Advent: A Calendar of Devotions 2019

Happy December 1st, 2019! Today is the beginning of Advent and I hope you will join me as I journey through the scriptures and remember the birth of Jesus! I will be using a pamphlet published by Abington Press and written by Teer Hardy. The use of the pamphlet will be a guide as I do not have permission to copy or reproduce it’s material. Here’s a copy of the cover and they are available through amazon.com; christianbook.com and barnesandnoble.com. If you would like a copy please let me know and I will certainly try to get you a copy.

Advent: A Calendar of Devotions 2019. By Teer Hardy

First Sunday of Advent ~ December 1, 2019

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.” ~Deuteronomy 6:4-5

The Advent season focuses on hope, peace, joy and love. Each week churches light specifics candles celebrating each word. The first is HOPE, the second is PEACE, the third is JOY and the forth is LOVE. Advent is described as a time or season of preparation and anticipation. Do you have any specific things you are prayerfully considering during this Advent season(?). I am seeking to reconnect with all four but most especially “PEACE.” Peace can come in many forms and I hope it comes with a broad brush stroke across many troubling things. I seek to be more accepting of others and to radically love others. Radical love is to meet people where they are, not where my expectations think they should be. I want to see radical inclusion for those on the fringe of society. I would like to help to eradicate hatred, promote peace through kindness and mutual trust and respect. I would like to see neighbors being neighborly with one another. I would like to see kids have the opportunities to be kids. See the extinction of greed and dominance.

So, it’s December 1st…are you still in the Christmas mood, (?) with the way things are marketed these days, Christmas has literally been on display since Halloween in most brick and mortar stores. It’s all about the hustle & bustle of buying this and that, making a list, checking the list, planning parties, attending parties, wrapping gift, receiving gifts, eating and cooking its mind boggling! Advent is the opposite of this, it’s personal and it’s contemplation. I shared this in a previous post of mine, what Advent is to me…When you think of Advent what kind of things come to mind? It is defined as a waiting period, in anticipation of the Christ child’s birth. As Christians, we celebrate this season every year, what is it that makes it so special and unique each year? The story doesn’t change, we have Mary and Joseph traveling to Bethlehem each year, the inn is always full and they must seek shelter in a dark and damp stable…what then is there to be waiting in anticipation for… I cannot provide your answer but I can share mine. For me the beauty of the story is it is the same, it is me that is different each year. I’m thankful for the gift of salvation that came in the form of a baby, innocent and pure. I’m thankful for the grace that is extended to me and for the forgiveness of my sins. None of these things would be possible if that baby is never born. I love the firm foundation that the manger serves in my life. Every year it is new to me, no matter where my life has taken me over the past year, I have renewed hope through the birth of Jesus. Advent is reconnecting with the baby in the manger, a time of prayer, repentance and renewing of my faith. Stripping away all the cumbersome and pointless acts I’ve have placed upon myself that has separated me from Jesus…guilt, greed, punishment, neglect, fear, sin, competition, pride, pressure, things and many others can keep me from the love of Jesus. He’s there waiting for me, He’s never left me alone, even when I try to chase Him away, His love remains. I know I am loved, I just let the world cloud my judgement from time to time.

During this time of Advent, we will experience things as well as people competing for our attention and perhaps our resources. Stand firm in the faith and the promises of Jesus. Remember that there is one God, that the Lord our God came into the world as a child and that the hope, joy, love and peace God accompanied that Child.

Prayer: O God, you alone are God. During this season of anticipation, we look to the empty manger and wait. Remind us, by the power of your Spirit, that during this season of Advent, while others are competing for our attention, you alone reign over the Earth and we await Emmanuel with hope, joy, love, and peace. ~Amen.

~Peace~

References:

Advent Candles: hope, peace, joy, love

Advent in Narnia: Mr. Tumnus 12/01/2019

“Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” ~Matthew 9:13

To follow along in the book, read chapter two “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.”

Lucy meets a strange, stranger in the mysterious woods inside the wardrobe. As the story goes, she meets Mr. Tumnus who appears half human and half animal to Lucy. Mr. Tumnus, befriends Lucy and takes her back to his home to feed her and provide warmth from being in the cold snow. But, we quickly learn that Mr. Tumnus has an alternative to his kindness, to save himself and earn the favor of the White Witch, he tries to kidnap Lucy and turn her over to the Witch. Feelings of guilt overtake Mr. Tumnus and he becomes nearly inconsolable and confesses everything to Lucy. He seems quite sure that betrayal of his new friend is the only option he has; however, Lucy, turns out to not be as naïve as she might have appeared. After all, she did bravely enter the wardrobe and continued through the furs hanging overhead and out into an unknown forest in the cold and snow. Lucy reaches out to console Mr. Tumnus, even offering her own handkerchief and then quite sternly tells him he must repent and not do this horrible thing. Imagine just how brave Lucy was in this situation. In the end, Mr. Tumnus becomes Lucy’s friend and not her kidnapper although this act places him in grave danger especially if the White Witch finds out.

