Renew! Refresh! Restart!

Renew! Refresh! Restart! in the morning … afternoon … evening … RIGHT THIS VERY SECOND. Faith is fluid, bursts forth like a river flowing, able to calm, cool and collect the most explosive moments and transform them into fresh beginnings. Whatever you have faith in, call upon it NOW!

Faith Muscle

Have a Little Faith

Faith Muscle

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Faith Muscle

Have a Little Faith

Faith Muscle

Faith it

Faith Muscle

Pink Elephants

The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists, who are dedicated to justice, peace, and brotherhood.  The trailblazers in human, academic, scientific, and religious freedom have always been nonconformists.  In any cause that concerns the progress of mankind, put your faith in the nonconformist!” ~ Dr. Martin Luther King

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Over 20 years ago, as an “art in a cart” lesson volunteer, I tried to teach first-graders to draw pink elephants, but failed. By first grade, I realized these children couldn’t think beyond gray elephants and resisted coloring them in any other hue.

Don’t get me wrong, gray elephants have merit, but with an abundant palette, why not risk using an “unconventional” color?

As a writer and appreciator of art and culture, I have a penchant for asking the “Whys.” As a matter of fact, I was expelled for a day from sixth grade for “asking too many questions.”

Most people, myself included, are conformists who work in the framework of norms and respective boundaries. As I’ve grown older, I aim to find the courage to target the time when it is necessary to speak out, not freak out and act out disrespectfully and become the disciplined non-conformist.

Rep. John Robert Lewis, a Georgia Democrat and civil rights leader, who died last week is a prime example of a disciplined non-conformist. May he rest in peace and may we live up to his legacy.

My daughter illustrated another perfect example of a disciplined nonconformist. She was traveling in the Pennsylvania back roads and she spotted a sole white male holding a “Back Lives Matter” sign. He soldiered alone in his mission and, perhaps, in this particular area, risked his life doing so.

I put my faith in people with guts. People who are typically lone, unique voices.

This command not to conform comes not only from Paul but also from our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, the world’s most dedicated nonconformist, whose ethical nonconformity still challenges the conscience of mankind.

Everywhere and at all times, the love ethic of Jesus is a radiant light revealing the ugliness of our stale conformity.

In spite of this imperative demand to live differently, we have cultivated a mass mind and have moved from the extreme of rugged individualism to the even greater extreme of rugged collectivism.  We are not makers of history; we are made by history. ~

~ Excerpt from Rev. Dr. King from one of his sermons preached in November 1954 at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church.

Here is another one of my favorite quotes from that sermon: “Or to change the figure, most people, and Christians in particular, are thermometers that record or register the temperature of majority opinion, not thermostats that transform and regulate the temperature of society.

Everyday for nearly 36 years, I’ve been grateful to consistently aim to live my life on a spiritual plane. I work very actively for this ambition through tools I’ve learned in the 12-Step Community. Basically, the first nine steps are known are ego-deflation steps. After we work the first nine and begin to shed our egos, life in the spirit begins (Steps 10, 11 and 12).

Here’s the benefit of living life in the spirit. You don’t HAVE to look like a paper doll in the chain. You don’t have to buy anyone’s faulty bag of judgmental goods. You have your own timeline. And you get to be straight, gay, trans, polka-dotted, black, white or absolutely no gender, race or religion, if it feels as natural as the finger pads on your hands feel. You are free to be who YOU are because you are free from the bondage of self (and the bondage of society). You are free from the Ego. In other words, YOU are free to draw pink elephants and like them even when the herd poo-poos them.

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Better yet, toss a few purple elephants into the mix and as you are mocked and feel mortified, realize you are on the trailblazing journey of setting the world on fire, and that’s what having faith is all about.

 

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Faith Muscle

Those People, Go I *

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Image by ElisaRiva from Pixabay

“God, help them get through the day!”

I always prayed for “those” people. Sometimes those were the people making headline news. Other times they were acquaintances, co-workers, neighbors or friends struck by tragedies, such as out-of-order death, sudden, unexpected death and other hardships.

