Praying for a Miracle

This past Sunday I listened to a sermon on Mark 5: 21-43. It is commonly called the Raising of Jairus’ daughter and it is the beautiful story of Jesus healing a little girl who was very ill. This Gospel contains another story about an encounter that Jesus had with a woman on the way to Jairus’ house. A woman who had suffered with bleeding that no doctor could cure. She stepped out of the crowd and touched Jesus cloak and was instantly healed.

When Jesus stopped to speak with her, He told her that it was her faith that healed her. When Jesus reached Jairus’ house He was told that the little girl had died. He told the people there, “Do not be afraid, just have faith.”

I have heard many talks about this Reading and have spent time reflecting on it in quiet. There is so much there, as there is in all the writings about Jesus, but this past Sunday, I heard a sentence from the preacher that I hope to remember all my life.

He looked at us and asked, “Do you have enough faith to ask for a miracle?”

I do believe, I believe that God can do anything and I have asked for some whacky things throughout my life, I’m not shy about asking. Mostly, I ask out of desperation and need. But, his question put a different spin on it for me.

To me it says that I can ask anytime, about anything – no matter how big or how small. It’s all a matter of faith.

Do I have enough faith to ask for a miracle? Do I?

I pray for faith

I pray for miracles

I pray for everyone to see how generous God is.

Do YOU have enough faith to ask for a miracle?

Simplicity of Mind

Continuing on with my simplicity post…

In addition to simplifying my environment, I find that I have to simplify my mind as well. You can be in an empty room, but if your mind is cluttered, you will not find peace. Alternatively, a simplified mind remains calm in the most disquieting of circumstances.

This is not an easy task and it is certainly not a ‘one-time-only.’ It’s a daily, sometimes hourly decision.

I recently read a quote that I find both interesting and somewhat amusing. It is this:

“No thought is worth thinking about.”

I think that on a primal level it makes sense and I like it, but I find that in order for me to fully process it, I have to think about it. Kind of defeats the meaning of the quote, don’t you agree? Maybe we can say one of these:

  • No thought is worth obsessing over
  • No thought is worth worrying about
  • No thought is worth becoming upset/angry over

I think all of those are implied in the original quote, but I had to think about the quote to come up with them….

So, how to simplify the mind? Allow me to suggest three words:

  • Awareness
  • Judgement
  • Compassion

Awareness: We are so conditioned to react – someone says something that evokes a feeling in us and we react. It’s such a human trait. Awareness teaches us to stop, breathe and process. Trust me, it’s not only good for ourselves, but it often defuses a situation.

Judgement: I find that the less I judge others, the more peaceful I am. This does not mean that I have to like what others do, or even keep these people as part of my life, but I know that it expends a lot of my energy critiquing others and then assigning feelings to their actions. Don’t judge – observe – let go.

Compassion: I barely know why I do the things I do, how can I ever understand why someone else does something? Showing compassion allows me to accept others and love them as they are. Whether they are in my life or not, when I react with compassion, I am able to let things go a lot easier.

I know that these are all words, and I am far from living them, but I do know that the few times that I have practiced this, it has brought me great peace – AND THAT ADDS MUCH NEEDED SIMPLICITY to my mind.

A New Direction

It’s been a long time since I have written. At times this blog weighs heavy on me and I feel as though I should just give it up. But, there is something inside of me that holds on to it. I don’t know if there is anyone out there reading it, or if people will come, but I can’t worry about that. This writing has to be for me and if anyone finds it interesting or helpful, then it’s an added benefit.

Today I want to talk about simplifying life. I do like the word ‘minimalism,’ but I feel as though it is both overused and hard to define. Some minimalists have 30 pieces of clothing in their closets, some 40, and some carry all of their clothes in a backpack. I don’t want to have to count or worry about a label and so I choose to just use the word SIMPLIFY.

Marie Kondo, in her KonMari method, says that we should keep things that spark joy. I don’t agree. There are some things, memories, experiences in my life that bring me sadness such as saying goodbye to my parents and brother, that I don’t want to let go of. I hold on to these memories because they are a part of me and help to define who I am.

I just want to simplify. That means that I have to look at what I have, what takes my time, and what I want to do next and ask some questions.

Here is what I’m trying to do:

  • How do I spend my time? Am I able to work reflection time into my daily life? How about a walk?
  • What can I give up so that I have more quiet time? Whether it be material things or a job that no longer fits or old habits like shopping or social media or tv…..everything needs to be examined.
  • What am I going to do with my ‘simple life?’ Do I have to produce to feel relavant?
  • At the end of each day can I let go of the guilt that creeps in when I didn’t do all of the above???

