Joy, Grief and Clarity

I read this quote today and instantly loved it and it immediately provided some needed clarity for me.

I love “God Moments” in my life and this was one of those moments. Just a few days ago I found myself looking through old photos of my mom and replaying memories in my mind. I was happy and sad and thankful all twisted together. My mom went to heaven in 2012 and there’s not a day I don’t think of her in some way. I believe that grief was best described by C.S.Lewis, when he stated, “No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid” in his book, “A Grief Observed.”

It is also true that grief is a process and not simply an event. The accepted process lists five stages of grief and there’s no right or wrong order in which individuals go through them. Some might be brief while others take extensive time and sometimes stages are repeated before completing all five. Be gentle with yourself and others, navigating these stages is not the same for any two people. I will provide some additional references at the bottom for anyone wanting more information. I can only speak from my own experiences, I am not in a position to offer any professional advice if you are grieving and need assistance please reach out to a professional. My immediate family though small, we all have dealt with death differently and that’s ok, I’ve actually appreciated the lessons and insights I have discovered through this life event that caused processes to begin. I can say with full confidence that my brother, father and myself all have renewed relationships with one another and our family bonds have strengthened and I know in my heart my mother would be overjoyed. God did not call my mother home to cause pain to our family. God is a loving God, He only wants what’s best for each of us. I can say that with confidence now, but on June 22, 2012 at 3:22am…I was crushed and broken! I was not able to see anything good or positive, I felt pain like I had never felt before. I was angry and I did not understand. I trusted my family, my friends, my church and I trusted God. I’m thankful for a loving and patient God, I’m thankful for a forgiving God and a teaching God. I felt sorry for me, my brother and my dad but mostly for myself. I was really selfish! I finally realized that God is God and He’s in control. My mom no longer would suffer physical pains of medical issues, she no longer would have to work twelve-hour days, her mind would no longer have to calculate and pay bills, she would no longer go to sleep tired and wake up to repeat the previous day. She is forever in the care and love of Jesus! My mom loved her family, she loved her friends, she was loving, she was honest, she was dedicated, she was tenacious, she was smart, she was creative, she was funny, she was loyal, she was my mom, she was my friend, she was my biggest fan, she was my biggest supporter, she was a daughter, she was a wife, she was a mother, she was a grandmother, she was an aunt, she was a cousin, she was a daughter-in-law, she was a sinner and she was a saint. I could go on and on, but you get the picture I’m painting. I loved her and I miss her. By the way, I’m not saying my mom is better or more important than anyone else’s…mom are all quite uniquely special in their own way and they are all gifts from God.

When we grieve the loss of someone and our grief process begins the world does not stop and wait for us to do the things we need to, no! Life continues moving forward at the same speed and pace it always had and we must keep up. Over time my life settled back into its previous rhythm and I tried hard to accept the fact that life would go on and I would be ok. Some days I tried extra hard to understand the why’s of it all and some days I relented and simply said it was God’ will. I actively searched out books on grieving, shared with friends and family, spoke with a counselor and my pastor. Talking helped and I also wrote down my thoughts and eventually shared them on this site as well as with friends and family. Writing helped me to focus and seek God, and through this activity I discovered I was changing. I started to see beyond myself, past my dad and my brother as well. I was seeing the world and more importantly the world that God created! God is in control! My responsibility is to trust in God, trust that God has my best interest in mind and that He not only loves my but He died for me, died for my mom, died for my family, He died for you too! It’s difficult for me to admit this but I’ve learned so many valuable life lessons because of the passing of my mother. I could not have learned these life lessons any other way, God blessed me through this excruciatingly painful period of my life. I am not weeping every time I think of my mom, sometimes I literally laughing out loud when speaking about her, reminiscing about her and I even catch myself saying things that she would have said and done only to laugh about it in the end. And, that my friends is joy, pure JOY! I know and can see how truly blessed I am that God gave me such a wonderful mother.

The clarity I have gained is this…

God loves me.

God is patient with me.

God is trustworthy.

God knows best.

God is…

“God is good all the time. And all the time, God is good.”

God has been faithful my entire life, I have not always seen or recognized it and often when I do, I have been slow to act but I am seeking to learn more every day and striving to be more like Jesus, even asking the question, “what would Jesus do?” Friends, God has never ask anyone to be perfect, He asks for obedience and repentance. He wants to be part of your life and mine.

