Distractions or Holy Interruptions?

I prepared my “Writing Manifesto” this morning. Each day, I become more determined in my commitment to write and eventually publish what I have written. I based the Manifesto on the “Lord’s Prayer” and hung it in a lovely frame on the wall just above my computer. It looked really good! My determination could not have been stronger. I had specific goals for my writing work today. I even said a prayer asking God to help me stay focused and then WHAM!

Life happened.

My heart was already hurting for a friend with a leg injury. I was praying for him while preparing flowers for another family who just said good-bye to their beloved pet. My heart was heavy for their loss as I asked for God’s healing peace to wash over them.

I started my eighteen year old car when a noise and an odor began emitting from what is left of the engine. Oh my! I recalled the way my daughter “fixed” her bad tires when she was just out of college. “No problem Mom, if you don’t want to hear the noise, just turn up the radio!” Oops! Had I suddenly become my daughter? I said a prayer for my car as I hummed a little tune,“la, la, la, la…I can’t hear you!” By God’s grace alone, I managed to drop off the flowers and make it back home without smoke or flames pouring out of the hood of my car!

I arrive home and hear someone calling, “Hell-O?” Oh, it sounded so pitiful! Wait…that’s just the cat talking to me! He is a tiny bit spoiled by someone in this household (I’m not saying who!) and he wants my attention.

FOCUS! It is time to get back to my writing!

Suddenly, I remember another friend asked for my help with a reference letter. I promised I would write it today and mail it to her before the end of the week. Monday is Memorial Day, no mail delivery! I had better get going on that one!

A ding and a message on my phone from my friend in Oregon. Her best friend’s family member committed suicide on Sunday!  This is the second suicide in that family in less than two years!

The most powerful, yet shortest verse in all of Scripture is found in John 11:35. “Jesus Wept.” I write a note in the sympathy card as I grieve and pray with Holy Spirit. By doing so, I am sending God’s comfort and love to her over the miles.

This morning, one of the members of our Christian Authors and Writers group shared a word of encouragement with us:

Whatever God has laid His hand upon you to do…

Do it with all your strength

Car noises, cat’s craving attention and framing Manifestos are distractions.

Praying, loving, helping and weeping as Jesus wept…is God laying His hand upon me with Holy Interruptions. And today…I’m doing it with all of my strength.

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Higher

Her laughter was contagious. My little granddaughter was thoroughly enjoying her adventure on the swings. The whole time I was pushing her, she kept saying, “Go Higher Grandma, Go Higher!” What joy to hear my sweet little baby girl repeating the same message that God has been whispering in my ear these past few weeks, “I will take you higher.”

I believe God is calling each of us to go higher.

We are being called to return to a time when speaking the truth in love was not only the best way to be, but critical to civility. In a world full of injustice, we are called to stand up for the oppressed. Today, in this country and around the world, we are being called to return to honesty and more compassion toward the walking wounded, whoever they may be.

As the world (or its leaders) ask us to say no to the stranger, Jesus reminds us to welcome the stranger. When we see world leaders tell lies or inflict injustice, we are being called by God to go higher…to fight for the oppressed, defend the weak and uphold the truth.

When our children are having to defend their very right to life in their schools, we adults are being called to join them. We are called to care more…not less.

In these times, we are each being called by God to go higher!

Healing change in our country will come when we turn with a smile and laugh toward the heart of God and say, “Push me Higher Lord…Go Higher!”

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One Body

I just returned from a women’s retreat. At the end of the retreat, we closed with a beautiful song, “One Bread, One Body.” After I returned home, the words “one body” kept floating through my mind. Along with it, I felt a deep sadness. I sat before God and realized the sadness was not just mine, but that of Holy Spirit.

“What is this sadness Lord?” As soon as I asked the question, the answer came.

When did Jesus tell us to follow him, but be sure to divide up into separate denominations and congregations and sects and God forbid, cults etc? I don’t see many followers of Christ in the world today. What happened? Where did they go? Who told them to pack their bags and leave?

The truth is, we have folks who call themselves “Christians,” but they certainly don’t live the way Christ taught his disciples to live in the world. Or if they DO live as followers of Jesus, news reports seldom tell those stories. I think it’s time we change that, don’t you?

I think we’ve had enough horrific wars, daily killings, decimation of values and morals, lies, destruction of our planet and politicians who vote out of “fear” of losing their campaign money rather than truly living and voting from a place of “faith in Christ” as so many claim to do. What I see today in our country and world, is more separation and divide.

