Posts Tagged ‘Inspiration’

ALMA antennas under the Milky Way

  • Have you ever wondered if God is real?
  • Have you ever wondered if your prayers are heard?
  • Have you ever wondered if your dreams, your hopes, your deepest longings really will come true?
  • Have you ever begged to be spared from a certain suffering, but then you weren’t?
  • Did you ever have moments or days or seasons in your life that were totally beyond your control?

Chances are, if you’re human, you can most likely answer YES to the above questions.

Life can be so beautiful. It’s full of amazing moments: The birth of our children. The day we made eternal promises and said “I do” and “Forever”. The day we accomplished something so amazing, we surprised even ourselves. The day we looked out to the horizon and cried because what we saw was simply beyond words; it was indescribably beautiful. You wanted to just freeze time and stay in this place forever. And that’s always when the first stab of pain hits you. Because you know you simply can’t. Nothing here lasts forever.

When I was a child, I thought like a child. Kind of like Margaret of “Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret”. I had the same prepubescent worries as she did. Will I ever even need a bra? Will I eventually become a woman in every way? Will a boy even like me….ever?  Does God exist or care about me?   Like Margaret, I wondered where is God more likely to hang? A synagogue? A cathedral?  A mountain top? At the beach?

But those thoughts passed, as did those days. As a child, you can’t even see yourself as a grown up, when you don’t have to feel so awkward or get your feelings hurt so much. We were young. We were naive. We didn’t yet know what we do now: Those were the best days.

Life would get more complicated, time would march forward whether we were ready or not, for what was headed our way. We were still at the beginning of our journey. We still had more hurt to go.

Sometimes parents divorced. Sometimes they died.   Friends moved away.   We outlived our favorite pets. First boyfriends or girlfriends finally arrived on the scene. But they quickly departed too, taking the first of many bites to come out of our vulnerable hearts. Sometimes we moved away or our friends did. Some friends died inexplicably young. In less than a decade we transitioned from girls and boys to women and men. By the time we turned our tassel, we realized some truths:

  • Life isn’t always fair.
  • The hard work of our lives isn’t over just because we graduated, it was merely beginning.
  • I’m not sure if I’m ready to be who I’m supposed to be.

We continued to learn more. We worked. We said I do and we had babies—babies who grew from toddlers to little kids to teenagers to adults almost as fast as one of those rotating doors in a hotel lobby.   From band-aids on boo- boos to full blown medical emergencies where lives are on the line, the days passed. From seeing many dreams realized and some crashed—all these things happened too.

We went to countless weddings, family barbecues and gatherings, and funerals. Two thirds of them were fun and full of promise. The other third, the funerals, many of which were beautiful, never got easier. They only got more frequent. That too made our hearts heavy. We knew where this is all headed.

Which brings me to the point we all ponder in life, especially in times of crisis? Are you there God? It’s me. It’s you. It’s all of us as humanity, but it’s each of us individually and we want to know are you there? Are you aware of me, in this moment?

It’s the question people struggle with at their core, until they finally decide to choose. Even if you make no choice as to what or whom you believe in, you have made a choice, if only to stay grounded in ambiguity, unsureness, maybe even anxiety and insecurity.

Don’t get me wrong. Believers struggle too. But deep down they know. It’s the essence of faith. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the being certain of that which we do not see.

Faith is truly a tightrope walk. It’s just like life—trying to find balance and not lose your head, especially when you are way out there, fairly far from the gravity of comfort zone, security, familiarity, easy street.   And yet you know, there is a safety net below. Should you fall, you’ll be caught before hitting bottom. It just doesn’t look like it. Or feel like it. You have to get your head and heart in alignment with a thing called trust.

God is like that. He is real. He is here. He is there. He is everywhere.   He sent his Son Jesus to catch us like a safety net, even when we’re way up(or out) there!

Each of us are so precious to him. He knows when we hurt, or fall, are sick, are weak, or when we lose, or succumb, or waver, or any other weakness as defined by us. But He knows differently; something we often can’t wrap our head around: His love is perfected in our weakness. We just have to be the willing Captain of the vessel called Self that will allow him to travel with us, in us, and pass through us in order to change our destination, and thus destiny by simply saying, not my will, but yours.

