Posts Tagged ‘Making a Difference’

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:

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Spider-Man at Madame Tussaud’s Museum -NYC

But your strength will be a vision, beyond visibility

And the gift you have within, will give you new eyes to see

“Rise Above 2” from  Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark – Music by U2

Suggested viewing/listening:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9-k02MIT4eU

Spider-Man is by far my favorite superhero.  I’ve repeatedly watched Spider-Man movies and especially love  the Broadway play “Spider-Man:  Turn Off the Dark”.   The whole concept of Spider-Man totally resonates with me.  Here’s what Spider-Man has taught me:

You need “vision beyond visibility” in order to see things as they actually are.  Anais Nin said, “We don’t see things as they are, but as we are.”   The more negative and cynical one is, the more a person will find in this world to complain about.  The more positive, outgoing, and loving one is, the world can seem like a pretty sweet place, until sooner or later, someone totally takes advantage of your better nature, and then you’re left hurt and betrayed.  To see the world, as it actually is, you must know this:

You have to acknowledge you live life daily in the battlefield.  Good and evil exists.  People will cheat, rob, humiliate, and harm you just because they can.   Though I tend to believe what goes around, comes around, even the kindest people can have their karma and/or their psyche shattered when they suddenly find themselves the unfair target of cruelty or evil.  Though you know it’s not you, or anything you deserved; it doesn’t diminish the pain inflicted.

Trust your “Spidey Sense.”    Your intuition is actually you’re best friend.  The more you learn to trust it, as opposed to rejecting it, the safer you will feel in this world,  whether it be in places or in relationships.  The best book I ever read regarding intuition is by Gavin De Becker titled The Gift of Fear.  The one concept I took away more than any other from this phenomenal book is something I taught all three of my kids:  Don’t be afraid of strangers; but learn to identify strangeness.  Respect your fear regarding behavior or language that sets off your alarms and know how to respond to it.

I believe in praying for the best, but I also am a firm believer in preparing for the worst.  Always have an exit plan in a room, a building, a plane, a boat, and if necessary,  a relationship.  Respect your fear, but don’t feed it.  The goal is to be intuitive, not paranoid!

You’re going to have to scale some walls in life.  Not only are obstacles going to come your way faster than you can say, “Angry Birds”, you’re going to be cruising along just fine sometimes, and then BLAM!  You hit a wall.   After you recover from your shock and awe moment, you have to choose whether or not you’re going to stay stuck physically, and especially emotionally, or are you going to start finding a way to climb over that wall.

Rehashing the past is almost counter-productive.  Should of, would of, could of are the triplets you‘ll always see in the rear view mirror known as 20/20 hindsight.  Best advice?  Get over it.

Sure, you need to talk and mend your broken heart or vent your less than stellar choices, but are you going to stay stuck or are you going to step out in faith?  To take the proverbial leap of faith means you will have to:

 Take risks!  Even Peter Parker knew Mary Jane needed to hear the truth from him.  You can’t assume someone knows you love them.   You may need to find the courage to tell them.  You can live in your safe corner of the world, or you can risk rejection, and take a chance.      Fleetwood Mac sang it best in a song titled “Affairs of the Heart”  in the lyric that states, “It’s better to have loved and lost, than to never have loved at all.”

Same is true of anything worth risking.  You could start a new business, compose a beautiful symphony, write a best seller, meet the man or woman of your dreams, or make a new plan for your life.  But you’re going to have to take some big risks.    Relationships, security, and the status quo are hard things to put on the table.  We all like to stay in our comfort zone.  But to really get to where you want to go, you’re  going to have to walk as far away from the comfort zone as you can.  Not to sound super cheesy, but if your living in the CZ, you’ve got it too EZ to ever expect different results.

 Don’t quit your day job, but…..     Peter Parker didn’t quit working as a photographer at the Daily Bugle, but he didn’t let it stop him from being who he truly was—Spider-Man.  How cleverly he introduces the person he actually is through his job as a photographer.  Is there a way you can use your passions, or gifts, in your work?  Try to find ways to incorporate them.  If not, make a commitment to yourself, how to structure your time, so that a consistent, specified amount of time will be used each day and week to hone your skills and to just focus on doing what you love.  You will most likely have to schedule this into your calendar, or it will never happen.

