Glorious Good Friday

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“I have suggested in conversations that whilst church and religion is a great “starter pack”, just like kindergarten, there should come a time when “church” says, “That’s it – now leave here and find the world, find others like you, grow as you will never grow staying here – goodbye.”

I have never had a positive response to that.”

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Another “reflection” on the annual Easter Festival now underway.

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“Either “The bible says we should gather together – that is church”, or “But where would we go, and how would we find others like us?”

Just like questioning Easter.  Tinkered-with and sexed-up to keep it fresh – but essentially the same thing year after year – a surprise party without the surprise.

Does this sound jaundiced?”

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“Yes it sounds jaundiced.

Because there is an alternative.  To actually be one of those “radical faith festival celebs” (just without the festival or the celeb).  Radical faith is no more than thinking outside the (religious) box – enjoying the freedom to allow God out of that box – finding “nourishment” more and more in the everyday AND the everywhere AND in everyone.”

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Why not head over to “Does this sound jaundiced?” and have a look – it is Good Friday after all.

Thank you –

Paul

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Scarred no more

Esther's Petition

Like many people my age, I have several scars on my body. One large one across my chest is from breast cancer surgery a few years ago. There’s a small one on my upper arm and another small one on my face, both from skin cancer surgery some years before that.

One scar is a faded half-circle from an accident with a kitchen knife as a child – I was trying to slice myself a hunk of cheese and sliced my finger in the process. Another almost forgotten scar is a tiny circular hole on my neck from a BB gun shot as an even younger child, when a childhood pal’s carefully aimed shot bounced off something and hit me instead.

It missed anything vital, thankfully, but it bled like crazy. My playmate ran one way and I ran the other, and we both tried to keep my grandmother and…

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What is your message?

We all have a message. God has made us each unique and accounted for. We have our own victories and struggles, and we need to be able to own all of it. 

I have tried to write for twenty-four hours and just couldn’t. Sometimes I am just stifled by the world. Many times I just can’t figure out what the heck is wrong with me. If I suffer, I shouldn’t be suffering, I should have joy. I shouldn’t talk about the pain in the world, or the pain I’m feeling. My message should be supplanted by the one you have for me, your ideas of what God has for me. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me on the inside. I know what’s wrong on the outside. God wouldn’t let me write, and well for good reason. I was trying to write someone else’s message. 

The Jennifer Fulwiler show as I have mentioned so many times before is a source of light for me.  It’s inspirational as it is funny, eclectic, deep thoughts through a Christian lens. But it’s real, it’s who God called her to be. I appreciate it for introducing me to people I would otherwise have never known about, but also for the subtle messages that God provides through Jen’s microphone. I listened to the on demand episode from yesterday, and in the midst of the two hours of taking my mind to a secluded island, I found a gem. Jen had this to say after an interview with a local Christian rapper:

“The message that God calls you to put out there, just do it.”

It was like a knock to the head. What? It’s o.k. to be me? I can talk about suffering? I can talk about ugly things?

I had to reflect on that a bit. What is my message? What am I trying to get across?

And that led me to a song that someone gave me when I first found Jesus. He had listened to it himself and told me that when he heard the song, he swore it was written about me. When I was first introduced to it, I listened to it on repeat five hundred and one times because every word of it was sacred. It was the story of my life…

You must listen to it yourself to understand its depth, but its theme is unmistakable. Why do people think there’s something wrong with me because I am me? Because I question? Because I wonder if there’s a God who cares about me?  Did anyone ever consider that this is just the way God made me? Here are a portion of the lyrics:

Maybe this was made for me
For lying on my back in the middle of a field
Maybe that’s a selfish thought
Or maybe there’s a loving God

After hearing Jen’s commentary today, I remembered the song. It has been a rough week and I have felt myself spiritually lying in that field, questioning, while others think that I shouldn’t be. And I realized, that’s ok.

My message through my writing, my talks, my ministry, my conversion has never changed. I can’t help that. I can’t help that I’ve experienced trauma or that I hate being a working mom or that my son has ADHD or that the world sucks. I can’t help that I cry every time I see a homeless person or an abused child. I can’t help that I identify with the suffering and pain of Christ and it’s where I feel closest to him. My message will never change- It’s o.k. not to be o.k.

There are people out there who need to hear that. That it’s o.k. to cry or be an atheist because you believe God killed your mother. Why are we always trying to save people? Why can’t we let them go through whatever they are going through, why are we always stifling suffering?

I realize that the reason I wrestle so much is because people are uncomfortable with suffering. They don’t want to talk about the hard stuff. They don’t want to hear about my sexual abuse or how it effected me, or my son’s disability or how the things I see at work everyday in the criminal justice system affect me. I work in suffering. I am in the business of suffering. And when I read the next report and the next report that comes in about another suicide or rape, I silently close my eyes, and pray. I understand…

I urge you to think about your own message, your uniqueness. The person maybe you think you’re helping but really are alienating. How you may be trying to play the role of Jesus.

Listen to the song…

Advice in a dream…

Are you thinking of beginning something new? This advice is still good.

Esther's Petition

AdviceInADreamManAndFurnitureMy recent dreams have been like chapters from a novel I haven’t read, not scary, not fantastic, just bits of life going on as usual for somebody. Occasionally they contain someone I know, a relative or friend, but most of the time the “cast” are strangers to me.

While I generally recall these dreams when I first awake, I don’t remember much about them after a few minutes. They aren’t disturbing, not even annoying – they just are.

But this past Sunday night as I was preparing to sleep, I asked the Lord to give me something more spiritual, more useful in a dream. And He did.