Jesus said in this world, we’re going to have some troubles and he was by no means exaggerating! But he also said to take heart, for he has overcome the world.   Every time I hear that, I rejoice a little more inside. I reclaim the parts of my heart that which is unfair or unbearable or unexplainable tries to conquer. The truth gets etched a little deeper each time. Because it frees me:

  • From having to have all the answers.
  • From being responsible for fixing that which I don’t have the power to do.
  • From focusing on why (the unfair/hard/unexplainable) of pain, and instead focus on the who I can trust with all this (God/Jesus).

We are not invisible to God. And although the universe is a fairly big place (science can’t even agree on where/if it ends and how long it’s been around), we are by no means small. We are not insignificant in God’s eyes.

We can look from the most powerful telescope billions of light years away and all we see are dots. But God can look across space and time and see us, every bit of us—our tears and our dreams-and all He can see are stars. We are His star, the crown jewel, the masterpiece of His creation.   Whether we are searching outward as far as our eye can see, or inward, as deep as our heart can bare, our heart beats strongest when we choose to simply be still and know He is there.

 

God is so big, He is real, and is involved in the details of our lives.   Verses (promises) that inspired this story:  Deuteronomy 31:6, Joshua 1:5, 2 Corinthians 12:9, Hebrews 11:1, 1 Corinthians 13:11 John 16:33, Ephesians 2:10, Psalm 46:10

Books I’d recommend to anyone who is searching:Purpose Driven Life

Search for Significance

Seagulls

“Sleep tonight.  And may your dreams be realized.”  U2- MLK

       What is it?  You know what I’m talking about.  That thing you just can’t have?  Most people have something.  That thing. 

What is it?  Who is it?   Is it a place in time?  Is it an attribute such as being thinner, taller, or smarter?   Is it wanting to make real a memory of what once was and will never be again?  Is it a certain success?  Is it a conquering of something that plagues you or accomplishing a quest that drives you?  Is it a specific feeling, a way of being loved, respected, or admired?  Is it something you never had, but can taste vividly in your mind but can’t seem to grasp or make happen in real life?

Is it obvious to those who know you?  Or do you keep it hidden in a secret, safe place? Is it readily attainable, or frustratingly elusive?  Is it realistic?

Does it mean you have to change?  Or does it mean you have to change your circumstances?  Perhaps you first have to change your perspective.  Maybe you’ll have to change the way your structure your life.  Maybe you’ll have to increase focus and implementation your intentionsless dreaming, more doing.

Maybe there is a reason you don’t have it.  Perhaps it would harm you.  Or destroy you.  Or mislead you.  Or deceive or confuse you.  Or to come to you for a time, only to leave you wanting it more than you do now, an ultimate abandonment.  Perhaps you aren’t ready for it.  Perhaps it’s not the good thing you think it is.

Life is so hard sometimes.   When it is the hardest, it’s hard to be satisfied right here, at this moment in time, with THIS life.  

We learn at an early age that we are born to die.  We don’t always have the luxury of infinite time here to craft life the way we desire it to be.   We’re bombarded with media and messages on how to dress, act, speak, behave, work, look, love, and live in order to finally be able to get it.

But sometimes you just won’t.  You can’t.  And you don’t.   Perhaps there is an internal reason you can’t or won’t and you know you have to make really hard changes to make it happen.  Or maybe it’s external, such as timing, or something even bigger:  God’s will.

That’s a hard one.  Why is it when you do everything to make it happen, it sometimes doesn’t?  Why would God hold back on something you know to be good for you?  A source of happiness for you?  A completeness of your soul?

     Because maybe it’s not about you.  Ouch!

It’s true.    Life is not always about me, and what I want.   The pain comes in knowing you’ll need to figure out how to live joyfully without it.    