I can tell you right now my friends, our Lord did not come to destroy, but rather, to bring LIFE! Where do we find the news about THAT story?

Now, I’m not suggesting we become Polly Annas and pretend all is right and bright with the world. It’s not that easy. What I AM suggesting, is the American church stop living from a place of “fear” and start living from a place of “faith,” that God is still with us!

Maybe we need to quit listening to those who suggest we, for our own safety and survival, remain divided  out of “fear” and start listening more loudly to GOD who came, not to divide…not to separate…not to destroy, but to bring life! Maybe it’s time that followers of Christ start “uniting” rather than trusting the world’s command to fear the stranger and remain divided so we can be safe from an unknown enemy.

The truth is, The Good News is still alive and true followers of Jesus (those folks who follow the command to love others as God has loved them) are waking up!

God is waking up the dead church. God is breathing life back into those dry bones. God is calling us to become ONE body, not fractions of the body, not parts of a body, but ONE Body!

When Christians start living more from a place of faith, rather than from a place of fear, I believe the parts of the body that have gone off in the wrong direction, just might come back home to the heart of God. Perhaps then, our country might once again, become the UNITED States of America!

Are you uniting or dividing as you follow Christ? Or, are you a Christian in name only?

It’s time to pick up those packed bags and come home again “Christians” and become true followers of Jesus.

Christian churches, it is time to wake up! It is time to act as One Body and return home to the heart of our Lord.

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Fighting for my Country

I will be sixty-four years old next month and it is the first time I have ever fought for my country. No, I didn’t join the military. I decided to get involved in a local group of individuals who truly care about our American Democracy.

Every time I read about what our federal government is saying or doing, I am shocked and dismayed. But, I am not discouraged because by the multiplication of the “power of one,” I believe together, we CAN save our democracy.

Now one would think, as my granddaughter called me recently, this “funny old lady” would just mind her own business!

Newsflash – That’s not happening! Or as my Godson used to say, “Here’s the REAL of it!”

My involvement in politics has become my business because the majority of government representatives have reneged on making it THEIR business.

My taking action to stand up to authoritarian agendas has become my business, because the majority of government leaders are apparently too scared to make it THEIR business!

Yes! My joining small groups who are writing letters, attending protests, calling government representatives and speaking up for the weak and voiceless in our country, has become my business.

Why? Well, the bottom line is, if we EACH make it OUR business to care about this country’s freedoms and democracy, then all those who fought and died in the military to DEFEND our freedom…will not have fought and died in vain.

My father was a Veteran who was in a wheelchair after his service to this country. If I don’t stand up and fight for my country’s democracy, especially now…then everything he taught me about being a good American citizen, would be wasted.

So, for the first time, at the age of almost sixty four, I am fighting for my country with every fiber of my being and when I am older and more weary…I will fight some more if that is what it takes to save our American Democracy!

And just for the record…I won’t need a parade.

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From the Darkness of the Womb into the Light of Joy

Many people are concerned about the future under this current administration. The government has just stolen from hard working American people and given to the wealthy few. It makes sense that Advent feels more dark and foreboding this year.

I could no longer contain my frustration and deep sadness as I blurted out to our pastor, “How can this be happening? How am I supposed to love people who take from the poor and vulnerable and give to the wealthy?” I’m not sure he had an answer, but he did say, “God is doing something.” And to his credit, he humbly added, “I’m not sure what that something is, but I know God is doing something!” So, I wondered during my prayer time and I asked, “Where is your light Lord? What is the something you are doing?” And then I tried to listen. Two scripture texts came to mind. (Matthew 22:34-40 and Matthew 9:17) They may not seem related, but in an odd way they are.

“34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together.35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[c] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment.39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[d] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

The second scripture is from Matthew 9:17 (It is also in Mark and Luke) “Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”

This year, I’ve been blessed to participate in a wonderful online community of individuals on a journey through Advent. Many  in this group have struggled with the same questions along their faith journey. Many have left their church and/or even their original faith, only to travel a new road or back home to the faith they originally started with.

The amazing thing about this particular community, is their determination to “love others” in the midst of the struggle. I read daily posts about loving their neighbors, helping in the community, struggling with grief, expressing their anger, frustrations, joys and sorrows. No one is judged or argued with. They simply love God and others.
It is messy and authentic and I suspect, very much like it was when the disciples walked with Jesus on the earth. In my mind, it is a good example of what the church was always meant to be before it was high jacked by religion.

