Truth and beauty…

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“God is constantly coloring outside the lines. Jesus challenges the structures that oppress and exclude, and busts through any traditions that put limitations on love. Love cannot be harnessed.

Liturgy is public poetry and art. You can make beautiful art by splashing paint on a wall, and you can also make art with the careful diligence of a sculptor. Both can be lovely, and both can be ugly. Both can be marketed and robbed of their original touch, and both have the potential to inspire and move people to do something beautiful for God.

So it is with worship. More important than whether something is old or new, winsome or classic is whether it is real. The Scriptures tell us to “test the spirits,” and the true test of the spirit of a thing is whether it moves us closer to God and to our suffering neighbor. Does it have fruit outside of our own good feelings?

Beauty must hearken to something beyond us. It should cause us to do something beautiful for God in the world.”  Excerpted from Common Prayer Pocket Edition: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals

Truth for me for August 27….

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“Dallas Willard puts it well: ‘I am learning from Jesus to live my life as he would live my life if he were I.’ ” (Richard Foster, Everyday Means of Grace)

“A new thing…”

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I’ve had some meaningful realizations this summer. One of those has been in regards to writing.

I have aspirations to write regularly, to be one of those disciplined writers who writes something everyday. I would like to write on this website blog, write in my book, and write poetry as an actual profession. I even have a few small children’s books written in the back of my mind and I’ve had a few poems published as well as a couple devotions.

Yet, what I’ve come to grasp this summer is that writing is a form of giving for me. It takes emotional and mental energy from me to produce well-written materials. These last few months , my energy stores have been depleted due to some ongoing life circumstances. I haven’t had it in me to write anything on a consistent basis.

In my head, I sort of beat myself up about this, feeling like I’m failing because I’m not following through with this ambition of mine. My heart acknowledges the truth of the season of life in which I find myself and offers me the reality of grace. Good self-care demands my graciousness towards myself, my limitations.

Therefore, I’m taking leave from writing here for a while. I will post pictures I take that inspire me, and I’m going to see if this space will allow me to post short video logs.

My hope is that this change will help me to move forward while still wrestling with many life transitions. Come with me on my journey. Maybe we can grow together….

Isaiah43:19 “See I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up. Do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

The greatest thing you’ll ever learn…

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“Love….wants to be asked for what it longs to give.” (Richard Foster)  I read this today in last week’s weekly post from Renovare’ which I receive by email.  It was referring to God and prayer, but I also find it applicable to any relationship.

Reciprocation is at the heart of any true and lasting relationship, be it a husband/wife, family, friendships, as well as our relationship with God.  Love that is one-sided simply ends up hurting us as the individual who is actually loving the other. I would say that it even causes us to morph into different versions of our truest selves, as we attempt to please the other and “get them to reciprocate” in like fashion as we are giving in the relationship.

I’ve had various relationships of this nature over the course of my life.  Some I’ve chosen to continue to pour into, as I’m able, simply because of the foundation of the original relationship or out of legitimate love and concern for the other.  There have been times I’ve simply had to back off and re-define the boundaries of the relationship so that I could remain healthy but not completely break a bond or sever a tie to someone who hadn’t done me any harm beyond simply being a “taker” and not returning to the relationship reciprocally.  Yet, there have been some with whom I’ve broken all connections, seeing their true nature and accepting that no matter what I did there would be nothing to change their hearts towards true reciprocity in friendship with me.

When I read the quote today, about love wanting to be asked for what it longs to give, I thought of how I sometimes will offer someone an open invitation to come and visit, fully hoping they will do so someday, or I’ve told friends I’m always available to them if they will just call or text, and I truly have meant that.  Yet, it’s seldom that someone does reach out and ask, rare that someone admits their need and becomes vulnerable enough to “phone a friend”.  I admit that there have been times in my life that I held back as well, keeping my problems or needs to myself so as not to overwhelm others.

However, my closest friends will tell you that I’ve learned to reach out to them in my hour of need, if for nothing else than to ask for prayer support.  Sometimes, it’s to ask for more, a chance to visit or have a meal together, etc.  I will admit though that I have never looked at asking for help quite the same as I am considering it now that I read that quote from Richard Foster.  I think I’ve held back in asking from those who love me the most, sometimes thinking that they should know without me asking…. I’m feeling I’ve been wrong in that, and I need to let the Spirit do some work in me to change me.

This goes right along with one of my favorite movie quotes, from Moulin Rouge, which is actually from a song by Nat King Cole, written by Eden Ahbez, call “Nature Boy”.  The line says, “The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.”  Doesn’t this just fit?  It applies to all relationships, and really to all people we may encounter.

Love in this life is imperfect and flawed, but still, it’s love, and that’s why God created all of us, out of His great love, springing from the love between the Father, Son, and Spirit.  We’re made to love Him and to love each other, in give and take relationships, to know and be known, to love and be loved in return…   Just love each other, and leave the rest to God.

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The best days of our lives…

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A week ago we were basking in the glow from my middle child’s wedding where many of the most significant friends and family gathered who have impacted the mosaic puzzle of my life. Some couldn’t be there because of their own life schedules and some weren’t invited since they are part of my story but not my son’s. Yet here we were that Saturday with this great majority of these people who have not only been a part of the pieces of my life but also a part of my son’s life. I can honestly say it was one of the best days of my life.

