Tag Archive | Jesus

A Special, Precious Moment … with Love


Jesus-Mary-Joseph-manger-sceneWe live all year for these moments – these special Christmas moments. Whether in the hearts of children looking forward to Christmas plays, cookies, and visits from Santa to load the tree and stockings. Or whether in the hearts of compassionate adults looking forward to time with family and friends, special songs, and thoughtful giving to those who are less fortunate. These longings, traditions, and special celebrations are what we measure a year by sometimes. The waiting makes them both fleeting and precious. Sharing a smile and a surprise is the fun part. We spend time in labors of love by baking, shopping, wrapping, decorating, and random acts of kindness.

All this joy, and yet it is not enough.

Because Christmas, while it is celebrated in these and many other ways, is not complete until we reflect on the TRUTH. Take a moment or two as you hustle and bustle about your day to remember why we even have this holiday at all. That tiny baby, born so long ago with one purpose – to redeem and save the souls of mankind. With reverence for the season, I share with you 2 great songs – from a parent’s perspective.

IT IS FINISHED!


ItIsFinishedTBToday, for Christians around the world, is a solemn, sacred day. It’s not about theologians determining the exact historical day that it came to pass, but rather, it’s about what today commemorates. Today we hold vigil for the greatest travesty and most sorrowful of days in our faith practice – Good Friday. The day that Jesus wore the crown of thorns, bore the ridicule and scorns, suffered the beatings, and ultimately was crucified.

I cannot imagine the terror that was in his heart as he faced his sentence and walked the long and painful path to his ultimate sacrifice. As a mother I cannot bear to think of the horror that Mary felt as she watched her son, the pure and loving man, writhe in agony as he was hanging on that cross.

But I also recognize that it was the day that Jesus uttered the mightiest 3 words ever spoken – IT IS FINISHED!

For those of us who recognize the power of those 3 words, it is the most sacred of all spoken. It is in those 3 words that the world shifted from needing salvation, to having a Savior. Those words completed the sacred purpose for Jesus’ walk upon the earth. And today, with grateful tears, I remember the passion of The Christ. I pray with gratitude that He paid the price I cannot pay. And I know, if I was the only human on this earth, that he would have done it just for me. And likewise … he would have done it just for you! That is the humbling reality to the perfect love of God.

Here’s a song from my childhood that still bring me to tears as I remember the greatest of all sacrifices: 

Know that you are loved and be blessed!

Jn3

Spirituality moves me …


Today I had an interesting conversation with a work colleague/friend. It’s not the type of conversation I venture into very often because for some people it is controversial. But, since this is my blog and my thoughts, I figure I’m entitled to share them here if I so choose. So I do so with a caveat – if you disagree, I am completely fine with that and respect your point-of-view, and hope you do the same for me. Please refrain from any negative harassment as I won’t tolerate it on my page – either by readers or towards readers. It’s just my ethics.

religion-spirituality-christianity-scopo-ebook-98710433233_xlargeSo… the conversation was about spirituality vs. religion. Now to be fair let me say that I was raised Catholic – Catholic orphanage run by nuns, Catholic grade school and high school, also run by nuns. I even attended a Jesuit Catholic college. My world was singularly Catholic, which is not uncommon in Cincinnati as it is a predominantly German Catholic culture. That was, until I lived for 5 years in a small town that was decidedly NOT Catholic, by majority numbers anyway. I am proud of my upbringing and find solace in many parts of my religious upbringing, particularly the reverence I find present in the church during worship.

Nope, that’s not the controversial bit. What is … is that I find as I get older I become more spiritual and less religious. The more I know about the big churches (no, not just the Catholic church) the more it is blatantly apparent that the “rules” have really strayed quite a bit from the life of Christ and I find it difficult to look at them without seeing that. As I’ve grown older I’ve continued to seek God and to deepen my relationship with Him. That life of spirituality moves me and … it supersedes religion. This is a relationship that makes my soul sing. It is a place that recognizes God in people no matter what their religion or background. Funny things is, I learned so much of this from some nuns I met in my adulthood.