The political leaning of this group is evident by their tongue in cheek tagline of “Make Advent Great Again.” For me, it has been a community where I have the freedom to struggle and wait in the dark wonder of the “something” my pastor suggested God is doing. All of this to say, today I hold a renewed sense of light in the darkness of Advent. As I write this, it is in fact, the shortest day of the year and the longest night. Tomorrow, the light will literally increase! How appropriate!

As a Christian, I wait in the darkness of Advent as a reminder of the waiting of Mary (and the world really!) for the birth of the Savior. As we celebrate Christmas this year, we can choose to see only the darkness around us, or we can wait in the dark womb of the “new thing” God is doing. We can wait in the unknowing “something” that God has already created.

The birth pains of “the new” are upon us! For too long, we have tried to DO church instead of BE church. My spiritual director reminds me often that the Kingdom of God is pressed right up against us! We are in fact, in the transition stage of birth! The church of our Savior is no longer comfortable with the safe, dark womb. The curch is moving from the dark womb into the light of new birth!

Another way of looking at this might be based on the Matthew 9 scripture referenced earlier. The church today is no longer able to fit into the old wineskin or the old way of doing things. The rich, dark new wine is being poured into new wineskins! Will we try to adjust our current way of “doing church” with a patch here or there, or will we embrace the new wine, the new “something” God is doing?

All around me I see people with love and compassion speaking up for the vulnerable and the poor. I see Americans passionately fighting to keep our democracy and freedom. And, I see the majority of American people, loving their neighbor! Of course there will always be people who have lost their light (or never had it in the first place) who will try to drag us down into the dark pit of despair, but all is not lost! I want to encourage you to look around with your eyes wide open. I believe you will see people in our country holding the Light of Hope and Love!

Are you ready for the new birth? I know I am! And much like a mother who has entered the transition stage of new birth, I am more than ready to bring this new child into the Light with Joy!!

May this Christmas be one of new light and joy as you focus on the Light of God more than you focus on the dark.

Blessings!
Cindy

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Examples of the Power of One

I have not written much in this category on my blog. I’ve wanted to, but I have been focused on my book. Today though, as I’m going through final edits, I am distracted. I’m distracted by the tax scam bill that is working its way through Congress.  I’m distracted by the national parks boundaries that are being slashed by a want to be emperor and the oil barons surrounding him.  I’m distracted by the many children who no longer have health care and the parents of these children who will be paying more for their own healthcare. In other words, I am distracted by the temptation to become hopeless and depressed.,

Okay, enough of that!

I want to offer a few examples of how we can each pull ourselves (and perhaps others) out of the muck and mire of the daily REAL news. I want to offer some examples of the power of one that will help lift our spirits and keep us moving forward.  I have found that it helps to take positive action steps during such times.  Some of these may work for you. Some may not. Choose something of your own if that is the case. These are just a few suggestions or examples.

  • For ONE day…don’t turn on the TV, Facebook or news feeds. If you are not able to manage a whole day…do it for ONE hour. Allow yourself to make this suggestion work or fit for you and your schedule.
  • Find ONE organization or non-profit that helps people who are disadvantaged or poor or vulnerable. Then volunteer your time or donate supplies or make a monetary donation. Or better yet, do all three!
  • Take ONE hour to sit on the couch, drink tea or coffee or other beverage to your liking and read poetry, scripture or uplifting literature. Turn on some calming music.
  • Write ONE letter to a Congressperson or Senator THANKING them for voting for the causes and political standards that you support. Along the same lines, write to the director or CEO of ONE organization that is already working to protect vulnerable individuals in our current political climate.
  • Smile at ONE person (or more.)
  • Compliment ONE co-worker or family member.
  • Share ONE positive thing about your life right now with a friend, a neighbor, co-worker or family member.

As we walk through this season of Advent, I pray that you will serve as a light of hope in the darkness and a beacon of love for those who cross your path each day.

And never underestimate the difference that can be made in our world today by the power of one. 🙂

Blessings!

 

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Turn Around

An open letter to Representatives and Senators:

Some of you claim to be Christian. In fact, many of you quote scripture to serve your personal agendas. Yet, you fail to be who you claim to be. A “Christian” is a “follower of Jesus Christ.” The name Christian literally means, “little anointed one.” Where is your anointing? Where is the moving and direction (anointing) from The Holy Spirit? Where are you “following Jesus” in the votes you have cast and WILL cast?