When you think of Advent what kind of things come to mind? It is defined as a waiting period, in anticipation of the Christ child’s birth. As Christians, we celebrate this season every year, what is it that makes it so special and unique each year? The story doesn’t change, we have Mary and Joseph traveling to Bethlehem each year, the inn is always full and they must seek shelter in a dark and damp stable…what then is there to be waiting in anticipation for…

I cannot provide your answer but I can share mine. For me the beauty of the story is it is the same, it is me that is different each year. I’m thankful for the gift of salvation that came in the form of a baby, innocent and pure. I’m thankful for the grace that is extended to me and for the forgiveness of my sins. None of these things would be possible if that baby is never born. I love the firm foundation that the manger serves in my life. Every year it is new to me, no matter where my life has taken me over the past year, I have renewed hope through the birth of Jesus. Advent is reconnecting with the baby in the manger, a time of prayer, repentance and renewing of my faith. Stripping away all the cumbersome and pointless acts I’ve have placed upon myself that has separated me from Jesus…guilt, greed, punishment, neglect, fear, sin, competition, pride, pressure, things and many others can keep me from the love of Jesus. He’s there waiting for me, He’s never left me alone, even when I try to chase Him away, His love remains. I know I am loved, I just let the world cloud my judgement from time to time.

You are also loved with an everlasting love that only Jesus can provide.

The book, “Advent in Narnia” offered these questions to contemplate:

• Has there been a time in your life when you felt like you were doing the right thing but in actuality you ended hurting someone or betrayed someone? This is a tough question for me because I have hurt people that I cared deeply for. I never set out to cause hurt but I did and it was messy and it was because I was unable to be honest. Honesty can hurt but in the end it’s better than lying and trying to cover it up. Some of those relationships have healed but trust is not easily regained.

• What would it mean to consider mistakes you’ve made, believing that God is both just and merciful? Does it make is easier to offer up your mistakes and sins or harder? For me it’s still hard because I don’t like to be a disappointment and especially to God, I know that God loves me and forgives me when I earnestly seek his forgiveness but it’s hard and I think that’s a good thing. I would not want sinning to become comfortable or asking for forgiveness to be numbing .

• Which is harder for you: confronting others when they’ve hurt you or to be merciful to them? Do you know why? I have been a bit of both, I like to live passionately. I’ve had to learn what battles are worth the fight and which are better to surrender. I try to practice mercy because in return I would like the same. I’ve learned that being revengeful and holding onto hurt in the end causes me way more pain than my intended opponent. I do appreciate compromise and a good debate. I like the idea of agreeing to disagree as long as respect is mutual. Everyone should have a voice and afforded the opportunity to be heard. Long story but my final answer is to be merciful!

Thank you for joining me in this journey through Advent and the magical world of Narnia.

~Peace~

References:

https://biblehub.com/

https://www.pinterest.com/

https://www.google

https://www.google.com/search?q=mr.+tumnus+from+the+lion+the+witch+and+the+wardrobe&tbm=isch&chips=q:mr+tumnus+the+lion+the+witch+and+the+wardrobe,g_1:cartoon&client=safari&hl=en&ved=2ahUKEwie_qH1tJPmAhUZyawKHZgOBxAQ4lYoAHoECAEQCg&biw=375&bih=548

Advent in Narnia: The Lamppost 11/29/2019

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” ~John 1:5

Day 2: Follow along in Chapter 1 in “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe” and lesson 2 in “Advent in Narnia.”

The story tells us that Lucy discovers the lamppost and observes the curious scenery as she is walking through the wardrobe. How surprised would you be if while walking in the forest you came across a lamppost and it was illuminated. There is a history behind this seemingly odd lamppost, it had grew from an earthly lamppost. The White Witch in the story had previously used it as a weapon and was transformed into a lonely but shining light by Aslan. It served as a boundary between Narnia and “the wild woods of the west.” The lamppost was a living thing, no one ever lit it, no one ever blew it out, it has no fuel and the White Witch’s winter never snuffed it out. It indeed served as a boundary but also a promise from Aslan that broken things can be made new and alive. The lamppost is a beacon in the face of the dark, dreary and cold mystical spell that covered the land.

I love the imagery and imagination of C. S. Lewis and it’s agelessness across over the years since this story was originally written/published on October 16, 1950.

