Posted in brother, choice, church, community, creative, day, differences, diversity, faith, Family, feelings, God, hate, Holy Spirit, Jesus, love, neighbor, partial, quote, respect, scripture, sister, spirit, works

This Bird, This Feather, This Love

Have you heard the saying “birds of a feather flock together“? It is the idea that families or people of kindred spirit stay together in one way or another. Other explanations are “People having similar tastes often get together and feel comfortable in each other’s company. It also means that similar people enjoy life together and often gather to exchange ideas” found on https://literarydevices.net/birds-of-a-feather-flock-together/. Here is a poem by Harley White that defines the phrase more …

Birds Of A Feather

Opposites may hold attraction
But lack lasting satisfaction.
Frequently push comes to shove.
In comes hate and out goes love.

Animals in fights and fleeings
Still are mostly social beings.
In a pinch, at end of tether,
Birds of a feather flock together.

Multitudes of furry creatures
Seem alike in lots of features.
Yet that’s not their point of view,
And they vie to prove this true.

Mockingbirds may sing like parrots.
Horses, rabbits crunch on carrots.
Many species act as one
To lark and run in the sun.
But in times of stormy weather,
Birds of a feather flock together.

A family does not necessarily display the birds of a feather concept. Some rarely interact with each other, and when they do it is a competing race, insults slapping the face of a brother or sister, backstabbing, or continuing dysfunctional roles from childhood. This can be blood relatives or in the church family. This attitude filters into work groups, community organizations, and neighborhoods displaying indifference and hatred. Whatever happen to plain respect for another human being who is made in the likeness of God just like you or me? So don’t give me “my family is better than theirs” or “if only they’d be more like me, I’d accept them then.” God made each of us unique and with diversity. Look at our fingerprints. Not one exactly the same. We each are our own person. How creative is our God! God is not partial to one person over another, He loves us with a divine equality. Romans 2:11 says “For there is no partiality with God.” At the end of the day, God still calls each of us to love one another despite our differences and ill feelings. Jesus tells us “By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another”. In the 1960’s Fr. Peter Scholtes wrote the lyrics to this song based on John 13:35…

They’ll Know We Are Christians by Our Love

We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
And we pray that our unity will one day be restored
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
Yeah they’ll know we are Christians by our love

We will work with each other, we will work side by side
We will work with each other, we will work side by side
And we’ll guard each man’s dignity and save each man’s pride
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
Yeah, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.

Love one another is a real challenge some days, but remember we love because He loved us first. “Flock together” today.

Posted in body, brother, church, death, father, grace, grandfather, grief, heaven, Jesus, life, love, mother, peace, Physical, Prayer, season, soul, Spiritual

I Still Love You

In darkness, in grief, in despair, or even just in the midst of seasons that never seem to end, we need to make space for pause.

~ Ann Voskamp

I still love you even though you left so abruptly. I had even wished it was one of your April’s fool’s jokes. I wondered that whole day on your favorite holiday if you would send a message or telephone to say, “April’s fools! It’s all a joke, I am not really dead.” But not so. You are dead, or least to this world. You have passed onto a much happier, freer life now. How is Heaven, my brother?

I still love you even though we lived so different lives. You a bachelor, no family to attend to and I with 6 adult children and 8 grandchildren. We still shared a love for our beloved mother, father, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and our northern friends. We lived in the same childhood home & family tree farm, made childhood vacation memories. We shared a love of the great outdoors, you especially with your hunting and fishing; I with my gardening. It meant the world to me when you came to Dean and I’s greenhouse and brought Grandpa to see our new adventure.

I still love you even though you left without saying those words to me. You left angry at me and our other siblings. You wanted no accountability, live life mortgage-free and a life full of cigarettes, alcohol, women, and gambling. You were writing checks your body could not cash in on anymore. We all can be a prodigal son at times, get off-course to what really matters. I know I have in my life. I had just hoped you would have come around while living on this earth. But I think you are now with those you loved the most, Mom, Dad, Grandpa, Paula, your soulmate Eileen, and the Lord. The heavenly reunion was a joyful one, I am sure.

