Like Mother, Like Daughter

“Because we’re all recovering from something.”

I have reblogged posts by Beauty Beyond Bones, BBB, before.

Here is why:

And I was sitting in my little chair, looking at the painting, letting Jesus’ face make an impression on me, when my mom came in and sat next to me.

“You know the story behind this painting, right?”

And, truthfully, I didn’t. I know we got it a long time ago, but I just figured my mom’s bible study class gifted it to her as an end-of-year teacher gift.

BBB’s full post is worth reading.

 

(Comments are disabled here as usual. Thank you.)

BeautyBeyondBones

Have you ever been just drawn to something?

And I’m not talking the bakery case at the grocery store. Or the shoe department at Nordstrom.

giphy-2

I’m talking, a soul pull. A spirit attraction.

Ever since I’ve been home during my mom’s stroke recovery, I’ve discovered a little place in our house that I keep finding myself sitting in. Just ending up there.

It’s a little sitting area in front of the fire place, and focal point of this nook is a beautiful painting of Jesus. It’s called the image of the Divine Mercy. Perhaps you’ve heard of it.


But I’ll often find myself sitting, just looking into the eyes of Jesus in this painting.

Now, to be honest, I’ve never really considered myself a “religious art person.” I mean, I think it’s beautiful and great for, say, a church, but I don’t know. I’ve just never really given it much contemplation.

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If you keep my commandments

If you ever felt alone in the way you worship, if you think your theology is the only one, if you follow rules, if you don’t follow rules, you must read Paul’s post today. All are welcome. (Comments have been disabled, please comment on the original post).

Just me being curious

In just over four weeks’ time we have a glorious spiritual retreat.  A place of recharging our souls and each other.   A place much hotter than here.  A place to relax.  To slow down.  A place to have fun.  A place with new people. A place we have never been before.  A place without church or bible.

And without those two bits we name that “holiday”.  The unspoken teaching is that a holiday is of the flesh and indulgence (and a retreat is of the spirit and restoration).

I see no difference.

I wonder why the unspoken knowing is that God cannot (really) be found in a bar or a restaurant.  Nor (really) found on a beach by the sea.  Nor (really) in the laughter and bawdy banter around a table.  Not really in the quiet contemplation of a distant horizon … a small working boat … a passing beach…

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God’s Most Perfect Creation

Adam BirthLast week my son, Adam, passed away, just a month and a half before his 34th birthday.
Adam’s entry into God’s world started off as a struggle, my wife suffered with placenta previa, a tendency for the placenta to prematurely separate fr
om the uterine wall, it was the cause of two prior miscarriages. My wife was determined not to allow that to happen to our third child, so from the first sign of it happening to Adam she was immediately admitted to the hospital, where she spent the next 3 months confined to the bed to keep pressure on the placenta.
Adam was born 90 days early, a miracle for over 30 years ago, when an infection forced an early delivery. Adam wasn’t given much of a chance to live, immature lungs at a time when hospitals simply weren’t set up to handle babies that young, but he survived despite the odds. No one told him he couldn’t, butGod had plans for him, plans that continued until his passing. I won’t go into those here, as it is not the point of this narrative.

Through Adam I was introduced to, literally, hundreds of handicapped children. I met them at the school he went to, the organizations he belonged to, and the activities he participated in. Team PhotoThese children / adults are amazing, if you’ve never encountered them in your life experiences you’ve missed one of God’s great treasures. These are people who have no hatred for anyone, they are simply filled with God’s love, and share that love with everyone they encounter, no matter how they are treated. If you doubt me, become involved with a group that works with the disabled, like the Miracle League.

13Over the last 30 years I have worked with them in many areas – schools, Scouting, sports programs, even in special employment situations. I have seen them mistreated by parents, employees, customers, care givers, even other (so-called normal) children. I have never seen them strike back, physically or verbally. I have seen them return this mistreatment with love, a beautiful agape type of love. A love that does not demand its return; a love that is given unconditionally, regardless of how they have been treated by the recipient.Adam w Gargoyle

Because of my son, Adam, I have been given the gift to see God’s most perfect creation – the soul of the handicapped child. I will always feel blessed for this gift, and thank God for giving me this opportunity.

Be Happy, God will understand

I recently listened to an interview I found by happenstance of an old acquaintance.  I had always admired her brilliance and tenacity, her quiet way and her commitment to her religion. I don’t think it is important for purposes of this story to tell you what religion she is, it is enough to know that she was devout and humble all at the same time. 

I don’t know what made me think of her, but I was curious to see what she was up to. Last I had seen, she had the perfect career and perfect life, still devout and lovely. But this interview was different. It was many years later and life was not so perfect. Her religion had not changed , but her life had. So she was quick to meld her words to fit her life’s circumstances. My God would understand this, and He would understand that. I have to make myself happy and I cannot worry about what other people think. I was perplexed. Her God had remained the same, her devotion the same, but her life had not. So she fit her God into her life’s circumstances to ascribe to a “Be Happy God will understand” theory which completely blew my mind.

