Warm, rather than Frigid

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My morning reading was all about the golden rule.  You know, “…do to others as you want others to do to you.”

I ask, “Why is such a simple concept, so hard to achieve?”

If I had to guess as to why this can be such a difficult task, I would credit the blame to greed and selfishness.  This world it seems is fueled by greed and selfishness, and sad to say, America does her part well.  We have a leader who is all about greed and selfishness.  His very logo, “Make America Great Again,” reeks of selfishness.  And when it comes to greed I dare say, his whole life and empire has been built upon it.

As a nation, this is not who God calls us to be.

A nation is made up of individuals…you and me, and for it to change, we must change.  This is why Jesus stresses the concept of loving your neighbor.

Who is your neighbor?

I dare say, it is the person closest to you.  It’s the cashier who takes your money at Kroger…the mail person who brings your bills…the police officer who pulls you over for speeding…the homeless person with their hand out…the person driving the car that just swerved into your lane…the one who hands you an ice cream cone on a hot summer day…it’s the bill collector knocking at your door…the telemarketer on the phone…the next door neighbor who drives you crazy…the other next door neighbor who brings you pie…the person across the street who lets their dogs run rampant…the elderly lady down the road who never fails to smile when you meet…the old man down the road who curses you on sight…and on and on and on….  My point is, most of the time, we cannot choose our neighbor, and we certainly cannot choose what they will say or do.

We can, however, choose what we say or do.

People mistakenly think love to be a feeling, when it fact it is an action.  Feelings are fickle, and change with the wind, but love weathers the wind, and continues to act accordingly in spite of discomfort.

Corinne and I celebrated our 12th anniversary on April 2.  I remember our “commitment ceremony” well.  (I say “commitment ceremony” because gay marriage was illegal at that time)  We decided to come up with our own vows to one another, and I fashioned mine from I Corinthians chapter 13…

“Love is patient and kind.  Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.  Love does not demand its own way.  Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged.  It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.  Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.  Love will last forever…”

In the past 12 years, I can’t say I’ve totally lived up the this statute, but it is, and always will be what I strive toward.  Love is a verb…it is what we do.

Instead of saying “I love you,” show “I love you.”

Major change begins with one small act of kindness, and kindness is contagious.

Let’s do our part to spread it.

 

***

Daily Post: Frigid

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It’s Only Wrinkles

“You are growing old, and much land remains to be conquered.”                    [God to Joshua]

 

It seems I see a new wrinkle each day.  Ok…maybe I’m dramatizing a bit, but isn’t that a writer’s prerogative…?

But, seriously, now that I’m over 50 I’m seeing things in my face that certainly were not there yesterday…  Well, it seems like yesterday…

I look at people my age and say of them, “Damn…you’re getting old.”  Of course I don’t say this aloud, but nonetheless, it plays within my head throughout the course of my day.

I see other people’s wrinkles, but fail to acknowledge mine, until I look into a mirror, and see my mother.  For a brief second, I’m filled with joy at the sight of her, and then, I realize it’s only me.

Once, God told Joshua, “You are growing old…,” BUT… He didn’t stop with those four words, He continues with “and much land remains to be conquered!”

Now as a writer, I paraphrase God (remember…writer’s prerogative…) to be saying…

“So whaaaaaaaat, you’re getting old.  What’s the big deal?  Get over it, there’s still a lot to do!”

Hopefully, the next time I look in the mirror, and see a new wrinkle, I’ll hear God saying, “So whaaaaaat…it’s only a wrinkle, and there’s still a lot of doing to do!”

 Then I think He’ll remind me of all the things that need doing:  (God is cool that way)

Gardening…

Painting…

Reading new things…

Walking and Running…

Sipping wine…

Tasting craft beers…

Spending time with friends, and tasting craft beers…

Playing with dogs…

Petting cats…

AND

Eating pizza…can’t forget the pizza!

Every time I ponder all these, my favorite things, my heart is comforted.

So, my friends (who look older than me), take heart!

Enjoy life…there is much left to do!