As we approach Advent, we too use candles and wreaths along with Christmas lights to illuminate the darkness. Advent is a season of celebration of the birth of Jesus, He is the light of the world. Just as the lamppost is alive and was there in the forest at the beginning, so was/is Jesus.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” ~John 1:1.

Jesus was a light that was broken and made new in the Resurrection. Jesus is the Light that shines through darkness for everyone. The Light is Jesus serves as a beckon to the world and our curiosity draws us to seek Him.

John 8:12, “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Things to ponder:

• Do you have any special lights around your home this season? *I keep a lamp turned on that sits on my fireplace mantel next to a manger set I leave out all year long. It brings me comfort seeing the baby representing Jesus, and Mary & Joseph, the animals the kings and an Angel.

• Quote by writer, Ann Lamont, “Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.” Does this resonate with Christ being the Light of the World? *I would agree with the writer and I’ve read her work and have enjoyed her unique perspective on the christian life. God loves us and is always with us, especially when we think we are not worthy, of course we are unworthy, Jesus died for us because He loves us and wanted to redeems us.

• Do you have a metaphor you would use to describe the light of Christ in your life this season? Is it glowing brightly, faintly, or way off in the distance? Perhaps you could write about it in a prayer or a poem or maybe a metaphor of the lamppost. *God is the supplier of my strength, not a materialistic protein powder kind of supplement way but through the power of the Holy Spirit and quiet meditation and study of His Word. In this season of Advent, I can see the lamppost in the distance and I’m committed to follow where it leads.

Original poem,

“It’s darkest before dawn, it’s been cloudy for days!”

~C.A.Robinson©️ 11/10/2015

~Peace~

References:

http://www.cslewis.org/resource/chronocsl/

https://biblehub.com/

Advent in Narnia: Through the Wardrobe 11/28/2019

Today is the first day of my blog series, “Advent in Narnia” Reflections for the Season by Heidi Havetkamp.

“Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.” ~Luke 13:24 (ESV)

If you have never read, C.S.Lewis’ “The Chronicles of Narnia,” I highly recommend them. They are not simply fir children. The Chronological order of the books are as follows:

Publication Order

The books were originally published in this order:

    1. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950)
    2. Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia (1951)
    3. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952)
    4. The Silver Chair (1953)
    5. The Horse and His Boy (1954)
    6. The Magician’s Nephew (1955)
    7. The Last Battle (1956)

Chronological Order

Sometime after the death of C. S. Lewis, British editions of the books began appearing that were numbered according to the order the stories take place:

1. The Magician’s Nephew

2. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

3. The Horse and His Boy

4. Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia

5. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

6. The Silver Chair

7. The Last Battle

These books focus on the life of four children, two boys and two girls. Their parents send them away to live in the country, placed in the care of two adult caretakers to escape the bombings of World War II. As the story goes, Lucy the youngest wonders into a room with a large wardrobe, being inquisitive as most youngsters are, she opens the wardrobe door and steps in. To her surprise, she walks past many fur coats, I imagine they were hanging about waist high. As Lucy presses on, shoving costs side to side, she begins to feel cold and something underfoot. All of a sudden, she’s no longer in the wardrobe but in a forest with freshly fallen snow and a lamppost.

Have you ever found yourself in a place where your not exactly sure where you are, metaphorically or literally?

Advent can be a season of wondering and finding, when we are open to the Holy Spirit. Much like Lucy, let’s be open to where the path leads us. Advent is a season of expectant waiting and preparation for both the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus and the return of Jesus.

The Advent and Christmas Season (Santa and gift exchange) can both be celebrated together. Celebrate the joys of giving gifts and receiving gifts, gifts from the heart are always priceless. Give of your time and talents, they are more valuable than gold or silver. No matter what your traditions may be, be intentional with all of them. Seek to serve those in need, this season is a great opportunity to be the literal hands and feet of Jesus in a world that screams for “Peace on earth, Good Will towards all.”

I am committed to this Advent Season, not because I’m ready but because I’m willing. Being a Christian does not mean all your days will be perfect, it means you never have to face them alone. I hope you will join me for the next four weeks as I share thoughts of Advent and my journey.

Questions to ponder:

Do you have traditions or preparations regarding Advent that are most meaningful to you?

Do they reveal something about Jesus to you?

Do you have any thoughts about Luke 13:24? Specially, the imagery of Jesus as the “narrow door?” It’s been said that some see the narrow door as an escape from the individual that are different from ourselves or an opportunity to place ourselves up on a pedestal as more special than others. What if…we see the door as an invitation and not a barrier to separate ourselves.

We are all God’s children and we are all special to Him. So special in fact, that were created with a purpose and a plan. One of my favorite verses is 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.”

