Posts Tagged ‘God’

Today I woke up and realized something profound:  These days, I’m living:

All over the map!

Life seems to be a continuous itinerary of places to go, chores to accomplish, jobs to do, and people to interact with.  Yet, is there joy here?

Today I am blessed yet again to not have to work my my “real” job.   I work P/T and set my own schedule.  Still, my daughter has a friend over, then works until late this evening.  My six year old is about to wake up and will want to play and be entertained.   I am making a dinner to take to a neighbor who just had a baby.  My mother in law is coming to eat dinner with us for her birthday, but hopefully my daughter will be making that dinner.  She’s a fantastic cook, better than me!   The house is a wreck.  There is a tornado of papers all over my office.   I owe people letters, replies, and need to follow up on work and personal commitments.  I need to call relatives I’ve lost touch with.  I need to clean the crud off the bathroom mirror for Pete’s sake!

Where to start?  What to do?    I know!  First, I’ll write.  It doesn’t have to be good.  It just needs to happen.  Plug into My joy first I hear my soul whisper to me.  It will all come together, somehow.  It always does.  Let go (not reduce) your expectations.  Just let it go!

I am learning how to write, and in so doing, I am learning how to let go.  I am learning in order to follow my dreams a few side effects are going to result:

  • The house will be messier (than it already was)
  • Others will have to step up (thanks daughter for making so many dinners)
  • People will need to be patient!  (Citibank, Water Company–the check really is in the mail, just as soon as I have time)
  • I need to pray more, not less.  (God, PLEASE help order my day.  There is so much I want to do, but now I’ve added something huge:  I’ve got so much I want to say!)
  • I need to be patient.  (Good things really do come to those who wait and above all leave the results to God!  This is not the time to quit, give up, or demand results from others or from God.  The gift is to go with the flow!)

The last item is the hardest.  I am a “list” person.  Scraps of paper numbered in priority have always dominated my life.  Do this.  Pay that.  Call her.  Explain to him.  Complete every errand.  Spend “quality and focused time” with my son.  That one I sometimes feel I fail at miserably.

But today, I choose not to beat myself up.  I choose not to give up.  I choose to be joyful and to be an encouragement to anyone around me.  I choose to see distractions as divine appointments.  Most of all I say a prayer that God give me love today.

Please give me love to season the food with.  Please give me love to speak with.  And certainly love to set the house as a warm and welcoming place for friends and family, especially my own to reside.  Give me hands to do; yet let me use them by reaching out and doing things in the spirit of love, not in the spirit of “I have to do these 3,687 things or I’m falling down on the job as a mom/wife/daughter/friend.”

Let me bask in love and let me be love reflected.

Praying today if you’re addicted to doing, you can simply be.   If you are addicted to anything, that U2 (you too!) can let it go.  Just let it go!   You too are loved!!    U2areloved

This desperation
Dislocation
Separation
Condemnation
Revelation
In temptation
Isolation
Desolation
Let it go
And so fade away
To let it go
And so fade away
To let it go
And so to fade away

“Bad” – U2

Trust is letting go of needing to know all the details before you open your heart.

~Author Unknown

Witness Venus In Transit Here:  http://vimeo.com/43563394

Suggested Listening:  “Window in the Skies ‘ — U2  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cK_q7tEOPA0

 Dang it!  I missed it.  Do you know what solar phenomenon happened on June 5, 2012 that will not be repeated in our lifetime?    It’s not an amazing meteor shower, or even a comet, such as the beautiful Hale Bopp comet seen all over the world in 1997.    It was the solar event known as Venus in Transit.  Here’s how it played out:  Venus passed directly between the sun and the earth, but appeared as a black dot traversing the length of the sun on a journey just shy of seven hours.  For anyone that would have witnessed this event at an observatory, a museum viewing, or with eyes shielded by welder-grade sunglasses, they would have witnessed a black dot slowly making its way across the sun for approximately seven minutes from their specific location on earth.

 This Transit of Venus happens every 243 years, with pairs of transits eight years apart that part company for about 105.5 and 121.5 years.  Another words, the next paired transit, won’t happen until 2117 and 2125.  This means, we won’t have a chance to witness this phenomenon again, at least not in our resident earthly body.