        Many of us walk around with a certain hole in our soul, but I believe those that overcome, even better—they thrive in the midst of adversity or even the subtle continuity of specific tribulations, are governed by a higher law. 

Grace.  The law of God’s unspeakable goodness is at work for you, and within you.  Grace is knowing it’s all good, or at least has the potential to be used for good in your life or others.  It’s all going to be okay because your strength doesn’t depend on you, but instead flows through you from a higher power.   Not getting everything we want, or even a specific thing we want never has the power to disappoint or destroy us, once we understand we are already gracefully loved.

When we frame our desires and wants thru the lens of knowing that we are already loved by an all-knowing, all-seeing God who already knows our deepest longings, we find REST.  We TRUST as we wait, and as we move forward, we can choose contentment as our perspective and feel joyful as we go about our lives.  Even when we don’t get what we want or as we wait for it until we do.

“We are homesick most for the places we have never known.”
Carson McCullers

 “I don’t know what they are called, the spaces between seconds– but I think of you always in those intervals.”
Salvador Plascencia, The People of Paper

“There is a space between man’s imagination and man’s attainment that may only be traversed by his longing.”
Kahlil Gibran, Sand and Foam

 

 

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.

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!

Where is the Love IMG_8531 1

A royal baby was born today.  A baby that will undoubtedly grow up in a fishbowl, his every move fawned over, analyzed, photographed, and reported as if it were earth-shattering. He will have loving parents to dote over him, a staff to serve him, a press that hounds him, and a fan base that will swell and wane over and over like the tide of the ocean.  He will one day rule, if only in the hearts of those that put people on pedestals simply because of pedigree.  Will he know what it means to suffer?

Also today, across the world and across two oceans, in Syria, a nameless unphotographed baby, like countless others before him this month, is born in a refugee camp, drawing his first breaths in the middle of conflict, a deadly war.  He will be on the move soon enough, already fleeing and hiding and struggling to live before he ever learns to smile.  Tomorrow is not guaranteed; it is only the faintest of hopes.  Hundreds of thousands of children sleep tonight in a tent on dirty ground not knowing whether tomorrow they eat or not, move or stay, live or die.   Families are broken, scattered, displaced, diminished, and shattered by wars they did not start and have no power to end. This baby of no recognition and no worldly significance,  whose sole purpose it seems is just to survive—will he feel loved? 

In Afghanistan, a village of young girls risk disfiguration by acid being thrown on them simply because they wish to go to school in secret.  An eleven year old girl in Yemen begs for death rather than being forced to marry.  In Thailand, hundreds of thousands of under age children are abused every year in childhood sex-trafficking and prostitution.  In America’s capital, more than 40% of high school kids don’t graduate.  Granite columns and indestructible walls meters thick fill up the entire epicenter of capital landscape, yet kids fall thru a broken system of family, culture, and community like water thru a sieve.    In Africa, hunger, AIDS, and death by Malaria still exists despite decades of humanitarian aid both government and private.  Why?

The world is on fire because we are at war.  There are wars on drugs.  There are wars on women and children.   There is war between social classes and political parties.   We are at war and we fight. We fight over land, food, politics, possessions, principals, philosophies, lifestyles, religious belief systems.  We fight over what is true.  Often we just fight, seemingly for no reason at all.  We fight because our rage over takes us.  Our inner evil is compelled to extinguish that which opposes us or our right-ness.   We are at war within ourselves as we easily love one person or group of people and detest another individual or group.  We exchange our peace, our righteousness, for a need to be right, a need to own or control, a need to possess or win.  We exchange love for a lie.

When you look at the world, what is it that you see?

There is so much fighting, and evil, and brutality, and pain and so much needless suffering.  And yet there are those small voices, the small minorities with limited resources, small hands, big ideas, and bigger hearts that risk death and dying daily, armed with nothing more than a sack cloth of courage and a heart full of faith trying, always trying.  They try desperately to feed the hungry, shelter the orphans, assist the dying, spread words of peace, trying their best to litter humanity with goodness and gentleness and kind deeds.

