God” and prayed for the right words – to have the Holy Spirit give me the right words at the right time.

I realize that the best way to share these revelations would be in person, chatting with you individually…. but I feel that I have been writing for a reason – to share this growth with a wider audience – I really think that at some point I am going to share these more publically – but for now – I have been sharing them with a few people – some to some folks, others to others…  and the writing has been so good – allowed me to dump my brain and keep going…  actually had over 30 pieces in just a month – yeah – I can’t believe it either…  [editor note – it is over 300 pieces for a whole year]

After a slow start of sharing with individuals – one then three then five then seven then twelve, it is getting so much easier and easier…and even now I am so looking forward to individual people whom I am going to share my journey with – I am looking each and every day for the right opportunities – and God has opened the conversations up.  Sometimes the conversation wasn’t right – it was not the time…but most have been so amazing and so encouraging…   One that made me shake – was the most amazing discussion with my Pastor – about a month after the Christmas Flood – it was time to have this discussion –and after a dinner, I saw an open opportunity and I just tried to find the words to describe this profound spiritual growth… and HE ALREADY KNEW – HE SAW IT- that blew me away…  and then like a flood gate opening – everything I have been going through came out and it is was GOOD. And the gate is open now.

So now I share with YOU – MY FRIENDS – MY DEAR FRIENDS –  whether you know me or not, I hope and pray that you can listen to your heart – get your brain in the right place and listen to the phrase:  “BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD”  Christianity is a journey – sometimes it rolls faster than others – sometimes you climb and sometimes you coast…  I can see God has put me on a track and I am climbing a mountain for a reason – and I hope to encourage those around me to climb too…  And in all of it – THANK GOD!