I still love you as you have taught me how to laugh and be unconventional. I think you will continue to teach me lessons. I know you were not a churchgoer, but a believer in Jesus Christ. Despite how many knelt knees and fervent prayers are said, it is by His grace that we are saved and set free. I have my quiet time almost every morning, but this week I am attending Mass every morning, too. Not sure how long God has called me to this, but I feel a peace each morning while praying with others and for others. I did this for various seasons while working in human resources, attended noon Mass at the church a block from my office during some troublesome times and for troubled employees.

“We can love completely what we cannot completely understand.” ~Norman Maclean

The movie A River Runs Through It reminds me of you. You are the Brad Pitt character, Paul. I saw this movie a couple of days before I learned of the news of your passing, and I told Dean “Paul reminds me of Steve.” The closing words of Norman Maclean’s story, “Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and ran over rocks from the basement of time. On some of those rocks are timeless raindrops.” To me that river is the blood of Jesus, running through us, the rocks are us, and some of those rocks just have a little bit more sprinkling of raindrops, the blood of Jesus. God rest your soul. I love you, brother Steve.

Posted in addiction, care, change, choice, depression, doom, follow, forgiveness, God, grace, hurt, insecurity, Jesus, life, man, pain, repent, sin, sinful woman, strength, truth, woman

A Fleeting Moment

Many of us live for a fleeting moment and pleasure. I know I have been guilty of such. We get so wrapped up into this earthly life, some days it is just surviving and other days on top of the world. Distractions like the idle chasing of butterflies, that bowl of ice cream x 3, another sugary coffee drink, the I-phone or computer screen. Momentary pleasures of a smoke or two, alcoholic drink of choice, the betting game until you win, another frivolous purchase, or floating high on a mind-altering drug without a care in the world, all these possible addictions mask the cold hard truths of life, pain, and depression. Like the painting Ship of Fools by Carl Dobsky, our doom may be just a few feet away.

Yesterday’s Gospel reading was about the woman caught in adultery and how Jesus extended grace to her but warned her “sin no more”. The priest opened the homily with “we all have been caught with the hand in the cookie jar.” Either by stealing, gossiping, gazing at internet porn, cheating on your taxes, telling untruths, slacking on the job, etc. The priest brought up an interesting question, what about the man, why was not he brought before judgement like the woman? The priest suggested that the adulterous man ran faster than the accusers. Any case he will still stand before God’s judgement. God looks for a repented heart, that is where you make a round-about change in direction from the wrongdoing.

The grace of God covers our sins when we confess them to Him. Addictions make it difficult to truly repent, but it is possible by calling on Him for strength. It is a day-by-day battle, for some minute-by-minute journey. Insecurities and unmet needs can lead us the wrong direction. Justifications can set in. I remember the day many years ago I had to choose what direction I was to take, to continue hanging around bad company, or take a different path with the mocking and ridicule to follow. I am so happy Jesus led me His Way. “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life …” (John 14:6) Jesus tells each of us.

Posted in cross, death, Family, forgiveness, God, holy, Holy Spirit, Jesus, Lent, Prayer, quote, Spiritual, works

Deny Self

Ash Wednesday begins the Lent season. This season is to examine where our present life is at, confess wrongdoing, deny self, and look to God our Father, Jesus our Savior, and the Holy Spirit for guidance and follow the calling. What does it mean to deny self? One way is to deny my own needs so another’s needs are met. A healthy marriage requires this regularly. Or deny my urge to lash out on someone who has wronged me or someone I love, but instead pray for them. Another way to deny self is to make a dinner for someone in need rather than spend the afternoon leisure shopping. The Holy Scripture in Matthew 16:24 tells us “If any of you want to come with me, you must forget yourself, carry your cross, and follow me.”

Hand in hand to denying self is the admittance where we have done wrong. We can do this daily, not just on Sundays or holy days, but rather during our regular quiet times, or throughout the day as the Holy Spirit leads. In many Christian faiths there is a prayer called the Confiteor, which we confess during our regular services. This is a good place to start if one needs guidance on how to pray for forgiveness.