It is a world of dark and light, of yin and yang, a garden of good and evil.  But these days the weeds are rooting ever deeper, trying desperately to strangle the good fruits of human goodness.   It’s easy to despair as we watch the world around us all ablaze.  It feels as if we are flaming out, we’re burnt out, past the point of being able to care.

I say don’t give in.  Don’t give up.  Don’t ever give up!  Return to love.  Help your neighbor or whoever God puts in your path today.  Write respectful letters to those in power that can make a difference.  Above all, do not remain silent.  Use your voice to point out injustice, and to persuade others.   But then DO SOMETHING!  Use your hands to help others.  Use your mind to stay centered on solutions, not just rattling over the problem.  Find small ways to be the change you wish to see in the world.

We all have the opportunity to be the royal sons and daughters of a higher law, a higher King.  We can discern without diminishing. We can serve with humility.  We can love without limits.   We can rise above the madness.

Feed.   Pray.   Give.   Serve.   Love.

Where is the love?  It’s up to each of us to light the way.

********

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Ephesians 6:12

“This world’s anguish is no different from the love we insist on holding back.”   Aberjhani – “Elemental: The Power of Illuminated Love”

“Peace is the fruit of love, a love that is also justice. But to grow in love requires work — hard work. And it can bring pain because it implies loss — loss of the certitudes, comforts, and hurts that shelter and define us.”   Jean Vanier – “Finding Peace”

IMG_7247 IMG_7266 IMG_7268

Photos by Liz Gray

When you look at the world
What is it that you see?
People find all kinds of things
That bring them to their knees

U2 – When I Look at the World

      What is it you see and experience that lets you know without a doubt there is God and He is is good and He has given you a beautiful world to experience and enjoy?

       It’s not the big things for me.  It’s so much smaller than that.

       Last week we had an opportunity (third time this summer in fact) to rescue a baby bird that had fallen out of its nest, with some enhanced assistance from my cat that has expert hunting skills.

       Thankfully this bird was not yet bitten, so it had a fighting chance.  I held this baby bird near my heart most of the night, but pretty much anticipated a dead bird by morning.  I alternated holding it and keeping it on a towel wrapped around a hot water bottle.  Around 5 am, I awoke because apparently the bird could now fly.

          Since my phone takes better small pictures, I began clicking as this little fellow (or lassie perhaps)  flew from floor to window ledge to my arms.   After a dozen phone pics, I guess the bird decided to hop on the phone to see what all my fuss was about.  QUICK!  That’s when I ever so carefully walked backwards out of the bathroom, into my bedroom and grabbed my DSLR to get pictures of the bird looking at his own reflection.

       As I did so, I became very aware I was witnessing an amazing moment:

       God puts LIFE everywhere around us; BEAUTY to behold, SOULS to nourish and cherish, and MOMENTS to be aware of and to feel a divine love.

       The rescue business–it’s that thing that tugs at your soul and you beg God:  Please let it be someone else; don’t let it be me. 

     It never works like that.  If you have a heart that loves, you will be called to give, share, pray, serve, sacrifice–because all these things are an extension of love.  Someone or something less fortunate than you is going to be put in your path and you’ll have no choice.  Don’t just see; respond!

       Love until it hurts.

       Love until someone is healed.

       I am a flawed person, but not so much, that I can’t get my hands dirty or wear my heart on my sleeve on occasion.

       And that is the world as seen through my eyes.  You too are loved.

Post script:  This bird was one of the lucky ones we tried to save.   He lived.   He sang his morning song from a branch, until he simply flew away.

paw2013

 Be Yourself

I’ve been struggling with something lately.  It’s made me feel insecure and small and insignificant.

I’ve been seeking validation and confirmation in all the wrong faces and places.  I’ve been allowing what others say or do or don’t say or don’t do to define me.  It’s a hang-up, a bad habit I have.  And it always yields the same result:

An engraved invitation to a party:

THE PITY PARTY

      Have you ever been to one?  Oh they’re fabulous; let me tell you!  No limousines or glamorous gowns or flowing champagne and people to tell you how amazing, how stunningly beautiful, how incredibly talented,  how divinely gifted you are.  No!  You arrive, and you wonder where in the world are all the guests?