John 6:40, “For this is the will of my Father that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

James 4:8, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”

1 John 3:1, “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.”

Acts 3:19, “Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out…”

John 14:23, “Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.”

Lastly, I can honestly say with true conviction that God has opened my heart, mind and soul to an increased understanding of grief, love, loss, clarity, joy and unspeakable peace.”

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog post, if you are in need of prayer or support please reach out to someone you trust, I am also praying for you as well. Blessings to you!

~Peace~

References:

https://abbeyofthearts.com/

https://grief.com/the-five-stages-of-grief/

https://griefresourcenetwork.com/crisis-center/hotlines/

A Grief Observed by C.S.Lewis

Movie – God’s Not Dead

Simplicity, Made Simple

How does one live a simple life?

What does living simplistic look like?

Simplicity

• the state of being uncomplicated and uncompounded

• freedom from pretense or guile

• directness of expression

I shared in a conversation today with a friend, we discussed many things ranging from personal cares and concerns to the many plights going on in the world in general. A question was posed as to how I see myself in the midst of everything or at least where I wish to see myself. The first word that came to me was, “simple.” I see myself living a simplistic life. In many ways I live a life filled with good fortune and prosperity in comparison to some and equally compared to others I am living in poverty. It’s all a matter of perspective from which one sees me, or perhaps chooses not to see. None of it really truly matters because this place, earth that is, is not my home. I know that my eternal home is in heaven with God, God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit. Knowing this does not mean I don’t care about my life here on planet earth, I do very much so. I have learned as I get older what the truly valuable things are in life for me. I once dreamed of living in a large home filled with lots things and people/children and pets, but large homes can be lonely especially when there’s no one significant to share it with, pets though they are cute and cuddly are also an added responsibility when not shared with someone. Don’t misunderstand, being alone is not the same as lonely. Being single can be very fulfilling and rewarding, we are all called to be and do different things and we are all chosen and created by God with purpose! I have had two significant relationships during my life and I am a better person today because of them. I made mistakes and have regrets and I learned from them. I’m a better person because of my experiences, and if it’s God’s will for me to meet and be with someone again, I will welcome it with an open heart, an open mind and an open soul. Living simple for me is having what I need and the ability to have some of the things I want. It’s having the freedom to say yes to things and no, to other things. It’s helping and volunteering with there’s a need. It’s sleeping all day if I choose to do so. It’s staying up late reading a book, playing a video game or watching movies. It’s staying up late preparing for a bible study class or responding to the Spirits call to post a blog that’s been tugging on my heart all day long. It’s going for a drive in the middle of the night just to feel the wind on my face. It’s going to the park just to take pictures of God’s grand design. It’s going out for dinner and ordering the finest steak without concern for the price. It’s choosing healthy foods because it will help me feel better in the long run. It’s about having butter on my popcorn at the movies because life is very short. It’s smiling at a stranger because they deserve to be noticed. It’s holding a door for someone and saying “thank you” and “you’re welcome.” It’s saying you’re sorry and truly meaning it. It’s sitting in silence with a friend in need because words are not necessary. It’s remembering a memory and sharing it. It’s paying for a strangers meal without their knowledge. It’s stopping my car when a funeral procession drives by. It’s saying thank you to a solider, police officer or firefighter. It’s saying a prayer when I see an ambulance or police car racing by with lights flashing. It’s picking up trash in a parking lot. It’s all these things and more, much more that give my life meaning, value and it is simple. Simple, in that these things bring me joy and happiness and peace.

I want to thank you for taking the time to read my post, I pray that you are able to glean something of value for yourself from it. God continues to bless me day after day and I want to pass the blessings on to you. Believe and know that God loves you and that He desires only goodness for you. Trust in Him today!

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” John 14:27

~Peace~

References:

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage?search=John%2014:27&version=NRSV

Church, To Go or Not To Go?

Do you go to church?

If yes, why do you go?

What do you hope to gain?

What does it cost?

If no, why not?

Have you ever attended?

If yes, when and why?

If no, would you like to?