It is time to turn around and go a new direction!

I was praying for you tonight. I prayed that you would remember the Word of God…not for show, not for bravado, not for your personal gain or for political support, but for the sake of the American people. I was praying you would turn around and go a new direction.

The House has already voted to harm the weak, steal from the poor, cast aside the struggling and vulnerable. Again I ask, “How, by this vote, did you follow Jesus? Do not DARE to claim to be a Christian, when you do not follow what Jesus taught you through God’s Word. Jesus healed the sick, cast out greed, fed the hungry and so much more! Again I ask, where oh Christian Congressperson or Senator have you or will you follow Jesus by your vote?

Micah 6:11-16

Am I still to forget your ill-gotten treasures, you wicked house, and the short ephah, which is accursed? Shall I acquit someone with dishonest scales, with a bag of false weights? Your rich people are violent; your inhabitants are liars and their tongues speak deceitfully. Therefore, I have begun to destroy you, to ruin you because of your sins. You will eat but not be satisfied; your stomach will still be empty. You will store up but save nothing, because what you save I will give to the sword. You will plant but not harvest; you will press olives but not use the oil, you will crush grapes but not drink wine. You have observed statutes of Omri and all the practices of Ahab’s house; (a wicked king of Israel) You have followed their traditions. Therefore I will give you over to ruin and your people to derision; you will bear the scorn of the nations.

And verses 6-8   And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God!

Now is the time to turn around and DO what God requires of you. And if you choose not todon’t tell me or the rest of the country that you are a Christian! Because God also said, “Thou shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.” In other words, God would prefer that you not tell a lie!  And so would the majority of American voters!

Turn Around! 

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It is Time to Choose

It is 3:30 in the morning and I can’t sleep. I have tossed and turned for the past two hours. The events in Charlottesville flash through my mind like bloody patchwork on a tattered U.S. flag.

My prayer is, “Lord, what has happened to our country?”

I knew in January, that things would turn ugly.  The person with rhetoric of division and hate had become our president.

Then too, my prayer was, “Lord, what has happened to our country?”

The “U” stands for United. Are we going to be United in Hate or United in Love?

United means being together as one.                                                                                                    

We have a choice today, whether that choice is made as an individual, a church, a state or a nation.

We can choose:

Love over Hate

Peace over War

Compassion over Apathy

Care for humanity over care for self

Someone asked me today, “What can be done about something that happened on the other side of the country?” My response was, “Nothing…we can’t do anything there…but we can start right here!”

In response to the horrors of Charlottesville and so many other places where hate attempts to thrive, we can choose where we stand. We can each start with one drop of kindness that will, like ripples in a pond, move to the outer edges. And then…THEN…we will be doing something about what happened in another state on the other side of the country.

Then, we will be United.

Then and only then, will the world see that we are The United States of America and at our core…Love is what makes us great!

Choose!

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Make a Choice!

I want to address something I am concerned about and hopefully will be of concern to many of you.  This current republican administration has decided to move forward to repeal health care for millions of Americans. As a Christian, I am not okay with that!

Matthew 25:37-40 says, “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40: I (Jesus) tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”

Yes, I’m concerned about my family and friends and certainly the most vulnerable among us (the sick, the elderly, the disabled, the mentally ill, the homeless etc.) But the ‘Oomph’ that is prompting  me to write this article is concerned about the Congress people who CALL themselves Christians, but are not LIVING as Christians. As much as I can tell, they are also not ACTING like Christians and certainly not SERVING as Christians in their positions of leadership. The deciding vote to proceed down the path to take healthcare away from millions of Americans, was made by Vice President, Mike Pence, who “claims” to be a Christian. Again, as much as this might upset some of my republican friends, as a Christian, I am not okay with that!

Now, many of you may say, “Well, how arrogant of you to say such things Cindy! Who are YOU to be disparaging another when your life and actions are not perfect?” A very good question! I am not perfect, we all make mistakes. However, when someone calls themselves a Christian and makes that part of their campaign strategy and then intentionally takes an action that is the opposite of what they claim to be, that’s another story!  So, the question remains, “Who am I? I am no one! The Spirit of Christ who lives in me however, has been stirred to take action here!