   You can almost feel the smirk on an unseen enemy’s faceThis is it.  You realize.  This is your party.  A party with the table all set for one: You!    It’s a lonely party.  There are no gifts or accolades or recognition.

Linda Rondstandt’s Poor Poor Pitiful Me blares in the background.   You begin to doubt everything you’ve ever done or hope to do in the future.  Past accomplishments are but a distant memory.  Hope for the future is a concept belonging to others rather than an assured belief. 

How is it that we can be so hopeful one day and feel in utter despair the next?

I’ll tell you.  We forget who we are.

    The moment we forget that we are created by a loving God who has plans so magnificent, our mind hasn’t even begun to conceive what they are, we fall prey to the schemes of an unseen enemy.  The devil, Satan, self-absorption, bad karma, narcissism; they’re one in the same in my book. When we are the ruler of our own kingdom, we become quickly disillusioned when our “subjects” (those people and circumstances we can’t seem to get control of) disobey or at least, disappoint.

I so know this intellectually.  It’s just my heart that trips me up.  Repeatedly.   See there’s these three things I just keep wanting over and over:

Validation

Admiration

Results to go the way I plan

        We do have to make plans in life.  It’s true, there is no such thing as a plan to fail, only a failure to plan.  But sometimes even the best laid plans are laid to waste if a higher law at work deems it so.

I’m talking about God here.  Yes, sometimes God allows us to fail, to hurt, to be disappointed, to not understand.  Why?  So that we can fall.  Fall on our faces and fall on our knees.  He doesn’t want us to fall prey; He wants us to FALL,  PRAY. 

       Do you ever feel restless  in your faith; anxious in your soul?  Do you have an itch you just can’t scratch?  Do sermons and scripture verses and encouragement from others  just sound like words:  blah, blah, blah, blah?  Do you ever feel misunderstood, abandoned, invisible, and disappointed?

     Not to worry.  It happens.  We are human.  This is the cycle of life.  We get restless and start to feel like there is something more over there!   We get restless and feel like if we only had……………

You fill in the blank.  You know what I’m talking about.  That thing.  That thing that if you could just possess or experience or be than everything would be perfect.  Except that it wouldn’t.

We were born to struggle and to wrestle.  To struggle and wrestle within ourselves, our beliefs, with those in the world, and yes, even with God.  We’re challenged to prove it’s true in that which we think we know.

We don’t have all the answers.  But God does.   I know that in all things a good and loving God is in control.   In His time, and in His Way, he is working out not just my Salvation (in Christ) but also my issues, problems, deepest longings, and dreams. 

How do we get back to true?  How do we turn around?  How do we get better?  How do we heal?

It’s simple, but hard:  We let go and let God.  We struggle to get set free as we realize by letting go, we already are.

You already know this.  I do too.  We just need to be reminded sometimes.

     When you know that you know that you know that you are loved by the Creator of the Universe and He has it all under control , despite your feelings today, He will bring you home, to Him, to the love that He has for you, and He has planted inside you, waiting to be poured out, spilling over the brim, in order to bless others.

     You too are loved.  Believe it.  Now live it. 

 

You rise up early, and go to bed late, and work hard for your food, all for nothing. For the Lord gives to His loved ones even while they sleep. Psalm 127:2 (New Living Version)

Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Mark 9:24 (NIV)

In my dream I was drowning the sorrows
But my sorrows, they learned to swim
Surrounding me, going down on me
Spilling over the brim
Waves of regret and waves of joy
I reached out for the one I tried to destroy
You…you said you’d wait
’til the end of the world…..

“Until the End of the World” – U2

Coexist w Bono

How do you see the world?  As a place of never-ending beauty?  As a creation of someone or something so magnificent it defies words?  Is it a place of stark reality where evil lurks and people can be so cruel, you question the very existence of God because of the dark rivers coursing through our hearts?