Use your gifts carefully.   Spider-Man could use his web slinging capabilities to fly between buildings, knocking out and entrapping criminals, and swooping down to save people.  But it could also be used to entrap him.  Do not let darkness, such as the need for revenge, to enter your heart.  That is when we lose our power for sure, when we allow the words and actions of others to overtake our sensibilities and alter our plans.  Spider-Man understood that in order to completely utilize his gift, he could not allow darkness to reign in his heart.  He had to “turn off the dark.”

Somebody somewhere needs you to be their superhero.    Know that God, the giver of all gifts, is watching you to see what you do with yours. Remember, you do not walk alone.  Do what is right, and good and noble always; resist evil.  Defend the week and assist the poor. Live a life of integrity.  Love truth and seek justice.  Live your life in such a way as to fulfill your dreams and impact the lives of others.  Go!  See!  Believe!

If ever in NYC (Foxwoods Theatre) this is one of my favorite plays of all time!  I could easily see it a dozen more times!

 http://spidermanonbroadway.marvel.com/

Where there is no vision, the people perish; but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.  Proverbs 29:18

YOU CAN HELP!   PLEASE! See photo credit/info  – Bottom of Page

Take these shoes
Click clacking down some dead end street
Take these shoes
And make them fit
Take this shirt
Polyester white trash made in nowhere
Take this shirt
And make it clean, clean
Take this soul
Stranded in some skin and bones
Take this soul
And make it sing (Yahweh – U2)

The thing is, I’ve got this rash thing going on.  It’s my neck.  It keeps itching!

See, I live my life with too much to do in one day.  I run around like a multi-tasker on steroids.  I work.  I’m a mom of three, one little, two grown but who still need me for advice, wisdom, and favors, definitely lots of favors.  I’m sandwiched between the needs of our young and adult children, aging parents, and our needs.  Our aging home needs more attention and money than we have to give.    I want to write a book.  I need to organize my time better.  There isn’t enough time to even find the time to organize!

Our days melt into one another as work, errands, paperwork, tasks, email, and chores at home get accomplished.  Pay the bills, throw another load of clothes in the wash.  Did you remember to buy toilet paper?   Take the kids for their six month check up at the dentist?  Get the tires rotated?   Get the kids signed up for camp?  Did you remember to sit down for five minutes and play?  All we ever do is do things, but are we accomplishing anything?

At the end of most days, the result of all the busyness seems to add up to futility.  The laundry isn’t finished.  The windows are  still filthy.  The siding really needs painting.   The car still needs tires, and probably a new transmission.    The toilet paper was forgotten, and there aren’t even any paper towels as a backup.    The kids are hungry and you didn’t have time after work to go to the store.  All the bills and paperwork sit like a tornado of terror waiting to suck up and swirl all your precious time away.

Even though the whole day was spent working at something, not much seems to have been accomplished.  I constantly think about what I need to do and all that I long to do, knowing I have insufficient time for neither.   That’s when my neck starts to itch.

Perhaps it’s something else that’s actually gnawing at my neck.    I once heard that pain or discomfort is God’s way of using a megaphone to get our attention.   See, I’m starting to get this feeling that’s rising up inside of me, that I am called to do less, at least to do less here, and be more out there, out in the world.  I think I know what it is.

Itchy Faith

Yes, I think my faith is starting to itch me a little bit.  It’s starting to feel like a thorn under my skin, a rash that won’t go away.   Because as a Christian, when I accepted Christ, I learned I was saved by Christ’s sacrifice by nothing I did, but because of his love for me.  But His grace is so much more extravagant than that.  It’s more than just, “thanks Bro!  Now I’m heaven-bound, and I really appreciate it!  I’ll really try hard to readjust my cynical attitude from time to time.   Again, I sincerely appreciate you keeping me from the flames!”

See, I’m itching to do more out there, to be more of what I think God is calling me to be.  I read the bible, but not nearly often enough.  And I certainly pray about life’s problems, all the time in fact.   I like to think of myself as one of “God’s complainer-in-chief.”