Attending church is something I have done as far back as my memory takes me. It is a difficult thing for me to imagine never attending church but I know many people have not experienced it. I know that people go to church for different reasons and that church can also be many things to many people. I remember getting dressed up for Sunday school and being picked up by the Sunday school teacher every Sunday. When I was young, three or four, my parents didn’t attend on a regular basis but wanted me and my brother to attend. Later on as I grew my parents would attend more and especially on holidays like Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. I was never forced to attend Sunday school or church by my parents, I loved it, enjoyed it very much. As an adult now, I look back and can see some valuable lessons I learned through these experiences, I learned social skills, I learned bible stories, I learned songs that have sustained me throughout my life. I learned to be part of a bigger family, one beyond my own. I was a part of the church family and the greater community of believers. I found worth and value through going to church. It wasn’t the building, though it still holds a special place in my heart, not a specific sermon, not even a specific minister, although some are more memorable than others; it was the people, their convictions and beliefs, the presence of God within those individuals that taught me what church really is all about. Church, for me is the presence of God! It is a place to worship, a place to be feed physically, emotionally and spiritually. It’s a place for support, learning, healing and safety/comfort. A favorite bible verse of mine is, Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.

Here’s a list of why some attend church:

• To interact with other like-minded individuals.

• To socialize with friends and family.

• To hear God’s Word spoken and preached.

• Free babysitting.

• Free entertainment.

• Hot coffee and food.

• Heat in the winter and cool in the summer.

• Worship God/Praise God.

💜These are all good and valid reason, follow your heart. 💜

Here’s a list of why some do not attend church:

• It’s my only day off, it’s “me” time.

• I’m too tired.

• I don’t have the right clothes.

• It’s too early/It’s too late.

• I don’t have money for the offering.

• I don’t want to be “called out” or “yelled at.”

• I don’t fit in/I don’t know anyone.

• I’m too broken.

Never let any of this statements or ones like them keep you for worshiping God and seeking God.

❤️God sees your Heart!❤️

Church will and can be what you want it to be. We are all members of one body as stated in 1 Corinthians 12:12, “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.”

There are many different churches and denominations in the world, and I am not here to promote one over another. The Bible commands me to do two things and they should not be hard to do but honestly I struggle from day-to-day just like everyone else. We do not live in a perfect world and there is conflict but that doesn’t mean I can’t try to follow God’s command and when I fail, I seek forgiveness and start again and so can you!

Matthew 22:37-40, “He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

Love God, love your neighbor!

If you don’t know God seek Him and He will be found. Reach out to a friend, a church, coworker, and/or the internet…God is waiting for you no matter where you are, no matter who you are because we are all God’s children and He desires all to return home. You are loved!

Salvation cannot be earned, we are saved by the grace of God when we recognize and place our faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. For the free gift of salvation all you must do is admit and believe you are a sinner, that Jesus Christ died for your sins on the cross, and sincerely ask His forgiveness. Strive to sin no more, turning away from sinful things, show repentance. Jesus knows you and loves you. The attitude of your heart is what matters to Him, your truthfulness, your honesty. A suggested prayer for this is:

“Dear God,
I know I’m a sinner and I ask for your forgiveness.
I believe Jesus Christ is Your Son and He died on the cross in my place.
I believe that He died and that you raised Him to life.
I want to trust Him as my Savior and follow Him as Lord, starting today at this very moment.
Guide my life and help me to do your will.
I pray this in the name of Jesus.

-Amen

~Peace~

References:

• https://www.crosswalk.com/faith/spiritual-life/what-does-it-mean-to-love-your-neighbor-as-yourself.html

https://www.biblegateway.com/

Compassion [Love], Residency and God

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Greetings my friends!  I have missed writing and my thoughts are filled with ideas, theories and random inquiries.  In the past week I heard an inspiring sermon, questioned my living practices and participated in a lively conversation involving politics and religion.  I realize I have just listed three very distinct things and it will be a tough task to bring them all together into a formidable story.  I have never been one to keep things simple, as to concentrate on one thing at a time; hence, the three separate ideas swirling around in my mind, heart and soul.

Let me start with compassion, the sermon was actually called, “The Best Way, Love Is The Best Way.”  *I will post it at the bottom for those who might be interested in viewing it.  So, although compassion is not in the title, that was the feeling invoked within me after hearing the sermon.  The scripture that was used is often referred to as the “Love Chapter” it is 1 Corinthians 13 and was written by Paul, the Apostle. The chapter covers the subject of “love.” In the original Greek, the word ἀγάπη agape is used throughout.  Love is simple yet complex, I am fairly certain I have run the gamut of several degrees and depths of love in so much as life has afforded me so far.  Love is fun, happy and life-giving.  Love is painful, heart wrenching and grieving.  Love is the best and worst all rolled into one.  Love is more than caring and deeper than promises.  I believe Paul, with the Holy Spirit leading him said it best: “If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.”  1 Corinthians 13