The old cliché of, “Do you see the glass as half empty or do you see it as half full?” seems to be a relevant question today in our world as we hurl towards the point of singularity, blending man’s technology with our humanity.   We’re racing towards the future as we simultaneously entangle man’s evil desires with man’s good intentions to the point with every new technology.  We’re speeding to a place where lines of morality become so blurred,  we find it hard to even define, harder still to recognize that which is good and that which is evil.   All the while, our racing thoughts and fears, and living life at breakneck speed trying to keep up with technology blind us to the beauty that eternally surrounds us.

If I plug into media, I can get worked up pretty quickly about all that ails the world.  WARNING, WARNING—RED ALERT!!  I cry out in futility on Facebook, to the people in my family, to friends who’ll feign interest.   I get worked up over political issues and global issues that I totally have no control of, short of a prayer, and save possibly an occasional vote.

Diversity is so IN these days.  Our diversity of culture, lifestyle, and ethnicity is easy to celebrate.  But diversity of thought?  Religion?  Belief system?  Well, that’s a different matter.  It’s hard to accept others when their belief systems threaten ours, is perceived as evil, or is just plain misunderstood.  We rally for equality and fairness, and yet how can we have either, when we are individually created, complete with independent free will to choose our thoughts and destiny.  We want the world to just get along and live in harmony—as long as it’s our perception of harmony.    Believe as I believe we want to shout from the mountain tops.

We can’t.  I know this to be true just from living in my own family.  I want others to be affected by beauty, by poetry, by music, by nature to the degree that I am affected.  I want them to see the things that can bring me to my knees.  Maybe someday.   Not yet.  We are not on the same page.  It hurts so much sometimes.  We look at the world so differently.

But I anger easily–at injustice, at cruelty, or at anything that threatens my perception of freedom or security for me—or others.  I get so worked up and yet the same family members that miss what blows me away in terms of beauty or magnificence, also carry a peace that all will work out as it should.  Sometimes they live by a faith undefined better than I do with an absolute clearness of what I believe.

It’s so easy to want others to see the world as we see it.  We achieve joy and harmony when others  feel like we do, to quote a great Peter Frampton song.  Bliss. Yeah.  Easier said than done.

Easy in music.  Hard in life.

Maybe that’s why God gave us music.  Art.  Sunrises.  Symphonies.  Babies.  Paintings.  The Ocean.  Sculpture.   Mountains.  Dance.  Kisses in the rain.  Tears.  Pain.  Joy.

We’re like puzzle pieces that interlock, but at only one juncture, not all.  But when we find the one place that fits with one another and as we keep fitting the other side of ourselves with others, together we may solve the mystery of a broken people.   All of our jagged pieces if assembled properly have the potential to coexist.  But only if each individual wants it. 

  We are one.  We are not the same.   Definitely, not the same!  Can you show some love today to someone not like you?  Despite what drives you crazy about their beliefs?  Despite their apathy?  Despite their differences?    Are you courageous enough to attempt coexistence?  Even if you have to go first?

      Is your faith so fragile you can’t tolerate that others choose differently? 

     Is your love conditional and limiting, or is it found in a freedom which renders it limitless?

 

     

Love has a hem to her garment that reaches the very dust.

It sweeps the streets and lanes, and because it can, it must. – Mother Teresa

     Have you ever noticed when you are totally overwhelmed with a set of challenges (one for each finger I say), life has an uncanny way of dealing just a few more major blows– all at once?  Here you are standing tall as trees, trying to be strong, and be responsible and systematically solve the issues?  This feels like a theme for me these days in life.

I recently bought a post card from the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum that sits in front of my kitchen window.  It has NO PICURES, just five simple words to remind me of today’s modus operandi:

Failure is not an option.

       It’s the famous line uttered in the Apollo 13 mission and subsequent movie.   It’s a verbal and visionary reminder to keep trying, to keep going…at all costs, beyond energy, beyond strength, above all:  beyond no, and I can’t and I don’t know and I’m tired.

       You must, must, must find a way, in order to complete the mission and come home safely.

