For the God I love

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My son Collin, a gifted student in the 2nd grade, won the county-wide haiku contest, beating out all students in the county up to 5th grade. Collin has been diagnosed with ADHD, a daily struggle for him. We have overcome, by the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimony.

 

For the life that I was not supposed to live

For the days I spent doubting my existence

For the pain and suffering I could not explain

For the God I loved, and the God I let go of

For the many books I read about why bad things happen to good people

For the day I quit life, and the day I found out it again

For the God who just wouldn’t let me go

For the child he gave me who was never supposed to be

For the child that couldn’t walk, and lagged far behind

For the child that they told me would never be… anything

For the child they told me wouldn’t make it

For the one to which they said, give up… now

For all the days I chose to believe God over them

For the many nights I stayed up crying

For the days where I was slowly dying

For the pain to return in the form of my son

For the struggle I relived as if we were one

For the times God called me to move him

For the times I was afraid

For the face to the floor praying, and nights of waiting

For the child they told me would be, was  … nothing

For the life I believed he would have

For the Christ child to which he was bound

For the savior who he had

For the one that held me up

For the seven years of life

For the moment I’ve only dreamed of

For the disability that has been his greatest ability

For the thorn in his side that has been made strong in his weakness

For the God who loved me

For the God who made Him

For the God that just refuses to let go

For all of these things, He is, I AM

His Embrace

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When we search His call, abide in love,

as we open all to God above

in our praise and prayer, we worship and declare

our God none to compare,

we feel His embrace, feel His embrace.

 

If we see neighbors through Father’s eyes

(neighbors – those heirs who we may despise),

it’s not “them” we see, but seeds of Diety

Who made us family.

We feel His embrace, feel His embrace.

 

And He loves without prerequisite

even though we doubt and won’t commit.

There’s plenty of space to make enough mistakes;

He gives mercy and grace.

We feel His embrace, feel His embrace.

 

His command: we are to love bar none

no matter what our likes, says Savior Son.

We have a choice, yet His will remains unmet;

in this will we regret?

We feel His embrace, feel His embrace.

 

Open hearts and heads to Life and Light;

His lavish grace will spread to all in sight.

As we pass kindness along, we become blessed,

have moved to His likeness.

We feel His embrace, feel His embrace.

 

 Luke 10:25-37

Simple Christianity: Being our Most Authentic Selves

“This, rather, is the fasting that I wish:
releasing those bound unjustly,
untying the thongs of the yoke;
Setting free the oppressed,
breaking every yoke;
Sharing your bread with the hungry,
sheltering the oppressed and the homeless;
Clothing the naked when you see them,
and not turning your back on your own.”

Isaiah 59:6-7

“Fasting is not genuine without reforming one’s way of life.” Note on Isaiah 58: 6-12, from the NAB Bible revised edition

I have found power in fasting. Giving up sustenance to hear God clearer. Helping me to become a better version of myself- in Christ. This Lent, the Lord has whispered to me about silence. So on the Holy Spirit’s nudging I have given up music. This has proved to be an extremely difficult, but needed abstinence for me.

You don’t have to be a Christian to fast and hear God. For those of you that are on your journey, I highly recommend it. But fasting is not a diet nor is it a New Year’s Resolution. No, fasting is so much more than that…

Recently, I have had the occasion to read a broad range of spiritual books. They all have contributed to my life’s journey, tossing me little pebbles along the way. But what I have found is that although many of the books I have read are fascinating, they are also complicated and verbose, and for those of you that know me I am complicated enough as it is…

I am finding that books that require me to carry a dictionary around are just not my thing. I am also noticing my lack of motivation in reading some recent books that I’ve acquired. So many over-philosophical thoughts on Jesus, rote prayer and too much concentration on the bad, and not the good. Many of the first halves of these books start out promising but half way through they fail me. I’ve held onto them because I am a firm believer in finishing what you start, but in the silence that God has provided me, I am seeing that is not the case.

When things are quiet, you can hear. “Not this way, not that way,” says the still small voice. Or louder yet, “Wrong way!” When we are open, when we have our minds set on things above, when we use these forty days to focus on ourselves and the God we serve, it is amazing what we can hear, in silence.

And God tells us what kinds of things He wants from us, if we are listening. We are not here to simply go through the motions- that is religion, not relationship.

We must find the thing that God is calling us to do this Lenten season. What is He calling us to give up? This answer should be simple and transformative, it does not need a theological dissertation. 