Don’t get me wrong, I certainly had my share of my own personal hardships and sorrows. But I must say, everything pales to my 26-year-old son’s untimely death. That was the moment when I became a full-fledged group member of one of “those” people. In fact, I know the exact moment I realized that I had crossed over to the “those” people group. It was about a week after losing my son. I was driving down our road with my daughter in the car, and I waved at my neighbor. She’s the one with healthy young sons, husband, who has a permanent grin on his face, and two sets of geraniums on the porch that never wilt from under or over-watering. Anyway, for nearly two decades, I’ve waved to her countless times and this time she scared the bejesus out of me. Body shuddering, her eyes bulged out at me and her mouth gaped opened with fear she could not voice.

My first thought was, “Is she alright?”

Both my daughter and I turned to each other, asking, “Is she alright?”

Suddenly, I experienced the light bulb moment. My neighbor’s life has remained Copasetic. On the other hand, I had now become the mother whom every mother feared to become. I was one of “those” mothers who had experienced the unimaginable, which IS imaginable, but too painful to deal with so it’s wise to avoid pain and conveniently file the experience into the unimaginable category and, thereby, deny its existence.

So, I’m one of those people in the other group. This is my new place now. I’m learning to sit back and let it all in, because what choice do I have? Wasted fix-it prayers poured on un-fixable things? It’s like when you survive a house fire, no amount of prayer will salvage your belongings from ash.

My goal now is to be fully present without intent to preach, teach, judge or fix myself or any of the “others” with prayer or in any other way. It’s a tall order, but all it takes is a smidgen of faith.

* This post was inspired by my dear friend Michelle Falcone. I am forever grateful for her friendship, compassion and her angel wings that have lifted me up for many years.

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Faith Muscle

Unbearable Beautiful World

Today marks six months since my 26-year-old passed away. I am learning to break down each 24-hour interval into manageable milliseconds. There is no turnoff switch for me to prevent explosive emotions from erupting. However, when I feel I will fizzle into smithereens, I have discovered that people’s kind words and gestures become like a pressure relief safety valve.

Most recently, my safety valve was a friend and mentor. Betsy choked up as she spoke about her 28-year-old son, who took his own life 11 years ago. She shared about how more than usual she felt his presence that day. Listening to her, I not only felt great empathy, but my degree of sorrow for her matched my sorrow, if, perhaps, was greater than my own sorrow. And for that turn-of-the-pressure-relief-safety-valve moment, I exhaled, gifted with pain relief.

But wait, there’s more. As Betsy, generally a proud and really, really humorous fortress of a woman, continued to share, she spoke about how her son’s death only magnifies the beauty around her and gives her faith. That’s a tough order for me right now. Every beautiful pink-blushed apple blossom, magnolia flower and springtime landscape framed in natural beauty reminds me of my son, and I long in anguish for him even more. I cannot fathom the beauty through Betsy’s personal window. That is until I realize deep grief stems from deep love, and what is more beautiful than love? Now, I’m in the process of flexing my faith muscle so I can open up my window just a tad wider and let the sun spread it healing rays.

 

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Faith Muscle

Abracadabra Prayers

Abracadabra!

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I will you give you a powerful prayer to create magical results in your life:

Name your intention:

  • Prosperity
  • Health
  • Employment
  • New Love
  • Friendship
  • Improve Personal Relationships

Once, 4 months, 26 days ago specifically, my life was based on prayer formulas. Without fail, I prayed a host of specific intentions to God. For urgent matters, I assigned a particular job to a particular saint to intercede. Eagerly, faithfully and patiently I waited for my prayers to unfold. My prayers were clay. God was the sculptor.

I witnessed masterpiece miracles. God’s handiwork studio space was divided in three sections.

  1. Work-in-progress prayers (For instance, a friend narrowing in on a new job!)
  2. God’s handiwork creations. (Houses spared from foreclosures. Jobs landed. Lonely singles finding mates, and so on.)
  3. Dry clay. You get the pic with that image, but, remember, if you sprinkle water, you can give dry clay life again. Right? So, hope underscored this section.

Reflecting back, section 2, God’s handiwork creations, consumed anywhere from 75 to 90 percent of the studio space. I was deliriously happy living in this studio. Faith beautifully wallpapered every turn and corner. Faith-filled tile fell beneath my feet like lemon drops, and life was magical.

