I think I’ve finally found it

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So, I’m thinking that this post is going to sound like a cross between spirituality 101 and a fairy tale.  For years I have struggled with the false-self/true-self model.  Not that I didn’t believe that it had validity – too many of my respected mentors speak of it, but I just couldn’t wrap my self around understanding it totally – not that anything spiritual can be totally understood!

It’s just that I didn’t really know what a true self is – because if my false self is the face that I project to the world, than, not only is it depressing,  but then where is this illusive true self and how do I get it to surface?

Once again, my understanding came from a child……who defined a ‘soul’ as the part of you that lives forever with God.  Not only do I love that simplicity, but that definition was an ‘ah-ha’ moment for me.

In order for me to not make this a too-long post, I will highlight my ‘ah-ha’s’

  • I have a soul inside of me that is both beautiful and perfect (the true self that God created???)
  • It is the ‘me’ that is eternal and is united with God both now and forever
  • It is the ‘me’ that God sees – the rest is just fluff and really inconsequential to God – (that point may get me into trouble)
  • I can access my soul anytime I become quiet
  • My soul is where I meet God – we reside there together
  • My soul – my true self – my eternal (noun) – God’s creation is loved.  Beyond all measure, beyond all time, beyond all space, all words and all actions.  My soul is who God created – my ‘me’

Do You See What I See?

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Ok, I drew an outline around this, but I think that we can all agree that this is a ‘heart-puddle’.  It was in my driveway this morning and I had the privilege of seeing it and reflecting on it on my morning walk.  You see, the more that you look, the more that you see…..All of God’s creation speaks to us, and it is always a message of love.
A tall barren tree speaks to us of detachment
A crispy leaf on the ground speaks of dying to self
A breeze speaks the language of the Holy Spirit
Branches pointing upward speak of lifting our hearts to God
Rain speaks of washing away the false self and beginning again
And a ‘heart-puddle’ speaks of His LOVE.
Advent….we wait….we listen….we prepare….and most importantly……HE WAITS FOR US…..

free will…..friend or foe?

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I can’t tell you how many times the kids in our program

ask a question like,

‘if God didn’t want Adam and Eve to eat from that tree,

why did he put it there in the first place?’   

If we are honest, we’ve asked ourselves that very same question.  Oh, we might phrase it a bit differently, we might ask that age-old question, ‘why do bad things happen….’  or ‘why didn’t God stop that from happening….’, but the question is the same – does God set us up for failure?

Sometimes I like to dream about the world before the ‘fall’.  I think that I would like to live there, but in reality, how can I expect others  never to be selfish, unkind, hurtful and cruel when I can’t  do that – even for a day.  The ‘freedom’ that I have in the gift of free will allows me to choose….others first or myself first…..

I think about the way parents raise children.  There are two ways to get your children to obey you.  One is through fear, the other through love.  If I am the type of parent who demands that my children obey me or else,  I would need to use threats and punishments.  Certainly my children would obey me, because they would fear the consequences.  I would have little ‘robot’ children who are too scared to disobey, but would I have their love?

The other way is much riskier…the other way is through love.  I would love my children enough to allow them the choice to obey or not (stay or leave).  I would teach them, guide them,  and yes, explain the consequences of making bad choices, but ultimately, they would have the freedom to make the choice. Love would require that I step back, watch and wait.  And then, if they choose to obey it would be a choice based on love rather than fear.   You can see how risky this is!

Fear and love are both strong motivators.

 Perhaps the end action looks the same, but the path to that end is different.

God always chooses the path of love.

 God always takes the risk.

God sits back, watches and waits

We make the choices….sometimes good, sometimes bad

free will…..friend or foe?

What is your greatest ‘sin’?

paro_AL_standingSomeday we will all stand before God – ok, so I don’t really think that we will stand before a God holding a clipboard of our life – but, each of us will stand before God. We all know the image from our childhood, you and God – Judgment Day.  We don’t know what this will look like, but I do think that when in the presence of  Perfect Love, our ‘sins’ will be exposed.

I could write a long laundry list with the ‘sins’ that I have committed in my life.  I’m sure that we all could.  And, we could rate them – there are all sorts of ‘rating systems’, the Ten Commandments, Mortal and Venial, sins of commission vs. omission, etc.  But…..I’m wondering if our ratings would match Gods?!?!

What will God ask us....

why didn’t you obey the Law more?

why didn’t you go to church more?

what religion are you?

why didn’t you do more?

or perhaps……

why did you lie?

why did you steal?

why did you cheat?

Maybe God will have lots of questions for us, or, maybe God will only have ONE question for us….

WHY DIDN’T YOU ACCEPT MY LOVE?  Think about it….Do you really accept God’s love?  Or, do you set up boundaries and roadblocks between you and God?  

God, I don’t deserve your love

God, I’ll come back when I’ve changed – gotten better

God, you couldn’t possibly love me with all I’ve done

God, I need to work harder for you, to pray more to you, to do more for you….

These are all self-imposed blocks to God’s love. God wants to love you, it’s that simple and that difficult.  God is love, that’s who he is, that’s what he does.  At the end of our lives, when we come face to face with God, we will see that Love, the ‘veil will be lifted’.

Why didn’t you accept my love?  I think I just discovered my New Year’s Resolution….

And a Little Child Shall Lead Them…

Some 2012 years ago a Child was born into the world and nothing was the same.  This little Child, born in secret, changed the world forever.  However you ‘define’ Him, no one can deny the impact that He had and continues to have.  Love has that effect, love transforms, love changes, nothing is ever the same after you have been loved.  So, of course everything changed when LOVE entered our world.