Through genuine fasting, we come to understand the meaning of sacrifice and of blessing. Yes tradition is beautiful and needed, but it means nothing if we are not committed to hearing God’s call…

This Lent, be committed to the simplicity of sacrifice, whatever that may be individually for each of you. Share it with a friend so that they can keep you accountable to the promise you have made to God. And as you repent and reform from the inside out this Lenten season, you will see God’s hand bolder and greater in your life than ever before!

Blessings-

Join Mary on her Lenten Journey at There’s Something About Mary

Don’t call yourself a Christian if you can’t yourself forgive

“Start tearing the old man down
Run past the heather and down to the old road
Start turning the grain into the ground Roll a new leaf over”

Omaha- Counting Crows

Forgiveness is not optional. It is not conditional or with parameters. It is not just because we have to, it is because we want to. It is because we have a greater desire to be one with the crucified Christ in order for ourselves to be risen in Spirit. There is no height or width in our forgiveness. It doesn’t look the same for everyone. It is a necessity. It is the entire basis for what we believe.

I’ve heard a lot of “I shouldn’t have to” apologies and “I’m right” and “my pastor says it’s o.k.” I’ve heard every excuse. I have taught a bible study for sexual abuse survivors for which I am one, where I continually preached about our necessity to forgive our abusers. It was gut wrenching and one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. But at the end, oh at the end, it was us that were free.

I have decided to take up Pope Francis’s Year of Mercy as a personal mission. I offer mercy whenever I can. And mercy and forgiveness don’t negate consequences. It only requires we be the love of the Lord, His heart, His hands and his feet. So I sent a reply to a former client who had sent me a Christmas card from prison.

“Believe in Jesus, believe in forgiveness, you can walk with Him even behind those prison walls.”

And an excerpt from his reply:

“I’ve long ago given my life over to Christ. Everyday I grow closer to Him. My journey in this place has been pure hell. But God has always seemed to free me mentally from these walls.”

He hurt someone. He will be in prison until he is a very old man. I tried to help him when he was free. But now I know that he was never free. He was not free until he got to prison. 

There’s nothing you can do or say that will change my mind about Jesus’ teaching on forgiveness. There is no verse you can turn on its head or teaching you could show me that would convince me that Jesus was anything other than forgiveness itself. He was, in the beginning, the word, and in him, there is only life.

Someone hurt my son, and I chose to forgive him. And I chose mercy. I chose to see him through the eyes of Christ. And God forgives me everyday. And so I forgave him. There is nothing to understand except the God that lives inside of me. And although my heart ached, I was at peace… an indescribable peace. And we prayed together for this person. And we talked about God’s forgiveness as a family. And my children learned that God values their pain and the forgiveness that was extended through our hands. And it was impossible to cry when my son said to a grown man, “apology accepted.”

If you’re feeling convicted you should, there’s nothing to be confused about. You can’t call yourself a follower of Jesus if you don’t follow him. 

The crucified Christ lived inside of me today. And He eased my pain. All I felt was His love, for me and for my son. I was Abraham carrying Isaac in obedience to the God I serve. And He, he provided the ram.

Silent Witness

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Take me with you wherever you go. Listen to my Word. It is mightier than a two-edged sword and cuts to the heart of men.- Holy Spirit

This is the statue I have at the very front of my desk. I won’t tell you where or which desk but a desk. It was given to me by a friend who said that it reminded him of me, and that it would do much better in my hands than tucked away in a box covered in dust. It was a humble expression of our friendship, but an even greater gift for display. In the beginning I thought it a nice reminder for me of my role as a servant, to God and to others. But I never anticipated it as a silent witness.

Out of the corner of their eye I see people glance at it. It must be odd for someone who doesn’t know Jesus to see a statue of a man washing the feet of another. The inscription must be even more perplexing:

“Jesus said, if anyone wants to  be first, he must be the very last , and the servant of all. “Mark 9:35

I’ve never heard anyone remark about. It doesn’t make a political statement, tell people what I believe theologically or cause any kind of controversy. It sits quite dusty at times, but always there. Many times I forget its there. But it’s times like today I know it is there for a reason.

The servanthood of Jesus is enough to make you reflect for several lifetimes. It is enough to make you want to treat people kinder, listen a little more and to improve your own being. It is iconic in that it depicts God at someone’s feet to make a valiant message. It is enough to bring comfort in knowing that is my Jesus, the one I try to reflect everyday.

We are what we surround ourselves with. Our words are biting and cruel. There is no time in the bible when Jesus met someone other than exactly where they were at. So why do we insist on displaying God in any other way?

Your posts on your “Christian” lifestyle are cruel. They are on display. It is not enough to be a one size fits all. We are individuals, called by name, made in the image of God. All human beings deserve the right to their own journey and search for truth. Who are we to take God’s place?