“I confess to almighty God
and to you, my brothers and sisters,
that I have greatly sinned,
in my thoughts and in my words,
in what I have done and in what I have failed to do,
through my fault, through my fault …”

Following Jesus is not an easy task. Sometimes it is multiple uneasy tasks. “How many times do I forgive my brother?” you may ask. “Seventy times seven” Jesus tells us. “Pray for your enemies.” Jesus also says. “The Son of God suffered unto the death, not that men might not suffer, but that their sufferings might be like His,” Christian author and minister George Macdonald is quoted. Have you suffered unto death like Jesus Christ? I am preaching to me as well as to whoever needs to be reminded like myself.

Let this Lent season be a time of reflection, forgiveness, denial of self, prayer, true worship, and good works unto our Lord.

Posted in care, change, choice, compassion, faith, gift, give, God, grace, heart, hope, Jesus, love, people, quote, redeemer, scripture, season, sinful woman

Love Will Turn You Around

Love, what a powerful emotion and force. A gift. The Holy Scriptures mention “love” 541 times. The Bible tells us there are 4 loves. These are storge (empathy bond), philia (friend bond), eros (romantic love), and agape (unconditional God love). The season for love is now more than ever. This world needs love. Not any love, but a perfect love. God’s love. It is unwavering. His love does not fail us. People may fail us, but He does not. God’s love mends our hearts.

“Love will turn you around, turn you around.” Kenny Rogers’ song keeps playing in my head. I think the lyrics have a different meaning than what I am thinking. The words bring me to thoughts on what changed my direction years ago, what redirects my course, day after day after day. It is what kept me from a reckless lifestyle. It is the love and grace of our God and His Son, Jesus that saved me. His love is full of grace especially when you and I waver or fall short.

In the first letter to the Corinthians this is what Holy Scriptures tell us about love. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” (1 Corinthians 13: 4 – 8) That is Who and What my Saviour has been for me, and what He asks of me. He loves you in the same manner. Romans 2:11 tells us “For God treats everyone the same.”

“There are three things that remain—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.”

I Corinthians 13:13

Posted in Ann Voskamp, anxious, authors, body, comfort, compassion, cross, cry, Emotional, fear, God, health, heart, Holy Spirit, insecurity, Jesus, love, mind, pain, passion, people, Physical, Prayer, restore, sad, scripture, secure, spirit, Spiritual, trust, woman, worry

Inside My Aching Heart

An ear infection lead me to the urgent care before we left for vacation. My blood pressure was alarmingly high. The urgent care sent a report to my primary care, and she messaged me while on our 2-week vacation to take my blood pressure the next few days, and send her the readings. Still high and some chest discomfort soon after our multi-state road trip, I was in the doctor’s office when I got back to reality. Referred to a cardiologist and more testing, we discovered I have an arrthymtic heart condition. I have premature ventricular contractions (PVCs) that cause echo beats. This Friday I meet with my doctor to discuss what I need to do to take care of my physical heart besides take a beta blocker and lose weight. Questions flood my brain … How did I acquire this condition? When will I feel myself again? Can I return to speed walking as that helps in my weight loss efforts? How long has this arrhythmia been going on? I know I have not felt myself in a long while. I am tired much of the time. Not sleeping well most nights. I have become anxious with my relationships and social settings. I thought that was because of the COVID social distancing for too many days. This learnt introvert does not trust people easily. Trauma does powerful things to one’s mind, body, and soul. I cannot take anxiety meds, as they upset my digestive system so bad, and that causes more anxiety as I worry if I will find a bathroom in time when I go out. I am an insecure woman right now who doesn’t feel or even know if I am loved by those I have been close to over the years. I feel out of rhythm and vulnerable. The ironic thing is my physical heart is going through the same, out of sync and aching. Which came first, my aching physical heart, my stifled emotional heart, or my parched spiritual heart?