The Bible clearly and plainly tells us what love is and what it looks like, although I may have run the gamut, I am so far away from hitting the mark of the truest acts of love.  I guess that’s the beauty of it as well,  through God’s GRACE we are extended grace daily and are given new opportunities to love others and ourselves not just every single day but every single second of every day.  I mentioned earlier that love can be painful, heart wrenching and grieving, but even in the midst of these feelings, love still exists.  If it weren’t for love why would we bother to grieve at a loss(?).  I’ve experienced the loss of a loved one and loss of relationships.   Sometimes, they were situations I created and others I was on the receiving end of, but what I have learned is that death does not take love away, it redefines it!  Broken relationships and even marriages end but it does not erase the love that was shared, sometimes life just changes and people grow in different directions.  There does not need to be fault assigned to one side or the other, although it can and does happen.  The love between friends doesn’t cease to be because miles separate you or the years go by and you live your life, all those heartfelt memories are forever embedded into your heart, even if you reconnect after 20 or 30 + years, the love remains.  Love is much easier than hate!  Jesus tells us in Matthew 22:37-40, “He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

 So the second thing I’ve been thinking about is “residency.”  Metaphorically, speaking…where am I living my life?  This question has been on my heart for some time now and hearing, “The Best Way” sermon brought it to the surface again.  What I have learned over the past few years is that no matter what is in the past, you can’t go back and change it. We can choose to see things differently in the present and even envision the future but the past is an event set in stone, a picture preserved in time, something in the rear view mirror.  It can help to inform you on your future decisions but remains unchanged in the past.  Spend enough time to learn the lesson from the past and then move forward to living in the present.  Being aware of the present and being present, in the present is a gift to yourself!  Don’t spend so much of your time thinking about the future that you allow the present to pass you by.  Plan for the future but live for today.  There’s no promise of tomorrow, yesterday is in the past, the difference you can make can only be done in the present.  Matthew 6:34, “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

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James 4:14, “Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.”

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God!  Without God, this is all meaningless.  God is Love! 1 John 4:16, 19, “So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. We love because he first loved us.”

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1 John 4:7-21, “Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world. God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgment, because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. We love because he first loved us. Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.”

Thought provoking questions:

What is the risk in loving?

What is the risk in not loving?

What would Jesus do?  WWJD

What political group/party would Jesus support?

What does compassion look like?

Where am I living?

~Peace~

References:

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage?search=1%20Corinthians%2013:1-13&version=NRSV

 

Courage and Place

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Friends, today I learned something new about myself and more importantly how others sometimes see me.  I’ll be honest, not my best day.  Nonetheless, a good day because I learned something new.  I have a friend, who is also a coworker who cared enough to have a difficult conversation to me.  He has often helped me to see and understand situations and/or events in ways I never imagined.  He easily could have just kept his thoughts to himself but he didn’t, he made a conscious choice to offer some words of encouragement, criticism and wisdom to me.  He presented a critique of how I interact with specific individuals verse others.   His words came from a place of being constructive and not destructive and I have a tremendous amount respect for my friend along with his tenacity and intellect, all of which he would deny.  I have so much to be thankful for, God has blessed me with friends who have strong Christian faith and convictions to their faith with in my personal life as well as my professional life.

I have always enjoyed learning and growing but today I recognized that to be successful in this endeavor one must be in perpetual motion to accomplish it.   After some time of serious thought and quiet time, I realized that I have allowed myself to become “proud” even edging towards “arrogance” in the manner in which I project myself with and towards others.  While there’s nothing wrong with self-confidence and accepting accolades from others, it all must be kept in perspective.  My perspective as of late has been less than a true reflection.  I am not perfect, I am not in control and I definitely do not hold a monopoly on all the right answers.  My way is not the only way, I am not so independent that I never need help.  Life is the ebb and flow, taking and receiving, stopping and starting, moving forward and stepping backwards, turning right and sometimes turning left.  I was also able to see the difference between passion and emotion today, I am passionate about a lot of things in life and I am an emotional person as well.  Somehow I have meshed these two qualities together and blurred the lines that distinguish the two.  For me, passion is more than emotion, its focus, it’s desiring something and having plans to attain, complete or accomplish.  With emotions, it’s raw, unfiltered, unruly at times, often irrational and disconnected. I want to be a passionate individual and not merely an emotional one.