The catch is this; life does not always play out like a great movie or space mission.  In fact, as clever as those amazing astronauts were, was there something more than mere intelligence at work?  After all, who gives us our amazing minds?

Perhaps there is a force at work bigger than the size of the circumstance.   Smarter than the smartest mind in the room.  Stronger than the strongest person or fire or storm that threatens.

Yes, we stand tall as trees, but God fells us to our rightful position sometimes:   our knees.

We’re not as big, or smart, or as important as we think we are.    We are not responsible for the resolution of everything!  That’s such a hard, hard lesson for me.  I just naturally associate doing nothing with being lazy.   I keep forgetting that letting go, actually does mean let God.  Nothing in the world feels harder than surrender.  After all, in battle, isn’t surrender essentially the same as defeat?

In battle, yes.   In matters of faith, surrender is true freedom.  Why?  Because that’s when the soft winds of grace can blow in.     What is this grace exactly?

It’s unmerited favor.  It’s granted when you don’t deserve it, perhaps because you don’t deserve it.  Or perhaps because you do.  It’s because despite your failure of choices or abilities, you deserve it, simply because you are loved.  It’s because despite all this which is not of your own making is not happening unnoticed by God.   You are loved.  And the solution will arrive right on time.  But not on your time, on God’s. 

      I think of grace as perseverance strapped safely in by faith.  It’s the ability to step out and endure before the answers arrive.

What is “that thing” you so desperately need right now to solve your most pressing problems?  More money?  More time?  More wisdom (something you hadn’t considered before)?  More energy?  More love?

    Probably “that thing” is the ONE THING you just can’t do by yourself, no matter how hard you try.

Solution?  Stop trying already.  Hear me right.  You still have to get out of bed each day, get up and do the best that you can.  Work as hard as you can, but work at it as if you are confidently expecting God to pull through for you.

Maybe muster up a tiny bit of joy as you are working.  Prayers of gratitude for what God has blessed you with will strengthen you further.  What do you already have working for you?  A family who loves you?  (Think how many people in the world don’t have this!)  A body still capable of working, even though it tires?    A mind which, though sometimes filled with doubt, can still decide, change, adapt to, and embrace new situations and challenges?     Basic needs such as a food, shelter, clothing?   I hope you see the gift of grace you have already obtained here.

If you have time, I hope you’ll watch the video. Mother Teresa had it right all along.  God designed us in this simple yet unique way.

To love, and to be loved.

      That’s it.  To love.  You struggle, yes.  But look beyond you, clearly there are harder struggles that you have not been called to endure.  That’s not good luck; that’s grace.    And yet there is a lesson here:

Amidst the chaos, the unknown outcomes of pressing problems, and being pressed for time all around, is there a way to extend grace to someone else?    Who nearest to your center of gravity simply needs to be loved?

 Failure may feel as if  it’s not an option for the challenges we face.  But grace is.    And grace is the one that will help us complete our mission and carry us safely home.

More Wisdom from Mother Teresa:

We cannot do great things on this Earth, only small things with great love.

A joyful heart is the inevitable result of a heart burning with love.

I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.
There is always the danger that we may just do the work for the sake of the work. This is where the respect and the love and the devotion come in – that we do it to God, to Christ, and that’s why we try to do it as beautifully as possible.

Giulia Muraglia FF

PHOTO CREDIT: GIULIA MURAGLIA

What’s your most treasured memory?  The first moment you met someone you love?  A place you stood?  The beginning of something or someone?  A sight forever memorized by your heart?  Perhaps words that were said, spoken, written, or sung that you can’t get out of your head, even if you try?

Time passes and we want to hold on to special memories.   Our material possessions and even our relationships roll in and out of our life like the tide, and most we let go and don’t even know they are gone until something way off in the future triggers a memory:

  • Oh yeah, I had a stuffed bear like that once
  • I haven’t heard this song in years!  It reminds me of….
  • I remember being here as a kid
  • I remember you…..
  • I couldn’t forget_____ if I tried

I recently took the most amazing vacation with my family.  It was six years in the making and our first and only trip as a complete family since my youngest was born seven years ago.   We saved.    We borrowed.  We coordinated work and school schedules for all.    We saw it all, did it all, ate it all, and savored it all.