Genesis 1:27 “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

Psalm 139:13-14 You alone created my inner being. You knitted me together inside my mother. I will give thanks to you because I have been so amazingly and miraculously made. Your works are miraculous, and my soul is fully aware of this.

Here’s some music from the soundtrack “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe”

~Peace~

References:

https://www.narniaweb.com/

https://biblehub.com/

https://biblereasons.com/

Sharing A Meal – Happy Thanksgiving

Hello friends –

I’m wishing you all a day filled with “thanks.” Holidays can be difficult for many and that’s okay, I encourage you to name or list the things you’re thankful for in spite of sadness or difficulties. We can always be thankful for something. Leave the list of things you don’t have for another day, God has provide for this day and I am grateful.

I’m working, today “Thanksgiving Day,” I’m thankful for a job. I’m especially thankful that I have a job I love. I’m thankful for my coworkers who allow me to be me, even on my most difficult days. None of us are perfect and sometimes; some of us hang out at the corner of OCD (obsessive compulsive design) and control central a bit too much. If you’re anything like me, (gosh I hope not) I will do a “thing” thinking I’m helping and in reality I’m seen as “taking over” and “making others do things my way.” Of course, we all at one time or another have hearts with the desire to help and a well laid out plan in our heads that makes perfect sense, to us! (HaHa!) This exact scenario recently happened to me. I must admit, I’m an overachiever and often take off with an idea and just run with it, not taking time to consult or ask for anyone’s input. I’m not saying my ideas are bad ones, just that as the saying goes, “there’s no “I” in team! In my zeal to help I actually caused some hurt feelings to a coworker, I felt bad and quickly resolved the indifference. At first I struggled to understand the hurt feelings, then another coworker talked with me about the situation. Initially, I felt defeated as if I was being treated unfairly because after all, I was only trying to help. Then came a moment of clarity, the light bulb 💡came on above my head and I was able to see the events from different perspective. I didn’t like hearing that some see me as a “control freak!” That’s not how I saw myself or my intentions at all, but taking a step back helped me to see how someone might think so. So, long story but you know what, I’m thankful for this opportunity to learn. I’ve posted blogs previously dealing with control and felt as though I understood what it meant, maybe I did understand at a technically level but I wasn’t putting into practice, all that I believe. I fully recommend taking a step back on a regular basis and look at yourself, and ask yourself, do you like what you see?

Speaking about practice, I had a coach in college that had a saying about practice and it has stayed with me all these years later. She would say, “Practice doesn’t make you perfect…Perfect practice can made you perfect!” Meaning, if you practice a skill incorrectly, you will never learn to do it correctly. -Coach Shemwell

As Christians, we are called to go into the world and share the love of Jesus. We are to be the literal hand & feet of Jesus in this World. Practicing our faith and belief in Christ Jesus.

1 John 4:7-8

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

John 13:34-35

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

1 Peter 4:8

“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.”

Matthew 25:34b-36

“Then the King will say to those on His right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I needed clothes and you clothes me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you? ‘The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

Happy Thanksgiving! May God provide for you needs today! I hope you have the opportunity to share a meal with family, friends or strangers today. We are all God’s children and that is something wonderful to be thankful for. My meal was Pringle’s chips and an apple with peanut butter shared with fellow employees. I had planned on potato soup but I forgot it at home, it will be a nice treat when I get home! Life is GOOD!

Looking forward to sharing more with you during Advent Season 2019!

~Peace~

Advent 2019

Hello Friends –

1 Corinthians 3:18-19a  Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight.

It’s been nearly two months since my last post and I’ve missed sharing with you.  The season of Advent is quickly approaching and I wanted to share with you the materials I will be using as a guide throughout the season.  The first is a pamphlet published by Abingdon Press written by Teer Hardy and called, “Advent   A Calendar of Devotions 2019.” The second influence is a book by Heidi Haverkamp, titled “Advent in Narnia – Reflections For The Season.”

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The plan is to begin writing on Thursday, November 28th, 2019 (Thanksgiving Day)!  I am looking forward to sharing with you and discovering God’s message this season.  I was struggling with sharing my thoughts this season due to some self doubts and feeling inadequate to share God’s message in the midst of my doubts.  Through some reflections and conversations with trusted friends, I felt the Spirit encouraging me to share myself in the most authentic way possible…in the midst of my doubts.  I was trying to make myself “whole” and complete and confident before sharing then I realized I’m was doing precisely the opposite of the message I often share and hear on a regular basis. God is not looking for perfect, He’s looking for you and me!

