The Holy Spirit is tapping me on the shoulder again. Wake up to trust me who loves you unconditionally. always. …God
… But if I wag my tail furiously, someone will come by and give me a wonderful home. I will just be. I will trust completely…. Rascal G. Smith-Davis
Every day for three months I came to the door of the cat room to greet the people that came to the shelter, trusting that someone would give me a good home. I trust completely. ……. Blake B. Smith-Davis-Cat
A wonderful dinner awaits me while I busily work on my assignment due today. I trust Roger will provide.
Neighbor stops her busy day to read my paper… I care about you. …T.
Can I do any less?
God provides for me (for us) in all things. I declare my weakness but know I will succeed at what is most important by letting go to trust God who loves me just as I am. Be renewed. Declare how despite the fact you fall on your face; you still are loved. Completely. For who you are secretly deep inside by Him who gave his Life for you. …Bonnie
Psalm 139 V.1-12
1 O Lord, you have searched me and known me. 2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from far away. 3 You search out my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. 4 Even before a word is on my tongue, O Lord, you know it completely.
5You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is so high that I cannot attain it.
7 Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea, 10 even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast. 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light around me become night,” 12 even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is as bright as the day, for darkness is as light to you.
Sky greets me, tail wagging and straining forward as before, in her new warm grey- and -white sweater. Her new mom Jess smiles as Sky confidently moves forward. As I get reacquainted with beautiful Sky, Jess reaches down to stroke her sweet pup. “Sky is improving in her balance and in learning how to be with others after her amputation,” but really doesn’t seem too sure about coming back here to the humane society for our visit. A tentative wag combined with a gaze around the animal pen and while leaning in to my leg confirms her guess.
After a pause Jess continues with her eyes steadily on her pup, “Sky loves to be close to me and play with her tug/toss toy at home. She knows that I need her as much as she needs me. We help each through each day.” Sky gazes back at her mom and gives her a reaffirming sniff and nose lick.
Jess continues stroking her little girl and adds that it has been a tough month or so for both of them…and that they are so grateful for all the loving, caring friends at the humane society in the Second Chances program that allows pets with special considerations to be readied for adoption. Also, that new owners as herself wish to show deep appreciation for those willing to devote sponsor kennels and surgery sponsors. ** Thank you!
Bored by all of our continued “barking”, Sky spots a tug toy by the dog house and runs over to check the scents. Conversation turns to the holidays and the fact that soon Jess and Sky will celebrate their very first Christmas together. Sky seems truly a special gift from God for Jess and Jess for her. Love. Pure and simple Love. As Sky wanders back, she nuzzles closer when Jess bends down to adjust her pup’s sweater to keep warm in the November chill.
Sky, looking up obediently at her forever mom for the next instruction, lays down on command, now just contented to be beside her mom. The bond of trust and love that has been building since they first met is clearly growing stronger.
Jess quietly adds that throughout the decision-making process of whether or not to adopt, each time she visited Sky or Sky was allowed to visit at her home, she quietly believed with all the love in her heart that she would be Sky’s forever friend. They would be together throughout all their challenges. Still, Jess had to consider would be best in the long run for Sky who had gone through so much with coming to the humane society with a deep hurting body, the amputation process. for her loved ones, and for herself.
Finally, Jess listens to her heart and decides to take the necessary steps to adopt her inspirational, loving, young pit bull mix with her missing right front leg and the enormously loving heart!
Since that decision, these two friends have been at each other’s side through periods of adjustment in their life and the lives of those they love. Sky comforts and remains very close to Jess as Jess has needed her during a dear friend’s illness. Jess has consistently been there for Sky, taking her into the vet for regular checkups following Sky’s amputation which the vet says is healing well. Also, Jess, as alluded to earlier, keeps working with Sky in conjunction with her training to grow more comfortable with her new gaited walking, to act appropriately and to be more comfortable around others.
As the chill nipped underneath our coats, and a few more questions are answered, we all have the warm feeling spoken only through our hearts. Joy and Love. Sky has her fur-ever home. Her amputation is over, and the healing takes over, not only of the body, but in her deep, loving heart with so much to give! Sky was home. And so was Jess.