I had a friend ask me about it this week, and he said his wedding day was the best day of his life. I can agree that my wedding day (soon to be 30 years ago) was one of my best days, however, there have been so many others in each season of my life. There doesn’t seem to be a way to clearly say there has been one best day.

I’ve had best days based on events like my son’s wedding, which would include the births of each of my three kids, my wedding day, as well as the weddings of some very special people in my life. Yet, many of my best days have been more ordinary, even mundane, like a day I was teaching and suddenly was washed over with a sense of realization that this was exactly where I belonged and I was doing what I was created to do. Then, there have been best days when it was just me and God, in the ocean, on a mountain path, or driving on a trip, me singing at the top of my lungs.

One important aspect about all of my best days is that they have all had to do with relationships, with God, others, and even with myself. The mosaic puzzle of my life is colored most brilliantly on those pieces involving relationships. Those have been the best days.

It seems that the best days only get better the older I become. I believe this is because I’m becoming more and more of my true self, aware of who I am and whose I am, embracing all of my pieces as a part of the whole, cherishing each person who has been a part of my mosaic and some who will always be.

My toast at my son’s reception was intended to focus on all of this, on the relationships throughout the seasons of our lives and how they have shaped each of us, including the impact on my son’s life, either directly or indirectly. We are richly blessed with these relationships and my prayer for my son and his wife is that they would recognize this in their lives, as well, and that they would measure all their successes and failures in light of their relationships – with friends , with family, with strangers, with each other, and with God.

Here’s to all the best days yet to come..🥂 ❣️

Keeping Easter…

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My Lenten experience did actually prepare me for Easter this year. Though I did not fulfill my fast in the way I intended, in many respects, the way it ended up was more real and I sensed a greater awareness of God, and of Christ’s journey, while walking in my weakness.

But really, isn’t that what we’re told, that His strength will be made perfect in our weakness? (Hebrews 2:9-10) …and how much greater still is God’s strength made perfect through Jesus’ weakness…? That is then part of the Truth of Easter.

Which leads me to the idea of keeping Easter…

…keeping it in our hearts, our lives, our day to day relating to each other, our experiences in nature …and on and on…

How do we walk in each day with an awareness of our weakness and God’s strength, inviting Him into the depths of our depravity, trusting Him there and allowing Him to love us there…then believing in that love so much that we allow it to transform us so that we walk in all the realities that are ours because we are loved by the King, the Creator, and He WANTS to be in relationship with us, in the midst of all our messiness…allowing Him to be the Strong One so that we recognize our need of Him but also allow ourselves to feel the relief and freedom found in the fact that Someone else has made the way for us to be victorious in this life as well as the next.

This Truth spurs me on to make the choices in my day to day life that will foster an atmosphere in my heart and mind that allows the Spirit’s work to change me from the inside out. These daily choices become habits which eventually become second nature in me and ultimately develop into the character of who I am.

Some call these choices disciplines, others simply say good habits, while someone else may consider them rituals. It doesn’t matter what you call them, just that you intentionally choose to pursue whatever it is that brings you and God closer and that allows Him to turn weaknesses into strengths, despair into peace, ashes into beauty, chaos into order….

For me, those daily disciplines/habits/ choices have changed over time as I’ve grown older and as God and I have become closer. A large aspect of this has been my looking back at all that has formed who I am and allowing God to pull all the pieces together to form what is becoming a whole picture, fitting all my pieces together to make something beautiful of my life.

My walk through Lent this year was only a small fraction of that piecing together in my life. In the posts to come, I’ll share more of the specifics of what I’ve just been learning these last 6 weeks or so, but beyond that, I want to share more of my the complete journey I’ve been through since I was young and first began my pursuit of trying to understand my life holistically and why I’ve wanted to allow this work of the Spirit in my life to bring order from the chaos.

Entering the last week of Lent…

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img_0921As this 6 week focus has progressed, I’ve had my successes and failures with following what I set out to do.  My experience with God, however, has proven true and real.  I’ve drawn closer and invited Him to enter further into my deepest struggles.

I’ve sensed Him reminding me that even though “man does not live by bread alone,” there is an inference given to the statement which I have come to recognize and embrace…bread is not a bad thing and sometimes a man, or woman, needs to eat bread, and sometimes it needs to be eaten simply because we are breaking it with someone else.  Food is okay to enjoy and sharing a meal with someone is a rich and necessary part of living in human relationship with others.

In this, God’s Spirit has spoken to me more intently on the goodness of all things in moderation, the call t

o living balanced in holistic wellness.  I feel I have a better way to move forward now, a greater sense of what I need, what I should limit, and what I must do in order to be healthy as a whole person.  While caught up in this Lenten introspection embodied by my literal actions, the journey and sacrifices of Jesus have impacted me in new ways.

My desire is that this last week of Lent will provide a few more moments of an awareness of the fullness of God’s presence in the midst of my own sensations of physical emptiness.  I’m praying this for me now, and for you, whomever you may be that happens to read this….

I’ll share more details of my journey forward next weekend when we await the sunrise of Easter morning….