I still consider myself Catholic because I believe in the basic tenants of the faith. But I do not consider myself to be a blind follower of “the church”. Yikes that won’t sit well with many people I know and love. And I’m okay with that. Actually I believe when we die and transition to heaven there will be a lot of Catholic people (and others too) who will be shocked to look around and see who else is there. lol Sorry, I can’t help myself from laughing. I know that God is love and love is all encompassing. I know that the building you sit in to praise him is irrelevant to him. The labels we use for ourselves and others are meaningless in an eternal view. Jesus did not come here to start a religion. Wow – that’s quite a heady statement if you really, really, really examine it. And with all the human frailties and sins committed by people of every faith I cannot imagine a scenario in which God’s Heaven – His eternal domain, is not big enough and loving enough to include us all. We all sin differently but we all sin.

spirituality

I saw a bit of shock in my friend’s face when I stated this. And in that moment I knew, yet again, that spirituality is a topic that doesn’t get talked about enough. There should be no mystery about a relationship with God just because there are religions who profess to know all the answers and have the only path.

And so I sigh a heavy sigh. I pray unceasingly that Love overtake the world, no matter what the denomination.

Be loved and be blessed!

A Special, Precious Moment …


Jesus-Mary-Joseph-manger-sceneWe live all year for these moments – these special Christmas moments. Whether in the hearts of children looking forward to Christmas plays, cookies, and visits from Santa to load the tree and stockings. Or whether in the hearts of compassionate adults looking forward to time with family and friends, special songs, and thoughtful giving to those who are less fortunate. These longings, traditions, and special celebrations are what we measure a year by sometimes. The waiting makes them both fleeting and precious. Sharing a smile and a surprise is the fun part. We spend time in labors of love by baking, shopping, wrapping, decorating, and random acts of kindness.

All this joy, and yet it is not enough.

Because Christmas, while it is celebrated in these and many other ways, is not complete until we reflect on the TRUTH. Take a moment or two as you hustle and bustle about your day to remember why we even have this holiday at all. That tiny baby, born so long ago with one purpose – to redeem and save the souls of mankind. With reverence for the season, I share with you 2 great songs – from a parent’s perspective.

With all you are and with all you do and believe, I pray that you be blessed. Merry Christmas!

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Grateful for YOU!


Today, like so many other people, is my favorite holiday. In the US the 3rd Thursday in November is “Thanksgiving Day.” Oh, it is the feast to end all feasts. It originated in the humble beginnings of our nation as the settlers and American Indians came together in peace to celebrate and share the bounties of the harvest. Those are honorable and neighborly roots – some of the best of our national history.

Today, every family has their traditional fare in which turkey, stuffing and all the fixings and side dishes are featured at the table. Cooking and planning takes days or weeks and not hours. There is nostalgia as traditions are repeated year after year. Favorite dishes might only show up on this special day. And in true US fashion, the fall event is punctuated with parades through the streets and on TV to usher in Santa to the season, lots of American football games to rally the men around the TV, and all the fun (and sometimes crazy) dynamics that family gatherings seem to produce. Oh yeah, and the insanity of the kick-off to the holiday shopping frenzy (not my favorite part I must say).

That’s the logistics of the day. And while I love and cherish the traditions of the day, the real reason it is my favorite holiday is that, at its heart is the spirit of gratitude. It is a day for THANKS giving and not gift giving. It’s a day where people come with hands full of offerings and not open for receiving. It is a precious day set aside to be thankful and for that reason, today, I count my blessings.

Here’s a few for this year:

> I am thankful for God and my faith. It is the sacrifice of Jesus that gives me eternal life, hope, and daily guidance. Without it, I am a shell of  a human and I am grateful.

> I am thankful for my job and that both of my children are once again gainfully employed as well. I am thankful that hope and perseverance will rule the day and others I love and care for will also find employment. It is my prayer and my belief for them.

> I am thankful for the love of my family, where I have 2 Grandmothers, my parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, my dear sisters, their husbands and my precious nieces. And a brand new dose of gratitude for the newest, my 2 day old niece Abby. What a lovely addition to a wonderful, loving family.

> I am thankful for the reunion with some precious members of my original family. The healing is complete. The appreciation has begun. I am grateful and blessed to have more family to love – Shirley & Lynette.