My plan:

• Start anew each day, everyday as an opportunity to start over again.  God’s mercies are new every day!

“Certainly the faithful love of the Lord hasn’t ended; certainly God’s compassion isn’t through! They are renewed every morning. Great is your faithfulness.” -Lamentations 3:22-23

• I will strive to listen more and pause before speaking with others.

“Know this, my dear brothers and sisters: everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to grow angry.” -James 1:19

• I will think of the consequences of criticizing others.

“Don’t judge, so that you won’t be judged. You’ll receive the same judgment you give. Whatever you deal out will be dealt out to you. Why do you see the splinter that’s in your brother’s or sister’s eye, but don’t notice the log in your own eye? How can you say to your brother or sister, ‘Let me take the splinter out of your eye,’ when there’s a log in your eye? You deceive yourself! First take the log out of your eye, and then you’ll see clearly to take the splinter out of your brother’s or sister’s eye.” -Matthew 7:1-5

• I am going to give praise to those who deserve it.

“Each person should test their own work and be happy with doing a good job and not compare themselves with others.” -Galatians 6:4

• I will seek forgiveness and I will forgive.

“Be tolerant with each other and, if someone has a complaint against anyone, forgive each other. As the Lord forgave you, so also forgive each other.” -Colossians 3:13

• I will love as Christ loves me.

“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: You must love your neighbor as you love yourself.” -Matthew 22:37-39

Lastly, I am thankful for the courage of friends, blessings from God and for God’s guidance to find my place in this world.

~Peace~

References:

https://www.biblegateway.com

https://henrinouwen.org/meditation/embracing-the-true-self/

Season of Epiphany – Epiphany of the Lord

 

I am sharing the sermon I heard on Sunday, January 6, 2019 with you today. I do apologize for the delay, I had started to actually blog about the sermon with some of my own thoughts included but during the process I somehow erased the whole thing. In my defeated moment I took it as a divine interaction and decided to not try and recreate the post. What I will share is this, I am truly excited and passionate at hearing the advent stories our church has just concluded and thrilled to be part of Epiphany and seeking new experiences through Lent 2019. In some cases it’s like hearing the stories for the first time though I’ve heard them many times since I was a child. The wonders of God never cease and if we are willing to seek and listen there’s more to learn about God and Jesus. The sermon I’m sharing today peaked my interest in re-reading historical facts about the place, time and rulers in Jerusalem at the time of Jesus’ birth. It’s a history lesson and a biblical lesson all tied together. I rediscovered facts I had learned long ago while studying history while in college. It was a lovely memory to rekindle, not just the history class and the Professor teaching, but the whole college experience came back to me. I could sense the smell of the brick building, feel the wood and metal of desk arm chairs, and sense the camaraderie of the people I shared a semester learning history and life in general. Little did I know that years later, I would be moved by that experience. That my friends is God! Not mere coincidences, luck or memory muscles…God had been working and preparing me for life way back then! I have a bible verse that is special to me, in fact I have it hanging on the dash of my car so I see it every day I’m driving. It is Esther 4:14, “Perhaps this is the moment for which you have been created.” We have all been born/created for and with a purpose, you are a child of God! Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

 

I hope you find newness this sermon and in the scripture verses attached.

January 6, 2019

A Deceitful Promise

Matthew 2:1-12

“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in the territory of Judea during the rule of King Herod, magi came from the east to Jerusalem. They asked, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We’ve seen his star in the east, and we’ve come to honor him.” When King Herod heard this, he was troubled, and everyone in Jerusalem was troubled with him. He gathered all the chief priests and the legal experts and asked them where the Christ was to be born. They said, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for this is what the prophet wrote: You, Bethlehem, land of Judah, by no means are you least among the rulers of Judah, because from you will come one who governs, who will shepherd my people Israel. ” Then Herod secretly called for the magi and found out from them the time when the star had first appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search carefully for the child. When you’ve found him, report to me so that I too may go and honor him.” When they heard the king, they went; and look, the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stood over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy. They entered the house and saw the child with Mary his mother. Falling to their knees, they honored him. Then they opened their treasure chests and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Because they were warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they went back to their own country by another route.”

~Peace~

Charlotte

References:

https://www.biblegateway.com

https://triciarobinson.com/

2019 – My One Word “Peace”

Welcome 2019!

