Thursday, December 31, 2009
First thing I thought of was how much difference a year makes. Last New Years Eve was one of the best ever. Dinner out at an amazing German restaurant, tickets to a play Jerry and I had been talking about seeing for not just years, but decades, and finally bringing in the New Year in the Grand Foyer of the Kennedy Center. We listened to music and we danced the old year away. This year I am spending my first New Years Eve in almost 40 years without someone to kiss at and wish a Happy New Year to at midnight. How did I end up here? Am I really so stupid that I didn't see it coming or is it just true that "Love is blind?"
Secondly, I wonder how long into the new year I will have to go before I feel I am on solid ground once again? Or is there even such a thing as solid ground? This is the year I will turn 60. It seems everyone around me, even those years younger are thinking retirement and finding time to do things they have been looking forward to but couldn't do because of time commitments that come with working. But instead of looking toward retirement I seem to be suddenly working harder than ever and with seemingly no end in sight. Dreams I looked forward to making come true now seem farther away then ever. How did I get here? Will there be new reachable dreams? Or is it true that "Life is to short?"
There are only 30 minutes left in 2009.....what will 2010 bring? I don't have a clue. I guess that is one thing that remains constant. None of us have been granted a crystal ball. As 2009 ended while we were at the Kennedy Center I had no idea the challenges that 2009 would bring. I had no idea the joys it would bring. Nor did I have any idea the heartaches it would bring. Going into 2010 I can only take each day at a time. Asking that God grant me the grace to deal with what ever comes my way be it challenges, joys or heartaches. I do wish though that he had physical arms to reach down and hold me with. Ones I could actually feel. I now realize more than ever how important human touch is. Never again will I take it for granted.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
I have other friends around the country as well as near to home here in MD who are also facing difficult times. I share this prayer for a better 2010 and one that is calmer and more stable sor them as well. At times it seems that our world is turning upside down and even inside out. Despite all that, we must remember that God is in control and that his love and grace is there every day for each one of us. Maybe that is a more important prayer that we remember that one thought throughout 2010!
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Well this is what thing looked like outside my front window before the sun went down and darkness settled in. Yes it is beautiful, yes it is peaceful, but also it set up the day to be a very lonely one. I did get a lot of things done including laundry, sewing of Christmas gifts and finally a batch of Christmas cookies baked. That is good, but also so sad as there is no one to share it all with. Tomorrow will also be a day home alone....not only that but a day of figuring out what the heck to do with 21 inches of snow and how to do it.
God is good as the saying goes and all the time he is good, but can he handle a snow shovel?
Friday, December 18, 2009
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Just a little thought from one of my favorite women's inspirational writers, Barbara Johnson.
" If things are tough, remember that every flower that ever bloomed had to go through a whole lot of dirt to get there."
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Every Tuesday night we have a dinner at our church followed by an Adult education class. Tonight we watched a movie on the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. IT covered his life from the time he left the US at the beginning of the Nazi reign in Germany through his arrest and execution by hanging. I had to be one of the most intense movies I have seen in quite some time. At first I thought maybe it was just me because my emotions are pretty raw and close to the surface right now, but then I realized everyone watching it was reacting pretty much the same way. When the movie was over Phil turned off the TV we were viewing it on and after a minute or two just looked at us all and said something like....."well, I've had quite a few years experience dealing with this movie...and yes it does hit hard....does anyone want to say anything..." there seemed to be a lot of ummmming and ahhhhing, but no one seemed to have any clue how to put any words together. Finally Phil just announced that we would meet next week for dinner and a "much lighter and less intense program" and someone finally responded with "how about Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" and that seemed to break the tension and we were able to talk a bit about the movie and the grief we all felt concerning mankind's inhumanity towards their fellowmen thorough out history and up to today.
So much to think and talk out concerning how we choose to live out our faith on a daily basis. Still an awful lot of emotion swirling around in my mind looking for an outlet.......
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Jos 1:5 "No one shall be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you." Here God is speaking directly to Joshua after Moses death. Joshua is facing moving into the promised land. A new place, the place promised over 40 years earlier to the Israelites as they were leaving Egypt. The journey they took to get from one place to the other was not an easy one. It was not what they had expected as they set out with Moses. But through out that journey God never once left their side even though they wandered from him multiple times and complained even more.
Heb 13:5-6 "Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have; for he has said, 'I will never leave you or forsake you.' So we can say with confidence, 'The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?'" From a sermon at the end of the book of Hebrews. According to my study Bible this part of the sermon deals with practical instructions to the community of faith. There was also a note which led me to....
Psalm 118:6 "With the Lord on my side I do not fear. What can mortals do to me?"
All the above is good news and good advice for a new day!
Friday, December 11, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
However I will also provide a bit of constancy by baking some cookies, making and wrapping some presents all to share. I do have some work to do!
