Archive for December, 2013

Autumn Floral Heart

And we can break through,
though torn in two we can be one.
I will begin again, I will begin again.  – “New Year’s Day” – U2

      A friend of mine recently told me she chucked her tradition of stating New Year’s resolutions and instead decided on a new tradition of focusing on a “themed” word for the New Year.   It’s hard keeping resolutions.  Perhaps because such lofty sentences feel —well like a sentence.

So she decided to pick a theme for the year such as MINDFULNESS, or RISK-TAKING, or FORGIVENESS.  You get the idea.  She’d purposely focus on a character trait she wished to see magnified in herself.

I like the idea so much I’ve decided to adopt the idea of my own.   Three words keep floating up in my stream of consciousness.  I don’t feel like I picked them.  They picked me.  Which is another reason to abandon the “make a resolution” concept, it’s just one more thing for me to attempt to control when in reality, none of us have as much control as we wish to have or think we might.

These are MY THREE LITTLE WORDS for 2014:

RECONNECT:  2013 was the most difficult year of my life, but it was also a year of miracles.  It’s ironic that God always plants the miracles in the middle of your deepest sorrows, hardest storms, and silent suffering.  But seeds of hope always yield good fruits when sewn in tears and watered in love.  I had the privilege of both suffering and miracles this year, but in the process I’ve pulled away from people who I know love me.   I want to find my way back.  I may not be who I was, but my heart is unchanged.  It’s stronger than ever and ready to reconnect with those I love and who love me.

Who do you need to reconnect with this year?  Do you have relationships that need mending?  It’s hard to humble yourself sometimes or go first in reaching out.   Do it anyway my inner spirit cries, even though it is so hard for you.

CHERISHI am trying to spend more time praying that God will prioritize my priorities rather than me setting the agenda.  I want to cherish real people not just cyber connections limited to Facebook.  That’s a hard one.  Sometimes it’s easier to just tap out a facsimile of a relationship than to actually flesh out a real one.  Real ones are bumpy, annoying sometimes, hurtful, and well—just very real.  It’s easy to want to retreat to our collective shared diary and catch the news and pics of those we don’t know that well and distract ourselves from taking time to know better the flesh and blood under our own rooftop and in our own neighborhood and even extended family.

This year also taught me that time is actually the most valuable commodity we have.  We can’t hoard it or hold on to memories; for nothing good nor bad lasts forever.  Time:  Will we choose to waste it, spend it, or invest it?  When we invest it in people, we are showing love.  We are giving the gift of being cherished, one of our heart’s most often neglected desires.   Whatever I feel I may lack, I pray God grants me the courage to give what little of it I do have away– be it time, energy, or resources.

       SPIRIT-LEAD“Not my will, but thy will”. That whole control thing in life is a hard thing to shake.  After all God helps those that help themselves, right?  Not exactly.  I do feel called to work, give, serve, pray, love.  But 2013 taught me this much, if nothing else:  Let it go.  Let God.  Which means sometimes we need to sit still.  Rest.  Trust.

Our own sanity is like a rope.  And you know what?  Circumstances beyond your control, coupled with your default emotional thermostat can be a deadly cocktail and you can reach the end of that rope very quickly.  Without something bigger than YOU, when you find yourself in a pit, or feeling misunderstood , or unloved,  or undervalued– well that can be a lonely place.  Trials across time has proved beyond the shadow of a doubt to me that God indeed exists, is good, and above all is in control.

      On that thought, I pray that if or when I am tested, I can continue to hold onto that last strand when hanging over a cliff with flames licking at my feet.

Yes, I want to be spirit-lead and worry less about the future, finances, circumstances, or the biggest demon of all:   What if?

          My head knows that fear is not of God, but my heart forgets sometimes.  I love too much sometimes.  I don’t love enough.   You’re probably the same.  And so it goes and so we sometimes suffer.

The secret is not to waste it.  Choose your suffering a wise pastor taught me.

      Reconnect.  Cherish.  Be spirit lead.  These are my New Year’s resolutions, my small humble prayers I shall utter each day, my big ideas—all planted in three little words.

Blessings in 2014 to you.    You too are loved.

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U2 – “No Ordinary Love” — Video Download for U2.com subscribers.

Yep!  I’m a huge U2 fan. Me and a few other million friends.   They’re an extraordinary band not only because their melodies so easily latch on to our auditory taste buds, but more importantly their lyrics speak to a  much deeper place in our soul.  U2’s  music evokes memory and dreams and hopes.  They aren’t the pop flavor of the day, they speak messages of wisdom, if we have ears willing to hear.   A vision beyond visibility becomes a possibility when one is appropriately inspired.

I’m so looking forward to hearing all the songs that will ultimately comprise the soundtrack of Mandela:  Long Walk to Freedom  Not only is Mandela a mentor and inspiration for Bono personally, but also he holds a special place in people’s hearts all over the world who have seen or experienced or are touched by suppression, imprisonment, injustice or perhaps are fighting for freedom and human rights.

