Create

A deep desire to create lies within many people. Creation can take many forms and often expresses itself in guise of ordinary life. For some it is dinner at home or a program at work. Many people find their deepest desires met in teaching and guiding the children they helped to create. Watching new life develop and grow inspires us since we are all made in the image of our Heavenly Father, the Creator of all.

Fear can be a companion of the creation process. Self-doubt nips at my heels when i engage in creative endeavors. Why would anyone want to read this blog? What is the purpose of passing up some time with my husband? i am a fool to babble on the internet.

Recognizing our limited ability can help or hinder us depending upon our personality. For me releasing control is difficult but essential. i must surrender to the fact that i can not place myself at the head of the creation process.

Once i become humble enough to accept my place as a recipient, i can learn to receive the creative gifts that He gives.

i am nothing; He is everything.

Lord, make me an instrument of your orchestra and play Your will through my hollow life. Amen.

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Tell

Christians are commissioned to tell the Good News of God coming in human form to save us. The ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ transformed the world and changes how we walk-not by sight, but faith. Telling the story of salvation can become easy. Telling the truth about the pain of life is often very difficult.

i have not written much lately. In a period of transition, i find that i have more questions than answers. For some reason, it is much harder for me to share the questions. My life has been happier this past year than at any time in my life. That sounds like good news, and it is. candle-1803142_1280

Simultaneously, i have been deeply aware of the flaws in my own philosophical framework.  Continue reading

Write31Days

This will be a challenging October. This blog will hopefully come to life again! For 2017 i am joining the Write31Days power group for the third year. In October 2016 i was about to get married and the last six weeks of a wedding is insane enough on its own, so i skipped the October mayhem. If you are unfamiliar with Write 31 Days 2017 it is a LARGE group of bloggers who all commit to posting every day for the entire month of October. Who needs scary costumes or candy when you are trying to accomplish that?

Since i am restarting this blog i am keeping it simple for this year. After all, what is writing and posting each day for thirty-one days in a row, with the deadline of midnight ticking away to get the lead out of your fingers and get a writer going again? Are we not a group who are infamous for needing deadlines and imminent peril to force us out of our comfort-zones and requiring us to share our writing?

Grammarly and i are entirely aware of the peculiar capitalization rule that i have suddenly forgotten. As i mature in years, faith and marriage (almost 11 months) i have come to realize that i am not the only one who is always sure that they know best. Following the example of Mother Gavrilia, i have begun a practice of keeping my i humble and not capitalizing myself. If i say anything that is any value it will not be because of my brilliance anyway. The practice of making the self the center of one’s thought requires no assistance and the remedy necessitates of extraordinary effort.

i will be joining the FMF team also this year. Check them out here.Five Minute Friday

31 Days themes are thanks to Kate Motaung! For simplicity check them out right here…

  1. worship
  2. tell
  3. create
  4. hope
  5. trust
  6. story
  7. hold
  8. truth
  9. plan
  10. listen
  11. remember
  12. write
  13. invite
  14. try
  15. remain
  16. read
  17. grow
  18. share
  19. brave
  20. discover
  21. give
  22. light
  23. work
  24. revise
  25. because
  26. change
  27. ? (FMF prompt)
  28. connect
  29. follow
  30. refine
  31. rest

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We Are One

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Fruitless searches

Mis-spelled words

Random mis-steps

Falling hard.

Foggy brain

View obscured.

Troubled times

And misspent years.

Coursing passions

Overcome fears.

The mist parts

Softly shaded images

Emerge from shadow.

Hopes restored in

Christ alone.

We are one

In Him

Through Him

Because He Lives

A Triune God

We become

One.

A Nicodemus Moment

Nicodemus was a Jewish leader, teacher and member of the ruling Sanhedrin. He came to meet Jesus under cover of darkness. The life-altering and life-affirming conversation that followed has changed the rest of human history. Nicodemus wanted to know how one could be saved. When Jesus told him that we must be born from above, Nicodemus replied with words that really hit a nerve for me.

Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” John 3:4

In a Bible study that I led on John’s Gospel many years ago we talked of how very human Nicodemus’ response was. Most of us under the same circumstances would ask or at least wonder a similar question. For those of us who have already buried our Mother it rings even more powerfully. How can we be born a second time?

Jesus was teaching a new thing. John the Baptist was baptizing with water alone for repentance.  Jesus was beginning to introduce the Holy Spirit.  The rebirth that Jesus was ushering in is different in character from what had existed before.

“Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above. ’ The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” John 3:5b-6

By the power of the Holy Spirit we are made new. The water with the Spirit becomes a force that offers eternal life. The water and Spirit washes clean souls. It is miraculous. Baptism is beyond the ordinary even though it uses something as ordinary as
water.

church-window-1016443_960_720I often respond to challenges by planning my response. I create a plan. I strategize. I prioritize. I make back-up plans and worry. Nothing I do will guarantee success. When I first rely upon my own problem-solving ability I deny God the chance to guide me from the start. Only through the assistance of the Holy Spirit is real success to be expected. On far too many occasions I have resorted to prayer at the end of a planning session to ask God to bless my efforts. It galls me to admit how arrogantly I have acted.

What I do or plan is not what is important. I am not the one in control. God doesn’t exist to do what I want or to bless my endeavors.

When I try to be the source of all the answers I begin to play God. Only when I step back and allow God to exercise His rightful authority do I make room for His plans to take shape in my life.

Nicodemus recognized the problem of death. His practical question was for each one of us. Jesus told him that the Spirit is the answer. The ideas borne of the flesh are of finite value. The solutions born by the power of the Spirit lead to eternal life.

As I confessed to my Bible study friends I have had many a “Nicodemus moment.” Ever after when I find myself looking for human solutions to spiritual problems I call the problem what it is, a “Nicodemus moment.” That helps me to course-correct and make room for the Holy Spirit to have a place in the solution. I pray first and plan second. It is astounding what keeping things in the proper order will do.

This post is one for the If:Gathering study on the Nicene Creed. As we reflect on what it means when we say that we believe in,”One Baptism for the forgiveness of sins.” Nicodemus teaches us some of what that means. We must move out-of-the-way and let God accomplish our salvation because under our own power we cannot hope to win our salvation.

Poetry Is (Not Quite What You Expect)

I sat until the screen-saver appeared

Because I could not allow the words to come near

The broken places buried within.

I fought frantic fear for words that rang true

As the asthmatic gasps, wheezing breaths

Hacking at fear as veins bulge blue.

Facing down fear of being misunderstood;

What origin the voice within that said that I could?

My middle-aged self tilting at windmills

With words to explain how we all come full-circle.

My adolescent dreams come face-to-face

With the reality of my chronically weakened state.

When I was a girl having my last doll-tea

What would I have thought of my grown-up, me?

 

This month I am sharing in the Tweetspeak Poetry book club. The featured selection is Megan Willome’s, The Joy of Poetry, part memoir, part poetry life-line.  The first six chapters begin with her experience of poetry and the battle her mother waged with cancer. She begins at thirteen, the year they both invaded her life.

 

Poetry took over my life a few years earlier. Thankfully, my mother did not develop cancer until I was a young adult. My Mother’s battle with cancer was nearly as swift as Willome’s mother’s was long. The shared suffering of a girl whose mother is dying of cancer, combatting the disease with words is one that helped form both Willome and myself.

 

How to find Truth

Nicene Creed
We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father; through Him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation He came down from heaven,
was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary
and became man.
For our sake He was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
He suffered death and was buried.
On the third day He rose again
in accordance with the scriptures;
He ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and His kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,*
 with the Father and the Son, He is worshiped and glorified, He has spoken through the prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

*In the original creed agreed to in 325 A. D in Nicaea it merely stated that the Holy Spirit proceeded from the Father. The “and the Son” was added by the western churches to help combat a heresy that was prevalent at the time. The inclusion of the phrase, “and the Son” in the west is used today to refer to the fact that God is One God, triune consisting of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In the eastern churches the addition is seen to upset the nature of “procession” and is unacceptable. The following is not an article on the “filoque controversy” as it is known. For more information on the conflict please see a more informed source. I am merely noting the discrepancy so that whichever tradition you follow you will know that I cited my version here and made note of the conflict out of respect to both opinions.

imageIn the If:Gathering online Bible Study the theme for today is, I believe the Holy Spirit reveals truth to us. Our culture defines truth as relative. For those who cannot define truth it becomes impossible to know if you are living in the truth. As Christians we recognize the need for a higher truth, a definitive Truth that can withstand the effect of societies’ redefining values over time. The search for truth can occupy a lifetime. In the Nicene Creed we say, in effect, that it is the Holy Spirit who reveals truth to us.

How do we know if we belong to God? How can we know if we are His children? In Romans 8:14-17 we are told that’ “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.” The way that we can find peace in knowing that we are loved by God is by the power of the Holy Spirit.

It is the Holy Spirit who leads us to Truth. In John 16: 13 Jesus told His disciples that the Holy Spirit would reveal the truth to them.

“When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever He hears, and He will declare to you the things that are to come.”