Wikipedia informs us that this event is both predictable and rare. Predictable in that it has a proven historical track record, but rare in the fact, you have only a two-shot chance of witnessing  this spectacular paired journey eight years apart.  So if you missed it on June 5, 2012 and also June 8, 2004 then you will only see it now courtesy of cyber space, not celestial space.

I’m sorry I missed this because I still remember Hale Bopp, not because of the freakishly strange cult suicides that resulted from its presence, but because like a diamond in the sky, it possessed the quality of brilliance and extreme rareness.  I remember seeing the comet as it blazed across the sky, as a vivid light breaking through the darkness, gently hinting there is so much more here than meets the eye.    Looking up, it appeared to be a window in the sky that alludes to something beyond what our mind can surely grasp.

Strange as it sounds, when I saw it from our front porch, my first thought was how it reminded me of the Polar Express train of children’s  literature—this magical train that breaks through the night, full of excited children, crossing space and time boundaries to deliver more than just Christmas gifts, but the gift of belief!

This I know to be true in life:  There is no such thing as coincidence!  I will repeat that until my dying day.  I am a firm believer that life is not random, but intentional.  We are created to witness some great mysteries and miracles in life, but they will mean little more to us than coincidence without the gift of belief.

I’ve always been enthralled by the mysteries of deep space.  It humbles me, because I know that in the grand spectrum of the universe, my allotted space and time is absolutely microscopic.  Think about this:  Look at all you have witnessed and experienced in your own life, if only up until now:  Moments of rare beauty, moments of extreme pain, birth, loss, dreams, obligations, music, love, oceans, mountains, sky, animals, and people—just a small millionth of all you’ve experienced, endured, heard, tasted, witnessed, and touched.    Considering the vastness of our universe, is it mere privy that you’ve had the luxury of experiencing so much?  You are not like the stationery planets that sit still, changing only on the surface.  You are so much more!

You are like Venus in Transit.  You are given a mind to assimilate knowledge, belief, events, faith, and experience.  Are all these things just random coincidence in your life?  Or will you use it and connect the dots in your life, just as surely as a master Creator has an order for the stars and planets that dot our view of sky?

Venus is named after the Roman goddess Venus that represents love, beauty, fertility, sexuality, prosperity and victory—not much–just the pinnacle of our enjoyable side of human existence.

So when I found out I missed Venus is Transit, as I read old unread emails from my museum memberships this morning, I was more than a little bummed.  You see, witnessing that would have been another event I know I would have categorized as witnessing a miracle:

Love Passes By; The Sun Keeps Watch

For me, I already believe this.  Love passes by.   Bono knows this.  In fact he wrote a book called “On the Move”.  He states that love, and mercy, and God are all on the move.  Love is never static!  It grows legs and walks into adversity and suffering.  It extends arms and hands that provide sustenance, aid, and the potential to hold someone.  Love is a cureBut it is not without cost.   It puts hearts on sleeves and security on the line and makes us give out of what we’re not even sure we possess.     See love knows we’re going to suffer.  It knows we’ll see things we’d rather not.  Love marches forward anyway.

I keep a pocket full of miracles in my head and heart that no person can ever take away.  Though most days I live life with feet planted firmly in terra firma in my town, my heart travels, and in in doing so, it keeps changing.  It’s as though a puppet master is pulling the strings of my feet, arms, and heart, as He says, “Over here, child.  Over here.”  I don’t know if I want to go, or if I’m prepared.  I do and don’t want to go.

But like Venus in Transit, a rare and brilliant love capably pulls my orbit across and around the Son’s light.   I don’t have to know the future or my exact destination as I journey across the universe.  I wish you the same:  Let the power of an eternal and regenerating love and light sustain you as you move through life.

Read This Book And Be Changed:

Available on Amazon for under $3

LMFAO! (Live My Faith; Accept Others!)

Posted on June 21, 2012

What this world needs is a new kind of army – the army of the kind.  ~Cleveland Amory

The other day I was having a lovely lunch with my young son and mother.   Though my mom is an extremely youthful octogenarian, she amused me when she asked, “Liz, tell me something, what does LMFAO mean when people comment with that on their Facebook page?”  Oh boy!  Not one who enjoys cursing in front of my mom, I told her what the acronym’s letters stood for and assured her that I never use it with the middle letter attached when someone tells me something funny.