***

Even in old age they will still produce fruit, they will remain vital and green.  Psalms 92:14

 

Daily Post:  Wrinkle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daily Meditation: Mark 2:16-17

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One day, a well-known, and well-hated, tax collector invited Jesus and his friends to be his dinner guests, along with his fellow tax collectors, and many other notorious sinners.  

When some of the teachers of religious law, who were Pharisees, saw Jesus eating and socializing with people like that…they asked, “Why does he eat with such scum?”

Jesus heard the question, and answered, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor, sick people do.  I have come to call sinners, not those who “think” they are already good enough.”

***

We are called to pull down the walls, and open wide the gates.

Christ says, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw ALL unto me.”

All means All, there is no fine print.

How magnetic is your faith?

Do you compel, or do you repel?

***

Father, may my actions and words draw others to your unconditional love.

***

Daily Prompt:  Magnetic

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Sometimes Resurrection Requires Letting Go (Amanda Miller Garber)

3254a0cb305b209fbf29469efcfce9c0Mother’s Day is difficult for me.  Since it always falls on Sunday, I usually play hooky, so I wont have to put on the façade of “happy mom.”  However, this Sunday was different.  As fate would have it…or maybe God…this Sunday I was slated to help with communion service.  So for that reason, I sucked it up, and went to church.  “Let the acting begin,” I thought, as I walked through the door.

Now, you may wonder, why Mother’s Day is so difficult.  Several reasons.  One, my mom is dead, and yes I miss her, but, I also do tremendous guilt for not spending more time with her while she was alive.  Two, I miss my own children, who live far away, and I also do tremendous guilt for decisions I made in the past…decisions that negatively impacted their lives.   Some of those decisions needed to be made, but, none-the-less, I do guilt…and I do it well.  I usually hear from them…a text or a call, but I can’t help but wonder how Mother’s Day would be if I’d only chosen a different path.  It torments me.

On Mother’s Day I just want to crawl into a hole, but this year the hole sat empty, as I sat in church.  Listening to the pastor’s sermon, something she said jumped out at me, and caught my attention.  She said, “Sometimes, resurrection requires letting go.”  She asked the question, and I paraphrase, “What is keeping you from experiencing true resurrection in your life?  What are you holding on to, that needs to be let go?”

***

Today, intellectually, I realize I need to let go of the past, but I’m discovering it’s not easily done.  I guess, a good first step would be forgiveness.  Somehow, some way I need to figure out how to forgive myself.  My prayer is for God to show me the way.  I’m sure it’s not something that’s said and done, but rather, something that must be practiced on a daily basis.  I pray for God’s strength.

Just like a baby learning to walk, we have to let go, to move forward.  More often than not, what we desperately cling to is toxic.  If we fail to let it go, we begin a slow death that eats away our individuality, until we no longer recognize ourselves.

We all teeter on the precipice of transformation, but to get there we must let go.

***

“Sometimes, resurrection requires letting go.”   __Amanda Miller Garber

 

The God Who Sees Me…

“You are the God who sees me…” __ Hagar

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I’ve always felt a kinship with Hagar.  Hagar was the maidservant of Sarah, Abraham’s wife.

This is her story:

Sarah, the wife of Abraham, was barren.  None-the-less, God had promised  that through their children would come the nation of Israel.  Abraham and Sarah had tried to have children for many years, but now they were old, and Sarah finally gives up hope.  One day, she tells her husband…  “The Lord has kept me from having children.  Go sleep with my maidservant (Hagar); perhaps I can build a family through her.”

[SCRRRREEEEEECH…]

[Pardon the interruption…it’s just my wheels coming to a halt!  Okay, if I had been the writer of this Genesis’ story, I would have written it, more to this effect,

“…go sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family through her,” said, no woman ever! 

Call it a hunch, but, I have a sneaky suspicion this idea was more Abraham’s than Sarah’s.]

[…now…back to the story]

So, Abraham, “obeyed” his wife, and slept with Hagar, and Hagar, became pregnant.  Of course, tension mounts between the two women, until one day, all hell breaks loose within the camp.  Sarah, in a jealous rage, mistreats Hagar.  Scripture gives no detail as to how, but it was bad enough for Hagar to run away, and hide, from her mistress, in the dessert.  Scared and alone, Hagar finally finds a spring of water and pauses  to drink.   God sees her at the spring, and begins a conversation with her.  It goes something like this: 

God:  Hagar, what has happened and where are you going?”