Merry Christmas, dear readers. We must continue to be love. Sky’s deep love-filled heart which does not give up but shows endless determination to love others in spite of her missing limb!
My challenge for you: about a personal “limb” or wound that you really focus (lean) on, spend a lot of time being concerned about, like a job, bill, illnesses, or possible outcome of an event. In other words, what are you willing to cast aside in order to focus on showing the gift of Love of Christ?
Then, set an intention to read Corinthians 1, chapter 13 (below) every day for ten days. Ponder what deep love might look like for a person or creature in your life.
Verses to Ponder: First Corinthians 13
“If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres…8 Love never fails.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
Did you know that Advent and Hanukah begin on the same day this year? November 28, 2021 on the Gregorian calendar, is also the 25th day of the month Kislev on the Hebrew calendar, which is always the date Hanukah starts. (By the way, there’s no correct way to spell Hanukkah. Common spellings are the two I’ve used, plus Chanukah, Chanuka, and Chanucah.)
Advent in the Christian tradition is the 40 days leading up to the celebration of Christ’s birth which is celebrated December 25, however erroneously, since the birth has been suggested to have occurred in early September, according to astrological calculations. That is when the planets of Jupiter, the moon and Saturn, aligned, and were possibly the “star of Bethlehem” referred to in the gospels, and which will not align that particular way again for another 16, 000 years, according to nationalpost.com.
Hanukah, a Jewish holiday, is also called the Festival of Lights. It is the celebration of when the oil found in one jar, normally enough for one day, miraculously burned for 8 days in the temple during the Maccabean Revolt in the 2nd century BC.
My thoughts about these two important calendar dates coinciding is that it is the greatest message. The light of the world, Jesus Christ, has come for both Jews and Gentiles. And as Christians, we believe that he came for all, lived for all, and died for all, making the way clear into the Holiest of Holies, the Presence of God, for all who believe.
Male and female, Jew and Gentile, all are one in the gospel which says that all who believe are being formed into a spiritual temple, not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. (Galatians 3:28, Ephesians 2:21, 1 Corinthians 3:16 and 2 Corinthians 5:1) The Bible says that we are the temple of God, when we believe and have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us. And that we are the light of the world. (Matthew 5:14-16). That is such a cool statement!
Some special ideas for personal and family growth in Christ through Advent are to study the differences and similarities between Advent and Hanukah, and read the Bible passages about the birth of Christ in Luke 2 and elsewhere.
In addition, to clear our hearts and minds, we can seek to forgive all who have wronged us this year in any way, and to pray blessings over our enemies. (Mark 11:25, Matthew 5:43-48) We can also confess any sins to God and another trusted person, so that they may pray for us so we can be healed. (James 5:16) And we can ask God to shine his light on our path so that our way is clear before us and so that we do not stumble. (Psalm 119:105).
As Christians consider the Advent season, attempting to clear hearts and minds of any unholy clutter from the year and to focus on God’s light and word for our lives, it’s good to come apart and rest, maybe light a candle, and give thanks to God for all his benefits.
I pray the love of God shines on each one of us this Advent and Hanukah season and that we all seek the purest light from heaven, the Lord Jesus Christ, who alone can save us from our sins and make us worthy to join him in Heaven eternally.
Laurie Jane Stawicki, mother of five, singer-songwriter, speaker, and author of the upcoming memoir “Sacrifice of Tears,” and “Don’t Count Your Chickens.” LJ loves and writes in Iowa. You can contact her at LJStawicki@yahoo.com. Please put “Sacrifice of Tears” in the subject line. Thank you for reading!
Sometimes I wake up feeling grouchy, and really, really want to cover my head with my pillow and snuggle down, but I know down deep, that if the day is to go well, I know I must follow a routine doing exercise (like yoga) and reading Scripture, group prayer and a good breakfast.
But before all that, I will try to push myself to wake up by plumping my pillow, putting my hands on my stomach and just slowly breathing. As I take my breath in, I often say a favorite Scripture as I read like “This is the day the Lord has made, and on the outbreath, let us rejoice and be glad in it” several times…Whatever comes to my head through the grace of the Spirit. I thank God for this life, this day, my heartbeat, my breathing, the ability to use my senses…maybe not as well as I used to, on and on. Till I feel a smile of gratitude coming on my face, connecting me to the Lord who created me and every other particle of matter that exists.