So remember the image and ask yourself if that is the one you are reflecting. Yes, take the time to look around you. You may find that your Jesus is not so Jesus after all…

Christmas Sucks

“But to those who did accept him
he gave power to become children of God,
to those who believe in his name,
who were born not by natural generation
nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision
but of God.”

The Gospel according to John

I got half a mind to scream out loud, I got have half a mind to die-

David Gray

I’ve read the Christmas posts, seen the reindeer pajamas, laughed at myself, then cried. I have always struggled with Christmas, especially as a Jewish person finding her way as a Christian in the world of reds and greens, happy Santas and nativity sets. I have struggled to understand why Christmas lights make Christians so mad, or why they are so upset about Santa. I have never understood in all the years I’ve been a Christian why I don’t feel the Christmas joy at all…

I have struggled with my expectations of Christmas, as I am sure many of you have. Some of us have lost loved ones and traditions are just not the same without them. Or maybe you’re working. Or maybe like me you’re some sort of convert (aren’t we all though?) fumbling their way through the Christmas festivities.

I decorated, bought the gifts, lit advent candles, went to mass as per our usual routine. I tried to anticipate, to see what everyone else was “seeing.” I read the posts about cancelling Christmas for kids who are bad, the posts that talk about Christmas as a pagan holiday, or Christmas trees that are just from the devil. I have read about the uproar of plain red Starbucks cups and C&E Christians and from people who are not Christians at all. For all that I’ve read and all that I’ve seen, (including the perfect family Christmas pictures replete with elves and bells and matching pajamas) I have to say I am completely unimpressed. I’m not the grinch, I’m just a girl who’s looking for the real Christmas.

My kids, they have been fighting for days. Mass, it was filled with standing room only (no strike that, no room at all). I have no family that celebrates Christmas, not one. I sat alone with my husband last night, two Jews eating a Christmas ham and casserole, kids crying upstairs on Christmas Eve, sans Christmas music.

I cried because I tried to plan the perfect Christmas. I tried to decorate the only way a little Jewish girl knows how. I bought the gifts, not many, but ones I knew the kids would enjoy. I filled the house with candles, an advent wreath and sugar cookies in the refrigerator. I got them each those ridiculous looking Christmas pajamas, as I do every year, threw reindeer bells in the backyard. They still fought and hated each other. I was still sitting in my dress from mass, no shoes, tired eyes. 

I imagine many people feel the same way as me in some way, shape or fashion. It’s cliche to comeback and say Christmas is about Jesus so get rid of everything else and send your kids to go do a service project in Africa. My kids are little. I have three of them. I gave up all of my possessions, sold them all, and followed God’s leading to a small house away from where we were. Then I got rid of more extras.

I give money away when I feel prompted; the way I see it it’s just paper with a bunch of dead presidents. I visit Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament every Wednesday. I pray constantly, and then some more. I make my kids go to mass, AND listen (or at least try). I wear a veil because God called me to. My kids still fight and hate each other, and then love each other and then punch each other in the face. They still believe in Santa Claus. They still can’t quite understand why the rest of the world doesn’t believe in Jesus.

It took me awhile after crying, stuffing my face with the kosherest of hams, having a screamd-filled dinner, an overpacked mass, ungrateful kids (because that’s just kids), more screaming, sitting here while my kids are each in their rooms having their own little Christmas, that life doesn’t stop for our expectations. That Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. That although we celebrate his birth, I celebrate it everyday. That today is special yes, but not more special than the day he found me, then the moment I knew my husband found him, when He saved our marriage, or the moment I realized His calling me home to the Catholic church was the moment I had been waiting for but just didn’t know it. I thought of all those moments, and more, and realized for me I can’t glorify this day above all days, expecting that the day will be filled with perfect Jesus moments and kids who just can’t understand quite yet that the reason their family is together is because of that little baby.

He is an innocent baby, a youth, a rabbi, a  grown man, a mystery. And He exists everyday for me, just as important as the next. On the days I don’t have perfect expectations for myself or my kids, it seems to work out, I just have to let Him in.

So I’ve decided that today is like every other day. The kids will be fighting, ungrateful and well, just being kids. My husband and I will try for the millionth time to understand why every holiday sucks. We’ll threaten to take away presents and try to “cancel” Christmas. The kids will spend some time in their rooms. I’ll read the scripture of the day and pray and thank God that in all my chaos my family is together. And I’ll let my expectations float away with my grief over my unperfect day.

And I hope you will too…

You can read more about Mary at There’s Something about Mary