These thoughts were not unlike so many I have heard and areas which Paul has recently explored on Just Me Being Curious where he discusses openly the hypocritical Christian and their unconscious quest to use the bible as a weapon. Paul goes into an in-depth discussion of whether the bible is fiction and other deep-rooted and tough questions, but the message is deeper than that. While my old acquaintance sings a song of “Be Happy God will understand” the song that Paul’s talking about is more along the lines of “The only way to believe is the way I do.” Both schools of thought though steeped in religion are cloaked in secularism. Twisting our way into what “we” believe is right or wrong based on our own selfish notions. What bothered me about the interview was not the fact that she was still devout to her God. What bothered me was that she had made God devout to her.

This is a continued thought in our culture, in our world, where we make God just ours. The bible or Quran or Torah can have only that person’s interpretations, and there is no other room. It is this way or that, no room for exploration or understanding. It is the reason that modern-day religion is more secular than it is anything else.

I look to those who have criticized Mother Teresa’s care for the dying. She a Catholic, speaking to them and praying with them in their own religion, their familiar God. Restoring their dignity in the last breath with a comfort each individual will understand. She has played a great role for me in understanding the human person and Jesus, and the dynamic that exists between the two.

You see if we were really Christians, people would know. We wouldn’t make God live in a bible, or on an altar, or in a Sunday sermon, we would let Him live in us. It’s not a matter of conversion, it is a matter of being. I don’t seek to convert anyone other than myself to be the love that Jesus is or was. I don’t subscribe to the “Be happy God will understand theory” because taken in context that is a selfish way to be. The only way for me to live is ensuring that I am doing my best to invest my happiness in you. More like, “Be happy, invest that happiness, because I acknowledge Lord that it comes from you.”

When we get outside of ourselves and realize that God is much bigger than a t-shirt or a slogan, the real work begins. Because if we’ve discovered that life is not about our own self-satisfaction but rather attending to the needs of someone who will never be able to repay us, following Jesus gets real.

If you ask me if I’m a hypocrite I’ll tell you yes, that I am working on it. If you ask me if I’ll convert you, I’ll tell you I’m too busy working on myself. If you want me to show you God, I’ll try my best. But it will probably involve a cup of coffee, admitting who and what I am and asking for your forgiveness.

Unsure where to go? To the last place where God met you

“I had hoped my call as a Christian writer might lead me to “bigger and better” things. I saw my secular career as something I wanted to let go of, someplace God could never use. I thought that this placement was not intentional by God, that there was something “bigger” out there for me. So he let me leave my life behind and try a different life, the one I had envisioned in my dreams. He didn’t leave me, He just stayed quietly by me.”

If you know Melissa you will know she is beautifully vulnerable.  She writes stuff so many only think. So many fearful of what others might think (and even say back).

And they have “said back” to Melissa – as she acknowledges.  And yet …

You really should read the whole post.

 

(as usual, comments are disabled here – please comment over at Melissa’s place, thank you)

Paul

God is in your typewriter

“We do not need to go away into the depths and the darkness in order to realize the warmth of the light.”  MacLaren Expositions of Holy Scripture

It was troubling for me yesterday to read a meditation about a passage in John which discussed Peter going back to his “old” life as a fisherman and forgetting about Jesus. I had never really seen it that way. I imagined Peter more in an unconscious waiting period, going back to what he knew with the disciples who were now his brothers. It bothered me because I reflected on my own life, going back to the work that I knew, and feeling somewhat criticized by someone else’s words on a page judging Peter. I felt that they were also judging me. 

I meditated on John 21:1-14 all day. It bothered me. I didn’t and couldn’t believe that Peter was back on the fishing…

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A Love that Lets Go

Part of me is jealous of Caralyn. Because she nails with such simplicity and tenderness what I struggle to describe. Unconditional love. And God. A real living relationship with something beyond my words.

Have a read and see what you think. And comments are open here. Because love is everwhere.

Thank you.

BeautyBeyondBones

I’ve spent a lot of time recently in my own head. Today marks the three month mark since my mom’s stroke, and there have been a lot of ups and a lot of downs.

And I’m learning a lot.

And honestly, I’m learning a lot about God’s love for us.

We’ve reached the stage in my mom’s recovery where…there’s a frustration within her about how things aren’t back to normal. And a gripping desperation for autonomy.

And I’m going to be really honest, being in my position, as her grown daughter, having come home to be her “sidekick” as I call it – there’s a really delicate balance of how much help is too much help. I want to assist her so that life runs smoothly, but I don’t want her to feel like a child or that I’m belitting her or discrediting her capabilities or contributions. And I’m finding…

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