“Let the Lord give strength to his people! Let the Lord bless his people with peace!” -Psalm 29:11

Today starts a new day, a new chapter and a brand new year! It’s good to know that we get a new opportunity at life every single day thanks to the grace of God! God’s enormous love and generosity and Jesus’ selfless sacrifice on the cross. I am looking forward to the journey ahead in the coming year, the opportunities God will provide and for the ability to share God’s love and message of “PEACE” to the world.

I am embarking on a path of peace in the coming year. I truly believe that God and the Holy Spirit have laid the word, “Peace” on my heart for numerous reasons. I feel like I’m being called to seek peace in all that I do, in all that I say, in my professional life, my personal life, my life in its entirety. Peace is, in my opinion is about seeking to listen more, especially listening before responding. Listening before making decisions. Peace is responding with respect, most especially when I may not be in agreement with someone. Peace is not about cowering or giving in to something or someone you absolutely do not agree with, it can be about compromise and should be about the good of all concerned. Peace can be saying things that are uncomfortable and difficult to say and even more so to hear. Peace is truth! Peace is an action word with responsibilities.

I am entering into this knowing that peace will not be easy, if it were…well, we would have peace. I know this will be challenging for me and I know there will be days that I will fail. I’m just being real and practical, I do not want to set myself up for disappointment and self ridicule for messing up. I’m going to have bad days, life is hard and I am human after all. I’m not saying this to give myself a pass, I’m just saying this is my plan, my goal for 2019…to strive for peace and to promote peace whenever and wherever I can but this “peace” can only be attained when it starts with me. No finger-pointing and blaming others, nope, this absolutely must start with me.

I truly hope you will follow me on this journey and you give pause to “peace” may it find you and fill you as well in 2019. I’ve listed some definitions and references below that you might be interested in viewing. Until next time…peace!

“The Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up his face to you and grant you peace.” -Numbers 6:25-26

Merriam-Webster Definition of Peace:

• a state of tranquility or quiet

• freedom from civil disturbance

• a state of security or order within a community provided for by law or custom

• freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions

• harmony in personal relations

• a state or period of mutual concord between governments

• a pact or agreement to end hostilities between those who have been at war or in a state of enmity

• used interjectionally to ask for silence or calm or as a greeting or farewell

• to be, become, or keep silent or quiet

The Hebrew Meaning of Peace:

Shalom (Hebrew: שָׁלוֹם‬ shalom; also spelled as sholom, sholem, sholoim, shulem) is a Hebrew word meaning peace, harmony, wholeness, completeness, prosperity, welfare and tranquility and can be used idiomatically to mean both hello and goodbye. … The word shalom is also found in many other expressions and names.

-Wikipedia

Peace (In The Bible)

The Hebrew word for peace, šālôm,translated in the Septuagint most often by the Greek word, eirēnē, has a wide semantic range including the notions of totality or completeness, success, fulfillment, wholeness, harmony, security and well-being.

Peace in the OT. The most comprehensive description of shalom is a cosmic order ordained by God through creation (Gn 1) and established with God’s people in the covenant (Ex 20–23). In this cosmic order each part finds its meaning and function as it conforms to God’s purpose. Shalom describes the “realm where chaos is not allowed to enter” (Hanson, 347), chaos being understood as sickness, war, social strife, or the violation of the covenant.

-New Catholic Encyclopedia

“Peace I leave with you. My peace I give you. I give to you not as the world gives. Don’t be troubled or afraid.”

-John 14:27

~Peace~

References:

https://www.biblegateway.com

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shalom

https://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/peace-bible

https://www.merriam-webster.com/

https://www.peacestartswithme.com/

First Sunday after Christmas Day • White (Lectionary – disciples.org)