When we study and read the Bible we are reading the Word of God. However, if we read without asking the Holy Spirit to guide us we are vulnerable to mistaken understanding. It is the Holy Spirit who helps us to understand the Truth. Even the devil quoted scripture to Jesus during the 40 day of temptation in the desert. Simply learning the worlds without the Holy Spirit will not suffice. But to all who call upon the Holy Spirit to help them the words are living and active the Truth that we crave. We have not been left to uncertainty and continued doubt. When Jesus ascended into heaven he did not leave us as ‘orphans”, but left us the Holy Spirit to live with us, in us and guide us.
We pray…
Holy Spirit come and enliven our minds and guide our hearts. Help us to learn from your Word. Lead us in our thoughts, conversations with others, prayers and concerns. Help us to have the courage to turn all of our lives over to you. Make us vessels that you can use. In Jesus Holy Name we pray to The Father of Glory and Might through the Power of the Holy Spirit, One God through the Ages. Amen.

Do you know what Love is?

Love is such a popular word. People light up when hearing it spoken. Some people get flustered, defensive, or curmudgeonly when love is discussed. Few words illicit such powerful, emotional responses. Being newly engaged I am made aware of how the awareness of love affects even total strangers.

As I struggle across the room in the blinding throb of a series of monster migraines, I stop to smooth the skirt of my wedding gown. It is newly acquired and hanging in my study so I can admire its beauty. Besides, who has closet space for a wedding gown! The glimpse of tulle and lace lighten my heart and I am transported from a state of pain to happy thoughts of the future when I get to marry my Beloved! Thoughts of the wedding lift my spirit because love breaks through the ugly of today.
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Our world is ugly. Countless souls are slugging through today just trying to endure the pain. There is too much brokenness all around. Love shines like a shaft of warm sunlight through a cold-winter night. It cuts through the hurt, pain, doubt, and best of all death!

We can deny or misunderstand the meaning of what love actually is. It is almost easier to define what love is not than what it is. St. Paul eloquently defined love in 1 Corinthians 13. But even if we confuse love for a feeling, the feeling love gives us is an effect not a cause. We cannot confuse the two. What Jesus Christ did for us on the cross is the greatest example of love that anyone can imagine.

Love is patient, love is kind, love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant of rude. Love does not insist on its own way…rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.

When I am hit by a long series of migraines, I drift further behind each day that I am sick. The pressure that I feel inside my spirit is second only to the pressure in my head. Rest comes when I surrender to Love. I don’t need to do more, have more, or be more ____ to find rest for my soul! What I actually need is less. I need to surrender not only control of my life to Jesus, but I need also to release management of my schedule to Jesus! His mission reveals the true nature of love. There is no “earning” in love. Jesus redefined what it means to be a successful human being in the cross. He, God, poured Himself out to become one of us! He fully embraced us. He freely accepted all the lies and suffering so that by letting go of Himself, He might save us.

Jesus, who was God and could not by nature stay dead, died so that He could reach past the great abyss that existed between man and God. He saved us. We did nothing but spit in His face and nail Him to the cross. He arose Easter Sunday that we might have everlasting life. For perfectionists like me it is a terrible reality to face, but we can never be enough, complete enough, people pleasing enough, God-pleasing enough. But Jesus said, “Enough…It is finished.”

What does Christ’s mission reveal about God’s love for us?

The truths packed into this little line of the Nicene Creed are strong enough to pull us through pain, misfortune, loss and make us happy enough to, “dance at our wedding.” How can I write a blog post and comment on the greatness of Christ’s mission revealing God’s love for us during a week-long series of severe migraines? Grace. What is the central theme of His mission? Self-sacrificing love. Real love. It is the kind of love my fiancé demonstrated last evening when he looked deeply into my slit-eyes, migraine-cooling-patch covered forehead and told me I was beautiful. Love. Thanks to Jesus we know what it is. It is an action verb full of might and gentle as a whisper. Love is not a feeling-but it creates a glorious feeling to those who surrender themselves to receive it.

This post is shared with If:Gathering in the wonderful ongoing study of the Nicene Creed. No prior knowledge is required. A heart that is open is the door to truth. Join the Gathering at If:Equip.com and find this post under “Jesus Came to Bring Salvation to Us”.

Good Fathers

baby-203048__340What is a father? The variety of answers that this question elicits are almost unlimited. The possible replies are limited only by the number of human fathers that have existed. The description may incite joy or fear, hope or despair depending upon your personal experience. I have been blessed to have been raised by a loving human father. My concept of a father is one of unconditional love. This has made my relationship with our Heavenly Father easy to learn.

