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…..

It’s so tempting, isn’t it?

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Lessons to learn from Pope Benedict’s Resignation:

Whatever faith we choose, whatever religion we belong to, whatever spirituality we adopt, we can all learn from the news this past week regarding the resignation of Pope Benedict’s XVI.  Here are the points that I want to take away from this:

+  No job is so important that it can’t or won’t continue when I step away from it

+  It takes a real humility to accept my limitations

+  Whatever my position is, even if my title may be the Head of the Catholic Church on earth, the Church ultimately belongs to God and the Holy Spirit will guide it

+  There comes a time, no matter what my role or service in the church may be, when it is time to remember that the relationship is ultimately between God and me

+  And…..it is at that time that I must really look deep inside and, through prayer, get my personal ‘house in order’ and be willing to take a step into the darkness

It’s so tempting to think that I am in control…..but….

I must pray for the strength to not ‘eat that apple’.

It’s all dance…

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The dance of lent…..

Who’s leading the dance?

What ‘music’ are you listening to?

And for today…..which dance are you dancing?

ballet – lots of turns, trying to keep your balance?

jazz – moving to a rhythm, lots of improv., just trying to listen to the music?

tap – fast moving, keeping up with the tempo, carefully crafting each step?

hip-hop – trying to keep up – moving with the culture?

And…..when you stumble…..whose arms do you fall into?

Can you stand to hear this just one more time?

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Two days ago I awoke to this view from my window.  We had experienced some pretty heavy winds, and if this was the only thing that happened,
I should be grateful.  As I was reflecting on it, however, the old adage came to mind –

” Trees that don’t bend with the wind, won’t last the storm”

I began to think about the storms in my life and whether or not I have ‘bent’ with them.  I began to think of the dangers of rigidity and seeing things only
in black or white.  I began to reflect on where I see this in the world today, in relationships and in my own life.

I took this picture so that I can continue to learn from it.
a few last thoughts…

+ when the tree refuses to bend, it breaks leaving sharp edges –
it’s difficult to embrace  sharp edges

+ it falls to the ground, no longer does it look upward,
soon it will only belong to the earth

+ It will not continue to grow.  Its refusal to bend has caused it its life

+ this tree’s rigidity caused it to split – weakening the whole

+ storms pass.  Had this tree been a bit more flexible,
it could have lived and stood up straight again when the storm was over.

45 minutes to spare?

Philip Yancey has been a favorite author of mine for some time. I just love his spirituality – no judgment – he seems to have some special insights about God, albeit most times admitting that God is beyond our understanding.  I had the opportunity to hear him speak when he came to a nearby church a few weeks ago. He spoke about Newtown, pain, suffering, loss, and ‘where is God when is hurts’,  and many of the parents and first responders were there because Sandy Hook is just a few miles away.

I was thrilled to see that the church put his talks online.  If you have about 45 minutes, please watch this – you won’t regret it!

http://www.walnuthillcc.org/home/news/0000/00-00/missed-philip-yancey

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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….

The Two Sides…

   I’ve been doing a lot of talking with teens lately about the Gifts of the Holy Spirit.  It’s important that they realize that after a gift is given, it’s up to us whether we use that gift or ‘put it away on a shelf somewhere’. 

I try to give them real life situations that they may face and them have them guess which Gift of the H.S. they could use.  They have fun with the different scenarios and, hopefully, it makes these Gifts real to them and their daily lives.

But…with each Gift comes a responsibility.  The Gifts are for us but they’re not only about us.  These Gifts help us, but if we are to truly use them as God intended, then they are to help others as well.

Understanding – no longer will I be able to judge from the surface.  I will have to look deeper into the heart, and that will have to make a difference in the way that I act.  Strike back or understand???

Knowledge – no longer will I be able to pretend that I don’t see things.  I will have to take action – to speak up sometimes, and to keep silent sometimes…

Right Judgment – no longer will I be able to ignore that quiet voice inside of me that whispers right from wrong.  I will have to listen, reflect and discern….

Wisdom – no longer will I be able to blame…my youth, my life, my circumstance, others.  I will have to take responsibility and have the confidence in myself to make a difference…one person at a time.

Courage – no longer will I be able to sit quietly when I see injustice.  I will have to act, to speak, to be the voice for those who have none…

Wisdom and Awe – no longer will I be able to rush through each day without noticing the beauty of God’s world.  I will have to stop and ‘be still’ and see that creation is a verb.

Reverence – this is the most difficult one of all because…no longer will I be able to keep God out of every aspect of my life, my thoughts, my decisions, my actions, my breath.  No longer will I be able to act upon what I want or what makes me feel good….I will have to ‘decrease so that He can increase’ – not easy!

The two sides of gifts……

Love is a funny thing….

So many of us struggle with God’s love.  When we first come to know that we are loved, our reaction is something like, “Oh, isn’t it wonderful that God loves me!”  If we could only stay with that pure, simple, child-like statement!  But often it can become a little distorted and our thoughts of God’s love may actually become more of a burden….

As we live our lives, we like to do things ‘our way’.  I may act out in anger, I may hurt someone, I may be totally selfish, I may put my own ego first (and this was just yesterday!!!).  And then I am reminded – God loves me. 

What comes next?  Feelings of guilt and oppression?  God loves me, how could I act like that?  How could I think those thoughts?  How could I say things like that?  This really makes me feel bad – God….maybe you shouldn’t love me….it might be easier!

Here I go again….confusing the definition of God’s unconditional love with conditional love – the only kind of love that I am capable of. 

The truth is that God loves us ‘in spite of ourselves’.  His love does not depend on me and what I do.  God’s love is a freedom, not a burden.  He loves me as I am – flawed and broken.  He sees and knows me and loves what he sees and knows.  I don’t have to ‘clean myself up’ for him – I go to him as I am and he loves every bit of me!  That is freedom! 

So, at times I am:

 The Prodigal Son

The Lost Sheep

The Lost Coin

How does that make me feel?

I only have to concentrate on the ‘ends’ of those stories…..

I am loved!