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

 

Advertisements

Accepting Bridges, Instead of Walls

Quotefancy-1722319-3840x2160

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

imagesJUPFRQ19
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.

 

The Lord is my Shepherd

When, blessings like a river, swarm.

the-lord-is-my-shepherd-lg

“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

.

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

 

 

 

 

 

Never Hesitate To Prove Your Love

peter-feed-my-sheep

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.

 

 

 

You Are A Gift

We are uniquely created for reckless abandonment to our Creator. 

We crave Him,  and long for His sound and scent.

We yearn to share His story:  For God so loved the world.

 And no one else can tell the story quite like you. 

You are a gift to the world.

you-are-a-gift
How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand.  When I awake, I am still with You. (Psalms 139:17-18)

(Daily Prompt: Scent)

Confident and Full of Hope

hope
Photo from: http://www.supernaturalmothering.com/is-your-future-full-of-hope/

Good day, dear friends!  Here we are at close of another year.  We’ve run, walked, and sometimes crawled these past 365 days.  Now we find ourselves tying the bow, on the box we call 2016, but before we put the box upon the shelf,  may we take a moment to ask the question:  What has 2016 taught us?

Well, I can’t speak for you, but here are just some of the lessons I’ve learned from 2016:

  • Strict New Year’s Resolutions never last.  Most New Year Resolutions have something to do with diet and exercise. I begin the new year with strict rules as to what I’ll eat and what I’ll not eat.  I plan a strict regime of running with at least three days of strength training per week.  I start out with the best intentions but as the weeks pass so does my determination, and I eventually find myself paying $20 a month to house a treadmill I rarely use.  So this year, my resolutions are not as strict.  Instead of limiting myself to a 1000 calories a day, I’ll pay more attention to eating healthier…you know, more vegetables and less junk food, and most of my exercises will consist of doing those things I love like playing with my dogs and taking long walks in the park.
  • True friends/family still love you, even when you’re ugly.  I’ve never been as ugly as I was on election night 2016.  That night I sat in front of my TV, and as I watched state after state vote for Trump, I entered into a downward spiral, one that wouldn’t stop until I drowned myself in gin and vomitted obscenities all over Facebook.   Friends, it was ugly…very ugly.  I was ugly.  If you’d like to read the sordid details visit my post Vomiting All Over Facebook  After that night, I was unfriended by many, however my true friends, understood I was in pain, and that the pain must have been great, for me to do something so out of character.  My true friends didn’t judge me, but rather offered a shoulder for my tears.  Most importantly, they gave me the space to hurt, while lingering close enough to feel their love.
  • Depression fades with passion.  I’ve battled depression for as long as I can remember.  I use to think, if I awoke in the morning with a feeling of depression, that I was doomed to spend the rest of that day feeling sad.  This past year I’ve learned, that my depression fades and sometimes, even disappears, when I’m doing the things I love, like painting, writing, reading, cooking, gardening and taking long walks.  The hard part is making myself begin, as the depression I battle begs for solitude and darkness.  The key, for me, in 2017 is to have the initial will power to set my passions in to play.
  • Making a difference in the world, happens one person at a time.  After Trump’s victory I fell into hopeless despair.  The very next day, I hid within my home, crying and thinking America was lost.  I worried for my fellow-man.  I worried immigrant families would be torn apart.  I worried suicide would increase  within the LGBTQ communities.  I worried, my rights as a gay American would be stripped away.  I worried young girls would lose self-esteem in a world that judged them by their  appearance. I worried for my Muslim friends…would they be sent to internment camps?  I worried for all out-casts…myself included.  I worried so much, I became debilitated with fear.  The third day after the election I forced myself to go outside.  As I drove, I noticed a homeless person standing on the side of the road, holding a cardboard sign with the words, “homeless and hungry,” scribbled across the front.  With tears running down my face I handed the gentlemen a twenty-dollar bill, our eyes met, and as we stared at each other, I felt the fear inside deminish. I smiled and he smiled and I felt hope.  I realized in that moment that, yes… “we are stronger together.”  Regardless of who our president happens to be, we still have the power to change the world…one person at a time.

Everyday I try to read something encouraging and then spend time in prayer.  The last day of 2016 I read a portion from “My Utmost For His Highest,” a devotional book written by Oswald Chambers.  His words gave me hope for the coming year.  When I sat down to write this blog, my intentions were to simply share this hope with you, but one word led to another, and so after 725 words, I still haven’t shared Mr. Chambers words.

His words reminded me, that our future is not contingent upon our past.  We are not bound by the mistakes of 2016, but rather we can be transformed by them.   By God’s Grace we have been given a new slate to write upon in 2017.

May his words bless you with hope for the coming year…

“…Our present enjoyment of God’s grace tends to be lessened by the memory of yesterday’s sins and blunders.  But God is the God of our yesterdays, and He allows the memory of them to turn the past into a ministry of spiritual growth for our future…As we go forth into the coming year…let us go out with the patient power of knowing that God will go before us.  Our yesterdays hold broken and irreversible things for us.  It is true that we have lost opportunities that will never return, but God can transform this destructive anxiety into a constructive thoughtfulness for the future.  Let the past rest, but let it rest in the sweet embrace of Christ.  Leave the broken, irreversible past in His hands, and step out into the invincible future with Him.”  ___  Oswald Chambers

Friends, let us go into 2017, confident and full of hope!