I suppose it doesn’t matter which was first. God wants to restore all three. Where do I start? My foundations, the Word of God and prayer. I recall Holy Scriptures that says I am “fearfully and wonderfully made”. In 1 Samuel 16:7 it says “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” King David’s prayer wells inside me into a song … “Create in me a clean heart, and renew a right spirit in me. Cast me not away from thy presence, take not thy Holy Spirit from me, and restore onto me the joy of thy salvation, and renew a right spirit in me.” Psalm 51: 10 -12. I cannot hide from this truth nor the truth inside myself. The truth is I feel unsteady, insecure and timid right now in life. I do not know how long I will feel this way. With God’s help I will come out of this. I need to get my spiritual heart right first.

Author Ann Voskamp so eloquently writes . . .These days feel like a flood of heartache . . . And there’s not one moment God doesn’t feel that with us. “His heart was filled with pain” (Genesis 6:6). God has a heart . . . and it hurts. It hurts with what hurts us. His heart hurts not just with a few drops of ache, not just with a slow drip of sadness—the whole expanse of His heart fills, swells, weighs dark with this storm of pain. God, who hung the stars—He has taken a thread of His heart and tied it to yours. And He didn’t need to, but God tied His heart to yours — so when you feel pain, He fills with pain. Time only continues on in this impossibly suffering world because God Himself is willing to keep suffering the impossible with us. We read the headlines and wonder, lay in our own beds way too late at night & soundlessly cry: If there’s a God who really cares, He’d look at this world and His heart would break. And God looks to the Cross, and says, “My heart did. ”On that Cross, they speared His side and pierced straight into His heart, filled with pain, and it was the water and blood of His broken heart that gushed right out, a flood of love. Grace—it, too, has floods of its own. . . . The way heaven comes down so we can rise. In a world of grief beyond magnitude, what will change us and the world, is the attitude of Beatitudes. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” In a world that doesn’t feel fair — His cruciform love and outstretched arms embrace us — so what we feel is Him. No one knows more than Jesus that this world isn’t fair — and no one loves us to death like Jesus, until everything is fair for forever. In a world of loss — the deeply suffering are deeply touched by the suffering of Christ. We do not weep alone. No matter what happens in this busted-up world in the days ahead, in your own beautiful world: Pray. He listens & He holds. “When you call on Me, when you come & pray to Me, I’ll listen…I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady” Jeremiah 29:12, Isaiah 41:10MSG #TheBrokenWay#WeepingTogether

The physical and emotional heart healings will come . . .

Posted in battle, compassion, crown, darkness, death, die, Family, flower, friend, gift, glory, God, holy, husband, Jesus, love, night, pain, passion, scripture, triumph, victory, write

Passion and Compassion

What passion do you have in your life? A passion to write, a passion to travel, a passion to love, or a passion to start or return to a different career, hobby, or relationship? “The word passion comes from Latin root pati-, meaning suffering, or enduring. Thus, compassion means to suffer-with: the compassionate aren’t immune to other people’s pain. And passion is, at its core, a form of pain that demands it be quenched. It’s not for the faint of heart or those who lack patience — which is not the ability to wait, but the ability to suffer,” quoting Vivek Haldar.

My passion to write is so strong that I awake in the middle of the night or the wee hours of a morning with the burning desire to get my thoughts out on paper, either handwriting or typing. This morning is one of those wee hour awakenings. Dean and I’s vacation revealed Jesus in the midst of visits with family and friends and the scenery. Photos along the way captured the crown of thorns, the wooden cross, the blood of Jesus, and the glory of our Risen Lord. Our early springtime travels were in Arkansas and Texas followed by visiting family in Lee’s Summit, MO. On Good Friday we made our drive to Lexington, MO for our 2nd COVID vaccine. Feeling lethargic and achy since Friday I finally succumbed to sleep, awoke to write and back to sleep for a few more hours.

I have a burning desire to share with you the passion, of our Lord Jesus. Because of what Jesus suffered on the Cross, we can have co-passion or compassion. He made the ultimate sacrifice for you and I. He loved us so much, that he suffered death on the Cross. God’s love is experienced through Jesus Christ. “How great is the love the Father lavished on us that we should be called children of God … This is how God showed his love among us. He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love; not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” ~ 1 John 3:1 and 4: 9 & 10. It is Jesus, and Jesus alone why I can say “God loves me” and “God loves you”. “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid His life for us,” the Holy Scriptures tell us. Jesus won the battle, even death on the cross could not hold Him back. Jesus is alive today! Accept Jesus’ love into your hearts today! Thank You, Jesus for this gift of love shared with each and every one of us this Easter Day!