“God isn’t looking for perfect people. He is looking to perfect people.”  – John Hileman

My hope, desire and prayer is that together and individually we grow closer to Jesus through this season of Advent.

“We are what we believe we are”
~C.S.Lewis

~Peace~

*If you are in need of a pamphlet, please notify me and I will send you a copy if possible.  The book is difficult to find but can be found on Amazon, Half Priced Books, and Barnes & Noble. *I do apologize for the lateness of getting this information to you.

References:

Abingdon Press

https://www.abingdonpress.com/

WJK Westminster John Knox Press

https://www.wjkbooks.com/

Surviving Wormwood and His Uncle Screwtape

Hello my friends-

As some of you know, C. S. Lewis is one of my favorite authors and I often like to quote his work. His book, “The Screwtape Letters,” is a classic and is so relatable. While I was researching online in preparation for this blog entry, to my surprise I found a theatrical adaption of the book being presented in the city I live in! I simply could not believe what I was reading. I searched for tickets and after some careful thought I decided to “Go For It” and I purchase 2 tickets for the event! It’s still a month away and I’m excited to experience the story unfold onstage.

My decision to write about “The Screwtape Letters,” had nothing to do with the theatrical presentation of the book but rather a personal connection to the story line and it’s characters. Over the past several months I have been engaged in a tug-a-war of sorts and I was becoming quite agitated with the whole situation.

If you have never read, “The Screwtape Letters,” I highly recommend it! Have you ever heard any one say, “the devil made me to it?” The main theme of the book follows the correspondence between a mentor (Uncle Screwtape) and mentee (Wormwood) as they attempt to corrupt people (The Patient) from the ways of God and Christianity.

For the record, there’s no evidence ever that “the devil made me do it.” The devil will, spread lies and cast doubts as well as provide one sided examples to confuse and mislead us to doubt things we say we believe. But the ultimate act is ours alone! The devil will lead us right up to line but the crossing of that line is all our own, and the devil…he’s on the other side just smiling.

Over the years I’ve shared my struggles with knowing the difference between “control” and “concern.” These two things can be easy to differentiate at a distance but when you find yourself entangled and engulfed, chaos likely will erupt. I’ve learned some very important things about myself over the past few years and some of it was unpleasant to face and admit. Life began to make a lot more sense once I figured out what I have control of and what I have concerns for; let me tell you, they are vastly different.

Most of my frustrations come from my expectations regarding specific components related to my job, not my job directly. I love what I do and I believe in the tasks I accomplish on a daily basis. I work with some really awesome people and some ok people and well, some who test and push all my buttons!#!

I wonder what this does?
Wow, let’s see what this does?

The problem is I am not the person in control, I answer to several others above me who make the decisions. I can absolutely have concerns and should care but I’m employed to follow directions. There’s always a right way to do things and a wrong way, the tough part for me is I sometimes speak with more passion than some are comfortable receiving. I am strong willed and I would never say it is a bad thing, I would however, caution when to present it. I take for granted that people know me the way I know me, “a loud bark and a bit feisty” but once I speak my mind and feel as if I’ve been heard, I’m ok. I think sometimes I feel like I need to be more brazened to be taken seriously. To speak to be heard, as to not be taken advantage of. All of this speaks volumes about me and the person I can be described as and it’s not the whole picture. I can also be quiet and accommodating, welcoming and inviting. At the end of the day, I am only responsible for my actions and my words. The truth is, I’m not everyone’s “cup of tea!” The world is filled with people with different likes, opinions, morals, ethics, political and religious theologies and I don’t have to be best friends with all of them or even like to be around them BUT, I am commanded to “LOVE” everyone.

That’s a tough one especially when we only see things from our own vantage point. What if we place ourselves on the other side of this viewpoint, I certainly want people to like me, I want people to respect me, I want to be heard, I want to be seen! And, yes I want to be loved. Things are not always what they appear to be. My lesson, which I’m still learning is “compassion” having it and extending it to and for others. I like that the word “passion” is part of compassion. To me, it means I do not have to compromise what I’m passionate about in order to be compassionate to someone else. Isn’t that wonderful (?).

Not everything is as it appears.

So, as much as I want to say “Uncle Screwtape made me do it” I cannot. At times, I think it’s actually Uncle Screwtape that’s “screwing” with me. Maybe so…this I know to be true, God loves me and freely places His grace upon me every single day. Each day I can start anew and ask for His guidance, His protection and His strength to get me through the day. Each night I can thank God for his abundant Blessings. My soul is safeguarded day and night, trusting that Jesus is my salvation. I’m not blameless, I’m not sinless and I am far from perfect and so is everyone else. I am constantly in need of reminding myself of this fact! The Apostle Paul tells us in Romans 3: 22-24 “For there is no distinction, since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,”

I’m a work in progress and I know my my interacting with Wormwood and Uncle Screwtape are far from over, I find comfort in knowing I am a child of God and that He will never leave me and He will never leave you!

