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

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

To My Brother in Heaven

But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found. Luke 15:32

It brings me great strength and joy to know you are in the loving arms of Jesus. Down here on earth, your arms were in the shackles of a disease that you did not want. I was four years old when I first tried to help you, but I was at a loss, wanting to contain your Niagara Falls amount of throw-up in a tiny pink cup.

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From that day forward, I felt like I trailed behind you through life, big brother, with a tiny pink plastic cup that could never contain the monster-sized remnants inside.

I won’t deny, that when you were alive, I spent a lot of time fantasizing about a replacement brother. The kind of big brother that takes you places above ground and not underground. The kind of brother who views life is lived on a rich, varied and textured terrain generous in rose-smelling opportunities. Like I told you a gazillion times, I never cared about your version of life lived in a flat-line region where the point of it all is survival.

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No doubt about it. We spent a lot of time in the mud hole: bickering, arguing and sometimes having a knock-down, drag-out fight. We landed in plenty of fox holes, too, where our prayers were “God Help!” Succinct ones, but as fervent as the long, formal prayers.

Seventeen years later, and I darn well know that if given the chance for a replacement brother or you, there is no doubt to the one I would choose. I attribute my choice to you. Underneath your disease. Underneath the monster. Buried under a mountain of hurt, you were one of the greatest men I’ve ever known. Not because you were handsome, strong, generous, compassionate, highly intuitive and intelligent and a war hero to boot, but because you knew that everything, no matter how utterly defective, stained, sinned or doomed, could root, grow and live under one condition: that it is planted in a bedrock of unconditional love.

Thank you for leaving me this bedrock of a legacy. To allow myself to be vulnerable, trust and carry the message tirelessly to those who suffer and those who need strength. Most of all, thanks for being my Angel Michael, right next to Archangel Michael, as I trudge this road of happy destiny.

Dear Big Brother in heaven, I can’t wait to see you in heaven someday. Feel your arms around me again, and see the sober twinkle in your eyes, when you radiate His love and gently whisper, “Peace.”

Stay tuned!…until next time…walk by faith not by sight!

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Faith Muscle

Brick and Mortar 2019

I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall be always in my mouth.                                                           Angel4 Psalm 34:1

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During this past season’s midnight Mass, I found Christmas, but it wasn’t solely in the Mass. I found Christmas in a young father who sat in the pew in front of us. His eyes glowed in adoration of his special needs toddler. Despite the fact that the child squirmed, gurgled and occasionally jolted, for over two hours, the father cradled her with undivided attention and devotion. In the face of challenge, his face exuded peace, contentment and joy. His one-word response to his child: Christmas!

This upcoming New Year, when I am faced with challenges, I hope to respond in the same spirit of Christmas, no matter if it is in the dead of winter or heat of summer. In other words, no matter how my faith is tested, I have memorized my response that is so apparent in the father’s life that I encountered at church. “I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall be always in my mouth.” (Psalm 34:1)

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Funny, how my relationship with God is sometimes one-sided, and I think He should ONLY bless me. Blessing the Lord at all times and praising him always is like laying a foundation of brick-like faith while the Lord spreads his love in the form of mortar.

Stay tuned!…until next time…walk by faith not by sight!

 

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Faith Muscle

 

FAITH ”AN IMPORTANT PART OF LIFE”

I am re-blogging this fantastic post from BE BLOGGER (OFFICIAL) 

via Faith ”An Important Part Of Life”

Stay tuned!…until next time…walk by faith not by sight!

 

 

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Faith Muscle

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Faith forward … into the light!

The Light Behind the Story

Forest path Photo Credit: Sue Vincent

The forest whispered, “follow me,” and laid down a path of gold.

“Oh, I dare not,” replied the voice of doubt, “for I fear what may be lurking in the shadows.”

“Oh, you are a silly lass,” the forest replied. “Can’t you see that I have given you the way through the darkness?”

“But I am alone. A mere child in an unknown wilderness where fierce beasts may lurk, waiting to attack,” doubt replied.

“Yes, yes, that is true. What you seek is also seeking you.”

“Oh, but you are wrong. I do not seek the beasts. They seek me.”

“Aw,” the forest replied with a clatter of branches. “Who do you think the beasts belong to?”

“You.”

“Oh no, they are not mine, they are yours.”

“I don’t want them, so how can they be mine?”

“Because you reject them. Come now, child, walk with…

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January Reflections: A Question a day to deepen your faith (31)

Never mind New Year’s resolutions. Angel4 Wrap your mind around January  reflections: A question a day every day for the next 30 days to deepen your faith.

31. What did I learn after a month of asking questions about faith? mustard seed

 

Plain & Simple: I  have mustard seed faith, but I have a mammoth God.  

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Stay tuned!…until next time…walk by faith not by sight!

 

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Faith Muscle

January Reflections: A Question a day to deepen your faith (30)

Never mind New Year’s resolutions. Angel4 Wrap your mind around January  reflections: A question a day every day for the next 30 days to deepen your faith.

30. Doubting your faith? 

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If you are doubting your faith, you are not alone. When Pope Francis was asked if he every had any doubts, he replied, “Well …, I have so many, eh! I have so many … Of course, we all sometimes have doubts!”

When doubt sets in, realize you’re in good company!questions-1922476_1920Stay tuned!…until next time…walk by faith not by sight!

 

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Faith Muscle

January Reflections: A Question a day to deepen your faith (29)

Never mind New Year’s resolutions. Angel4 Wrap your mind around January  reflections: A question a day every day for the next 30 days to deepen your faith.

29. Shaky faith?   

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Even Mother Teresa had times when she didn’t feel God’s presence. (And let’s face it, most of us are not Mother Teresa.) Don’t bury your doubts and frustrations. Find a friend who’ll listen respectfully.  Keep the faith. While you’re trying to figure it out, God’s got you covered.background-2908901_1920Stay tuned!…until next time…walk by faith not by sight!

 

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Faith Muscle

January Reflections: A Question a day to deepen your faith (28)

Never mind New Year’s resolutions. Angel4 Wrap your mind around January  reflections: A question a day every day for the next 30 days to deepen your faith.

28. What have I done today to affirm that my faith is real?

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Today, how can we actively demonstrate our love and trust for God? Your action needn’t shake the globe.

Here’s a few, 103 to be specific, ideas to help affirm your faith: 103 ideas to inspire kindness.

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Stay tuned!…until next time…walk by faith not by sight!

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Faith Muscle