Long after I answered her question, I was still thinking about what it could stand for.  You see, in the deep cranial cavities of Liz Logic, I am kind of an acronym aficionado, if there is such a thing.  When I see unfamiliar acronyms, I love to see if I can figure out what they stand for based on context of a website or article etc.

At church, we have sermon notes, with blanks left out for key words that will be divulged during the sermon.  Pastor, I’m one step ahead of you; I got this one I always think to myself.  I like to think I know my bible well enough, that I can guess the key words before he teaches us with an amazing sermon.  And you guessed it, I often get it wrong.    I see an L__________ (fill in the blank) and go ahead and put LOVE!   Only to find out, the answer was Live!

It’s a mental game I play with myself, seeing if I can decipher answers before sitting still long enough to receive the answers from someone who just may possibly know more than I do.

Get to the point Liz!  OK, here’s the thing.  So I was pondering a better answer I could have given my mom for the off-colored acronym for a response to a humorous comment one makes on Facebook.   EUREKA!  It just came to me, like this, in a Liz-Flash of inspiration.

Live My Faith; Accept Others

It seems like the last year of my life has been one of the best years I’ve ever had.  But it’s not because every situation in my life is hunky dory all the time.  Far from it!    I don’t know if it’s because the sands of the hour glass are heavier on the bottom side of my life, or God has just graced me with more wisdom, but this message just keeps ringing true these days–repeatedly!

Here’s why.  I have been involved in a neighborhood bible study group with the loveliest friends I have ever known for the last fifteen years.  Some of us leave for a season and come back; some simply move on to other things in life, but the core friendships remain the same.  We are a platoon of moms, wives, daughters, sisters, and friends and we have seen it all and been through it all in our own lives.  We’ve been through multiple deaths, births, and struggles with our families and deep within ourselves.  We’ve laughed and cried together all these years and probably wouldn’t have had the strength to face some of the things we faced, had it not been for one another.    Sometimes we look back, and think, how in the world did we even survive that?    Only one answer rings true, but for God.

Something one dear friend said, especially grabbed me last night.  She said, “You know the answer in life is just so simple.”  Impossible at times to execute, but so simple to understand:

“Just love one another”

 If we all could just truly love one another, and accept one another, we wouldn’t be at war within our families, or within the world, and even within ourselves.  You don’t think you’re at war within yourself?  Think again.  Do you ever participate in self-condemnation?  I’m so fat or I’m so stupid?   Do you ever participate in pride, or judging others?

See, this truth is the heart of our faith–to just love one another!   Where do you feel the most free in life?  It’s probably in the friendships and relationships where you feel totally accepted in life, despite what they know about you, or your quirks, or your flaws, or your areas that you are working on.

We’ve learned some other things in life too.  It’s not enough to just love each other in our little “holy huddle.”  There is a hurting world outside just beyond the smell of our fresh coffee and raucous laughter.    We know!  That’s the world we always go back to when our time together is up.

Our personalities, political persuasions, professional choices, and how we school and parent our children vary vastly.   Yet we are in agreement on this bedrock principal.  Just love!  We don’t have to beat the others in our family or in the world with bible verses.  It’s not our position to save, but our privilege to share.  We can share our testimonies and our faith as we understand it if asked, but ultimately it is our kindness or love (or sadly, lack of) that tells the truth of who we claim to be.

Sometimes I personally feel like I’m the worst as far as being an effective ambassador or servant of Christ.  I’m so full of inconsistencies!  I’m full of pride sometimes!  I still sin, not only as defined in the bible, but as that voice in my head that says this doesn’t honor God.   Yes, I struggle!    I’m real!    I think we’ve all taken turns passing the self-condemnation ball around but I also know that this is a tactic from an enemy who wishes to see us destroy ourselves, and NOT the wrath of an angry God.