Friends, thank you for continuing to follow me and read my posts. We are all in this great big world together and I’m excited to be on this journey with you. Your support continues to amaze and encourage me. I love to write, I love to read and I love sharing God’s good news with all of you. To those who know me well, thank you for loving me, loving all my imperfections, my feistiness and my overreacting! I am grateful to have you in my life. You add value to mine!

~Peace~

When the Heart Breaks and the Soul Rejoices

Dear Friends-

My heart is heavy, I learned this week two dear friends have lost loved ones. The first news I received was of the passing of a beloved grandmother, my friend of many years having to say goodbye, while explaining death and dying to her own two boys who will undoubtably miss their great-grandmother. There will be sadness and crying as well, but what a legacy to remember. To know the wisdom that has been shared through these generations and memories to last a lifetime. Then, just today I received news from a friend that her brother had not recovered from a recently illness and had passed. I can’t even imagine the loss of a sibling, my prayers go out to her and her family during this time. Many times when we face death, we tend to brace ourselves for the impact of emotions, deflecting them if possible, just to power through the things that must be done. There’s no right way or wrong way to grieve. I don’t have any special knowledge to share or the perfect way to prepare for death, I do know that no matter what, God will be with us always. As a Christian, I sometimes think we get the whole birth and passing emotions tangled up. Both can and should be a celebration of life. We even shed tears at each occasion. When we are born, we are the living, breathing creation of God. God knew us long before our births and when we pass away from this human existence and earthly form our souls will be reunited with our Creator. Heaven rejoices and God welcomes His children home! And for those of us left here on earth, we feel the void and emptiness while weeping at the loss of our beloved.

David writes in Psalm 30:5 “…Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning.”

This is not literal in terms of hours and days, we all grieve differently as well as experience the stages of grief differently. My experience taught me to be patient with myself. I have been to a lot of funerals, lost many individuals close to me and there’s no such thing as getting over it! Death’s grasp was not fully felt until I lost my mother, I was not prepared for the immediate void, it was cruel and painful. That was my initial state of mind. I made it about me, my loss, my pain, my injustice…I went straight to anger mixed with a bit of denial. Once I was able to process the situation I was able to look at things more clearly. (It’s been over seven years and I still feel the sting of losing her.). I am thankful my mom did not suffer, she would have hated being cared for and taken care of. I know she believed and trusted in God and that she is no longer suffering. The point I’m trying to make is…be you, listen to your heart, your voice and take notice of your emotions. Be true to yourself, love yourself. Trust God!

One of my favorite authors writes a lot on the subject of grief, below are a couple of quotes I would like to share with you.

“We were promised sufferings. They were part of the program. We were even told, ‘Blessed are they that mourn,’ and I accept it. I’ve got nothing that I hadn’t bargained for. Of course it is different when the thing happens to oneself, not to others, and in reality, not imagination.” C.S.Lewis, “A Grief Observed”

“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing.” C.S.Lewis, “A Grief Observed”

I have included some references below for grief and grieving.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Matthew 5:4

Friends, (DW & BW) you are in my thoughts and prayers.

~Peace~

References:

https://astillsmallvoice.org/solemn-joy-sweet-sorrow/

https://psychcentral.com/lib/the-5-stages-of-loss-and-grief/

The 5 stages of grief and loss are: 

1. Denial and isolation

2. Anger

3. Bargaining

4. Depression

5. Acceptance. 

People who are grieving do not necessarily go through the stages in the same order or experience all of them.

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

https://www.crisisnetwork.org/find-help/behavioral-hyealth-conditions/grief-and-loss/

Books:

A Grief Observed by C.S.Lewis

Tuesday’s with Morrie by Mitch Albom

Lose, Love, Live: The Spiritual Gifts of Loss and Change by Dan Moseley

https://www.biblestudytools.com/topical-verses/bible-verses-for-overcoming-grief/

2019, So Far…

Hello Again My Friends-

I wanted to take some time and just BREATHE and to say THANK YOU!