So, each day takes on a new direction, like this blog…..

You Hold Me By My Right Hand

You know how sometimes when you are reading, a line  pops out and stays with you?  Well, that happened to me this week while I was reading Psalm 73:23 “Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.”  I was struck by the image of God holding me by my right hand and it got me thinking of holding hands.

I can remember how I felt when someone that I cared about reached out and took my hand as we walked together.  It was a great feeling, knowing that we were connected, and even if there were no words spoken, hand grasping hand was communication enough.

Think of a parent holding the hand of a child.  That child feels secure knowing that they are being led by someone who loves them.  And, if the child should stray towards danger, the grasp of the parent becomes stronger to lead them away from harm.

The  image of an elderly hand being held is one that connotes tenderness, compassion and love.

Psychology Today says, “Tough is the first sense we acquire and the secret weapon in many a successful relationship.”

And now, back to Psalm 73.  We have a God who holds us by our right hand.  He (She) is not a distant God looking down (judging) us from some distant place, no, He is a God who is right beside us, holding our hand.  A God who longs for a personal relationship with us, a God who is there, holding our hand, patiently waiting for us to welcome Him into our hearts.

I find it so reassuring to know that God has my right hand.  To know that He is right beside me through each of my life’s adventures, both joy-filled and sorrow-filled.  He doesn’t let go no matter how many times I turn away and try to run.

Why do we sometimes depict God as a menacing judge, waiting for us to fail, only to pronounce His judgement and condemnation?

God is love, celebrate that love, rely on that love, bask in that love and know that He is always with us and He holds our right hand!”

A Quote That Stuck With Me

I don’t read a lot of fiction, but when a book is recommended to me by someone I love (my daughter), I make an exception.  And although this story is fiction, the spirituality woven through it rings truth.  The book is ‘Where the Crawdads Sing,’ by Delia Owens and if you haven’t read it, I suggest that you do.  But, this post is not a book review so enough said.

There is one line in the book, however, that really stuck with me.  The line is, “I never hated them, they hated me.”  It got me thinking…..

I can honestly say that I have had few, if any, real enemies in my life.  Sure, there were times when I was really so angry or hurt that I felt hatred for that person.  I even don’t like typing that because hatred is such an ugly word.

Hatred leads to loneliness, isolation and despair.  It fuels division.  It screams for revenge.

I read something from Richard Rohr a couple of weeks ago.  It said that God’s justice is to love more. I thought about Jesus’ life and how many times He could have called for justice (as we define it).  I think especially of His final hours on the cross when He could have called all of heaven down.  And yet, He asked His Father to forgive ‘them – us’.

Can you imagine what this world would be like if our answer to justice was to ‘love more?’  I’m not discounting the rule of law, or delving into politics, I’m just suggesting that we think about this Gospel message.

Love more…..talk about heaven on earth!

 

 

How do you know when you have forgiven?

There has been a load that I have been carrying for three years.  I’ve referenced it in some previous posts, although my messages have been somewhat cryptic.  I was badly hurt, really betrayed by someone who I worked for and thought very highly of, and considered a friend.  It was one of the most painful times in my life and I chose to walk away from a job, really a vocation, that I truly loved.  As I have said before, sometimes you have to do what you believe is right in your heart.

It took me a while to look through the hurt and find the anger.  But, when I was actually able to let myself feel anger, I knew it was a first step, as crazy as that may sound.

And, after the anger, came the desire to forgive, but that was not a switch that I could just turn on. I prayed and prayed and everything I heard during lent focused on forgiveness.  I wanted to forgive, I really did, but I just didn’t know how and when I thought that I did, did I really?

A couple of days ago, this person reached out to me, after three years, to ask me if I still had a presentation that we had created for the children.  It was a friendly text, and I had to think, as I have done before, that he really wasn’t aware of what he had done and how much hurt he had caused.  I stared at the text for a few minutes, really not knowing what to do with it.

In the end, I realized that I had to be true to who I am and so I provided the slides that I found in my computer.

After the exchange, I realized that, by the Grace of God, I was able to interact with this person in a totally detached way.  There were no strong feelings, positive or negative.

Reflecting back later that day, I was filled with joy.  This had truly been a gift from God.  I finally felt closure, and I felt that I had really forgiven this person.  By no means was this all my doing!  This was a joint effort, surrender on my small part, God’s largesse on the other.

If you ask me to define forgiveness, I would still struggle, but now, I do know exactly how it feels….it is such a freedom… that weight that has been on my heart has been transformed into a thousand butterflies.

