My Illness

My malady is a breakdown of spirit

when all that is in me cries out to my God

that I am nothing more than my disability,

nothing less than my recovery.

In my relapse I cry, “Please forgive me!”,

but I know my affliction is a life sentence.

My ailment is humanity.

My convalescence comes only upon my reliance

on the physician of mercy, Jesus Christ.


poetry/photo RDS (c) 10/30/19

The Verse After the Most Recited

I’ve memorized John 3:16. Almost everyone has. I think I memorized it when I went to bible camp, at age fourteen, to keep from doing dishes. Not the most saintly reason but a very teen reason for sure.

But for some reason, I also memorized the next verse and ironically it is not the most well-known. So, I thought I’d share it today to discuss in our very simple format.

Verse: John 3:17 For God sent not his son into the world to condemn the world but that the world through him might be saved.

Love God: How often do you feel like the whole point of Jesus is to make you feel guilty about the way you live your life? Are you aware that this was not the original plan?

Love People: God seems to have had a specific goal in mind for mankind, and that takes time and thought. Do you condemn others before you think?

Prayer: Father, you are so patient with me, with all my flaws. Help me to remember that your love is here to teach me, not to judge me, for what I cannot do. Help me to do the same for others.

 

 

The Thing About Simplicity

I love quotes. They simply sum up life in a few sentences.  They also remind us of how cognizant we should be but are not.

Simplicity is a goal that either takes great concentration and effort or becomes a necessity. Mine has become the latter. Right after my last post about my goals for 2018 my husband went in for hernia surgery and due to some complications we spent the entire month of January in the hospital. It was not a great way to begin the year, let alone my goals.

I quickly became aware that I was not going to get my closets cleaned out, the garage put in order or even clean out my desk. I was not going to plan meals, send out birthday cards on time or make my grandchildren anything by hand this year. All I was going to accomplish, at that point, was making sure I had an extra change of underwear with me at the hospital.

But God is good. He understands my desire for simplicity, even if it did become a necessity more than a desire. He helped me to see that when life boils down to just surviving and helping someone recover you find the time to do the things that really matter and you just ignore the rest.  No, I don’t want to say ignore; that’s not really what you do. It’s more like you sigh heavily, feel the pang of guilt, but allow yourself to move on because you have no choice.

I want to write but I feel overwhelmed. Still, I want to share my heart in words. I can’t tell you why. I only know it is an inherent gene that God planted long ago. I simply want to write. So today, I’m going to write…simply.  Jesus taught us that all of the laws and the prophets hang on just two simple commandments; love God and love others. Jesus was the master of simplicity. I can only hope to be as good at that as He is.

Verse: John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Love God: Do you love God as much as he loves you? Could you give up everything important to you, for him?

Love People: If God loves “the world” that much he probably loves the guy in the next room with the obnoxious voice, your ex-spouse, and that annoying girl you still hate from high school. Should you consider how you feel about the people God loves?

Prayer: Father, thank you for your gift of everlasting life despite the way I treat others sometimes. Please help me to see the way you see so that I can love the way you love.

 

 

I’ll Pray For You

 

My mother says this to me often. She and I are not of the same religion. Still I am grateful when I think of my name on their altar, where she and her group of friends, some who don’t even know me, bow their heads and plead for my cause.

My friend’s daughter, a Wiccan, says she hopes the Gods smile down on me and that she will send me good energy. I have only one God but I know He loves her enough to hear her plea for energy in my behalf.

My Catholic friend says she will light a candle for me. My son-in-law says, “Insha’Allah, If God wills it,” and then gets on his knees for me at his mosque. My Pentecostal friend says she will pray over me. My aunt says she will ask the elders of her church to lay their hands on me. I am touched by their concern despite the fact that I don’t practice my faith in the same way. My neighbor, who is agnostic simply says, “I’ll be thinking of you.” I’ll take that too.