And later, as I get out into the world to walk my dog, I often have a song come to my mind as I interact with nature around me in the stillness of the morning. One particular song of gratitude often comes into my heart and continues to fill me deeply with the way we can see the connections in the world today and must be to each other. All affects all. Everything comes from God. We love because God first loved us.
A nutritious question for your day: What serves to help you get past grouchy moments to starting a good morning? …to have a grateful attitude, remembering Christ’s abiding Love in and through us, the indwelling Holy Spirit who comforts and guides you? Perhaps an old song, a beautiful memory, a Scripture, the Spirit’s quiet words leading when you are tired, grouchy or just in need of an attitude change?
What does it mean to hold space for another person?
Truly, this is perceived in different ways. But some facets in all these perceptions seem to use tools to meld or laser focus Light in the discerning heart.
One current way of holding space, is described by Heather Plett of “Enlightened Consciousness” to be walk alongside another person in whatever journey they’re on without judging them, making them feel inadequate, trying to fix them, or trying to impact the outcome. To open our hearts, offer unconditional support, and let go of judgement and control.
Put another way, holding space is in what First Corinthians 13 says so clearly… “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. It always hopes, always perseveres.”
The discerning heart will tell you how to use these perceptions. The couple in the above picture that persevered in life are my parents. After the Great Depression, they held space in their own way while married for 72 years and built a life together in not ideal circumstances.
They grew together in a challenging multi-generational family, lived through family separations and divorce of past generations, survived more than three wars and life -threatening and debilitating illnesses, raised two children, moved, made job changes. All the while, they maintained responsible relationships in work and at home. Watching each penny that they spent, they loved each other through these and countless other difficulties.
Was their relationship perfect? No, not really. But they never gave up on each other enjoyed moments present to each other. Did they disagree? Yes. But I remember no violence or arguing in front of us. Dad and Mom patiently, but not perfectly, worked together and they always came back to loving and forgiving each other.
In this give-and-take of life, they honored their union and respected each other enough to remain there. They held space for each other and for us.
So, is there one perfect way of holding space in a relationship? We each have our own stories of individuals whom we feel have held space for us or not held space as the case might be.
Personally, I am still learning how to hold space, not by doing exactly everything my parents did, because their lives were configured by God differently than mine. But they and others continue to guide me, as I do my imperfect best to pray, read and live the Scriptures for example in Corinthians, Galatians and Colossians. Not just memorize verses…but to see life through them using the discerning lens of my heart.
I believe God doesn’t keep count of mistakes we make as we walk a life journey committed to Him. If we are truly present in life, we can perceive how Jesus continues to be Love in everything we experience …In this manner, the Spirit guides us. Holding us, He shares His very life.
The challenge I give you is this. While give yourself some grace along the way, start this process for a week.
1) Read to discern a tool, a gem, in a few verses of Scripture each day…perhaps in Colossians 3 or Corinthians 13 or Galatians 5.
2) Try to laser focus, by maintaining a space of time to use that gem with another person/creature and be kind (as an example), no matter what the rough exterior. What reactions, if any, do you see in yourself or the other being?
3) Perhaps choose to jot down your thoughts as you walk through this process. Quite possibly you and I may not have 72 years in any relationship. Time doesn’t matter. Take care of the other as Jesus does you. Now. Today. Love.
8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
“No problem! I got this…”
Do you ever feel this way?
I received a strong reminder of God’s power when the neighborhood cat Daisy triggered a gut feeling in our Rascal dog that cleanly knocked obeying his master out of the park.
“My territory. My way.”
We were walking Rascal in the neighborhood when all of a sudden, I saw a flash of fur ahead of us in the near distance. Before I could react, the leash flew out of our hands with a big sudden jerk, trailing behind a disappearing Rascal around the corner of a house. He was chasing Daisy, who was scared for her life.
Oh no—he’s loose! This was the cry of my heart.
A deep wrench of “why didn’t you” flashed before me as I ran with heart thumping …Why hadn’t I had (didn’t I) keep a stronger grip on his leash? I clearly did not “have control“ and there was a problem. Rascal was gone!