If only we could realize the power that we have.  Our gift of free will allows us to make a choice.  We can choose to walk towards that LOVE, or we can walk away into the darkness.  We make the choice.

The horrendous events in Sandy Hook are too painful for us to process.  I pray for those who do not embrace faith, because it is only in faith can we begin to feel any sort of peace or solace.  We remember the children, just as we remember the CHILD.

Let these little children lead us this Christmas…..may they bring us back to the TRUTH of Christmas…..may they bring us back to another CHILD born long ago on a dark night.  Of all the gifts you receive this Christmas, cherish the gift of your free will and choose LOVE.
Playing Child Church Bulletin Cover

What am I missing?

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This is something that I don’t understand, never have, probably never will……

More guns, really?  Please tell me how putting more guns on the street, in homes, and in schools can possibly be a good thing?  I can see no good coming from this kind of mentality.  Arm principals, arm teachers, arm administrative staff?  What kind of training would they need to have, because I’m not sure that knowing how to fire a gun would have been enough to stop what happened in Sandy Hook.  So, instead of staff development days several times a year, we would have trainings at the local firing range?  These are some things that pop into my head….

  • police have guns but they still get shot and killed
  • when do the teachers decide to pull out that gun, when someone acts suspiciously?
  • I just have visions of schools turning into shoot-outs at the ok-corral
  • I look at the statistics of the US compared with Europe – the main difference?  Stricter gun laws and severe punishments
  • our problems will not be solved by putting more guns out there…..they go so much deeper

I’ve heard many things being discussed in the media lately.  Video games, violent tv shows and movies, guns, mental health, etc.  Not once have I heard any discuss the breakdown of families and morals.  Each week I read responses from children in our religious ed program, grades 1-8.  So many of them talk about the hurt and the pain they feel after their parents divorces.

It’s time we wake up!  There is no one answer, there is no easy answer – and throwing money or guns into the mix is NOT a solution.  Real change takes work, it takes sacrifice.  We need to put ourselves last and others first, we need to listen to our children and spend time with them.  Quality vs. quantity?  That’s adult talk….your children need quantity time, even if you are busy at home, your presence there makes a difference to them.  Children can’t think like adults, they can’t process the same way, they don’t understand.

Please, please wake up!  There is good in Newtown right now.  People are pouring out their sympathy, love and prayers, but we must make this a REAL change.  That is the only true way that we can honor these people.

Some lessons learned….

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Some lessons learned from the Sandy Hook Tragedy:

Life is short….never walk away without a smile or an “I love you”

Many people are suffering….do your best to offer a word of compassion, an expression of encouragement or simply an ear to listen

Never, ever leave God out of any circumstance, good or bad

Learn from the children…they always have something important to teach

Be gentle with yourself…so that you can be gentle with others

Leave the judgment to God for it is only God who can read hearts

Always trust that there is a bigger picture, a larger plan, a real purpose

Live the journey but keep the destination in your heart

Walk alongside others whenever you can…so that you both

have someone to lean on

Remember that we are ALL children….and, remember

WHO OUR ABBA IS….

We’re sad…

Today I went out into public after work for the first time since Friday.  I needed to pick up a prescription and get some food.  Since it was late, I decided to go to Stew Leonards, normally a happy place that is filled with music and large puppets that entertain the children.  As I got out of the car in the dark, I noticed that the rain had started again.  The sun broke through for an hour or two this afternoon, but even the sun didn’t shine so brightly today.  Something felt different, people’s faces were somber, and their steps  lumbered.  I saw a young child run through an aisle and I wanted to reach out to her.  I looked at her mother and hoped that she hugged her baby tightly today. I wondered how many times our Sandy Hook babies walked through this very same store, skipping and singing.

Nothing is the same.  We are changed.  We are wounded deeply.  We are violated.  Our hearts have been ripped apart.

There’s a cloud over Newtown.  It’s not going to go away anytime soon.  We weep…..we grieve…..we pray…..

We must love, love like we’ve never loved before.  Love our families, love our friends, love ourselves, and love our enemies.  It is only love that can absorb the pain.  It is only love that can absorb the sorrow.  It is only love that can eventually heal.  And, it is only love that can stop this evil.

 

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Can You Do It?

Can you make it through one day without passing judgment on another?  How about an hour….can you do it?  My guess would be ‘no’.  It seems to be a part of our processing mechanisms.  We take in information and we rate it (softer word than judge).  Think about it…someone says something and we ‘like’ it or we don’t.  How often does that then translate into our feelings towards that person?

We have our opinions, our standards, what we believe and what we don’t.  How often do we judge those who differ from us?  Are we quick to point out how wrong they are?

I’m not sure that we will ever be able to ‘turn off’ our rating mechanisms.  Our initial feelings or thoughts about what or who we face each day.  What I do think that we can work on, however, is what we do with those judgments?  How we react to them?

Here are a few questions to ponder:

  • Do I allow a reaction to a comment effect my feelings toward the person who made it?
  • Do I react or do I take the time to look deeper?  Why did they say that?  What is it about their lives or what they are going through at the moment that made them speak as they did.
  • What is it about ‘me’ that made me react as I did?
  • Am I sure that I am right?

 

Jesus asks us to ‘love one another’….  That kind of love has to include both compassion and understanding…and sometimes, a muted tongue!