Whether these people believe in the same God I do, or not, is beside the point. My God believes in them. It doesn’t matter if He is exactly who they think He is because the God I love cares for the compassionate requests of all of His children. And when they raise their voices to Him, in whatever religious place, ceremony, ritual or language they use, I know that His translation skills are universal. His is the ear of a patient father, who feels the worth of our reaching and hears the language of our hearts.

All prayer, all concentrated love and concern for others, counts in heaven.

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:26‬ ‭ESV‬‬
http://bible.com/59/rom.8.26.esv

More from the Bible about Praying for Each Other

“I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling;”
‭‭1 Timothy‬ ‭2:8‬ ‭ESV‬‬
http://bible.com/59/1ti.2.8.esv

“Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭18:19‬ ‭ESV‬‬
http://bible.com/59/mat.18.19.esv

“Therefore…pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”
‭James‬ ‭5:16‬ ‭ESV‬‬
http://bible.com/59/jas.5.16.esv

Sin or Mistake?

So I’m sitting in a group talking about the dumb things we do in life and I hear that new but familiar whisper in my mind, “God takes care of our sin.  He doesn’t need to fix our mistakes, we do.”

It was quite an abrupt thought actually.  I had to ask myself, “Is it a mistake when I get angry or is it a sin of judgement and unkindness?  Is it a mistake that I hurt someone’s feelings or a sin? What’s the difference and why does it matter?”

For me a mistake is something I do by accident, without premeditated thought and without contemplating the consequences.  A sin, on the other hand, is something I do knowing full well what the consequences are and not caring at that immediate moment.  Both cause regret and both should be addressed immediately but only one seems an intentional misuse of God’s gift of grace while the other seems an unintentional way to be forced to ask for someone else’s grace.

I sit back and think to myself, “The trouble is, if it’s my job to fix my mistakes, then when I sin and call it a mistake it becomes my job to take care of my sin.  So, do I really want to be held accountable for all of the sins I can’t take care of?  I think I’m pretty tied up already working on fixing all those mistakes!  It’s probably much easier to come clean, ask for God to take it and release it than to hang on to the delusion that it was ‘just a mistake’. ”

Then I hear, “Stop calling it a mistake and start asking for forgiveness and strength.”

Uh huh…noted.

Grace, Ah, So That is What It Is.

Colossians 1:21 – “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds which was shown by your evil actions…”

It’s interesting how we believe that God is mad at us when we do wrong things.  We suddenly “see things where there are none” and we alienate ourselves from Him.  But God never moves away from us…we move away from Him.

1:22 – “But now he has reconciled you by His physical body through death, to present you before God as a people who are holy, faultless, and without blame”.

Huh, so that even if I have separated myself from Him I am not being accused?

It is amazing to me – this gift I didn’t really understand that existed all along.

How could I – who have attended church all my life, I who have prayed regularly, read my bible, taught bible classes, and converted others – how could I have actually missed the real message behind all of that?

When I am telling others of God’s complete forgiveness is it really possible I could have missed the point?  That they could have walked away with that assurance while I remained in bondage?

And the promise was right there all along – in the bible I’ve read a hundred times!

Mary’s Mother’s Day

(c)2012 Waltzingon Photography

From my journal 1993:    In a few days I will be bringing forth yet another child into this already crowded world.  Does anyone really care?  Does it matter that it’s me or that it will be a boy or whether or not he will ever make a difference in this world?  Probably not very many people.  Other than those who love us and care about our day to day lives, we are just another pair.  In another room someone else will be having a child also, a boy.  Will he be a great and important man someday?  Who’s to say?  But I’ll bet everyone who knows and loves him thinks so too.

 And so my mind drifts to the mother of yet another baby boy; only born so long ago, when the world was not quite so crowded, but busy none-the-less.  At the moment that Mary first laid eyes on that beautiful baby boy of hers I’ll bet that there were many too busy that night to ever wonder if he would ever be something great either.  But he was.  And Mary knew it.

Mary, in all her innocence, was just a young woman.  Not older and wiser like those who are having their fifth child, like me.  Just a sweet first time Mom who would eventually unwrap her baby’s blankets and count his fingers and his toes like we all did with our first baby.