Why, Why, why… A busy street lay just beyond Rascal’s disappearing tail. Roger hurried around the other side of the house in an attempt to head him off. But no such luck. As I ran, I prayed that Rascal would be found safe from danger away from the busy road in front of our house and return to us. I caught my breath in the front yard and surveyed the landscape in an eerie out-of-time pause.
When time picked up again, I returned to the present, seeing Roger across the busy street yelling to me, “I see him! Rascal, come see dad!”
A splash of light brown tail raced in the other direction. Then, as Rascal finally heard our voices, an “Oops I forgot look.” appeared on his face. He stopped dead in his tracks and faced us as Daisy scrambled behind her house.
Rascal approached Roger, much like a child after being caught with his hand in cookie jar. He slowly dipped his head, tentatively wagged his tail, and bowed deeply, as if asking for compassion and understanding.
As his contrition unfolded, my heart reawakened me to how our loving God welcomes us as we truly observe our weaknesses. He reveals them in what we are doing to ourselves and others, and bids us come back to Him.
When we awaken to the realization of our thoughtless actions, judgment of others, and disregard of God’s ways, we hear God’s voice calling us.
In the same manner as Christ, Roger leaned down, joyfully surrounding forgetful, cat-chasing Rascal with his arms. Roger’s loving tone rang out, “Rascal! You heard me and returned when I called.” Rascal’s tail immediately wagged faster and smiled. He behaved as if he were home, welcomed into His master’s arms.
We may say, “I got this! No problem!“
But do we? Our Savior says “Come to me. I Love you no matter what, I will surround you with my Love and strengthen you throughout your life. My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Not our power, but His holds us in life.
My challenge: read and meditate on the following verses from Corinthians 1, chapter 13 about LOVE. Perhaps, replace the word LOVE with your own name or God’s. Try doing so twice daily.
“13 If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
Awaken to others by learning more about what our Lord Jesus did when he came to us as a man, choosing to be present with lovingkindness for all. Pray ceaselessly, giving God praise and worshiping him. Come back home.
Later, as we rested, I felt such gratitude and love as Rascal jumped up and nestled close with a sigh. As I petted his soft curly fur, he looked up, ears flopping open with his deep, soft brown eyes melting into mine.
God’s Love whispered, “I’ve got this. I Love you. You are Mine.”
Colossians 3: 12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
*We are intricately connected to who we love. The Invisible String inspired me to write a little bit about a close relationship I share with a dear one and perhaps like one you have as well.
Love holds us all close, like a string connecting hearts with the truth…that of abiding friendship. That yes! “I can do this” and feel the tug to stay connected, despite pandemics, snowstorms, illness…write cards, calling… surfacing above the fear of the deadly pandemic that once appeared to threaten so many in the world. Perhaps you, like me, have been blessed with zooming and could feel the energy of others right through the screen, with those that care about each other.
In my relationship with Jesus, I openly share deep in the heart, but I don’t even need to say a word. The Word reaches out and touches my heart… comforting me as I listen …though sometimes, I am not awakened to know it.
This open, heart-based relationship comes through between my friend Debbie and myself. We continue to hold center for each other… present and praying for each other in whatever we go through. God blesses us continually no matter what circumstances appear in our lives. Sharing God’s love through presence and lovingkindness, we look forward to an open, trusting conversation every time we get to talk with each other.
No matter whatever else happens to us, we have had a phone call invitation waiting for each other nearly every day. (My husband knows to expect the call and sometimes the whole family joins in!) Feet remaining firmly planted in Scriptures, we share Scriptures, day’s events and remind each other of how blessed we are in this world with God’s love living in us and through us. (We had called our loving mothers every day and years ago when they passed away, we started this tradition whenever our hearts speak out the other’s name.)
We continually share a love of music. Me with piano and bagpipes, she with her gift of playing 10 musical instruments to bring joy to people all over her metropolitan city at church, nursing homes, wherever called and even at my 70th bday party online earlier this year. She played over 5 beautiful songs on her harp to the entranced guests celebrating with me. For her birthday, I tried my hand at making a birthday cake which I presented at my house… almost 2 years since we were in same room.