And then one frightful Tuesday arrived, and the studio had to accommodate a new area: Bone Dry Clay. Undeserved. Unwanted. The section has no number. No prayers answered here.

In this dark dungeon, there is no God of anyone’s understanding to whom I can turn and beseech to awaken my son, if only long enough to see, his long, slim fingers with clean nails that formed hands that created magical mechanical parts. There is no expert saint to intercede who will nudge a supreme being who’s napping, and doesn’t realize that my 26-year-old son had a lot of work to finish in this life before his exit.

Now, this bone dry, nameless area, takes up the studio space now. There is no hope for any kind of sculpture, never mind a masterpiece. Sadly, I think faith means hope, and hope does not live between these walls.

So, I am left with no prayer, never mind powerful or magical. My faith is tested, and I have no faith at this moment. Or perhaps, for now, I am on a pause in my faith journey. Paused in the faith library researching things like prayer.

If my prayers are answered, am I worthy of the outcome? If my prayer petitions fall on deaf ears, am I unworthy? Or are prayer requests just a masquerade for magic? And if this is true, maybe the faithful have no prayers in need of answers since if you are faithful, you accept everything all the time, even the unacceptable, the unbearable, the noncomprehending. Maybe, you don’t mess around with God’s handiwork. Maybe you surrender your superhuman costume and just become an objective observer as the sculpture unfolds.

Do you pray? Why do you pray? Do you pray for certain things? Do you pray in general terms? Do you think prayers are magic? Do prayers help you, and if they do, what kind of prayers do you pray?

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Faith Muscle

Same thing, Over and Oh!ver

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Image by Prettysleepy2 from Pixabay

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 

Fueled with an entrepreneurial type spirit, I ventured into a website business that is now over two years old and hasn’t produced a dime. The roads I’ve encountered on the journey have been a pothole nightmare and at times dead men curves that took me into dark places from which I miraculously

Most recently, a stranger in the mix, who learned about some of the circumstances, said, “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Okay, Mr. Einstein, what do you think I do? Give up? Surrender? Close the book on the Great Idea?

Speaking of books, that’s another constant roadblock. My novel has been on a heck of a journey since 1996. Years of editing. Years lost to inactivity. The good news is, I landed a reputable agent in 2018; reworked the storyline; fleshed out the proposal, which now constitutes a series of books. The not-so-good news is, it sits unpublished.

Mr. Einstein, what do you advise I do? Throw the book out along with the series? A series that has the strong potential to revolutionize a certain segment of society?

So, is this constant creative roadblock insanity or is it a means to test my faith?

I just finished reading Guarded by Christ: Knowing the God Who Rescues and Keeps Us by Heather Holleman, and I had an epiphany.

Ms. Holleman writes, “Choosing to look for the “new mercies” of God each morning for me became a spiritual practice to build hope. I had to fight the despair. I had to find a way to stay afloat in hope when drowning in depression. It was that diligent and forceful daily preaching of hope to my soul. This practice corresponded with my desire to write again, and my friend Laurie first suggested my daily recording of new mercies in a blog format for others to read.”

Ms.Holleman continues, “But it felt hopeless to write. I had endured a decade of rejection letters from publishers. ‘You should blog. I would read your blog,’ Laurie said.

Hope rose up in my heart that stored so many words just waiting to get out….”

I feel Ms. Holleman’s hope and enthusiastically heard her literally. I decided to blog again on faith. Because one thing I do know, and it’s something I don’t have to wait for, and something that is in the here and now is I have a pretty impressive faith muscle.

I may not be a success in the world’s eyes. In the soul department, though, I do believe I’ve had some wins. How can I not? For the last 35 years, I’ve lived on borrowed time and during that time I’ve mended relationships with others as well as with myself, but most importantly with God.

For the last 35 years, I lift my eyes up and search for new mercies every single day, because I train on a constant basis in the marathon of the soul business. As long as my soul is stable, I can drive these crazy avenues and streets in the game of life, knowing freedom is not too far off in the distance on the eternal high road. It’s insane to imagine how refreshing the feathery wings beneath me will feel.

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Faith Muscle