Even knowing who he was I know she felt the same protective feelings we all have toward our babies.  She must have thought, “He’s so young, so vulnerable, how could he be so important?”

My heart bleeds for her as she realizes what he must endure for his mission in life.  Oh how hard it must have been not to want to cry out in anguish to save the life of her child!  To spare him from the pain that must surely come.

I cry too; to save the lives of each of my beautiful children.  To spare them from the agony of the lessons they must eventually learn in time.  I, too, know the ache of wishing that I could protect them from everything harmful and painful in life.

Mary, Jesus’ mother, she was the woman who taught him to walk, and to speak.  Could it have been her who first taught Jesus the art of loving others without judgment?  Could it have been his own mother who instilled in him the desire to serve God so willingly and completely?  Mary taught him to share and play.  Mary hugged and kissed away his bruises and tears.  Mary helped him learn obedience and taught him about rules and laws.  Who else but his own mother?  Aren’t these the things that every mother should teach their own children?  Could Mary have been a part of God’s wonderful plan to make Jesus into what he was and who he would become?

 And so as I gather my children around me this day and looking from face to face, I think of Mary.  And I pray that I can be such a wonderful mother to my children.  I pray that I can teach them everything that God wants them to know; everything that I can give them to fulfill the purposes that they have been placed here for.  I may have a rocket scientist, a veterinarian, a famous singer or just a great real estate agent in my family.  I may even have a President of the United States in my home.  Or maybe I’ll just have a great mother or father who will pass on family values and love to their own children.  Every child represents the potential for the beginning link in a chain of greatness.  All I do know is that how they are prepared today, and how much I can let them know they are loved, will greatly influence who they will become.

*************************************************

            It’s true that many people in this huge world were too busy to care what each of my children would become when they were born, or to wonder if they would be anyone significant, but they are.  I know it.

            So from across the span of time and motherhood I wish you all a very Happy Mother’s Day; and a wish that you find as much delight in your own children, as much potential, as much awe for their future and your part in it as Mary did holding her own bundle of joy so many years ago and as I find in my own today.

Open the Door!

(c)2010 Waltzingon Photography
(c)2010 Waltzingon Photography

Before he died Jesus said that if he didn’t go away then “the advocate will not come..but if I go I will send him…” (John 16:7). Did that mean there was some sort of process that had stages to it? Like first, send a teacher (Let them understand Me better). Second, create a Savior (…for them to believe in and gain life). Third, resurrect him and bring him home again (Let’s show it can and will be done). Fourth, send the Spirit (…to prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment – John 16:8).

Sounds like a plan to me.

Then does that mean that by being here with us Jesus had to finish the steps in order for God to set up the process? Can you even imagine trying to set that up? Let’s see, I’ll send someone who is strong enough to be as perfect as man can be, as sinless, as loving, as kind, and as ready to love all my other children as I am myself…to represent me on earth. Jesus did say if you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the father so that makes sense. Then God had to think that when the relationship is formed, with disciples and believers and others taught to share what had been taught, then this man will also have to be willing to pay the price for sin (as I would’ve done myself for them) and be resurrected after death.

Doesn’t that make you humble that someone was up to that task? Doesn’t it awe you a little that someone could so accurately represent God himself?  Doesn’t it amaze you that Jesus did such a good job at this that we can still feel that love today even when he is not physically with us? We feel that love that God has for us (and was able to send through a representative) during the most interesting moments; a prayer, or an insight, or by serving each other.  Isn’t it incredible that Jesus was able to pull that off so well?

I used to resent that Christians would say that Jesus was the only way to God. I don’t want to think that I can’t just go to God directly.  I resented the thought that there’s some door between us I have to go through first. But what if Jesus isn’t the door between us and our relationship with God at all but the key to open it? What if Jesus isn’t standing in the way at all but opening up all the doors, one after the other, until we have a straight shot to God?

Now that’s amazing.

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