At the end of the day I know God is a mighty big God.  He has a sense of humor and strength that far surpasses mine.  After all He’s God!  He knows my obsessions, my fears, my tears, and my confessions!  (Whoa…that rhyme just tumbled out!).  But He does!  He probably laughs and says, “There, there my precious child.  You’re going to be okay.  I’ve got it covered.  I know ALL about this, but I love you anyway.  That situation that’s making you nuts or you’re totally afraid of?  It’s all going to be ok.  Trust me.  Be patient.  Have faith.  Don’t be angry at others; just love.  Yes, grow in love.”

I’m still growing up.  But the love comes easier these days.  I don’t have to stay confined to this group or that group of people.  I don’t have to put people in a category.   It’d be better if I ignore any splinters in my neighbor’s eye, considering I have enough planks in my eye to build a deck, quite possibly on a ship.

Though I still get mad, and frustrated, and lose it sometimes, I’m learning I have a place to return.    It’s the heart of our creator.  Proverbs 4:23 teaches us “Guard your heart; for it is the wellspring of life” has never been truer than now.    I’m pretty sure God doesn’t want us to build a fortress around it, as to not contaminate it, but to build bridges from it and let the love spill out into the world.  I think this verse is misunderstood as to not let anything corrupt us.  This is true, but I think it also means to not fear those that believe differently, those who have a different opinion of truth.    I think of it as guarding your heart from falling prey to fear, cynicism, judgment, condemnation, or categorizing.  Just breathe life-affirming love into others.  Let God worry about the rest.

Is our faith so fragile, we could lose it by loving those that are different?  I hope not.  That’s not what Jesus did and it’s not what I want to do either.  Though I’ve certainly been guilty of that, it’s not who I am anymore—at least I’m trying not to be that person!

For me, Jesus was perfect and I’m so not, and honestly neither has anyone who speaks in His name for the last two thousand years or so.   I think He would be a lot more popular if the world could see more love from those that claim to follow Him.

Love is not to be contained, or given to only those we deem lovely or loveable.  It is not reserved for the deserving, or folks like us.  It’s so much more than a cliché too; it’s actually a commandment…to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind, but don’t forget the second part—to love our neighbor as our self!

The world and its inhabitants have always and will always need more love and peace.  Just start with you.  Start now.  Where is the love?

Suggested Listening:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cdt9kE58uww&feature=related

“Love and Peace or Else” — U2

Photo by Liz Gray

Go and wake up your luck.  Persian Saying

        Life is so beautiful.   I should easily be able to think of at least a thousand memories from the 17, 184* days I’ve lived so far,  but for sake of the preciousness of your life, allow me to account for just one day.

Yesterday was such a very happy day.  I woke up;  as is my custom, God willing, and that right there is something major to be grateful for.  This was followed by a series of multiple media message checking from cell phone, to email, to facebook, to homephone—all before I had a chance for my morning coffee.     Make the beds, make a plan for the day, change the litter box; change the plans for the day after consulting all the other family members and their plans.

Thankfully, it was Saturday, so we didn’t have the usual workday/school day stress of all trying to get out the door.   As words were exchanged and plans revised and rearranged, I first felt the twinges of stress creeping in from an “overstuffed” day, but for once I was able to pause  and remember something:

This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it! (Psalm 118:24)

See I wanted to go to a dear friend’s daughter’s high school graduation.  I also already had plans to go see my daughter’s dance recital at a studio about two hours away, two hours from when the graduation ceremony started.  I had not seen my friend in over a year or her family.  Not only was her youngest daughter graduating, her oldest daughter was coming into town with a brand new baby, only a few weeks old.  I could not skip my daughter’s recital, yet how could I miss the graduation of someone so dear to our family?

What to do, what to do?  We’ve all been here.  How do you either A: Stop Time or   B: Be in two places at one time?

Well, if you figure that one out, please be sure and let me know, because it seems every day I live, there is more that either NEEDS to be done, or that I WANT to do, and sadly it’s just not possible to do it all.

So I prayed.  I rushed, but I prayed five simple words:  Lord, please order my day.  BOOM!  No sooner, than this simplest of prayers get lifted up, a possibility floated into my consciousness.   It was as if God let me know a visit with a friend delights and warms our heart no matter how brief.  I decided I would meet my friends, and hug her beautiful daughter if only for a few moments outside the church shortly before graduation started.  We spent about thirty true quality moments.  I did not get to see her graduate.  But I did get to see her.

