Today…Never Again

“Exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today…”  (Hebrews 3:13)

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This morning my daily devotions took me to chapter 3 of Hebrews.  In verse 7 the Holy Spirit admonishes me to “listen to his voice.”  Not only am I compelled to listen but I am urged to do it now…right away…in this very moment.

Listen to the urgency… “Today you must listen to his voice.” 

As I read, I wondered…. “Why the urgency?” … and I came to a few conclusions.

First, none of us are guaranteed tomorrow.  We live in the moment, and even that may be snatched away without warning.

Second, as human creatures we are prone procrastinate.  James, the brother of Jesus, writes, “For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.”  When we are young we tend to believe we have all the time in the world, and then one day, as a fifty-plus year old we scratch our heads and say, “Where the hell did it go…”

Third, I wonder, if… perhaps…His message for me today will be somehow different from his message of tomorrow.   If so…and I fail to hear it…then it is lost to me, forever.

I believe God tries to say “I love you,” MANY times a day.  I don’t know about you, but I love hearing the different ways he expresses his love.  Maybe it’s in a kitten’s purr, a gentle breeze, the flutter of a dragonfly, a bluebird’s serenade, or even co-mingled within a good cup of coffee.

Jesus and I have this thing between us…and it goes something like this:

“Whenever the dragonfly’s path crosses my way… Tis but Jesus saying… “I love you, today.” 

You’d be surprised how many times I see them ….even during the winter months!  When I do, I can’t help but smile and say, “I love you, too.”

The idea for today’s post came from, Seize The Day,  found in Our Daily Bread Devotional Journal, and also from today’s daily prompt, infect.  When I saw the word infect, immediately my mind thought, cancer.

Vernon C. Grounds opens Seize The Day with a paragraph about Jim Valvano, and it is that paragraph I leave for you in closing…

“Before entering the broadcasting field, Jim Valvano led the North Carolina State University basketball team to a national championship.  Then cancer developed in his lower back.  Invited to address the Duke University squad, Jim had this to say: 

“Life changes when you least expect it to.  The future is uncertain.  So, seize this day, seize this moment, and make the most of it.” 

***

Daily Prompt:  Infect

Do you like ghost stories?  Visit my other blog, Creepy Reflections, to read a different take on today’s daily prompt called Deadly Infection.

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Sitting Upon My Sleeve

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Last week, Corinne, my wife, and I were walking on the beach.  There was little chatter,  both introverts, we are more than comfortable in our silence.

The day was gorgeous.  The sun was bright, the sky was blue, and speckled with creamy puffs of whip-cream, creatively changing shapes above our heads.   The water’s ebb and flow teased our feet, and the air smelt salty, crisp, and clean.

Glancing at my feet, I noticed a perfectly rounded shell, and my first thought was, “Gosh, that would be a perfect home for a hermit crab!”

That one thought took me back some 17 years ago…and not to a happy place, but to a place of anguish within my heart.  Who knew I still carried such intense emotion on my sleeve…and that it could be just as raw as the first day I experienced it.

Seventeen years ago I divorced my husband of eighteen years.  It was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made in my life.  It went against everything I had been raised to believe…it went against the faith that I had clung to all of my life, but  I was gay, and I could live the lie no more.  At the age of 36 I told my husband, a good man, the truth I had known from a child.

We had two beautiful children, that we loved with all of our hearts.  The time came when I had to tell them I was moving out.  That moment is by far, the hardest moment of my entire life.  Their brokenhearted cries haunt me still.  Sometimes it is so strong that I can do nothing but breakdown and weep.

Now, you may be wondering how the perfect hermit crab, habitat…the shell…could awaken such painful memories.  Here’s why…

It had been several months since I had moved.  My husband and I had agreed to joint custody.  The week would be divided between us.  We loved our children so much that we agreed to not “bad-mouth” each other in their presence.  Our common goal was to make this transition as easy as possible.  So, even though there was much anger and hurt between us, we chose to support each other for their sake.  Every three to four days they would stay with me, and the other three to four days with their dad.

On this particular day, they were coming to stay with me after a trip to the beach with their dad.  The door burst open and my son came inside with an expression of excitement and a handful of shells.

“Mama, look!  I found these for my hermit crab,” I heard him say.

Now, if you know anything about hermit crabs, you’d know that as they mature they outgrow their shells, so, it’s very important to have bigger shells close by for such an occasion.

I looked at the beautiful shells he held in his little hands, and I wanted to cry.  His hermit crab had died while he was away.  Once again I had to tell him something that was going to hurt, and as I did I watched his face fall from happiness to helplessness.  Witnessing this transformation my heart ached , and I hated myself because I couldn’t protect and shield him from the pain I saw in his eyes.

Seventeen years later, I stood barefoot on the beach, my heart breaking at the sight of the perfect shell.

It will always be there…sitting upon my sleeve…and I deserve it.

***

 

Daily Prompt:  Sleeve 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

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.