Hagar:  “I’m running away…”

God: “Go back… face the problem, and I will be with you.”

Hagar: “You are the God who sees me…”

And so, Hagar returns.  The problem doesn’t go away, but God is true to his word, and helps her every step of the way.  Eventually, she is blessed with a son, she names Ishmael, and through Ismael’s descendants the Arab nation is born. 

 

In my life, I have endured many “Hagar moments,” and I bet you have too.

How often I’ve felt…

  • …alone
  • …misunderstood
  • …unloved
  • …without hope
  • …a victim of circumstances, beyond my control
  • …an outcast
  • …ready to give up

 

When I read God’s words to Hagar, I read them as if they were written just for me.  He tells me, “Go back, my child, and I will be with you.  Don’t give up, I have a good plan for you.”

I’m so thankful, He is the God who sees me.

***

Daily Prompt: Measure

Everything we need is give through His good measure.

 

 

Accepting Bridges, Instead of Walls

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God has called us to build bridges and not walls.  The whole story of Christ’s life, testifies to this.  During his ministry, Jesus broke down many walls of separation.

For example:

  • Jesus was a Judean Refugee living in Egypt.  (What if Egypt had built a wall?)
  • Jesus had many women disciples. (Gender Wall)
  • Jesus praised the Samaritans, whom the Jews considered dogs. (Race Wall)
  • Jesus spent his time with sinners, instead of the religious. (Religion Wall)
  • Jesus admonishes the poor, instead of the rich. (Status Wall)
  • Jesus proclaimed Grace instead of Law. (Rule/Regulation Wall)

Jesus leveled the playing field, where all are equal, and He calls us to do the same.

For He is our peace.  He has made us both one body, and has broken down the hostile, dividing wall between us.  Ephesians 2:14

 

Daily Prompt: Acceptance

 

My Soul To Take

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Painting by Florence Kroger

 

Oh, that God would mold this clay,

nothing but dust, dirt and decay!

And yet, in me, He saw some worth;

He sent his Son, from Heaven to Earth.

To lay down his life, upon the cross,

to thirst, and bleed, and suffer loss.

And so for me, His Glory awaits;

one day I’ll walk, through pearly gates.

So nothing to fear, because I am free;

His rod and His staff, they comfort me.

The shadow of death, there is no escape,

But God’s in the valley, my soul, to take.

***

As a tiny girl, often, my mom and I, prayed the prayer, “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep.”  I was always comforted by this bedtime ritual.  As an adult, when I think on the memory, I find I am blessed just as much now, as I was then; perhaps even more.  Thus was the inspiration for this poem.

“Mama, thank you for the foundations of strength you’ve given me.  I am a better woman because of you.”

now i lay me down

(Daily prompt: Luck)

Luck has nothing to do with my spiritual life.  It is orchestrated by the hand of God.

 

God’s Abstract Love

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There are some things we will never understand, and God’s love is one of them.  Maybe there are times, we think, we comprehend its depth, only to have the knowledge drift away, like a cloud in the sky.

If it were possible to put God’s love to canvas, you can be sure, it would be abstract art.  I truly enjoy abstract paintings, because every time I view it, I learn something new; and for me, that is exciting!

Such is God’s love, dear friends.  It is multifaceted with many doors, but, behind each door stands Jesus.  He tells us, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice, and opens the door, I will come in.”

Jesus knocks at our door, but sometimes it is required of us to knock. In the book of  Matthew, Jesus speaks, “Ask and it shall be given you, seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”

Sometimes we hear, see and feel his love, but often we do not.  When we walk the latter, we walk in God’s abstract love; but don’t despair; for it’s during these times, our faith is strengthened, and our eyes are opened to something new.

Jesus is whispering, “Seek, and you shall find.”

***

Daily Prompt: Abstract

 

The Lord is my Shepherd

When, blessings like a river, swarm.

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“The Lord is my shepherd.”  And thus begins Psalm 23.

King David is the author of Psalm 23; however, as much as we Christians would like to believe, David was not the first to pen the idea of God as shepherd.