Posted in age, anger, authors, God, heart, holy, Holy Spirit, Jesus, joy, kind, life, love, patient, peace, purpose, quote, refuge, scripture, silence, solitude, Spiritual

In Every Age

Winter allows for life to slow down a bit. And the artic blast kept me inside for over 2 weeks, a complete halt. No trips to the grocery store or even the mailbox off the front porch due to my severe allergy to the cold. I had many minutes and even hours in reflection. I had plenty of time to think about where I have been, where I am at in this season of my life and what direction God is leading me. I am entering the winter season in my life, the time to slow down a bit. During my quiet time yesterday I read, “who you become is infinitely more important than what you do or have.” Spiritual author Matthew Kelly reminds me of the purpose I ought to have each day. I do not always have that purpose on the top of my daily list of to-do’s. But who I become is the highest purpose in the total scheme of my life.

The holy scriptures tell us in Galatians “to live by the Spirit … the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” It is never too late to become who I was meant to be. God is so patient. He is already that what He wants each of us to be; loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, and gentle. And I think about the self-control God must have, holding back from blasting me off the face of the earth for all the stupid, selfish, and sinful things I have done. It is the grace of God, the gift of Jesus and the Cross He bared that allows me to not be under God’s wrath. God actually loves me. He loves you. All those fruits of the Spirit God has asked me to produce He has given to me already, if I abide in Him. They are in every day’s lesson(s). God is my refuge, my hiding place this day, morning, and every minute of my life. In Him I can become all I was intended to be. In every age, and these winter days of my life.

Long before the mountains came to be And the land and sea and stars of the night, Through the endless seasons of all time, You have always been, You will always be. In ev’ry age, O God, you have been our refuge. In ev’ry age, O God, you have been our hope. Destiny is cast, and at your silent word We return to dust and scatter to the wind. A thousand years are like a single moment gone, As the light that fades At the end of day. Teach us to make use of the time we have. Teach us to be patient even as we wait. Teach us to embrace our ev’ry joy and pain. To sleep peacefully, And to rise up strong. You have been our refuge You have been our hope.” This song In Every Age is by Janet Sullivan Whitaker. It most amply speaks to my heart.

Posted in answer, book, care, comfort, fear, feelings, give, glory, God, heart, hospitality, Jesus, king, light, love, Prayer, quote, Rejoice, scripture, silence, sorrow, worry

The Silence First

I prepare myself this Advent season, Christ’s coming. I quiet my soul this morning. Reading in my daily inspirational book which I neglected a couple of days this past week, “All of man’s miseries derive from not being able to sit quietly in a room alone,” written by 17th- century philosopher Blaise Pascal. I don’t want to be miserable. Do you? “Silence is God’s first language,” the 16th-century mystic John of the Cross wrote.

“Adventus” is the Latin word that the more modern word “advent” comes from, which means “arrival”. When someone arrives at your house or the office, you usually straighten things up and prepare some details like a meal or documents for your guest to partake or take with them. So we try to be accommodating, showing hospitality to our guests. The Latin meaning for hospitality is “host”. Most essentially, it refers to the relationship between the host and guest.

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.” ~ Revelation 3:20 

What can I, the host give Jesus, my guest this Advent season? My heart. Jesus just simply wants my heart. And yours. He wants to take residence in my heart and yours. Jesus wants a relationship with you. Open your heart to Jesus, our Messiah, the Lamb of God, the King of Glory. Welcome Him. Silence first. Pray to Him, tell Him your heart. Your sins, worries, fears, tears, sorrows, praises, joys, and dreams. “Leave all your worries with Him, because He cares for you.” ~ 1 Peter 5:7. He is listening, He cares, He comforts, and He answers with His love. “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, I have continued to extend faithful love to you.” ~ Jeremiah 31:3