Well, my dad passed away a little over a month ago & it’s been a weird time & kind of like a whirlwind. Before we had his memorial service, I had a quick trip to Rome with mom & our group trip. While I totally love Rome, my visit was a little bittersweet, as I recalled some of the times I’d been there with my dad. After the Rome visit, we had a really amazing memorial service for my dad & we were nothing less than overwhelmed with the support, prayers, kind words & gratitude expressed during this service – completely AMAZING!!
It’s been a few weeks now since the memorial service & while I think that we (mom & I) are generally doing pretty well, there are certainly some moments when it gets difficult and sad for me. I’m finding that these moments are really unpredictable (watching my daughter play basketball & remembering my dad watch me, driving to church to present a difficult sermon, typing this blog now, . . . .). With all of that being said, I’m learning to value & appreciate the different ways that God is helping me and that I am not invincible nor impervious. Jesus carries our griefs and sorrows – we aren’t designed to bear that weight. So let’s join together & give Jesus our cares, worries, sorrows and griefs because Jesus is the ultimate Hercules 🙂
When I was growing up, people would often comment about how serious I was & to this day, I can still get quagmired in the intense bog. One of the things that helps me to lighten up is to laugh at myself – to not take myself so seriously. So from time to time, I review some of the silly, goofy & even stupid things that I’ve done just to lighten my thinking. Here’s a sampling:
For Thanksgiving one year, I had heard that convection baking was superior to the regular oven baking. Of course I didn’t get any more information & proceeded to burn my turkey, sufficient only for a burnt offering. We didn’t eat turkey that Thanksgiving ,)
my first car never had an oil change in 3 years – didn’t know that was important
I used to work in a data entry position & would take messages for my co-workers. I decided to find the phone number of a local mortuary & leave one a my co-workers a message to call Myra Mains with just the phone number for the mortuary ,)
I tried to toast whipped cream on a pie – we renamed the outcome to “puddle pie”
There are all kinds of things that can impress us: stupid animal tricks, brilliant mental feats, amazing generosity, world’s strongest iguana and oh so much more! I just looked on youtube for the latest & greatest (something about an elevator prank in Brazil is popular today), but I was less than impressed.
In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul challenges us to not be impressed with amazing spiritual feats & miracles, nor should we be impressed with persuasive conversations or speeches. He’s not even impressed with excessive philanthropic activities. What Paul challenges us to be impressed with is genuinelove. Let’s be mindful about what really catches our attention and grabs our admiration 🙂
Once upon a time, in an ancient & almost forgotten century, there was a movie called When Harry Met Sally. In the movie, there are these brief interviews with couples who have been married for eons. What has lingered in my memory from these interviews & from watching couples who are old & have been married since before time, is often the rich texture, the broad understanding & genuine respect that these relationships evidence. There’s something very alluring & appealing to seeing these long-term relationships. With all of this being said, I don’t really consider myself to be much of a romantic person (skip the roses, chocolate & I’m unable to muster the interest to endure watching Pride & Prejudice, no matter who the actors are). BUT, what I do like are the results from these long-term committments.
So here’s my point: the results we often crave in our lives (significance, love, fulfillment, intimacy, satisfaction, achievement, etc) are often nothing less than the consequences of committment, a word that is often disdained in our modern culture. Perhaps when Jesus talked about abiding in Him to bear much fruit / results, just maybe He was talking about being committed to Him in a deeply personal & daily relationship. Just a little food for thought ,)
In my opinion, a relationship that has any degree of depth needs to be able to work through conflict, tension, disappointment, misunderstandings, challenges, etc. I sincerely believe that the deeper the relationship, the more we must be willing to work through such struggles & I don’t think that our relationship with God is any different. I think that our relationship with God is as deep as we are willing to wrestle: no wrestling, shallow depth; much wrestling, much depth. My examples for this thinking are in Job & Jacob who strenuously wrestled with God, not without some impairment.
So with this in mind, when (not if) we get mad, disappointed, frustrated, misunderstand God, let’s not sweep these feelings & thoughts under the carpet. Let’s maintain an open & honest dialogue with God because the depth with God is worth way more than the dialogue, conflict, etc 😀
I’m confessing right up front that I’m not the sharpest knife in the door & sometimes things that are obvious to everyone else can be really opaque for me. With that being said, why do we call Good Friday, “Good” & Black Friday “Black”? It would seem to me that Good Friday is more black than good & that Black Friday is more good than black (good because we often get a day off of school & work). Now that you could possibly be super confused, let’s simplify this whole conundrum. Let’s be thankful that each & every day is a gift from God – this is the day that the Lord has made so I will rejoice & be thankful 🙂
Today is a good day because we have another chance to grow in our awareness of Jesus being present with us in our daily living. So with this in mind, you could call today black, orange, green, pink, blue, yellow or even mauve – whatever you chose, may your day be filled with “God awareness” – aha moments that spring up for you throughout this day!! 😀
Tomorrow is our wonderful American holiday of Thanksgiving, the day when we do some of these activities: overeat, watch football, enjoy or tolerate family & cook boatloads of food, among lots of other things. Generally, Thanksgiving is perceived as a nice holiday & to be really honest, I’m close to deciding that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.
With all that being said, here are a few problems that we can work on to make this an awesome holiday:
*culmination rather than celebration: lets aim to make gratitude a lifestyle rather than a 1 day event
*just like turkey & stuffing make a nice complement, so do thanksgiving & forgiveness 🙂
*fellowship trumps football – ‘nuf said ,)
The other day I was making a casserole & needed an opinion, but alas, we had run out of onions & my neighbor didn’t have any at the time. So, like all creative minds, I tried to get innovative in my onion replacement efforts 🙂
The end of this story is that my casserole turned out pretty well, even if I didn’t have the perfect onion solution. With that being said, there are some ingredients in cooking & especially in life for which there is no substitute, like Jesus 🙂
No matter how you configure life & regardless of the various ingredients in your life, there’s no substitute for Jesus. He simply cannot be replaced.
It seems to me that we all need friends in lots of different ways. Thankfully, I’m experiencing God’s provisions in this area, well beyond what I deserve. One of the things I’ve been noticing lately is that God provides all different kinds of friends – friends who help me in areas where I’m very inadequate, friends who receive from God through our relationship, friends who keep things lite ( because I can tend to get too intense), friends who help me to be practical & I help them to be less practical ,) and lots more.
So here’s my thinking: it seems to me that God wants us to experience fellowship with God in LOTS of different ways, particularly through our various relationships & friendships. With this in mind, here are a few essential ingredients for some rich fellowship with God through our various friendships:
*be opulent with forgiveness, understanding that we experience God’s forgiveness toward us far more than we realize 🙂
*be gentle & patient: relationships grow & flourish well in an atmosphere of patience & gentleness
*listen & be present: answers & advice can often be less important than presence
*genuine love: the purest context to experience & get to know God
I’ve been thinking about some of the moms that I’ve met over the last few years in my travels with Saving Moses. In some ways they are 100% the same as us & in some ways they’re 100% different than us. They’re 100% the same in their love & passion for their kids – maybe even more pure in their love for their kids. What makes them different than us is that they don’t have have all of the “stuff” that we have. This has started me thinking about who I am if you strip away all of my education, stuff & sophisticated living. These are some questions worth consideration:
*Am I a nice person without all of the accessories that cushion my life?
*do I want to help people regardless of what I get in return?
*am I sincere & authentic?
*am I growing & letting God strengthen the weakspots that I avoid?
*does my education & sophistication enable me to help people more or do I use these only to my own advantage?
Just a few things running around in my head today 🙂