At the time of writing this I am sitting in my car, enjoying the gentle breeze and gazing at the big fluffy white clouds in the sky, listening to the sounds of the city, cars and trucks hurrying to their destinations, I even saw a plane making its descent to the airport!  I hear the rustling of leaves in the wind, as fall has already crinkled them with bright sunlight and chilly mornings.  The rose bushes are in full bloom and dancing in rhythm with the breeze. The sun is warm as it kisses my skin.  God Almighty has blessed me today with extraordinary gifts of nature, sight and sound.  Everyday is a BLESSING from God, being alive and able to share the love of Jesus is a BLESSING!  
The best way to start every day is with saying, “THANK YOU GOD!”  Life is nothing, worthless if God is not central to all we do and say.  This is a reminder for me as well as a message for you.  I get busy, I get lazy, I forget, I get in a hurry, I rush…all excuses.  It’s our nature, our human nature to be self-absorbed.  We don’t mean to leave God on the desk or the nightstand, but we do, I do!  We need “Intentionality!”  It takes less energy and sugarcoats the responsibility by saying “I forgot.”  Intentionality is PURPOSEFUL LIVING!  That’s what I want, how about you?   Note, I did not say (PERFECT), I said “PURPOSEFUL.”  There’s a huge difference, perfection is something that will waste your time, it’s impossible.  It is completely unattainable in our humanness here on earth and God is not asking for perfection.  He is asking for submission, faith, service and truth, name a few.  God’s grace covers our imperfections.  God knows each of us inside and out, and you know what (?) He still died for YOU and ME!  He loves us unconditionally, we did not earn His love and we cannot work for His love, He loves us because we are His creation, His children.  He’s our Heavenly Father, He gave His only Son to ransom us from sins hold on us, Jesus willingly gave His life so we could have eternal life in Heaven.  I am not worthy of such a great gift, thank God for His loving gift of GRACE!  I’m not perfect, a lot of days I’m not even purposeful but every day is a new day to begin anew! Today, I am being purposeful and sharing God,  talking to God and most definitely thanking God.
Today is a new day, whatever day it is…it can be day 1!
Psalm 118:24, “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”https://youtu.be/Qq2Tp3asLU8

Psalm 31:7-8, “I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love, because you have seen my affliction; you have known the distress of my soul, and you have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy; you have set my feet in a broad place.”

3 John 1:2, “Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.”

Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”

Psalm 28:7, “The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts.”

Psalm 103:1, “Bless the Lord , O my soul, all that is within me, bless his holy name.”

Ephesians 6:11, “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.”

Lamentations 3:22-23, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

Matthew 5:16, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

Psalm 42:5, “You feel hopeless because there’s so much despair in the world. Remember that you are in the world and not of the world. The Holy Spirit within you can stir up hope if you will believe in the sovereignty of God in spite of the wickedness of the world.”

Psalm 143:8, “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.”

I hope these verses are helpful and encouraging to you as you choose “Purposeful Intentionality” in your time with God. We are all in this together, look for ways that God is showing Himself to you, in the world around you!

~Peace~

References:

Lift Every Voice

Hello friends,

Below is what I shared with the women at the Disciples Women’s Conference held at the Abe Martin Lodge/Brown County State Park on August 25, 2019. I wanted to share it with you and pray that you are encouraged to life your voice wherever you are in the world. It was an awesome weekend filled with testimonies of strong, confidence and courageous women. The presence of the Lord and the Holy Spirit were in the space!

Good Morning Ladies –

It is a privilege and an honor to be sharing with you this morning. When I was first ask about participating I responded with a quick, YES! And, then I said to myself, “What exactly did I agree to do?” The quick answer of “Yes” to sharing was something I clearly saw as an invitation from God and the Holy Spirit.

I’ll admit there’s a level of nervousness about speaking but there’s also equal fear of not. So this is in a manner of speaking, giving birth to “Lifting a voice!, My Voice!”

I want to give you a little bit of background to who I am and what I do. I am a member of Avon Christian Church, where I am currently serving as an Elder in my second year. I participate in teaching in a variety of ways through Adult Sunday school, Wednesday Morning Bible Study and I am active in two women’s groups called Esther’s Circle and Juliet’s. Esther’s Circle meets once a month in one of our homes and we share in a devotional (usually) but always in conversation and in support of one another and this involves pre-meeting snacks and concluding the evening with coffee and dessert. The other group meets once a month for lunch at a different location just to share a meal and support one another. By the way Juliet’s stands for (Jolly Unique Ladies Informally Eating Together Somewhere)

I work for the Department of Homeland Security/TSA at the Indianapolis International Airport and have been there for 14 years, previously I had worked with at risk youth for 5 years at the Indiana United Methodists Children’s Home in Lebanon. And prior to that I worked for 13 years with adults with disabilities in residential services.

I earned my Bachelor of Arts degree in Secondary Education and Biological Science from Judson University in Elgin, IL (a christian liberal arts component of Northern Baptist Theological Seminary). I attended High School at Grace Christian Academy (an ACE Accelerated Christian Education Program). *I have met very few people who actually know what ACE is and 1 of them is in the audience today, Pastor Paula from Avon Christian!