I got to admire the serene beauty of a mom who raised four amazing children who have grown into Godly, well-adjusted, kind, compassionate young adults who will make this world a better place because of their purpose in it.  I got to see her two beautiful boys, one with a family of his own,  and her lovely oldest daughter, a mom of three with her newest gorgeous baby boy.  Hugs were exchanged and plans were made for a future visit.

Kiss, kiss, and off I went.  I drove the two hours west where the foothills, turn into what I guess I would call sledding hills.  Not quite the mountains, but there is a hint you’re getting closer.  Along the way to the dance recital, I kept stopping because I am the kind of person who gets distracted by Kodak Moments.  Rural America has a hundred snapshots a mile.  I could write into eternity, and I’m not even sure that would be enough time to capture all the beauty I see all around me.  Old wells, broken down cars,  wheel wagon mailboxes, giant ten-foot neon signs decades old, purple houses with pink petunias everywhere, and even the unique, humorous, and downright weird billboards I saw were all “signs”  from a higher power to:  SEE!  ENJOY!  WHAT BOUNTY AND ABUNDANCE I HAVE PLACED BEFORE YOU!

My favorite pic of the day was a sweepstakes building.  There was only one car there; I assume it was the owner or employee. There was not another car in sight.  They were open for business.  But no one came.  Maybe it’s because this small town felt like I did; I already won the lottery!!   Who needs a windfall, which often is accompanied by curses and broken promises, when beauty and memory is to be found everywhere.

I ultimately made it to the dance recital where my daughter sat in the front along with the other teachers, as opposed to dancing on the stage like all the recitals of the last ten years.    Her choreography was amazing and loud applause warmed my heart, because God continues to water the seeds of her gifts too.

I thought of all the unwritten chapters yesterday.  Not just what I want to write about, but what God wants to write about.  He truly has written eternity into the hearts of man.  Who will this new graduate become as she starts her voyage from this day forward as an adult?  Who will this new baby be?  What new adventures await my lovely friend who has successfully raised four amazing children and now after nearly thirty years will have the joy of time to do more of what she loves?  What lies ahead for all the talented dancers I saw yesterday? Their possibilities of choices, colleges, and careers are endless.

See I didn’t have to go inside and play the lottery.  For I have a secret to tell you.  I already won!!

It’s not about what we have or haven’t gotten yet.  It’s not about the career we have or don’t have that defines us.  Life is about  enjoying the gifts God puts all around you and within you.    It’s not about  stuff or status; it’s about purpose and perspective.  Ah yes, definitely perspective.

Yesterday I hugged three beautiful moms and one beautiful graduate!  I kissed a new baby.  I met a new toddler.  I saw dancers that could soar so high and dance so magnificently it made me cry that even that much talent can be squeezed into one person’s body, and even that was repeated in multiple dancers.   I hugged and kissed a beautiful teacher–my daughter.   Throughout the day I listened to music that inspires my soul and saw scenery that leaves me with only one thought.  Thank you!    Thank you God for letting me win life’s lottery.  It’s not free from struggle, by any means, but it’s days like yesterday, that make me realize, I’m infinitely rich beyond measure.

Today I even got to wake up for the 17, 185th time.  Seriously, how SWEET is that???

The soul, like the body, lives by what it feeds on.  ~Josiah Gilbert Holland

  How long have you been blessed?  http://www.beatcanvas.com/daysalive.asp

Liz with the mother and father who loved her when we lived in Oberhochstadt, Germany September,1965

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.  1 Peter 4:8

     What’s love got to do with it?  What’s love but a second hand emotion?  That’s what Tina Turner sang in 1984 when I was living in a mobile home with my then boyfriend.  Tina with her spiky hair, red lipstick, leather skirt, and sultry eyes begged this basic philosophical question when I was just 19.  MTV had just started airing videos, but this one sure struck a nerve in my head.  I knew that by living in a trailer park and “shacking up” I probably wasn’t seen by many who loved me as making the most mature of choices in the name of love.

A few months passed and I viewed the video several more times with friends we used to chill with on “our pit”.  You know, a pit sofa, also known as a sectional sofa, another 1980’s extravaganza.  I digress.  Anyway, I was the first from our group of couples, who in no uncertain terms made clear to my boyfriend, even though Beyoncé was barely out of diapers, that “if you like it, you really need to put a RING on it.”