Despite this there are pronounced differences between my earthly father and my Heavenly Father, and I recognized many of them early. My earthly father could build anything, but he could not make other people do what he asked. My Heavenly Father could make people do what He wanted but chose to let us have free will.
Good fathers sometimes allow children to experience difficult things if it is needed to help them grow. Fathers who bail their kids out of every problem and buy their kids every gadget raise kids who have no ability to care for themselves. They become selfish, needy adults who take rather than give.

france-85871_960_720My Heavenly Father has been teaching me about humility and trust quite a bit lately. If God did what I wanted He would simply heal me. But, God knows far more than I do, and He clearly believes that I need to learn to submit to His will sometimes without fretting. I am reasonably good at giving my worries to God. I have a great deal of difficulty in letting go of the problems that I have given to God. I continue to fret and worry. Wisely, God my Heavenly Father is putting me through a training course on humility and submission. The world calls this course chronic illness; God calls it teaching His child.

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I faint, and nearly faint. The nearly comes from the fact that after many years I figured out that it is much less embarrassing to put your head between your knees in public than it is to fall on the floor unconscious. After a good blood test at the doctor, who is treating my anemia, I nearly fainted while standing in line to make my follow-up appointment. This could be the definitive description of embarrassing. They had to move another patient out of a treatment room to get me into a room with a recliner so that I could lie down with my feet up to recover. That is only a piece of the inconvenience that I inadvertently caused. All of the ordeal was only to find out that my anemia is still under control! I told my fiancé that it felt humiliating. He wisely told me it was a gift.
God, my Heavenly Father, is teaching me humility. That is what my fiancé pointed out. Humility comes from the same root as humiliating.

All too often we ask why God allows suffering and difficulty in the world if He is good. The question assumes that we know what the good is.

Often we know good, sometime we miss the point. Some hardship exists to teach us how to grow up into the kind of people we are made to be. We are made in the image of God. That fact usually causes us to expect greatness and power, but Jesus is God’s Son and true God. What we are trying to grow up into is Christ-like. Our Father knows that we will never become who we were made to be as long as we call good only the things that feel good to us.

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Good fathers don’t give us whatever we ask for. They do not solve all our problems, nor do they remove all our challenges. They would if it actually made our lives better. They would lay down their own lives for us if it would really help us.

The truth is they sometimes are required to love us through the hard places. Good fathers want us to learn and grow. Helping us grow means that they may walk through a fear or embarrassment with us rather than for us.

Our God is a Good Father. We see the evidence in all the blessings we so easily call good. If we look carefully we can also see the traces in the gifts that don’t look good at first. Then we may trace the trail of Jesus’ suffering through the tears or feel the Holy Spirit’s groans that are too deep for words and then the Father’s seeming inaction may make sense–good sense.

 

This post is a reflection on God as our Heavenly Father from the Nicene Creed. It is linked to If:Gathering app and the study on the Nicene Creed.

Humble Wildflowers

We live in a culture that encourages us to be assertive. We are taught to be confident in our own power and grow in popularity. We dress to get ahead.  It never ceases to astound me how opposite our cultural values are with the values of Christianity.

Jesus was the singularly most influential person in all of history. He did not promote himself. He owned no property. He rose to influence with no backing of the elite or even the religious leaders of His day. He taught humility and meekness to the crowds and still more came to hear Him. After He was condemned to death, and crucified, rose again and ascended into heaven, His disciples continually risked their lives to tell others about Him.

Paul, formerly Saul, was ardently working to stop people from following Jesus, until he heard from Him on the road to Damascus. Then Paul began to risk his life to take the Good News to all the known world.
In a sense the most influential movement in the world was started by and has been promoted by the meek. Perhaps that is why it seems to be loosing influence in our society and graining ground in oppressive and impoverished countries around the world. We have forgotten where we came from.
The Bible repeatedly encourages us to value humility more than pride. We become frustrated with our leaders for their pride. In 1 Peter 5 leaders of the early church are exhorted to,

“Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for God opposes the proud but give grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5b).

Flowers were once chosen for symbolic reasons. Each flower was said to represent a particular meaning. The bouquet given to a sweetheart was given additional meaning through the message contained in the flowers.

bluebells-758478_960_720Bluebells represented humility.

As Valentine’s Day nears many flowers will be exchanged. Not many will contain bluebells in this era. Humility is undervalued. Spring is coming. The woods and meadows will once again be clothed in bluebells, now relegated to the position of simple wildflowers.

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Lovers and leaders may eschew the bluebell. But, God still paints the wilderness with humility. In the drama and excitement of this season perhaps it would do for us to pause and consider what we are doing.

bluebells-341794_960_720Do we live in a way that teaches humility? Do we actively put others ahead of ourselves? Each of us is encouraged to clothe ourselves like the spring woods. Let us wear a garment of self-sacrifice not self-aggrandizement.

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