Along the way I took the next biggest extension of me, beyond my pen; I brought my camera and lens.  Not just any lens, the best lens, a luxury lens I had rented for my best camera in order to preserve these precious memories for time immemorial.

I clicked.  I clicked again and again.  Every beautiful animal and dreamy landscape.  Every arrangement of family portraits you could imagine. Lots of impromptu stuff too.  All professional looking.  National Geographic doesn’t look this great I thought.

My husband snapped an amazing pic of me with a Great Horned owl swooping above my head as I blinked in awesome wonder as he swooped a silent cool breeze less than inch above my head. I couldn’t wait to see this one later.  I didn’t look now in order to conserve my battery  and to save it for “dessert” after our trip ended.  I took a photo of my young son’s beautiful face softly illuminated by the light of a single birthday candle.  I told my family, this is the BEST photo I’ve ever taken.

I clicked over twelve hundred images.  I had plans to make scrapbooks and a movie of our trip.  Sights, smells, foods, countries, animals, music, architecture—it was all there.  It was dreamy.  It was surreal.  It was to be my concrete reminder of who we were then–in a place called the future.

It was to be my memory when future time becomes unreliable, perhaps even cruel.

I’ve  always viewed pictures as an insurance policy to protect our memory from what our brain invariably experiences:

A slow fade

These pictures were to be my proof that heaven on earth almost exists.

Except that it doesn’t.

On the last night, my camera disappeared.  In a span of less than ten minutes.  It’s possible I misplaced it, but I tend to guard my camera tighter than the Royal Guard watches over the Queen.

Stolen memories.  All of them.

I cried for almost twenty four hours straight.  It was hard watching my family watch me as they grappled to understand why this hit me so hard.  I explained, it wasn’t just the value of the camera, or the fact I can’t get back time and recreate all this.  It’s more.

A part of me was taken too.  Artists are more closely connected to their work than you may think.  You pour your energy and your soul into what you love.  It may only be understood and meaningful to you. Still, it does have meaning.

But this is the twist:  The creation becomes larger than life.  The creation supersedes the creator.

This is the great lie.  All the grandeur and majesty of created things, be it in nature, or be it made by human hands, is not eternal.   Be it castles or mountains or birds or prey or even temporary people like me or even the pictures I snapped away–it doesn’t last.

It all fades away.

We can’t hold on no matter how tightly we try.  No matter how determined we are to remember.  Just like we can’t keep anything we love forever, we also can’t control that which isn’t ours to control.

Yes, I lost all my pictures this week.  I lost my best camera, the one that snapped the first seconds of life of my youngest son.  I lost my digital best friend, my shadow sister who hangs on my shoulder at every significant event.

But I didn’t lose my children.  Oh, how I didn’t lose what I actually love.  We live in world where evil exists and a silent enemy seeks to steal, kill, and destroy all that we hold dear.   This had to be my perspective as I had no other choice but to move forward–it’s the people in this moment, this sacred moment called now that is all we truly ever have. 

I still  mourn for the loss of precious memories, yes.  But there is something no thief, be it man or time can destroy:

  • My joy.
  •  My appreciation of beauty.
  •  My wanderlust to travel and understand the world way beyond my own.
  •  My love and zest for life.
  •  My compulsion to create and share.  
  • My soul memories.  
  • Me, and all that I love.

I know I won’t remember all the images.  But I will remember the essence of our amazing trip.

Time will pass and people will pass too.  Loss will keep meeting me at the intersection of  “unprepared for this.”   “Not expecting this” will keep colliding with “not yet.”   

Pain will continue to interrupt our plans and knock us out of orbit as we journey through life.

All that is beautiful  and lovely and inspiring and honorable and  good, as well as all that is crushing and cruel and unexpected and difficult will all diminish.

Everything on this side of the veil is a slow fade.  

See the beauty in your mind as you learn to let go in life and allow God to be in charge.