> I am thankful for my friends who have held my hand and my heart through thick, thin, joy, pain, fear and fun. They are precious in every way. I am especially grateful this year for Jeanie, my oldest and dearest friend who has fought the valiant fight against breast cancer and won. Praise God for that special blessing!

> I am thankful for new acquaintances who have come into my life in varied and surprising ways – from my summer intern Ellidia, to friends across the nation and across the globe that I have connected with over the year.

> I am thankful that in my country we can dissent with passion, speak out our minds and our hearts, and peacefully shift power and authority in our government. Agree or not on the choices, we democratically and peacefully shift.

> I am thankful for those that serve – military, police, and fire fighters. They honor us with their daily sacrifices and they serve to protect all that we hold dear – our ideals as well as our lives. I am deeply grateful.

> I am thankful that my education and experience have given me success in my career and my skills are sought after by those who offer opportunity for recognition and new growth.

> I am thankful for my spiritual sisters and brothers who come into my life daily, weekly, and monthly in loving and supportive ways. I especially treasure my Wise Women & Bill friends who speak only of love, acceptance, gratitude, and friendship. They feed my soul and my heart on a constant basis and bless me in countless ways.

> I am thankful for this platform and the virtual friends who I have met online. You have broadened my world, allowing me to see my life and talents differently. Not only do you listen but you also contribute to my world. Especially you Dan – you have opened my eyes to how blessed I am in big and small ways. Your humor and your loving, generous spirit bring a light into my world and I am grateful.

This is just the beginning of my grateful list. As I prepare the meal for my family today I will continue to joyously and gratefully say prayers of “Thank You.”

I wish you all an awakening to your heart of all that blesses you – the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual gifts that make you “you” and your life so precious. Happy Thanksgiving Day … be blessed!

 
 


 

Breath of Life


Today at work our women’s network had nationally recognized self-defense speakers Debbie and Mike Gardner. They were excellent and I highly recommend them. She’s a former police officer and I believe he’s still a current officer.  They teach the “really-really” message of how to prevent and/or survive an attack. Excellent stuff but not the same old messages of  fear. This is the gritty stuff that you need to know. But most importantly – it was filled with courage coaching and how to enable yourself to do what you need to do.

The first thing they teach you is why people “freeze”. It’s actually not freezing at all – it’s holding our breath. And when we hold our breath we cannot think, walk, or react because the blood and oxygen aren’t there. There was so much info packed in the 2 hours but it was surprisingly easy to remember.

What really strikes me is, once again, it’s a lesson on not holding our breath as a foundational lesson. It brings another level of awareness that the “breath of life” is indeed not just for stress reduction – it’s for survival. As Debbie says, “The last one breathing wins!”  Here’s a link back to my previous posting/poem related to breathing - Shifting.

There is a repeating message in my life these days. I can shift my life by breathing. I can relax and calm myself by breathing. And now, I can save myself and others by breathing. I’m excited to know that it STARTS with something as simple as this, now the hard part is remembering it and following through with the rest.

And this reminds me of a song … and another “breath” I cannot live without. Take a listen to Amy Grant singing “Breath of Heaven”. 

Breathe my friends! Don’t forget that this simple thing is the key to so many things we need to live and to survive. Breathe and be blessed!

I cry and pray


I am disappointed time and time again when I see so-called members of my Christian faith behaving in ways that would make Christ cringe and cry. Yes, I read the Bible. Yes, I go to church. But I do not espouse to believe some of the degrading and unloving things that I hear come out of the mouths of people who are both leaders and followers in the Christian community at large. At the end of the day, the parts of the Bible that come from the teachings of Christ is what was the foundation of Christianity as a new belief and a new religion. And some days you would never know it by the things we see and hear in the news or in our smaller communities.

To read how Jesus preached compassion, understanding, salvation, forgiveness, faith, hope, and all things related to unconditional love makes my heart and soul breathe in a mighty Allelujah! And inspires my mouth to shout Glory to God! It is that positive message that has survived in spite of 2000 years of persecution, misconduct, wars, and many other atrocities. And it is that original loving message that is the guiding principles for my beliefs and my actions.