I was standing in a room in a building, furniture scattered around as if an office was being furnished, the placement of chairs and tables and desks experimented with to get the best arrangement. I was talking to a young man who was…

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Leave the world behind

“Be His people in the world, ” Father Michael

We all want to be something, something more than we already are. But our motives are all certainly different. In the world, it is money and fame and self-absorption. We are propelled by always trying to be something more. The simplicity and teachings of the gospel are just too much for some with its anti-pop cultural message- the things of this world will pass away, but I will never pass away.

It is counter-intuitive to not want to get credit for our work. It doesn’t make sense to the world when believers sell everything and move halfway across the world to serve as missionaries. Many of us who are believers long for adventures like that, long for God to call us to bigger and better things, but alas, we are still in our minds “stuck” in our jobs and in our everyday lives, no “big” calling, no moving halfway across the world. This for many is disappointing. Looking around at our fellow congregants and saying to ourselves, “I wish that was me.”

I believe that so many times, the church ends up mirroring the world. We get caught up in our expectations of what God will do for us, how he will use us. We want to be pastors or deacons, ministry leaders, travel the world. And although these things may be the pathway for some, it is not for all. We are missing what God has for us right before our very eyes.

We don’t write to please others, or  raise our children the way the world tells us. Our marriages are built on the foundation of Christ, not of the world. We are to be servants at our jobs, and forgive, and pray for those that have offended us and spitefully used us. We are to be light in the darkness. 

Jesus did not have a formal ministry. He took the message into the world; He was among the people. God took on flesh to teach us what it was we needed to do. And those things are clear, seek the lost, preach the gospel at all times and live in the way He has called us. We have to stop looking at the way the world does business, stop bringing it into our churches. The call on your life is right where you are. 

I have found that in that acceptance, there is so much freedom. I, like many can get carried away at times with where I think God should have me. But then I remember Mary at the wedding feast at Cana, “Do whatever He tells you.”

So if you are doubting your impact on your children as a stay at home mom, hate your job in the world, or simply are waiting on God to move you somewhere else, remember who you are serving, the seeds you are planting. It only takes one person to change the world. (Rest in heavenly peace Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)

Do you have a passport?

“It is greater…to be a child of God than to be the ruler of a kingdom: this last I shall lose at death, but the other will be my passport to an everlasting destiny.” Saint Louis IX, King of France

“You can have it all, my empire of dirt.” Nine Inch Nails covered by Johnny Cash

Passports. They are an entry to another place. They allow us freedom of passage. They are a privilege, not a right. A picture and the country of origin. You can be transported to another place.

There are many books on how to change your life, thinking positive and living the life you want to lead by simply speaking it into the universe. I have read all of them. You can be rich, and famous and fabulous. You can have anything you want. But what if you garnered all of that only to have found out, it’s not what you really wanted at all? You are not satisfied.

You can travel the world with a passport, but still feel alone. You can dine with kings and with peasants and still not enjoy the freedom of travel. You can have it all, my empire of dirt.

The lyrics of the song “Hurt” by Nine Inch Nails and covered by Johnny Cash is a reminder of the passport. The way we use it, where we go. It is a metaphor for the journey of life. It is an allusion to the words of Jesus, as I imagine myself before the crucifix, “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.”

Yes it is about drug addiction, but it can be manipulated into any type of pain. It is about what means the most in the end. It is about our humanness, and our struggle. It is about that passport. The one we all hold in our hands.

What have I become, my sweetest friend,

everyone I know goes away in the end

And you could have it all, my empire of dirt

I will let you down, I will make you hurt

If I could start again, a million miles away

I would keep myself, I would find a way

Life is a funny thing. If you think about it, we are all connected by the same thing- the need for satisfaction in life, the dire hunt for happiness, and the struggles we go through to get it. We mostly don’t allow ourselves to connect with others in those deep places. There are no more outdoor philosophical discussions about a man’s inner being. But if you really listen, really listen to Johnny Cash’s cover, it provides a simplified glimpse into that notion. It is painfully real and exposing and true. You can have everything, yet nothing, nothing at all.

How are you traveling and where are you going? Is your passport an attempt to chase happiness in order to be free or are you using it for eternal purposes? Are you simply moving from place to place or does your passport allow you to travel to and from the heavenlies?

Enjoy the song

 

TaDa! A New Year!

Here we go.  Another year is ending and a new one beginning.  Do you like that or dislike that?

I always like it.  Even though I feel old and my life is flying by, I still welcome a New Year.  I like the idea of changes to come and new adventures and old ones closing, perhaps.

I have very little idea of what is to come for Cate B.  I will still be caring for my lovely grand-girls this New Year.  But those days are numbered.  Last year at this time I was dreading the girl watching to end and them moving on.  I was ready to pack up and run with them dragging husband and dogs with me.  But now, a year later I feel  differently.

I feel that I should start dreaming again.  Dreaming of things that I desire and that the Lord has instilled in me long ago.  It’s still a bit fuzzy and foggy.  I do believe the fog will lift and I will see again.

Sometimes I visualize a tug o’ war going on in my spirit.  Little lies of “you’re too old” against great truths of “you’re never too old”.  I am on the side of truth, even though, somedays it is a battle to believe.  Especially when you say goodbye to a friend who died too young and you see headlines the day after Christmas of deadly storms sweeping the nation.

One of my favorite verses in the bible that tells of great advice for all is:

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious – the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.”

I want to be worked into God’s most excellent harmonies!  There’s  a dream for the New Year and my life!  I think I’ll start there.

So here goes, Dear Readers, may these last few days of the old year be joyful and fulfilling for you and even more, may the New Year greet you with more Joy and Dreams coming to pass.  May you be able to choose the truth and dwell on it. And may you be found in His most excellent harmony!

And because I cannot resist silliness………….       10530886_797526963601794_8208936784582723757_n

Enjoy!

Cate B