So moving right along,  it’s May of 1985.  That boyfriend in the trailer?  Well, we got hitched.  OK; married is the upper class word.  We spent our honeymoon is Disney World and I turned 20 there.  Everything was hunky dory…..well, almost.  My mental maturity still hadn’t caught up to my physical maturity.  We worked full time by day, and shared dreams and made plans by night.  Still, insecurity reigned, at least on my part.  I laugh, and sigh a little bit in shame when I look back at all the times I cried over unsubstantiated jealousies,  and dished out bits and fits of rage when my husband worked late, all in the name of trying to improve our lot in life.

Soon our song was more like “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” with me constantly screaming “Do you love me, will you love me forever? Do you need me?  Will you make me so happy for the rest of my life?    We may have tied the knot, but I seemed hell-bent on turning the other end of the rope into a noose around my husband’s neck, insisting that he stay at close range, and to please try, try, try for the thousandth time already to FOCUS more on our relationship (translation: me) than his work.

Ah yes, the crux of every relational woe.  Men go out and must climb the ladder of success to find meaning.  Women want to be the thing at the top they aspire to win, lay claim to, and above all relate to.  Thus begins the long painful journey of discovery.  You learn so much about one another, that you pretended you didn’t know when you were dating, or ‘just going with the flow.”

Like the tide of the ocean, you roll in and out of love with each other.  You hug, you argue, you scream, you laugh, you say you’re sorry, you make up, you make love, you wake up, and you repeat.  Before long, love does feel like a second hand emotion. Which is what exactly? The emotion that’s left over when all the other ones are thoroughly used up?  Anger, jealousy, desire, control?

Responsibilities increase.  Children arrive.  More cares, more things to do; you realize, things aren’t always wonderful, but somewhere in the process of building a home and a life, they’re not exactly terrible.  It’s a happy compromise, often filled with amazing moments.     Time starts to erode the rough edges of our selfishness, but also our dreams we may have had for ourselves a little bit too.

Years keep passing.  Kids go from diapers to car keys in what seems like a blink.  You notice your first gray hair.  One by one the kids leave and go off to college.   You begin to ask yourself, “Who am I now?  Who are we now?”

One of my favorite Christian authors is John Eldredge.  He completely nails this truth regarding love in his book The Journey of Desire:  “God promises every man futility and failure; he guarantees every woman relational heartache and loneliness.”   Think about that for a moment.  It’s true!  If you are old enough to remember life before smart phones, hybrid cars, Facebook, and Twitter, than you have probably already experienced this if you are either a man or a woman.  We learn we can’t have it all (success), give it all (what others need from us), or receive it all (what we need from them).

And sometime, hopefully before we retire, you finally have one of Oprah’s “Ah Ha” moments.  You realize, contrary to Jerry Maguire’s claim, another person cannot complete you.  Nor you, them.  We find our completeness in God.  Because try as we desperately might, we cannot completely arrange the life we desperately want in our head.  John Eldredge continues in The Journey of Desire: “Will life ever be what I so deeply want it to be, in a way that cannot be lost?”  He reminds us “We must have life; we cannot arrange for it.”

Oh, how painful my friends, and how true.  Yet, how totally freeing.  Once you can finally wrap your head around this and accept it, you will be set free.  Free from expecting others to love you the way you most need, and free from the insecurity that attaches to yourself when you feel like you may just not be enough to someone else.    Love will start to become less like a feeling, and more like the decision it was always intended to be—a decision to be true, to stay the steady course, to find a way to navigate through the darkness of life.

Love will be found in words you read and songs you hear in your head.  Love will also be found in deep friendships, and in life’s truest moments:  the majestic places you’ll travel and inspiring people you’ll meet.  Love will be found in the prayers you pray, the tears you shed, and cherished moments you engrave in your heart forever.  Love can even be the quest to act on those dreams you shelved for so long.

Tina was wrong.  Love isn’t a second hand emotion.  It’s a first responder action that saves lives and changes them, maybe even your own, when drawn from a higher power.

What’s love got to do with it?  Everything.

Love is a temple, Love the higher law……  U2  One