Center down

day

I often think about the song “what a difference a day makes.”  The song is not talking about all of life but it is so true. One day everything can be fine and in 24 hours your life can be totally different. That happened to me at the beginning of 2017 when my job was done away with. The problem for me was it wasn’t a job but a ministry. I lost my identity.

A lot worse things have happened to others. Loss of a loved one among many things. When this kind of thing happens we are blindsided and have to restructure our thinking. I am beginning to realize how long that takes. I know that at some point the pain of this will lessen. It already has some.

god-in-the-middle-of-itThere are people who seem so strong that nothing can rock their world. I am not so sure that they aren’t vulnerable as well. It is possible that nothing has ever happened to reach their core. There are some people that I am sure have strength that doesn’t come from themselves. People like Gandhi and Mother Theresa. They are what Quakers call “centered.” This is kind of strength that we all need. This comes from seeking something more than ourselves. My only experiences with this kind of centering have been fleeting. I know that the way to connect in that way with God (or whoever works for you) is to spend time with him. In the kind of rushing world that we live in it is so easy to do other things. It requires the kind of life change that (for me) started this thinking.

Now, again, I am focusing on the things that matter. I have no idea what the future will bring but my only way forward is with God. I have to reach out and seek the connection that never fails.

Teach Well

strongIt is very difficult to raise children and let go when they become adults. Sometimes we have to stand by and watch as they make life changing mistakes. This is probably one of the hardest things we face when we have children. It is easy to deal with the mistakes that are made when our children are small. Usually those are small mistakes and easy to deal with. Mistakes made when we are adults can be more serious and have long reaching effects.

We can’t fix things for our children even when they are small. If they don’t learn that actions have consequences when they are small it is too late when they are grown. That is why we must let them feel the results. Too often we want to help so that they have no unhappiness but that doesn’t help them as adults. When I was young if a teacher called my parents about me it was already understood that I was the one with the problem. Now parents are quick to blame the teacher. Children are rescued from all wrongdoing by parents who really think they are doing the right thing.

imagesRaising children is no easy job. Most of us have little experience when we begin. Most good parents do what they think is the best for their child and yet later children can confront us with our flaws. They will not understand unless they face raising children of their own.

When I was working in the church every fall I wrote an article about the importance of taking your children to church. Some people think that they should let them grow up and choose. How do you choose when you have nothing to compare with? If you have a faith why would you not let your child know about it?

Proverbs 22:6

Train children in the right way, and when old, they will not stray.

Go to sleep

crash fireEach night I try to write my blog before my favorite time of the day. Tonight I didn’t get my done and it is now quite late. I love the time after dinner when my husband and I and our two basset hounds retreat to the sofa and watch a little bit of TV or listen to music. This is our down time. The dogs expect it as much as we do. As the weather gets colder we will build a fire. I love this time. I feel so blessed to be able to do this.

Just after we sat down I got a phone call about a problem. When you have a family usually there is some problem going on. Some are simple and some not so simple. Since we have three married children and six grandchildren it is common for something to be going wrong. You just hope that it is something that can be solved.

This made the evening less than relaxing. It is frustrating not to be able to fix things immediately. As a grandparent you are just removed enough from the issue to not be able to get in the middle. As a nurse I learned well that there are some things we can’t fix. It is a hard lesson to learn. It is also hard to just turn things over to God and just leave them there. I keep wanting the solution to be of my choosing but it is out of my hands. To see family in pain is hard to bear but prayer is the only thing to do. God hears the plea of our hearts. I will turn it over to him. Now all I have to do is keep from picking it back up. Worry doesn’t help.

give it to God

 

Frantic to Peaceful Sleep

“It is but lost labour that we haste to rise up early, and so late take rest, and eat the bread of anxiety. For those beloved of God are given gifts even while they sleep.”

This is a quote from the beginning prayers of Night Prayer from”A New Zealand Prayer Book.” 

franticNow with Christmas on the way we will begin our mad dash to get everything ready. Presents to be bought, baking to do, parties to attend. There is so much we think we have to do. As the quote says we rise early and go to bed late. In between we obsess about the things we haven’t done yet. We are the creators of the pressure we are under. We can’t turn loose of our control. We won’t let ourselves fall down on the job.

As the time draws closer we become more and more anxious. Anxiety becomes an even more part of life. We Christians are not the only ones who are frantic. Hanukkah is coming also and events for others. Even many agnostics and atheists can get caught up in the commercial part of the season. It leaves very few untouched.