I heard a quote many years ago. At the moment, I can’t recall the source, but it goes like this: “The Holy Spirit comforts the disturbed, and disturbs the comfortable.” THAT is why I am writing this article! The Holy Spirit is disturbing the muddy waters in Washington and hopefully, disturbing some comfortable Christians who may be reading this right now.

Matthew 25: 44-46 continues addressing those who did nothing, “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ 45: He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you DID NOT DO for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

The leaders of our country who “claim” they are Christian, have a choice to make. You can’t take action to have millions of Americans suffer by taking away their healthcare AND tell me you are a Christian.  Matthew 25 begs to differ on that one!

Will congress people who “claim” to be Christians follow the teachings of Jesus OR will they choose to ignore those teachings for the sake of “party loyalty?”

Will they SAY they are Christian just so they can get the vote to stay in office? OR will they have the courage to SHOW they are Christian by standing up to DEFEND those who are needy, hungry and SICK…even if it means upsetting the president who wants their loyalty to him, over their loyalty to their God?

And what about you comfortable Christian? Are you telling yourself there is nothing you can do? That you are helpless, powerless and can’t speak up because of your loyalty to your political party?  What choice will YOU make? Will you DO for our Lord or will you NOT DO?

The choice is up to you.

Oh, and if you are a Christian in name only, you might want to read Matthew 25 verse 46.

And the Holy Spirit…has disturbed the comfortable.

Posted in Spiritual Life, The Power of One

The Balancing Act

Dear Friends,

I told myself I was going to be more committed to my writing this year. In fact, I’ve said I will start my book. I’ve been wanting to write my book and now is as good a time as any. Maybe that is how I will find even more balance in life. We shall see. 🙂

Why the topic of balance? Given the beginning  of the Trump administration, or perhaps the soon to be end of this administration, I think many people are in need of balance these days. We have been pushed to a new twilight zone. (For you younger folks, “The Twilight Zone” was a television show when I was a kid. I hope you will forgive me for the antiquated reference.

We are bombarded daily by the insanity of the actions taken by a power hungry “leader” and we feel like our heads are spinning or about to burst! Perhaps like me, you are feeling overwhelmed by the number of petitions, protests, facebook posts, tweets and news headlines. Doom and gloom came along with this leader, much like the proverbial black cloud.

So, how do we balance? First, I believe it’s important to recognize that when we are immersed in the muck and mire (overshadowed by the black cloud) we may begin to experience secondary post traumatic stress disorder. (Yes, that’s a real thing. Please research it for more information.)

I have found some balance by doing the following. I’m not suggesting you find balance in the same way, but it might give you an idea of what I’m doing for the sake of my own sanity. Here are some steps I have taken that have started me on the path to balance. Feel free to use them or create your own to reach balance in your life.

  • I’ve made a note of 3 to 4 groups that I am intent on following or hearing from either by email or on Facebook. These are news and organization sites that I know are accurate and not “fake” news. I have unsubscribed to all others.
  • I check the petitions I am willing to sign. If the petition is simply a way for a random candidate to increase their donor list, I’m more careful about signing.
  • I stick to organizations and petitions that I am passionate about. For example, I am concerned about what will happen to people re: healthcare. I’m also concerned about the disenfranchised and vulnerable. (Someone asked me  if I included Democrats in this category. Ha!) I have unsubscribed from all other lists and sites.
  • I select a time or allow a specific amount of time to read updates on actions taken and to contact my representatives in Washington. I make donations to organizations fighting for causes I’m passionate about. For balance here, I ALSO write to thank representatives of Congress who are showing a backbone and standing up to injustice and abuse.
  • I spend time on Facebook posting about  political areas I’m concerned about, but I also post videos of puppies, babies, otters, nature and other cute or fun things.
  • Most important, I allow time in my week for worshipping God, reading scripture and participating in fellowship with other believers.
  • I spend time visiting with friends, those who are sick and taking care of my grandchildren. ALL of these things are life-giving for me.

Are you currently spending too much time in the muck and mire? Where do you need or want to make changes so that your life is more balanced?

I’m committed to standing in the light. I will not allow fear or hate get me down or abusive individuals to discourage me. I don’t allow bullying by anyone, including facebook posts or presidents or emperors as the case may be.  I am committed to doing all that I can through my writing to encourage you and uplift you. Yes, I have my own opinions, but I’m not forcing you to read these articles. They are an invitation. I hope the rhetorical questions I’ve asked here might help you restore balance in your life and bring a renewed sense of hope and light in your life.

Blessings,

Cindy

 

 

 

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