Choosing

choiceTo choose. We make hundreds of choices every day. We choose to get up, to eat breakfast, everything we do. Life is a matter of choices and the choices form our lives. It’s not something that we consciously see but it is life. We make bad choices and good ones. We make ones that we regret and ones that we are happy about.

If we stopped to think about every choice we made we would be paralyzed. We wouldn’t move at all. So some choices are automatic and reflex. The ability to move our bodies is not something we think about unless there is a problem. In cases like that our choice may be limited by circumstances.

What started me thinking about this is the fact that loving someone is a choice. Believing in God is a choice. These things are not just feelings they are choices. I can get up each morning and may feel that God is distant and I have no perception of closeness but I can choose to continue to believe. Circumstances don’t take that choice away. I can choose that even if threatened with death. It is my choice.

choose beliefBelieving and having faith is not a passive thing. It is not something that we own. It is an action that we take and a choice that we make each and every moment of our lives.

You have a choice!

Starting over

start overThe last few days have been a trial. IBS hit me really hard. Probably because things have been difficult for the last six months. I guess I let it build up until all the little things became big enough to attack me. I realize that I have not followed through with how I started. Had I been consistent I would not have melted down the way I did. I am better now and more ready to start again. Somehow we don’t fail if we are willing to start again.

It seems to be a pattern of mine to fall apart when things start to get better. Somehow I manage to stay together through problems but later it all comes home to haunt me.

I have done so much reading about anxiety and realize that mine is situational. When I am stressed up to point my IBS jumps in and pushes all my buttons. Then everything is a vicious cycle.

So today is a new day. A new chance to make changes. A new time to learn and grow. I know that I can not fix everything so I am turning to the one thing that never fails. I am leaning on my faith and my belief in God and his/her saving grace. We are promised that God loves us and we can’t earn grace it is freely given.

grace 3

Ephesians 2:8-9

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— not the result of works, so that no one may boast.

Where is strength to come from?

scarsLife is always interesting. It is not always pleasant. Too often we have to struggle to face challenges. The challenge may not be that tough but it is the adding on of another and another. I am almost better at handling one big challenge that the little ones that pile up. They wear us out and we finally crumble under the weight. Things have been that way for me since last summer. There have been family issues, health issues, grief and sadness. None of these individually are that significant. It’s just that your shoulders reach the point where they can no longer bear the weight and something fails.

When we reach the breaking point whatever our weakness is will raise its ugly head. I went along for so long without any major problems. Life was good. Things were simple but after the last months I have lapsed back and am struggling to maintain my focus. I want so much to continue with the things that I know will help me and I am trying. Sometimes it feels as if there is no end to it.

controlEach of us has our own struggles, our Achilles heel. Each of us wants to be on the path to health and wholeness. Many of you, like me, find that the strength to continue the journey in our faith. To be able to turn to something that offers us strength when we are weak, hope when we can’t see the light and love is what saves us.

Every night I have been reading through the Psalms beginning with Psalm 1. I have found great comfort in them in spite of the ones that fuss about enemies. GOD IS truly with us. We do have strength….it is his.

O give thanks to the God of gods, for his steadfast love endures forever.

Faith in a changing world

church 50sI grew up in an era where church was important. Most of the USA were church goers. That doesn’t mean that they were really Christians but they went to church. Which church people attended was sometimes chosen for social reasons. Going to church on Sunday was just what you did.

In my family we had a mixture. My father (of Scottish decent) and mother were Presbyterian. My grandparents were Methodist and my Aunt and Uncle (of German origins) were Lutheran. It didn’t seem strange to me that everyone in my family went somewhere different. The one thing that was understood was that we all had Christianity as our roots. Of all the family my grandmother’s faith was rock solid. She read the Bible every day and prayed faithfully. She also was the perfect example of Christian living. I never heard her speak against anyone, she gave generously, and was kind to all.

god-in-a-box1Because of this upbringing I grew up believing in and depending on God. Because of all the different examples before me I questioned often, read extensively and never felt constrained by doctrine. I was free to find my path. I think being able to explore helped me to never stop believing in God. God was never static for me.. God was and is bigger than any box anyone ever tried to put him/her/it in.

Today people are exploring God/spirituality in many different ways. Church is no longer the norm. There are many reasons why this has happened. Most of us explore during out formative years. Maybe they find a different path. The path of other faiths may draw them. I only hope that the path each person takes gives them the strength that I find in mine.

find groundMy belief is the thing that holds me up when things are not good. I turn to that faith and rest on it. It gives me strength to keep moving on and has done so for 77 years. People help to sustain my life and reflect God’s image to me often but this doesn’t stand alone. I don’t know what people hold on to who have no faith to turn to. Maybe they don’t need one. It certainly wouldn’t work for me. “God is my refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46)

God with us!

birth of christChristmas is about here. I think today ( Christmas Eve) may be one of my favorite days. Sometimes anticipation is better than the actual event. However, I know that tomorrow will bring joy.