For those of us who grew up with the Christmas traditions it can seem magical. People seem nicer. Charities receive donations and people help each other more. The sad part is that we do all this in one short season. Then we seem to go to sleep until the following year. Showing kindness, helping others, and sharing what we have should go on all year. Somehow we need to learn to carry it forward. Think what a wonderful world it would be if we did.

sleep

Maybe then we would not be frantic for a month and take the gifts that God gives us even when we sleep.

Infinite intimate God

moses chI have been pondering images of God. How do we see God? If asked I am sure many people would see Charlton Heston (too old for most of you) coming down the mountain with the ten commandments. Some might say the softer image of Jesus in the garden. Our image as children usually changes as we become adults.

There have been interesting books written about this in recent times. In the past I read Models of God by Sallie McFague a theologian who was at Vanderbilt University. She offers some different images than what we normally think about: God as friend; God as lover; God as mother. She says that if we can’t move away from the masculine patriarchal God as our ONLY image that we will never have peace in the world.

Today I read some thoughts from Richard Rohr, A Franciscan  who writes many thought provoking meditations. He wanted us also to think of God as mother. He quoted Marcus Borg, a controversial theologian who died just recently.

“Marcus Borg points out many other good reasons to identify and honor the female (as well as non-gendered) images of God throughout the Bible:

  • Male images for God are often associated with power, authority, and judgment. When used exclusively, they most often create an image of a punitive God. God must be appeased or else.
  • Male images for God most often go with patriarchy—with male primacy and domination in society and the family.
  • Male images of God most often go with domination over nature. Nature is often imaged as female (“mother earth”) and domination over women extends to a rapacious use of nature.

Female images of God suggest something different. God is the one who gave birth to us and all that is. God wills our well-being, as a mother wills the well-being of the children of her womb. God is attached to us with a love that is tender and that will not let us go. And like a mother who sees the children of her womb threatened and oppressed, God can become fierce.”

infinite-GodI think Borg has some thought provoking ideas about embracing more than one image of God. We have to expand our thinking and stop putting God in the “masculine” box. God is so much more than that. God is much more than we can ever understand

Work, Love, Dance

Work like you don’t need the money. Love like you’ve never been hurt. Dance like nobody’s watching. Satchel Paige

bubblesAre we really living life? What does it mean to do this? I really don’t know the answer but have been thinking about it. The thoughts in the quote above do give some answers. Without work life can have little meaning. I think some kind of work is essential to humanity. I see the results of no work in people who have lived their whole lives as welfare dependents. No matter how complete they seem there is something missing. It is as if a puzzle piece has been left out. There is something enriching about work. It gives life purpose and can bring a sense of accomplishment even if we only put a cog in a wheel.

I can’t imagine life without love. I’m not talking about the romantic emotion that draws us to another but the deeper connection that reflects unconditional love. It can come to us in many forms: parent-child, friend-friend, lover- lover. If we are blessed we will have many kinds of love in our lives. Knowing that we are loved gives us a sense of self worth. Love adds such meaning to life.

step outNow we come to dance. There is so much meaning behind this statement. He doesn’t just mean dance but live! Live without fear of what others think. Follow your dreams. Explore ideas. Learn all you can. Dance.

These are some thoughts on living life. Am I doing it? Are you?

Mistakes lead to

Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment. Will Rogers

mistakesI saw this quote and have been thinking about it. Learning does come from making mistakes. My father used to say “do what I say, not what I did.” What he said was from his experiences. His education in the world of hard knocks taught him much.

mistakes 2We have all made mistakes. Some of the small some of the whoppers. Mistakes teach us more than our successes. I think that is because we remember them better. My youngest child was good at learning from her brother and sister’s mistakes. They fussed at her for not getting into trouble. She told them she watched what they did and didn’t make the same mistakes. Most of us don’t learn that well from the mistakes of others.

This is the 500th year anniversary of Martin Luther posting the theses on the church door. Luther was concerned about how the church at the time handled sins. From his reading of the Bible (in Latin) Luther realized that the church was wrong to sell indulgences. People paid money to have their sins forgiven and a free pass into heaven. The church officials got rich on the proceeds. Luther’s understanding of the Bible led him to believe that we are all given God’s grace. God is aware that we are imperfect and we make mistakes. That’s what forgiveness is all about. We can’t earn our way into heaven. We will never be good enough.

imageA lot of our stress and anxiety comes from what other people think of us and how we see ourselves. God is aware that we make mistakes. We have to strive to see ourselves as God sees us: forgiven. God didn’t make junk and we are his creation. Live into that idea.