Yet, I feel like there’s a little bug crawling in my ear, and I  can’t get it out, simply by scratching it.  It’s almost as if a voice is whispering, “Yeah, and so what are YOU going to do about it.  I already put in you the answers.  I gave you the cure; are you going to USE it?”

 See I don’t like this part of my faith.  It makes me itch.  Because I know, just like other medications, it may make me or take me to this place:  UNCOMFORTABLE.    I know if I commit to feeding the hungry on a regular basis, my heart is going to hurt, and race.  It probably will depress me.  If I start getting to know the people Jesus healed then I’m going have to listen more and talk less.   Rescue requires involvement.

I am starting to think if I have eyes, ears, hands, and feet that work reasonably well, he’s probably called me to use them.  And that is so scary!

I freeze up sometimes when asked about my beliefs, or about the bible because  I don’t want to offend others or “botch” God’s word.  I avoid getting involved because it means I might have to commit time or energy.  We like to delude ourselves by hoping someone else will make a difference in the world.   So I lie to myself, and say I wouldn’t be good at it, or I don’t have carpentry skills, or I’ve just got too much going on.

Well!   We all have too much going on.  Yet while I go to bed at night in a comfortable king-sized bed in an air-conditioned house and mentally say my prayers, sometimes I close my eyes and I see continent sized groups of people that sleep on a dirt floor, or a stale mattress.  I see flies, so many flies!   When I sit at my desk inundated with mountains of paperwork, all requiring communication or financial responses, I feel swamped.  Then I remember, there is a child in a tattered dirty shirt and bare calloused feet somewhere in the world trying to till the soil of dry dirt, and ”hope for rain” as the only source of water.

I’m annoyed when I take my child to the pediatrician’s office and on the way, realize I’m nearly out of gas, and if I stop we’ll be late.  Then this uninvited vision of a feverish child swollen with malaria with half-mast eyes, and crying for her mother who no longer exists floats to the surface of my consciousness.  Who are you to complain about all the abundance I’ve given you? This too, creeps into my thought process.    I shoe away the fly in the car that’s bothering my soul.

I turn on the ipod in my air-conditioned van.  U2’s “Yahweh” is playing.  I love this song.  I’m bothered by this song.  Like other songs of theirs, am I going to just listen to another groovy tune, get to my destination, and turn it off?  Or am I going to respond to it?

……Take these hands
Teach them what to carry
Take these hands
Don’t make a fist, no
Take this mouth
So quick to criticize
Take this mouth
Give it a kiss (Yahweh – U2)

Yes, I’ve had this rash for a good while now.  I’ve gone from complaining often to complaining less and being grateful more.  But God hasn’t come down from heaven and said, “Good job daughter, I’m pleased with you. You finally got it.”   No, it’s more like this itchy thought that keeps rising, “You haven’t even climbed the first step yet.  Keep going.”

I don’t know where this will lead.   I’m scared.  How will He have me serve?  Write about ways to serve or actually serving?   Will he put me out there in the battlefield where people are actually hurting, crying, starving, or dying?  I don’t know.  I don’t know if or where I’ll be going or when.    I don’t have a field manual.    I just simply feel something is changing in me and it itches me in such a way I personally can’t live the way I used to.

Words like social justice and compassion and service keep rising up despite my political beliefs, despite my attempts to push them back down.  Oh no, I’m starting to feel a bit like Bono.  I have a feeling, lack of fame won’t give me immunity, any more than an abundance of it excludes him.   I’m pretty sure God is calling all of us to view our place and our purpose in the world, whether we have a platform reaching millions or a platform reaching only One. 

  Be warned.  If you have a tender heart, this rash is contagious.  It will make you uncomfortable.  The question is what are you going to do about it?

Take this heart
And make it brave

 Yahweh – U2

To hear this song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jyzPtjIP2eo

When searching for the perfect photo for this article, my first “hit” stumbled upon this;  it is a concrete and specific way you can help.  Compassion International is a fantastic organization that is one of the world’s most efficient charities in terms of applying the greatest percentage of money directly to those in need.   Our family has sponsored a child since 2003.  I will be blogging about this in the future!

Please prayerfully consider sponsoring, or even a one time donation to Compassion International!

http://ihrg.org/10-ways-to-choose-which-child-to-sponsor

Compassion International:  http://www.compassion.com