But to see self-proclaimed Christians live and preach hate, division, judgement, unforgiveness, and all things related to intolerance makes me want to deny the title just in order to be in no way associated with them. Those thoughts, philosophies, and words are a blight upon the believing community. I do not know how preaching the opposite of the man we follow can possible bring souls closer to God or glorify his Divinity. And for that my heart weeps. In spite of what wisdom they think they are preaching these unloving people are forgetting a very powerful statement:

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 7:21

I pray for those who speak and live a misguided and unloving life. And I pray even harder that true, loving Christians speak and live loudly enough and well enough to drown the others out. May the true Christians stand together in love.

Believe, live, and be blessed!

Musical Interlude


I heard these two songs today and they both gave me pause for very different reasons.

CASTING CROWNS: “If We Are The Body

For all the good I think and do … am I doing enough to be his arms, hands, words, feet, love? Are the things I know really what is coming out in the things I do. It was a good pause in my day to inspire me to do more and be more of who I want to be in order to change this world. I may not be able to do all things, but I should do all the things that I can.

JACI VELASQUEZ: “Adore”

This is such a soft, sweet song that allows me to got into a space of worship. Pure gratitude and from that stance all things are in perspective. I am inspired by this video to just remember who it is that I follow because of all He is to me and all He’s done for me. Jesus … I adore you. What a precious acknowledgement.

I share these both with you in the hopes they touch you too. Be blessed!

 

The Greatest Gift


Today is the greatest high Holy Day in the Christian faith – Easter Sunday. While I respect and honor all people and their beliefs, I cannot let this day pass without a bit of “Alleluia” on my part. As fun as it is to celebrate Christmas and the birth of Christ, it is solemn and exhilarating to come through Holy Week as it culminates in His resurrection. This day is the basis for all Christian beliefs and it is the day that makes all the difference, today and in eternity.

I am humbled to acknowledge that day when prophesies were made manifest. I celebrate the rising of Jesus, as he conquered death on our behalf. He is the Son of God, the Light of the world, and the instrument of my salvation. So this is not just any ordinary Sunday. I shall gather with community to praise him with song and adoration. And I will celebrate the joyous holiday with family.

Today, wherever you are and whatever you’ll be doing, I pray you have a day filled with blessings and may you know the unconditional love that is the greatest gift of all time.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,

that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

Life, Death, and Hope


These are troubling times and this week is proving to be especially troublesome for people I care dearly about. My aunt, who has many health issues had double bi-pass heart surgery yesterday. We are in the critical waiting hours to see if she will be alright. Today, my oldest and dearest friend is having a mastectomy in the first steps of her battle with breast cancer. These are just the latest 2 in a long string of people  I know who are standing on the brink of life and death. That’s such a scary place to be for them, as well as those who love them and never want to lose them. We are not alone in this situation, as it is the way that life works.

Today, as we remember the crucifixion of Jesus, I take solace in knowing that God loves us more deeply and unconditionally than we will ever truly comprehend. I know that his fears in facing life and death were just as real as my aunt’s and my dear friend’s. His friends and family suffered even more at his scourging and crucifixion because they saw no hope in the cruel and awful sequence of his death. Where my family and friends are seeing hope in the surgeon’s skilled hands and in the faith of our prayers. In contrast, there is no comparison.

And yet, I know that Jesus is with us as we go through these trying days. He does not want us to suffer as he did. He does not want us to have fear and no hope the way his mother and disciples did. He wants us to know love, foregiveness, and the possibility of hope. He wants us to know of his love and his sacrifice. He wants us to know the sweetness of his resurrection and what that truly means for us.

Today, I pray in repentence for all that Jesus died for in me. I pray gratefulness for his resurrection and salvation. And I pray, with a spirit of hope and expectation, for the full recovery and healing of my Jeans – Aunt Jean and Jeannie Bear, who are facing their own surrender in these days.

If you are a praying person too, I ask you to join me in these prayers. If not, I ask that you send positive and loving energy to my Jeans … and be blessed!