(May hope fill the interior, and radiate outward.)

A Seed of Faith

A Conversation with God 8/24/16

dandelion

Me:  Hello God.  Are you there?  Are you really there?

God:          (silence)

Me:  Do you, really, hear me, or are my words like dandelion seeds, dangling in the air?

God:  (silence)

Me:  God?

God: (silence)

Me:  Do you hear when I pray?

God:  (silence)

Me:  You see, Lord, there are those who think my words never break the barrier of the ceiling.  They smirk at my offer of prayer.  They point to “things” in my life and knowingly claim, “Because of these “things” a righteous God will never hear you pray.”

(silent pause)

Me: So God-You tell me-do you hear me when I pray?

(silent pause and then…)

God:  Lisa…Do you have faith?

Me:  Yes Lord, I have put my trust in you.

God:  Then-your faith- and -our relationship- is none of their business.

Me:  Yes, Lord…but sometimes I can’t help wondering if they are right…

God:  Lisa…Do you have faith?

Me:  Yes Lord, I’ve given you my heart….but they…

God:  Lisa, do-you-have faith?

Me:  (closing my eyes in despair I utter) …but…

God:  Lisa, do -YOU- have faith?

Me:  …yes Lord…I do…

God: Then don’t fret what others say.

Me:  (silent)

God:  Lisa, your faith in me, is between us and no one else.  Your faith will grow stronger the more you come to me…and the more you come…the more we talk… the less other opinions will matter.  Listen to my voice by faith-even if that faith is small as a mustard seed-then everyone else’s voice will fade into nothingness.

Me:  Thank you, Lord.  I sure needed this talk today.

God:  Lisa

Me:  Yes Lord?

God:  You are mine and I am yours-there’s no one in-between.

***

 Do you have faith?  Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves.  Romans 14:22

Depression Really Sucks

A Conversation with God 8/13/2016

1517462_10203189875572708_784009497_n
Me. Sadness at the Holocaust Memorial in Boston.

God:  God morning Lisa.

Me:  Good morning Lord.

God:  How are you feeling today?

Me:  Well, Lord…you know I’ve this “depression” thing going on and sometimes it’s almost more than I can bare.  Depression really sucks…

God:  So, are you depressed today?

Me:  Not so much today…although I do awake every morning with the thought, “Am I going to be depressed today?”

God:  And how do you answer yourself?

Me:  Most of the time I just ignore myself and head for the coffee pot, but then I see my fur babies and take care of them first…letting them out to pee and bringing them back in to eat.  (I smile)  They are so happy to see me in the mornings!  It truly warms my heart.

God:  Yes they are happy to see you in the mornings; I’ve seen the wags of their tails.

(God smiles, and pauses)

God:  Lisa…

Me:  Yes, Lord?

God:  It is my hearts desire for you to be just as happy as Danica, Dolly and Gracie.  My heart always warms when you smile.

Me:  Yeah…I suppose smiling would be best…it might be kind of hard  to wag my tail.  (I laugh at the visual image)

(God chuckles)

God:  I long to see smiles on the faces of all my children.  So many Christians walk around with faces so long they stumble over traps of judgment, hate, bitterness and all things sour.  Unbelievers witness this and are turned away from me.   This makes me so sad.

(God pauses to let the thought sink inside me)

God:  I know life’s not all roses and lollipops and you can’t always be smiling from ear to ear.  When life is painful it’s normal to go through times of anger, loneliness and despair.  I certainly don’t want superficial Christians running around, trying to convince the world that life is one big party and then you die and go to heaven.  Instead, I want genuine Christians who feel and express their pain but at the same time experience deep seeded peace at the knowledge their God is still in control.  This kind of peace draws others to me, and I desire that all come to me.

Me:  I’ll try, Lord, but sometimes it’s hard when I’m so depressed.  I need you to refresh my mind often of your love and peace.

God:  I understand, Lisa… like you, so many of my children suffer depression, even my Son went through times of great sadness.  I love everyone single one of you who suffer and will never leave you comfortless.   I’ve sent my doctors, counselors and medicinal therapies and they have served to help.  More important I want them to know I walk beside them and yearn to give them my peace.

Me:  Thank you, Lord.  Please help me to live and radiate your peace.

God:  I will help you.  Always remember, I sent my Son that you may live and live life abundantly.  That truly is my desire for you.

Me:  Thank you…thank you for Jesus and his life…may I be more like Him.

God:  You have His Spirit in your heart…listen and follow your heart.

God:  And, Lisa…

Me:  Yes, Lord?

God:  Go ahead and grab that coffee first thing…you’ll be better off as will the fur babies.

    (God winks)

***

Jesus wept.  John ll:35

…And they shall call his name Emanuel, which being interpreted is God with us.           Matthew. 1:23

“I will not leave you comfortless:  I will come to you.”  John 14:18

“I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”  John 10:10

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that brings good tidings, that publishes peace; that brings good tidings of good, that publishes salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigns!  Isaiah 52:7