Thank December 30, 2018

Hello internet friends and blog followers! Thank you so much for visiting my site. So, here we are at the first Sunday after Christmas, the Sunday after celebrating the birth of Jesus. I hope you were all able to celebrate in the manner most precious to you. I had the privilege of having the day off work and was able to travel to visit with family. I had the opportunity to exchange gifts, eat some good food, give some gifts and take photos to help commemorate the day. So, where do we go from here (?) Most likely the decorations are coming down or will be soon, the leftover food has been consumed and gifts have found their way to a resting spot or useful area. Do we just return to life as it was before this season of Advent started(?). I truly hope that is not the case. In the church calendar of events, today is the First Sunday after Christmas and January is the next season and it is called “Epiphany.” I have been researching the lectionary of the church that I attend and that I am a member of, Disciples of Christ. I found several scripture passages for today, my assumption is that not all are meant to be looked at all together at the same time but rather a schedule of readings for a specific year but since I’m not exactly sure I have decided to include all four passages in today’s entry. This way you can see if a particular one speaks directly to you. The first one is from a familiar writer we have been reading during Advent, Luke. In Luke chapter two, we are told about Jesus attending the Passover in Jerusalem when he was 12 years old. Luke does not provide much history of Jesus’ life from birth to age 12. In fact, this is the only biblical reference to Jesus’ childhood. In Luke’s story, we read that Jesus was at the Temple sitting and listening to the teachers and posing questions. When the Passover was completed, Mary and Joseph along with several others began their journey home and after traveling a whole day thinking Jesus was with others in the group and then could not be found, they returned to Jerusalem. Mary and Joseph found Jesus in the Temple with the teachers and scholars. Mary was relieved that he was found and upset that he had not been with the group. Jesus, replied “why were you looking for me?” Now…I’m not a parent but I can imagine how worried and frantic Mary must have been and typical answer of a child, innocently saying, “why were you looking for me?” As if to say, I wasn’t lost, I knew exactly where I was and what I was doing! After a brief exchange and conversation the story tells us that Jesus returned obediently with Mary and Joseph and continue to grow up, maturing in wisdom, years and favor with God and people.

We should not let ourselves get lost in the world and just return to what life was like before Advent, we should continue the season of growing and expand our minds and our lives to be more Christlike. Which brings me to the second passage used today, Colossians chapter three, we are given instructions from God about our behaviors and attitudes. We are to put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. We are to forgive one another and teach one another. And, in all things give thanks to God. I know myself, and I still need to practice each one of these. As a point of clarification here, God wants us to be Christlike and to do these things and God is not asking for perfection. He knows we are sinful and we are not perfect but this should not hinder us from trying to be the best we can be.

The next scripture is from the Old Testament, Psalm 148 written by David and is listed as a solemn and earnest call to all creatures, according to their ability, to praise the Creator, and to show his everlasting power and his Godhead, the things unseen that can be viewed in things that are seen. It is a beautiful chapter enlisting the praises of all things to the Creator of all! Thanks be to God! Praise Be To God For All He Has Done!

The last passage referenced for today is also from the Old Testament, it’s from Samuel and tells the story of young Samuel being presented to Eli the priest. Eli and his sins were to be training Samuel but as the story progresses we find that Eli’s two sons found to be unfit to tutor Samuel. We also read that Hannah offered her son Samuel to God as a living sacrifice, much like Abraham had done with Isaac. Samuel found favor in the Lord and as Hannah lent her son to the Lord, she was recompensed with five more children. Trusting in God for God’s deliverance.

I am going to continue my search for wisdom and truth into the next season, I hope you will join me on this journey. God is still working in and through all of us, let’s do it together.

I will be sharing another post very soon explaining more about my 2019 agenda very soon. God has been speaking to me in many way and I have been tremendously blessed through many conversations during Advent. I have enjoyed sharing stories with you and look forward to whatever the next season brings. May the Lord Bless and Keep you all!

12-year-old Jesus in the Temple by Carl Bloch

Luke 2:41-52

“Each year his parents went to Jerusalem for the Passover Festival. When he was 12 years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to their custom. After the festival was over, they were returning home, but the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents didn’t know it. Supposing that he was among their band of travelers, they journeyed on for a full day while looking for him among their family and friends. When they didn’t find Jesus, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple. He was sitting among the teachers, listening to them and putting questions to them. Everyone who heard him was amazed by his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were shocked. His mother said, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Listen! Your father and I have been worried. We’ve been looking for you!” Jesus replied, “Why were you looking for me? Didn’t you know that it was necessary for me to be in my Father’s house?” But they didn’t understand what he said to them. Jesus went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. His mother cherished every word in her heart. Jesus matured in wisdom and years, and in favor with God and with people.”

godsfingerprints.co

Colossians 3:12-17

Therefore, as God’s choice, holy and loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Be tolerant with each other and, if someone has a complaint against anyone, forgive each other. As the Lord forgave you, so also forgive each other. And over all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. The peace of Christ must control your hearts—a peace into which you were called in one body. And be thankful people. The word of Christ must live in you richly. Teach and warn each other with all wisdom by singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing to God with gratitude in your hearts. Whatever you do, whether in speech or action, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus and give thanks to God the Father through him.”