Debbie cocked her head and smiled as she looked at my sorrowful, slightly lopsided Bundt confetti cake. I knew she would like whatever I did, as I do for her, but truly, it looked like a five-year-old had frosted it. I looked up at her quizzical look and said, “Okay. I know. I am a writer, not a cook.” “Yes, you are,” she says lovingly. No more was needed. As the prodigal child, I was accepted for being me, just myself. Knowing that no matter what we do, we will still be connected by loved and accepted. No questions asked.
The next morning, I picked her up at her sister’s house and drove off for breakfast to have one last conversation before she left to go back home to Minnesota. In a Snuffy’s shirt and slacks, Debbie joined me for a casual breakfast at McDonalds.
As I poured hot sauce on my breakfast burrito, I caught a look out of the corner of my eye at Debbie. She was looking at me like she was gazing at a picture she wanted to remember…and said “It is one thing to get all dressed up and go out to eat for a special dinner, but having a burrito in old clothes early in the morning, that has to be with someone who really loves you.” She bowed her head and grasped my hand tightly for the blessing. We were so grateful that we could be together for a little while. It is well and always will be. Lopsided cake and all.
Hello Friends! Have you ever awakened from a dream and discovered that in your dream, you had become or accomplished so much more than you are right now? Have you ever wondered what life would be like if you let go, really let go of the past, and started taking steps towards your dream life? Have you ever meditated on what you’d really like out of life, and what you want your accomplishments to be at the end?
We only have one life to live. And it is so important to take a few moments or even an hour, a day, or a week or more away, and write down your hopes and dreams and what your goals will be. (Get out your notebook today! Start with a dream brainstorm.)
If you need help with confidence, get help from a coach or a counselor or even a friend. What God has put in you, do not allow to fade like a flower and forever be unused. Bring forth your gifts and talents for the community around you to be blessed by and to encourage others towards being all they can be, and so it becomes a circle.
You give who you are and what you have so the next person is inspired to do the same, and we all feed off of each other in a good way, to edify, uplift, purposefully contribute who we are and who God made us to be, functioning in His body, and blessing God and ourselves with our gifts and contributions to others and the world.
Let’s not give up! This is your day! Never, never, never give up the dreams God has put in your heart. And if for some reason you have moved away from them, do a recovery dive! Take a new step in your original direction! There is no time to waste!
“This poem is about the dreams God has put in each child, including you, and what might become of them. Amen.
Starving for Dreams
They scrounge in the Dust looking for something not Remembering what it was they Lost So Long Ago Children’s Young hopes Set Aside for the time But Time became long And Longer they served Someone else’s dream Slaves to the fact that they Dependent on others for the image of freedom Forgot their own and Died, remembering Not from Whence they Came from God their thoughts Put to rest as Young adults Never to be seen again except as a foggy dream in the night, half asleep half awake, an angel’s reminder that they were made for MORE— Thoughts in the pallor of busy lives Forgotten as in Dis-Believed, as In not Honored for their Whole Purpose— to Love, to be LOVED, and to Die with their hands full of what could have been Had they Listened– Had they Heard— Had they begun to Believe that inside their future they held the Seed, As Children, to Become All they were Meant TO BE— Had they Not compared their Dreams to Another’s— Had they Known that in the Internal Gold Treasure Trove of their gossamer Thoughts, Intentions and Hopes— they could Have It ALL— Don’t let GO— Remember Who You Are What You Dreamed (before Someone taught you they were impossible) Keep Listening to the Deep Impregnable Art of the Threads of Design in Your Mind and Heart— Creator and Created One In Sync.
Blessing Others, Self and God By Keeping to Your True Destiny Fullness of Joy Being Doing Dreaming Art in your music, numbers, architecture of a life fully lived before God— as in—Who You Were Meant to Be— Amen.
Mark 4:27 Night and day, while he’s asleep or awake, the seed sprouts and grows, but he does not understand how it happens.
Ephesians 3….20Now to Him who is able to do so much more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, 21to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
More snow. A beautiful thick blanket of white tucks in the Earth below every night now. As my feet touch the ground a soft crunch radiates up from my boots to my ears. Icy cold too. As I struggle to focus through glasses fogged with breath, evergreens gradually appear to my right standing tall and strong with snow heavily resting on their branches. An occasional bird and squirrel peek out from under the green cover.