I am also an aspiring writer and have had a few poems published and I started a blog in 2013. I attended a writing conference in March of this year, where I had the pleasure of meeting and speaking with renowned author, Barbara Brown Taylor. I found the following quote from her book, “Learning to Walk in the Dark” and felt it appropriate for today!

As created beings, we are all individual and unique by God’s design. Each of us can and do have different perspectives and experiences, the my hope is that we not only see our differences but that we see our similarities too. First and foremost, we are all God’s children! My experiences in life have taught me that I am the most scared and fearful of the things I do not understand. Fear and hate are fed through insufficient knowledge and/or denial of said knowledge. The more you know, the more informed you can be to form educated risk assessments.

You will always remain scared of the dark, if you never turn the light on. The smallest hint of light will always illuminate the darkness. The same is true for just about anything and everything we fear, as knowledge is gained we start to chip away the unknown and it’s power over us is diminished.”

Reminds me of the NBC slogan; do you remember…

Commercials…

And, for all the Star Wars fans…a quote from Master Yoda…

So…

As I was contemplating the theme of this conference, “Lift Every Voice” I had a moment of clarity as if struck by an electrical current, it was the Holy Spirit speaking to me. This clarity was as if a great light had been turned on and scattered the shadows away, the things I’ve been avoiding were now in plain sight. I have never wanted to be “a voice” or as I have called it in the past, “a poster” “a neon sign” for any one cause or group. Simply ignoring something does not cause it to cease to be and certainly does not change it from being factual. My choice of not being a voice and remaining silent has potentially been more harmful than I anticipated. My lukewarm, mediocre attitude towards being a voice has the potential for a fertile breeding ground for innuendos and misinformation and I have a responsibility to speak “truth” at least my truth. My life is a worthy cause and a cause that deserves its truth to be said, especially since I want to be known for truth. Just as we are individual created beings and will be judged accordingly, I must accept the responsibilities of such. I now realize that God is not asking me to speak on anyone else’s behalf, only for my own life. And just maybe that will encourage someone else to claim their voice.

With my voice, I am a Christian, an aunt, a child, a cousin, a daughter, a great-aunt, a sister, and a woman. I am also a woman, who is attracted to other women, I do not hate men, and find many of them attractive as well. There’s different names that people and our society has chosen to use in describing such a relationship and I must confess none have ever felt right for me. I’m not offended if someone refers to me as gay or lesbian, and I’ve never considered myself bisexual for that matter, these labels just have never been important to me. Love is love. But, with that being said, they do matter to some and that’s okay. The LGBTQ community encompasses many individuals and their need to find community, as we all desire to have such community to meet our needs. The things I would like to be called or known for are; she’s nice, she’s caring, she’s compassionate, she’s giving, she’s friendly, she’s humble, she’s selfless, she’s loving, she’s forgiving, she’s supportive, she’s patient, she’s smart, she’s funny and she’s kind… I want people to see Jesus through my words and actions, I want people to see Jesus in me and with regard to my sexuality and sexual orientation…I want it to be no more and no less important than the color of my eyes. Which, by the way are brown! 😊

Of all the things that I am, there are just as many that I am not, and I’m okay with that. We are all sisters and brothers, in Christ and my hope is we begin to care for one another as Christ cares for us.

Lift Your Voice, You are Worthy!

The Bible gives us many examples of loving one another. Jesus tells us in John 13:34-35

“I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

“Love one another deeply as brothers and sisters. Outdo one another in showing honor.”  -Romans 12:10

“And may the Lord cause you to increase and overflow with love for one another and for everyone, just as we do for you.”  -1 Thessalonians 3:12

“Since you have purified yourselves by your obedience to the truth, so that you show sincere brotherly love for each other, from a pure heart love one another constantly.”  -1 Peter 1:22

“And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.”  -Ephesians 4:32

“Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”  -Philippians 2:4

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing.”  -1 Thessalonians 5:11

“Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”   -Galatians 6:2

“For you were called to be free, brothers and sisters; only don’t use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love.”  -Galatians 5:13

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves.”  -Philippians 2:3

“Be hospitable to one another without complaining.”  -1 Peter 4:9

“And let us watch out for one another to provoke love and good works.”   -Hebrews 10:24

In closing, it would not be me if I didn’t impart a few lines of C.S.Lewis to you:

“Friendship is not a reward for our discriminating and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each of us the beauties of others.”

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art, like the universe itself (for God did not need to create). It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.”

Thank you!

Thank you Disciples Women!

And a special Thank You to the women, my friends, my family at Avon Christian Church!

God Bless you-Amen!

~Peace~