From Gospel to Life – From Life to Gospel francisanseculars.com

Psalm 148

“Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from heaven! Praise God on the heights! Praise God, all of you who are his messengers! Praise God, all of you who comprise his heavenly forces! Sun and moon, praise God! All of you bright stars, praise God! You highest heaven, praise God! Do the same, you waters that are above the sky! Let all of these praise the Lord’s name because God gave the command and they were created! God set them in place always and forever. God made a law that will not be broken. Praise the Lord from the earth, you sea monsters and all you ocean depths! Do the same, fire and hail, snow and smoke, stormy wind that does what God says! Do the same, you mountains, every single hill, fruit trees, and every single cedar! Do the same, you animals—wild or tame— you creatures that creep along and you birds that fly! Do the same, you kings of the earth and every single person, you princes and every single ruler on earth! Do the same, you young men—young women too!— you who are old together with you who are young! Let all of these praise the Lord’s name because only God’s name is high over all. Only God’s majesty is over earth and heaven. God raised the strength of his people, the praise of all his faithful ones— that’s the Israelites, the people who are close to him. Praise the Lord!”

Hannah Presents Samuel to Eli

goodsalt.com

1 Samuel 2:18-20, 26

Now Samuel was serving the Lord. He was a young boy, clothed in a linen priestly vest. His mother would make a small robe for him and take it to him every year when she went up with her husband to offer the annual sacrifice. Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife: “May the Lord replace the child of this woman that you gave back to the Lord.” Then they would return home. Meanwhile, the boy Samuel kept growing up and was more and more liked by both the Lord and the people.”

~Peace and Blessings~

References:

https://www.biblegateway.com

https://www.google.com/search?q=jesus+at12+at+the+temple&client=safari&channel=ipad_bm&prmd=isvn&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwj72sal88bfAhVI_IMKHfBmBP4Q_AUoAXoECA0QAQ&biw=375&bih=549#imgrc=9fFq-cw-C9xZ6M

https://godsfingerprints.co/collections/painted-verses/products/clothed-in-love

https://www.goodsalt.com/details/prcas0757.html

http://franciscanseculars.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Spring-Grove-Cemetery-2.jpg

https://disciples.org/resources/lectionar

Fourth Tuesday of Advent – Gift

Christmas Day – December 25, 2018

Isaiah 9:6

Isaiah 9:6, “A child is born to us, a son is given to us, and authority will be on his shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”

Gift:

• a notable capacity, talent, or endowment

• something voluntarily transferred by one person to another without compensation

• the act, right, or power of giving

Below s a screenshot from my devotional for today from an app I use on my smartphone. I love how God works in our lives. I am enormously BLESSED!

Christmas Day has arrived, we are celebrating the birth of Jesus. The prophecy spoken by Isaiah had come to fruition. We celebrate with all in heaven and praise God for His gift of salvation. We are given grace and mercy, not because we are worthy or deserving – No, they are gifts of God! Jesus, Wonderful Counselor, He invites each of us into a personal and intimate friendship. He cares deeply and passionately for all creation. He knows your heart, your wishes and your dreams. He knows our faults, our sins and wants to forgive you. We must answer the call and surrender to Him. Let Him be your “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace!”

Jesus, by choosing to be born human, just like you and me, is relatable, is approachable and is fully human and fully divine.

“Thank God for his gift that words can’t describe!” -2 Corinthians 9:15

“The wages that sin pays are death, but God’s gift is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” -Romans 6:23

“You are saved by God’s grace because of your faith. This salvation is God’s gift. It’s not something you possessed.” -Ephesians 2:8

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I am in awe at your willingness to come down to earth from heaven to be my Wonderful Counselor and Prince of Peace. All praise to you! Amen.

I will like to take this opportunity to say thank you to all of you who have supported me throughout Advent, I am blessed to have contacts around the world! It is incredible that the love of Jesus and the story of His birth can be shared on multiple continents. I also would like to thank my church family for sharing this advent study and reading, what an honor to worship with you at ACC! To my closest friends, your words of encouragement feed my soul! This space has grown into more than I imaged and has become a ministry in a way, I am grateful for the journey and your companionship along the way. I look forward to sharing in many more things in the future.

~Peace and Blessings~

References:

The C. S. Lewis Bible NRSV

The Holy Bible CEB

https://www.biblegateway.com

www.abingdonpress.com

https://www.merriam-webster.