“When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said,

‘It is finished’

and he bowed his head, and gave up his spirit.” John 19:30

Walk of Faith


I come from a family (both natural and adopted) of people who are artistic. It is a God-given talent that some have used and others let lay dormant. I have some talent in this area that frankly, until now has been untapped and uncultivated, at least from a traditional drawing or painting perspective.  I am starting to hear the call to experiment and learn. Art is such a personal thing that I often wonder if what my eyes see and my hands create could ever capture the heart of another. Perhaps that’s not really the point of art, but it certainly is a desire.

Recently, however, I was pleased to see a TV show with artist Thomas Kinkade as guest. I have long been a fan of  the “painter of light.”  I have enjoyed the story of his meager beginnings and read the books he wrote wherein he paints his picture with words. He is not boastful as a famous painter might be. His persona is very down to earth. In his own words he is inspired by nature and the call of quietude. He certainly and deliberately infuses his faith into his works. He’s known to personalize his paintings by hiding the initials of his wife or child somewhere in his work as a way to honor them. In this show, I saw for the first time a new work he’s done. This man’s art really knows how to touch my heart, and I know by his fame and collectibility, that I am not alone in this.

This new work is entitled “Walk of Faith” and it depicts a lush garden (for which he is also famous) with two men walking side-by-side in conversation. One of the men is Jesus and in this painting it seems so natural for the two to be entwined in the conversation of friendship.  That picture captures what is in my mind and heart as I daydream of a heavenly “walk” with Jesus. It’s beautiful!

So I share this painting with you in the hopes it brings you comfort and peace as well. Be blessed!, I share the picture with you in hopes that it brings you a measure of comfort and joy as well. Be blessed!

11:59 God


Have you ever noticed that God works on an “11th hour, 59th minute” time frame? It’s been my experience that during those times when things are at crisis mode and I’m about to give up or give in, that’s when He shows his hand.

I cannot tell you how often I’ve found myself with $1 left and a bill due the next day when a refund check I wasn’t expecting surprisingly shows up in the mail. Or another time when my son was a child and he had a mystery fever for 21 day. No doctor or hospital staff in the small town we lived in could find the cause or cure. We were driving the 2 hours back to the big city hospital for invasive tests when the fever broke and was gone before we arrived. No procedures, no painful tests were necessary.

I invite you to look for your own examples – has God been swooping in at the last moment for you as well? I have a theory as to why that is. I don’t know about you but I’m a “fixer”. That means when there’s a problem I will move heaven and earth to figure it out and find the solution. I will do research. I will pray and call on others to pray. I will call in favors or make critical calls to try to influence the people or the circumstances. I truly believe that God helps those who help themselves.

And I also believe that sometimes we have to come to the end of our physical solutions in order to fully and completely leave our problems at his feet. We have to exhaust our ego and our knowledge in order to move into a stance of faith and trust. It is from that position that we can fully appreciate that God is the only resort left. Time after time I have found myself in that postion of knowing that nothing else I can do will make a difference. And that’s when I pray at a deeper level. That’s when I muster the strength to do nothing more than believe and watch for God to move. And oh how deliciously glorious it is when He does indeed move!

So, while I hope that I have gone around this bush enough times to know I’ve learned my lesson, I am still humbly aknowledging that it is in the 11th hour and 59th minute that I see the full and glorious power of God in my life. He has never abandoned me and I believe He never will. His answers are not always what I wish for but they are each and every time, exactly what I need.

I pray that you see the glory of an 11th hour, 59th minute God in your life. Be blessed!

Faith or Religion


It’s Easter week – holy of holy days and the time of year that is split between the sorrow of Passion and the elation of the Resurrection.  This is the week that always makes me pause and reflect on what my faith is all about.

So many people intermix the terms “religion” and “faith”.  But in my mind and life they are very different.

My faith is my relationship with God.  My faith is that state of being where I know who and what I am.  It’s my awareness of my identity as a Christian. It’s that space in my life where I talk to God the Father as my Daddy, Jesus the Son as my best friend, and the Holy Spirit as my true and faithful guide.  I don’t know who I would be or how I would survive this life without my faith.  I have always lived my life steadfast in my faith.  It is who I am.