Close by, the empty bird feeder glass shows hunger of the wildlife. Time to feed again. The chill blazes down through my nose as I breathe in the winter air. As I move to get the mail and garbage container, the deep silence resonates a loud chill into my soul. Next week is Ash Wednesday.
With measured steps I make my way to my destination. Quietly I move as the earth rests preparing itself after a very long year open to all that came seeking. I see no one which seems so much a part of last year. Separation from those of us that are dear to us. Not able to see the vibrancy of their lives close up, their breath, touch and dear faces within an arm’s reach. Yet. Hope sustains.
I see a small bit of earth peeking out where the plow has dug deep down, bleeding the life underneath. I remember the lesson that resonates throughout the Gospels. Infinite Beauty calls us to stop, rise above the noise to listen and feel the warm embrace that surrounds all life everywhere. The quiet growing of Life beneath the Earth seems to shout “I Love you. You are mine. I forgive you and you will be with me forever.”
Scratching the ground for a bit of food and chattering to himself, an impatient squirrel hears me bringing the empty garbage can up to the house. Ralph, as we call him, scampers up the tree. Hurry up human, I am hungry. “Patience,” I say under my breath. I observe that I feel a lot like Ralph sometimes. Just digging and searching impatiently for quick wisdom and reassurance of what I think I need.
How will we approach Lent this year, as we are rooted and grounded in Christ, to proclaim our beautiful connection to all that exists in this world? Deep inside the seed that grows within …Jesus shows us how as we listen, observe, participate fully in life. I wish to grow, to learn as I push upward through the snow with Christ as my closest friend and guide through in whatever “weather” I find myself.
And, as Ralph reminds me so lovingly, don’t forget along the way to feed the animals and all creation, including yourself. Nourish tenderly with kindness, service, joy from deep within your beautiful self that God created. Live in the moment and perhaps, hug a tree…
Takeaways: Stop and warm yourself with the joy of Life. Listen with your heart to the message of the following beautiful old hymn of faith and trust. Listen as the Spirit leads you to grow…to push upward through whatever “weather” you find yourself. Find the Light in others.
Begone, unbelief, My Savior is near Author: John Newton
Begone unbelief, My Savior is near, And for my relief Will surely appear: By prayer let me wrestle, And he will perform, With Christ in the vessel, I smile at the storm.
Prayer: Jeremiah 15:16 When I received your words, I ate them. They filled me with joy. My heart took delight in them. Lord God who rules over all, I belong to you. Amen
Matthew 22:37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.38 This is the first and greatest commandment.39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
“ Rockie Raccoon really does not live at our house, but seems like he wants to. He loves to come up to the back-porch door and beg for food. He stands up on his back legs and scratches at the door. Scrapper, will calmly explain in his best growl that isn’t the appropriate thing to do, but this doesn’t faze the raccoon who loves people food. Eventually, Rockie gives up and goes next door and climbs in their attic. Only dog bones and water and a few other treats in our yard*. No Light of Love shining from Scrapper in this story.
Granted, dogs are territorial and are very careful in choosing to be open to letting in. Yet, Scrapper shared space with Tomcat living in the same house. Tomcat even crawled under the door to get to his doggie friend so he wouldn’t be alone.
Human behavior sometimes can be like their animal friends cohabiting this beautiful world. For example, we are conditioned this past year by the pandemic to just keep a safe distance when needed. But, still, we have our “pods” of people we trust and let into our space. Other than medically, given that situations do exist where people come “together”, how do you decide whom you will reach out to “through the glass door” into your space?
Take this hypothetical example. Roberta notices and walks up on a cold day as a hardworking team of church community members are outdoors serving a long line of cars with people in need. “May I help?” she said. Roberta had not come before, but saw the long line of cars to get needed supplies and opened her heart to join in. She may need assistance herself, but she reaches out. How would you respond to this need? Or, as a member of the team serving?
Thought questions: Starting this new year, think of Matthew 22 verse 39 which says to love thy neighbor as thyself. Do we actually listen to or are aware of their need? How do you shine the Light of Christ in your life?
*illustration by HannaRose Illiff, story by Bonnie Smith-Davis, 2021, Tales of our Boys.