Enough, already!

“Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.” —Joel 2:12-13

nacreous-clouds-98341292728102hyGIf the Lord relents over disaster—why doesn’t he change it?  

If he can indeed perform miracles then why doesn’t he?

If Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, why can’t he reawaken an innocent child or, for that matter, an innocent bystander suddenly in the crossfire of gun violence?  It really can be frustrating to think that God is after all God; so why doesn’t he make things right, just? I mean, why does the test of faith have to be so agonizing to a point of feeling that there is no way around a grade of “F.”

In the sight of death, divorce, financial ruin and emotional bankruptcy, how many times I have I bellowed, “It isn’t fair!”

How many times do I say “enough” only to feel the rain turn into a torrential downpour.

How much heartbreak can one person survive without a fatal break?

On the other hand, I have heard about the “almost” fatal accidents and all the horrific things that nearly happened to others, but by God’s miracle did not. Does that mean that his grace, his power, his miracles are stingy? Given to only a select few?

I think if you have faith, eventually, slowly, you stop asking so many questions and, instead, try extra hard to find the miracles beneath the surface.  As humans, I believe we have a pin-hole vision compared to the Good Lord.  If, for instance, whenever I think about my son’s best friend at the minute of the fatal impact of a head-on car on his off-road vehicle, I envision a huge angel that interceded. An angel that wrapped around him, fluffy and aglow, like the huge blanket of snow that had befallen that night two years ago, and cuddled him home—to a place in which we cannot even imagine the level of eternal paradise.

I also recall my dear friend. He said after his wife prematurely died leaving him and two adolescent girls behind, she came to him in the dream and said she was taken away so she could lead them smoothly home one day.

In crisis, the more I ponder and ask and try to keep an open mind not allowing the ego to throw me for a hurdle, I can see that what I see is only as limited as my vision. In those rare instances, I can “return” to him, get into the passenger’s seat, give him all my heart and allow for a joy ride for as long as I am ready to give Him back His steering wheel.

Stay tuned!…until next time…faith forward!

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In the spirit of Valentine’s Day

“Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come. He shall glorify Me …”
John 16:13, 14

This is how the Lord works in my life.

Happy Valentine's DayI wrote my blog post last night. Tired, I decided to upload it in the morning. I laid on my bed this lazy morning, shooting texts to a friend. Suddenly, I glanced up. On the armoire sat a photograph that has probably hovered over me in that spot for the last 13 years since we moved into this house. The red hues in the picture caught my eye.

My eyes flickered between the red images in the photo to the red robe on my bed. The robe, a Christmas gift, I had resisted wearing, thinking, I don’t wear red. I don’t look good in red. I don’t like red. I wear black. I wear coral-hued colors. I do not wear red. Then my friend reminded me that in the old days I wore red. I looked good in red.

A few days prior, short of clean clothes I gave in, tried the robe on. The fluffy fabric cuddled me. I caught sight of myself in the mirror. The red made me, oddly enough, feel young.

In the photo, I wear a red dress. My then boyfriend, who is now my ex-husband, wore a red tie. I do not remember if we preplanned the wardrobe color scheme. I stared at the photo. And recalled that the photo was taken in a fancy restaurant the night we were engaged. Then I realized that this coming Valentine’s Day marks that day, 24 years ago.

StValentinesDay 011 Of all things to see…but did I see it? No, of course not, it was too much of a coincidence. Something much greater than myself led me to see the photo. I scrutinized the Mona Lisa smile. I am not happy. Not happy deep inside.

By worldly standards, I now know I am happy in the picture. Who doesn’t want to be engaged on St. Valentine’s Day? Who doesn’t want a handsome fiancé by her side? Who doesn’t want the promise of a new tomorrow bestowed in the form of a diamond?

Deep inside, however, I now know I had settled. I had ascribed to the false prophets in my life. False prophets, meaning your parents and peers and others who, in most cases, really do love you and think they know what you need the most; but is it true? Right? Meant to be? In other words, is it God’s will or man’s will?

Sometimes parents, peers and certainly media can beat us down to become what they think we are meant to be. As social creatures with an innate nature to be accepted and fit in, in the name of what appears to be love and care, we transform ourselves into another’s image. We fulfill a set of standards—finish college by 22, marry by 25, buy a house shortly thereafter—and take the safe way as we maneuver our lives. And maybe the lives we choose are safe, little lives that are compartmentalized like fishing tackle in a box.