Tuesday, December 08, 2009
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Monday, December 07, 2009
4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.
4:5 Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.
4:6 Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
4:7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
This is one of the lectionary verses for the week. It is a good one to keep in mind. I think each verse carries a key word.
From verse four REJOICE! It is always good to rejoice. Especially to rejoice in the Lord as we are told to do hear. No matter what my state of mind or emotion if I "rejoice in the Lord" I find I will soon have a heart of thanksgiving for all God has blessed me with; a mind full of wonderment at all he has done; and a smile on my lips.
From verse five GENTLENESS! Our spirit should be one of gentleness toward others and towards ourselves. In today's world of expected perfection and demanded immediate results it is often easier to be hard and judgmental. To be demanding of self and others. But we are called to be gentle.
From verse six we actually have a phrase DO NOT WORRY! When has worry solved anything? Worry is a time and an energy waster. I don't think that means do not be concerned, but when concerned we are to take those things to God. We are told to take our concerns to God. He will provide an answer and the first answer will be DO NOT WORRY...I'm here, I'm with you we can handle this concern together.
And finally in verse seven PEACE! This is the greatest of the words here and it comes out of taking heed of the first three. If we REJOICE, are GENTLE and DO NOT WORRY we are told God will grant us a PEACE that passes all understanding. A PEACE that only he can give and wants to grant to each and every one of us.
Saturday, December 05, 2009
In The Bleak Midwinter
In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.
Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.
Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
But His mother only, in her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the beloved with a kiss.
What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.
It just has such a sad tune though it is a beautifully haunting melody....
Thursday, December 03, 2009
I went to my Bible to find out the context this verse was in. This is from a letter of Paul to the church in Philippi. Paul was writing from prison. In the introduction to the book in my New Oxford Annotated Bible translation is says that the Philippians were also experiencing some sort of opposition. and that Paul's major concern is to bring them back together. Verse 9 states Paul's prayer for the people of the church at Philippi. The above is not exact in what the NRSV says and actually rolls over into a bit if verse 10. Here is the totality of verses 9 through 11.
Sometimes things are so easy that we distrust them and make them harder than they need to be. So my prayer for today is Paul's prayer. That your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help me to determine what is the best. The love is God's to me and it is the love that will direct and guide me.
Wednesday, December 02, 2009
This is so true. I choose with God's help to become better. Which do you choose?
Not being a Catholic I do not spend a great deal of time thinking about the Saints of the faith. Methodism, my denominational faith tradition, believes we are all saints. I believe the term is the "sainthood of all believers". But I do enjoy learning about the lives of the early saints of the church and what they offered to the early believers. When I say early I am referring to the pre-reformation period. Saint Ignatius is one of those saints that intrigues me.
The other day I refer ed to my morning devotional reflection that comes to me from The Upper Room. Other than a wonderful short devotional thought it comes with other things to ponder. One of these things is a weekly focus on some spiritual discipline. This weeks is "The Examen". I guess because of where I am in my life journey at this moment this spiritual discipline practice intrigues me and seems to be something that I would do well to practice.
Ignatius presented this practice in a little book he wrote called Spiritual Exercises. Some day I may attempt to read this little book but I do have to admit reading texts from the early 1500's is not all that appealing or easy. I think it easier to read some late 20th century writers explanation of it. Back to the practice of Examen.....it is a daily examination of our deepest feelings and desires. He believed it was these where what connects us with God, others and our selves. He also believed we must examine our desolations (he called the first our consolations). Our desolation's he said were those daily things which disconnect us from God, others and ourselves. It was Ignatius belief that God would speak to us through both our consolations and our desolations, but that we needed to acknowledge each for him to be able to do so.
Here is what the Upper Room has to say about practicing the examen:
"The examen helps us:
• Acknowledge sad or painful feelings and hear how God is speaking to us through them.
• Overcome a pessimistic outlook by encouraging us notice the good in each day.
• Tell the truth about who we truly are and what we need, rather than who we think we should be.
• Become aware of seemingly insignificant moments that ultimately can give direction for our lives.
I have been working on remembering each day to look for the things I am grateful for in my daily life. I have not remembered to do it daily but for much of 2009 I have challenged myself to each night find 10 things from the day that I am thankful for. Some days are easy some days are harder, but I have found no matter how my day has been if I search long and hard enough I will find at least 10 blessings that were in my day for me.
What I have never thought to do was also look for and admit to the sad and painful things of each day. Sometimes especially these days they seem far to obvious. But it occurs to me in learning about the Examen that in a purposeful acknowledgment of these "desolations" the power that they hold to separate me from God, others and self is diminished. And that in offering these things to God he can not only comfort but work with me using these things to strengthen and better me.