History tells us, this metaphor, of comparing god to shepherd, was common place within the Eastern world.  For example:

  • There was a song written about Marduk, patron deity of the city of Babylon, during the early 18th Century BC, describing his care for the weak like a “benevolent shepherd.”  
  • Another song written of Shamash, Mesopotamian sun-god, proclaims, “You shepherd all living creatures, together, you are the herdsman, above and below.”
  • Hammurabi (c.1750 BC) claimed kingship by providing “the people with pastures and watering places, having settled them in peaceful abodes.”
  • A phrase, which closely parallels Psalm 23, was found inscribed upon ancient Samaritan text and it reads,  “A man’s personal god is a shepherd who finds pasturage for him.  Let him lead him like sheep to the grass they can eat.”

Some Christians, learning of this, may feel it weakens David’s writing, but I feel quite the opposite.  I’m sure David, a learned man, was aware of such comparisons; therefore, when he chose to liken his God to that of a shepherd, he, in essence, was elevating his God, Yahweh, above all other gods.

David spent many of his younger years, tending his father’s sheep.  The book of II Samuel, speaks of two incidents where David had to kill a lion and a bear in order to protect the fold.  David understood the lambs were vulnerable, and without his protection, they would most likely die.  Knowing this fact, when he wrote Psalm 23, he visions himself to a lamb, that is dependent upon the shepherd, and for David, this shepherd could only be Yahweh.  David humbled himself, and placed his entire well-being, within the hands of God.

I love how David makes Psalm 23 personal.  He could have written, “The Lord is a shepherd” and that would have been true, but instead he writes “The Lord is ‘my’ Shepherd.”  By that simple two letter word, David sheds light upon his close relationship to God.

I believe when we read Psalm 23, God desires of us, to make it personal.  He wants each of us to slip our identity within this passage, and when we do, this ancient scripture becomes alive.  We like, David, can proclaim a personal relationship with God, and when we are able to do that, God Himself walks with us.

Oh, what peace and joy this brings!

My Daily Prayer:

Lord, you are my Shepherd.  You care about everything in my life, even unto the minutest detail.  Help me today to ponder this thought.

When I’m tired, help me to remember, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” so I will feel rest.  When I’m afraid, help me to remember, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” so I will know your protection.  When I am lonely, help me to remember, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” so I will know your presence.  When I am guilty, help me to remember, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” so I will know your forgiveness.  When I’m down upon myself, help me to remember, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” so I will know I’m enough.  When I feel unloved, help me to remember, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” so I will know your love.  And in that time, when I face death, help me to remember, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” and I will know comfort and peace.

Lord, thank you for this day, you have made for me.  Help me to live it, with my hand in yours.  Help me, to be a blessing, to those you bring to my path.

In the name of Jesus, my savior, I make these requests.  Amen

***

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”  — Jesus

When blessings, like a river, swarm

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(Information about comparisons of gods to shepherd was taken from the NIV Study Bible)

 

 

 

 

 

Never Hesitate To Prove Your Love

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Some two thousand years ago Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?”  Not once, but three times Jesus asked this of Peter, and three times Peter replied, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

One may question, why did Jesus ask this three times?

Why wasn’t one “yes” enough for Jesus?

Was Jesus so insecure that he needed to hear Peter, say it three times?

Of course not.  Jesus was trying to  teach Peter a valuable lesson about true love.

This account is found in John chapter 21.  When reading the story, we notice after each “yes” from Peter, Jesus says, “Feed my lambs,” “Take care of my sheep,” and lastly “Feed my sheep.”  In doing this, I believe Jesus is trying to convey to Peter that, true love is not how you feel, or what you say, but rather, true love is what you do.  True love is action. 

I think it probable, Jesus asks us the same question, many times a day, and it’s not an answer he seeks, but rather a response.

We prove our love for Jesus, when we take care of his people.

My Daily Prayer:  Lord, as I go through this day, help me to hear your question, “Do you love me?”  May I hear it when I see the hungry, the poor, the lonely, and may I love you, by loving them.  Jesus, fill me, that I may be you, to all those around me. In your beautiful name I ask, Amen.

***

Never hesitate to prove your love.