Even if you’re not a freedom fighter who has taken to the streets, you may be a prayer warrior or encourager  somewhere in the life or lives of those who struggle.  That’s what Jesus did when he read these prophetic words from the book of Isaiah to the people of Nazareth:

“The Lord has put his Spirit in me,
because he appointed me to tell the Good News to the poor.
He has sent me to tell the captives they are free
and to tell the blind that they can see again.
God sent me to free those who have been treated unfairly.  Luke 4:18

I have a friend who for a long span of time wasn’t free.   For a time he was held captive internally by choices, as well as externally by unjust circumstances.   So as I wrote to the face of a friend I’ve never met until very recently, I reminded him that “You don’t have to walk around outside to taste freedom.”  You can get free inside first.  In fact, it’s probably a good idea.   And just because there are so many things you can’t see at this time, doesn’t mean you can’t have a vision of what life will look like soon, very soon.

This is seeing:   Believing what right now you can only hope for and resting confidently in assurance that God will use your hour of trial or suffering and turn it into something beautiful, or redemptive.  But it requires something of you first:

No Ordinary Love

Extraordinary love requires faith, being confident in that which you hope for and being sure of what you can not see.  (Hebrews 11:1) That’s no ordinary love.  Extraordinary love also requires sacrifice; it’s going to cost you something you value: your time, your money, your safety, your reputation, your safety net  or perhaps your freedom.  In some cases, even your very life.

“We can’t fall any further if we can’t feel ordinary love.”   Show someone in need some love today.     Take the plunge.  Give until it hurts.  Give with all you’ve got.  And even when you’re drowning in your own personal ocean of adversity and difficulty, remember you were loved first by no ordinary love,  so this pain you feel from time to time is only your heart cracking around the hard places until it becomes smooth as polished precious stones.

Don’t give up.  Look up.  Reach higher.  Assist the poor.  Minister to the hurting.  Forgive what seems unforgivable.   Show love in the name of freedom, in the name of justice and mercy, in the name of compassion, in the name of righteousness and then wait, and watch what God will do.   Perhaps if we each can show love to even just one, especially the difficult one, God can transform the ordinary to extraordinary.

May you find ways to show love today and be joyful in the anticipation of what God can do with just a bit of ordinary love.

POST SCRIPT 12/06/2013:  I started this entry about a week ago.  But I didn’t finish.  God had other plans.  I saw some miracles this week and witnessed first hand just how fast God can transform an isolated  captive person into a person being released into freedom and into loving capable hands.  ALL THIS, on the day Nelson Mandela has passed.  The world lost a true hero, a compassionate soul, and someone who fully understood  this truth: Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins.(1 Peter 4:8)  Rest in peace Nelson Mandela.  And welcome home too.  You leave a legacy of powerful truth spoken in love for the rest of us to aspire to.

Allow me to close with some wisdom of Nelson Mandela, who capably showed us light can chase away the dark and love is stronger than hate:

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” —Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” —Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela

Bono Light IMG_6811 (2)

Let there be light!  That’s what God said when he first created the world.  But did you know, he also said it about us in Ephesians 5:8?

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.

 So what does this mean?  Does it mean live as if you’re a famous rock star and all the world’s a stage with the spot light on you?  Of course not; you already know this.

If you’re  Christian, you already know  just how dark, how shameful, how sinful you perhaps once were, or currently struggle with, or have the capacity to be.  That’s because our flesh wants what it wantsWe want control.  We want things, people, power or influence.    It’s the underlying motive beneath all our wants that determines whether we are walking as children of the light or darkness.

I snapped this pic of Bono at the 2nd of only three concerts I’ve ever seen him.  He was so close and yet….so far away.   It was taken with an ordinary point and shoot camera at just the right moment, a split second of perfect timing.   It almost seems like heaven’s light is shining down.

 But I know the truth.  Bono is only a man.  Nothing more; nothing less. He has made references before that he doesn’t feel comfortable if fans (strangers to him!) see him as a Messiah.  He’s clearly not.    Yet, he does carry a certain light, or at least seems to be perceived that way by tens (hundreds?) of thousands of U2 fans, and maybe even some people that aren’t even big fans of U2’s music.  

That’s because of his heart.  If you follow news about him then you know what he’s done to shine a light on Africa, and how he’s been instrumental in trying to reduce and eliminate hunger, poverty, political corruption, and the hopelessness these things cause.  You know he’s worked with world leaders in the political arena to bring attention and change to a silent suffering.  He’s used his rock star status to influence and to be a beacon of light—to bring attention to, hope, help, cure, and above all love at a time that clearly God has appointed for him.

He’s not Jesus.  But he gets it when it comes to carrying His light.  Yet it’s not Bono’s responsibility to carry it alone.  He’s a torch bearer.  He once sang, that “I’d join the movement, if I found one I could believe in.”    We live in a dark world in uncertain times.  But in a world of self-indulgent twerkers, endless me-centered  and copy-cat celebrities publicly showcasing their life of flashy material excess and simultaneous emptiness, Bono has been singing for quite some time to the beat of a different tune:

 A higher frequency.  This unmistakable calling of light.  The example of a love in action, not merely words spoken or sung.  He doesn’t just sing to us.  U2’s lyrics challenge us.  (“Am I buggin you?  I don’t mean to bug ya!”)  Kind of like Jesus.    How are you going to step out today knowing what you know of the world’s pockets of suffering?  Will you turn away in apathy?  Or will you reach out in faith  willing to risk  your reputation or security?     Are you brave enough to show goodness, kindness, compassion, or  mercy today to someone you don’t know or is hard to love? 

Truth has a way of showing us which direction we’re going to walk  in life. The incredible light that is ours simply by receiving.  This incredible gift of love that is ours to multiply simply by giving it all away.

So let there be light!  Because you too are loved!