 

What If

I frequently ask myself ‘what if’ questions:

What if it rains on the day that I plan my hike?
What if I make mistakes when I’m playing piano this week?
What if they don’t like me?
What if I say the wrong thing?
What if I push send on that text that I decided not to send?
What if I get sick?
What if someone I love dies?

or sometimes, the ‘what if’s’ go a lot deeper

What if there is nothing after this life is over?
What if the Bible is just one made up story that has somehow been relevant for thousands of years?
What is no one hears my prayers?
What if there is no God?

I can really do a number on myself once I start ‘what if’ spinning.  The doubts, the questions, and most of all the FEARS smother me and lead me into despair and darkness.

It’s times like these that I have to sit, sit in silence, and breathe.  And while it may take a while, I have learned not to abandon the ‘what if’s’, but rather to turn them around.

What if there is a God and he/she loves me unconditionally, total acceptance?
What if there is an eternal life that is far better than the one we live here?
What if there is someone listening to each and every prayer….counting each and every tear?
What if there really was a God-Man who walked the earth 2,000+ years ago and died trying to teach us how to live a different way?

What if it’s all true – how would that make a difference in the way I think, act…live.

What if?

We Just Know


I heard this a few days ago on a radio talk show that I sometimes listen to.  There was a substitute host, and I wish that I could remember who it was so that I could give him credit for this.  It is not a religious talk show, so this story was quite a surprise to me.  I loved it and I want to remember it forever, and even though I can’t give credit to the man who told it, I hope it will spread. This man was an army ranger (as I remember), and he told this story (paraphrased):

‘I love to speak to atheists because I haven’t met one who could argue with what I am about to tell you.  When someone starts a conversation about whether God exists or not, this is what I say.  I first ask them if they have been around a lot of dying people, most have not. I have.

I tell them that if you were to be held underwater for a long time, you would struggle for air.  You wouldn’t want food, or water.  You would want air because your body knows that it needs air and nothing else at that moment.

Similarly, if you were without food for so long that you were starving, your body would cry out for food.  Again, your body knows what it needs at that moment.

And finally, if you walked through the desert for days, your body would want water.  Instinctively your body knows what it needs for life. It wouldn’t want food, or sleep, or rest, etc.  Only water.

Well, as I have said, I have been around many people who have died on the battlefield.  As they lay dying, they didn’t call out for air or food or water.  All of them cried out for God.’

Our bodies (souls) know what we need, what sustains us, what gives us life.

We just know.

Definitely something to ponder…..

 

I’m giving up god for lent

So, after a lot of thought, I decided that I’m giving up god for lent!

(conversation with myself) Well, that’s sort of an odd thing to do.  I mean, isn’t lent all about getting closer to God. going deep, strengthening the relationship?

Yes, absolutely!

Well then, why on earth (or heaven) would you want to give up god for lent?

You see, the god that I’m giving up is the small-g god.  The god that I have created and defined.  The god that sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t.  The god that doesn’t listen when I know better, the god that does things that I don’t agree with, the god that I define to myself and others.  The god that belongs to only one religion and group of people.  The god that gives doctrines, that issues ‘shoulds,’ and that punishes, alienates and judges.  That god has to go!

This lent I open myself to big-G God.  A God who is love, but whose ways I don’t always understand.  A God who is so beyond me that my trying to comprehend His/Her mysteries is like an ant trying to understand String Theory.

I open myself to a God who can’t be known with the mind, but who can be loved with the heart.

I open myself to a God whose speaks in silence.

I open myself to a God who is present in everyone and everything if I open my eyes and see, not just look.

I open myself to a God who asks for trust and faith in a world where trust needs verification and faith needs proof.

I open myself to the Mystery……who calls him/herself – I AM.

I’m giving up god for lent……care to join me?

 

Waiting

A month or so ago I bought a kit to grow lavender.  It came with a pot, soil and the tiniest lavender seeds.  I love lavender, but no matter how many times I have bought lavender plants, they die. I just can’t seem to grow lavender.  I thought this time would be different.  Perhaps if I started them as seeds I would have better luck. And so, I followed the instructions so very carefully, and now I am waiting.

It’s been a few weeks and there is no sight of growth yet. But, each day I check (actually I check several times a day).  I’m just waiting for that first sign of life to show through the soil.  I’m not giving up……I will wait.

Do you suppose that God waits for us the same way?  Each day He (She) patiently waits for us to receive, respond and return the love that He (She) so freely gives us.

I will wait a little longer for my lavender plants to grow, and then I’ll probably give up.

God doesn’t give up, God waits forever.