My religion is my community.  It is the place I go to worship and praise.  Religion is where man (and woman) wrestle with and interpret the rules of engagement with life, each other, morals, society, and sometimes God.  I must admit, I have not always been steadfast in my religion.  I have spent days in my youth questioning the purpose of such an institution, particularly when I would see those who practice it in church, turn right around and disregard it in the street or in their homes.  My religion is where I go and what I do.  It is not who I am.

So, this Easter, as with all others, I am pleased to reflect and ponder on the greatest sacrifice and gift – the life of Christ, laid down for mine.  I am looking forward to living my faith in my house of religion.  May you find your peace and faith in the house of religion in your life.

Be blessed with the knowledge that you are loved, you are freed and you are saved in Christ Jesus.

Christmas Letter from Jesus


I saw this posted on a friend’s FB status and had to repost.  It puts so much into perspective!  Read, enjoy and be blessed!
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Dear Children,

It has come to my attention that many of you are upset that folks are taking My name out of the season. Maybe you’ve forgotten that I wasn’t actually born during this time of the year and that it was some of your predecessors who decided to celebrate My birthday on what was actually a time of pagan festival, although I do appreciate being remembered anytime.

How I personally feel about this celebration can probably be most easily understood by those of you who have been blessed with children of your own. I don’t care what you call the day. If you want to celebrate My birth, just GET ALONG AND LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

Now, having said that let Me go on. If it bothers you that the town in which you live doesn’t allow a scene depicting My birth, then just get rid of a couple of Santas and snowmen and put in a small Nativity scene on your own front lawn. If all My followers did that there wouldn’t be any need for such a scene on the town square because there would be many of them all around town.

Stop worrying about the fact that people are calling the tree a holiday tree, instead of a Christmas tree. It was I who made all trees. You can remember Me anytime you see any tree. Decorate a grape vine if you wish: I actually spoke of that one in a teaching, explaining who I am in relation to you and what each of our tasks were. If you have forgotten that one, look up John 15: 1 – 8.

If you want to give Me a present in remembrance of My birth here is my wish list. Choose something from it:

1. Instead of writing protest letters objecting to the way My birthday is being celebrated, write letters of love and hope to soldiers away from home. They are terribly afraid and lonely this time of year. I know, they tell Me all the time.

2. Visit someone in a nursing home. Not just during Christmas time, but all through the year. You don’t have to know them personally. They just need to know that someone cares about them.

3. Instead of writing George complaining about the wording on the cards his staff sent out this year, why don’t you write and tell him that you’ll be praying for him and his family this year. Then follow up. It will be nice hearing from you again.

4. Instead of giving your children a lot of gifts you can’t afford and they don’t need, spend time with them. Tell them the story of My birth, and why I came to live with you down here. Hold them in your arms and remind that I love them.

5. Pick someone that has hurt you in the past and forgive him or her.

6. Did you know that someone in your town will attempt to take their own life this season because they feel so alone and hopeless? Since you don’t know who that person is, try giving everyone you meet a warm smile; it could make the difference.

7. Instead of nit picking about what the retailer in your town calls the holiday, be patient with the people who work there. Give them a warm smile and a kind word. Even if they aren’t allowed to wish you a ‘Merry Christmas’ that doesn’t keep you from wishing them one.

8. If you really want to make a difference, support a missionary- especially one who takes My love and Good News to those who have never heard My name.

9. Here’s a good one. There are individuals and whole families in your town who not only will have no ‘Christmas’ tree, but neither will they have any presents to give or receive. If you don’t know them, buy some food and a few gifts and give them to the Salvation Army or some other charity which believes in Me and they will make the delivery for you.

10. Finally, if you want to make a statement about your belief in and loyalty to Me, then behave like a Christian. Don’t do things in secret that you wouldn’t do in My presence. Let people know by your actions and words that you are one of mine.

Don’t forget; I am God and can take care of Myself. Just love Me and do what I have told you to do. I’ll take care of all the rest. Check out the list above and get to work; time is short. I’ll help you, but the ball is now in your court. And do have a most blessed Christmas with all those whom you love and remember:

I LOVE YOU, JESUS