But what if the safe way is not the natural way not God’s way? If only we could stand taller than the chameleon influences of the world, shut off the noise and allow that big boy to take our hand and lead. If only we can shut off those nasty voices that tell us we are too young, too old, too fat, too anorexic, too dumb, and too defective and understand that we are simply human, perfect in our own imperfections so uniquely marked like our fingerprints.

The Lord is not a genetic engineer striving for perfection; why are we? It seems when we follow our hearts, our spirits, our most organic and natural selves, we feel in sync, in balance. Despite all our medical and technical advances, are we doing that? One look at statistics, whether pointing to a rise in mental illness, obesity, violence and the like in society, will prove that things are not in harmony!

Today I realized that I am in harmony. The Lord took my hand and made me see that photo.

It was as if He wanted me to do an inventory of my life as if to say, “Hey, look, that is where you were and here is where you are today.”

So, where am I today? In the eye of tragedy no less. In the eye of heartbreak, grief, remorse, and a new life? In the eye of Valentine’s Day. I am balanced. I am in sync. I eat liver and onions, not because it is fashionable, but because I know my own body and my own body can climb mountains after eating a dish like that. I sprint. Not because I want to do the healthy thing. Instead, I love to feel like the Holy Spirit stirs wildly all through my body when I move forcefully.

I think living through crisis has made me finally, finally, finally be true to myself and be my own Valentine; my ego has taken a backseat to my creator. Looking back over these last couple of years, I can take that big boy’s hand and walk into divorce court and, despite “everyone” telling me that there is no God in the courtroom, know that my Lord is so much bigger than the big-shot attorneys next to me. I can take a last-minute plane to Colorado to join like-minded people—regardless how crazy people say I am for being so spontaneous!

StValentinesDay 015

When I am open to the Spirit, I can wear red even when I think it is not part of my wardrobe anymore, only to realize that change, no matter how uncontrollable it is, can be good…like tossing out one blog post while writing another blog post on a whim. All I have to do is keep an open mind and allow Him to show me the way. In other words, have a little faith!

I can discard someone’s agenda and laugh at my own. My schedules, dreams, desires are flexible because every day I try and take that big boy’s hand and realize that nothing is written in stone, especially when I have a rock.

Until next time….Faith forward!

In the raw

ImageWhen I am raw, I take cover. I try to avoid people who typically “push my buttons,” in other words, have that uncanny ability to make me react negatively. I shut out Debbie Downers. Shut off the doom-and-gloom news of the day. Slam the doors to energy zappers.  Exit out as gracefully as possible, at least temporarily.

So how exactly do I do this? I throw on my gray sweats. From the outside, they are worn down cotton, sprinkled with lint and bleach spots, but my itchy insides associate them with great comfort and safety, probably because they show their imperfections without judgment. Then I blast the radio; crank up the heat in the winter; AC in the summer because it always feels so good to let loose with harmless extremes. And I then I read myself silly. Silly blogs, silly songs, funny stories. Nothing heavy, nothing thick. Though my children are grown, a children’s book or story works wonders too. Then I turn to self-help/how-to stuff.

“How to pump up your lips with lipstick without collagen injections”
“How to find the one in three easy steps”
“A 30-day program to make one million dollars”

When I read about these kind of things, it teases me. I am like a mad scientist looking for the secret, unattainable formula for….something that is really so unattainable. But the process tricks me into believing that I have the ultimate control over things that I really have limited, if any, control over.
So in essence, as I read these self-help things, even though I will likely not find a secret formula or magic of any kind, I will FEEL like I will and that sought-after feeling of control is just what the doctor within ordered.

Bible Study 2

Bible Study 2 (Photo credit: DrGBB)

I get the most comfort, however, from reading scripture. I will not get self-help as far as worldly terms go, and find out, for instance, how to fill my emptiness in “10 easy steps.” Instead, I will get comfort from God’s word as far as I can remove myself from my self-centered nature and my own obsession with controlling things, and, instead, focus, and meditate on His desire, His will for me.

I cannot say that every time I read scripture, I have a spiritual awakening. However, reading and meditating on scripture does help me unburden my heavy lot and lessen my worries. Letting go in this manner actually, paradoxically, helps build me up. In a solid frame of mind, I am more apt to go back into the boxing ring of life and give it my best (and better!) shot. In reality, life, regardless of the circumstances, is not about taking cover forever, it’s about meeting it head on and accepting the slaps, punches as well as the embraces; sometimes whittling down the pride and stepping deeper into the grace.

Stay tuned!…until next time…faith forward