There are different thoughts about the importance of Christmas. Some theologians see Christmas as the central focus of their theology. They are called Incarnation Theologians. I am one of those (although I don’t consider myself a theologian). Somehow I like the idea that the greatest sacrifice on the part of Christ was leaving heaven. This doesn’t mean that his life, death and resurrection were not important.

There are others who see the resurrection as most important. I guess in reality I see his birth, life, death and resurrection as a whole….no one part more significant than the others. I don’t know what kind of theology this is but it is the complete image that connects me. His whole being and all that he offered is amazing. He truly is “God with us.”

ImmanuelHe came as an infant, vulnerable and fragile. He grew up among us learning from those around him. His life and ministry showed us how to be wholly human. (Notice that the word wholly contains “holy”). He was radical in his time…accepting women, lepers, tax collectors and other outcasts as equal human beings.

If only we could follow his path of acceptance and love the world would be a different place.

Aggravations

aggravationsToday has been one of those days where nothing you do comes out as you expected. We are trying to deal with Dr’s issue regarding an knee surgery my husband needs. We decided to go see star wars and really were pushed for time. We needed to eat lunch before going and grabbed some fast food and choked it down in the car. Then I thought I left my cell phone/wallet in the fast food place and ran back over there to find it only to discover that it was in my purse the whole time! I felt like a crazy nut. By that time I was out of breath and stressed but we did see the movie and it was wonderful. It was a good way to seek calm.

While out we ran an errand and I had a phone call from one of two brothers whose mother’s will I am executor of. This has been a long drawn out process. The two have been on the outs forever which is why my friend asked me to take care of it. The brother that calls is upset about the will (he has had a copy for two years). Now is thinking about contesting it. WHAT A DAY!

Each day is different. Each day can bring challenges we don’t expect. They can be small but cumulative. All these little issues got bigger as my coping skills when down. I am home now and coming down from the fast heart rate and stress.

julian of NorwichI try to remember when I have a day like this I try to remember the quote from Julian of Norwich who said:; 

“All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.”

It helps me to ground myself in my faith. Today I repeated it over several times. It is very calming.

Can you question?

what is god likeSometimes I wonder…. have we created God in our own image instead of the other way around. There are so many interpretations of God. Every group seems to have its own god. As a teen I visited a church with a friend and was upset by the wrathful image of God in that place. God was scary. Sin was paramount and love was not mentioned. I felt as if God was waiting for me to transgress so that I could be punished. This was certainly Dante’s kind of God with his various parts of hell.

Was this what they found in the same Bible that I was reading? I guess I spent more time in the New Testament. The various religious texts are there for all of us to read no matter our faith. However, I have discovered that interpretation is the key. Each of us can come up with an entirely different meaning for the same reading.

I have read parts of the Book of Mormon and the Koran and came to the same conclusion. The person reading will see it through their eyes or the eyes of a teacher. Each person also interprets things based on their life experiences. No two of us are alike. It certainly explains how different sects can arise reading the same material.

I have noticed that Buddha and Jesus seldom made things easy for us. Nor did the readings of Hinduism. True mystics seldom speak clear messages but want us to use our minds and our hearts to discern meaning. Jews use exploration of texts placed against thoughts through the ages to interpret scripture. This is sometimes called or related to Midrash. They are unafraid to question and debate over meaning. (see below for definition)

questionDo you take the word of scholars/teachers about meaning or do you absorb ideas and be willing to question? Questioning is not doubt. It is expanding your belief.

This makes it all the more difficult to know who or what to follow and is not for everyone. Questioning can be scary and rock our belief system. It can make you doubt your belief but can move you to a deeper faith. It is not for the faint of heart but it can be rewarding. When I ask questions I grow and end up with a stronger connection to my faith.

I suspect that I mostly see readings through the eyes of love. Living with compassion and love toward others is my benchmark. That doesn’t mean that I can do it all the time but that is my goal.

 

(Midrash is an interpretive act, seeking the answers to religious questions (both practical and theological) by plumbing the meaning of the words of the Torah. (In the Bible, the root d-r-sh is used to mean inquiring into any matter, including occasionally to seek out God’s word.) Midrash responds to contemporary problems and crafts new stories, making connections between new Jewish realities and the unchanging biblical text.)