“I AM” limitless!

The more I hear and learn about dark matter and dark energy, that “space” is not empty but full of this energy and matter we cannot explain, that string theory posits a very real argument for multiple universes, the more I see God writ throughout the Cosmos, the world, and all of creation, unlimited by our human imaginations and sexism. “I AM” exists more than our wildest imaginations can fathom in science, in space, in town, in country, in sea, in all creation, carbon based or otherwise.

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Snowballing

OneWord2013_EngageI’m close to retirement and very in debt.  Thankfully, I have an Edward Jones advisor alarmed at what I’m paying each month and my total debt.  He immediately set out to adjust my financial status. By the grace of God, had I not needed several large withdrawals from my Roth IRA, I would be doing very, very well – even so, it is doing very, very well. We hope to keep it that way.

We took out enough funds to pay off my car. That monthly payment will now go toward paying off, in 8 months or less, a credit card. Said credit card is a Chase card with Blueprint. Blueprint helps you pay off your cards and/or use them more judiciously than I have in the past. Not only did we, Conrad and I, set up a payoff plan; I also set it up under Blueprint. I’ll receive monthly reminders of my progress from them, too.

What this reminds me is ACTION. When confronted with a concern or worry, I tend to stew over it way too long. Instead, I need to take action and engage, whether it is paying off debt, studying for a certification, or getting regular exercise. Setting up a PLAN is immensely helpful no matter for what the plan addresses.

I’ve known for a long time about the concept of snowballing: paying off one debt, in this case my car, then adding that payment to another to pay off a second debt quicker. It had been a long time since I sat down and did it.

I’m excited about this New Year. Not only do I have a job which pays well, is flexible and yet full-time, I see progress for my financial future.

Next up – prayer, study, and exercise!

Over 2,000 year…

Over 2,000 years ago, our Lord left his heavenly throne to join us at the table of our humanity. He became our friend and kept us company. He was God in our midst.

~ Nancy Jo Sullivan blogs at NancyJoSullivan.com

Taking time out from the hustle and bustle of Advent…to enjoy the purpose of this season, and one another.

Reading the Gospel – Themselves

Image representing YouVersion as depicted in C...
Image by None via CrunchBase
John 2:1-5
“On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2 Now both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. 3  And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.”4 Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.”5 His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.”
Today’s Scripture from John spoke to me at several levels; doesn’t Jesus always do that?
  1. Preparation: one needs to put in the work to be ready when “the time comes.” Jesus tells his mother his time has not yet come; his preparation is not complete (for his earthly ministry). In today’s world, I read and hear of the “magic” 10,000 hours of practice, learning, study needed to achieve “overnight” success. Mary steps up Jesus’s “game.” 
  2. Willingness: though he says, in effect, I’m not ready, he obeys his mother, exhibiting love and filial piety for her in his first miracle, and demonstrating, to me who grew up in a Jewish neighborhood, the archetypical Jewish mother – she expected much of her son. 
  3. Consequences: how about those servants? They knew about the water now wine. Are these servants the first believers besides John the Baptist, Jesus’s family, and the disciples? How much do they understand? I wonder if they are able to follow him through the next few years.

I’ve started reading the Gospels to better understand the God and Savior who reached down, no, stepped down into the miasma of humanity to claim my life. Online, I’m using the Daily Office as my basic hours site but to delve into the Gospels themselves, I’m using YouVersion. It has varied Bible reading plans in a variety of translations, one of which is the Gospels in a month. I’m not interested “in a month,” though it will help keep me on track.

Help me better learn about my Lord. I’m a skeptical person at heart; it is hard for me to effectively believe, trust, and follow, but I want to know Him as Lord.

Two Yellow Dogs

Russian Yellow Retriever from 1915
Russian Yellow Retriever from 1915 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Two yellow dogs sleep on a painted floor.

One fluffy, tufts of fur ripe for brushing or plucking,

Fur not long but dense,

thick, a cozy coat craving cooler weather.

She quivers in her sleep,

gently puffing her cheeks, flipping her paws,

traversing a landscape unknown,

perhaps dreaming of a puppyhood long, long ago.

The other with short fur sleeps full-out flat,

sporadically stretching her limbs straight.

This dog’s fur glistens in the light,

a brilliant gold startling in its reminder of her Weimaraner heritage

gently blended with other breeds,

a sweet yellow gold gleaming girl

in her twilight years, whose days ebb and flow with energy and ennui.

Two yellow dogs sleep on a painted floor.

~ Roberta Beach

To What/Whom am I Pointing?

Pharisee and Publican - Tewkesbury Abbey
Pharisee and Publican – Tewkesbury Abbey (Photo credit: Walwyn)

Our now retired and beloved priest had a habit of emphasizing to Whom he or his sermon pointed – not our goodness, not our daily striving, not our prayers, not our church attendance, but all, all is to point to God, the Creator, the Lord of hosts.

This is what struck my shallow mind as I read the passages below as well as the links. Our lives are not lived for us or anyone else. We live pointing to God. As we do, all will be well (Julian of Norwich), God is glorified, those in need are served, and we will triumph in our travails.

“Pointing” is not a noisy ministry. To me, this is a ministry of intention, of active faith, meeting needs without judgement where they are, knowing, trusting God, a minute by minute dedication of life to God.

How do I point to God? I’m just little old me, doing nothing very important every day, trying to get by on this earth. Follow the blind man in the John story. The story of Jesus‘s healing is below this quote, but this is the crucial part of the story, IMHO (in my humble opinion).

John 9:13-34

13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. Now it was a Sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. Then the Pharisees also began to ask him how he had received his sight. He said to them, ‘He put mud on my eyes. Then I washed, and now I see.’ Some of the Pharisees said, ‘This man is not from God, for he does not observe the Sabbath.’ But others said, ‘How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?’ And they were divided. So they said again to the blind man, ‘What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened.’ He said, ‘He is a prophet.’

The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight and asked them, ‘Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?’ His parents answered, ‘We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind, but we do not know how it is that now he sees, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.’ His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that anyone who confessed Jesus to be the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. Therefore his parents said, ‘He is of age; ask him.’

So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, ‘Give glory to God! We know that this man is a sinner.’ He answered, ‘I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.’ They said to him, ‘What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?’ He answered them, ‘I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?’ Then they reviled him, saying, ‘You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.’ The man answered, ‘Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.’ They answered him, ‘You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?’ And they drove him out.

What I find incredibly interesting, relevant, and courageous to us today is the sincere witness of the formerly blind man. This “uneducated” man knows the intent of Scripture, more than the letter, and for this insight as well as his testimony, is put out of the Temple. More scholarly persons than I can speak to what it meant for a Jew to be put out of Temple in that time; it was not a good thing for one socially or spiritually.

This man, more intelligent than given credit by those educated in the Law, knows the consequence of his truth-telling – but he regards the Truth with reverence – he has experienced a completely life changing event! He can SEE…for him, he cannot go back to that place where he could not see.

So it is for us. Once we see the light, love of Jesus pointing to the glory of God the Father/Mother, how can we go back to a humdrum existence? The God of the Universe is on our side; He has reached down,  touched our hearts, making us aware Jesus died for us so we could follow Him.

Jesus points to God. To whom or what does your life point?

 

John 9:1-12,35-38 (NRSV)

As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ 3 Jesus answered, ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. 4 We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.’ 6 When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, 7 saying to him, ‘Go, wash in the pool of Siloam’ (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see. 8 The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, ‘Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?’ 9Some were saying, ‘It is he.’ Others were saying, ‘No, but it is someone like him.’ He kept saying, ‘I am the man.’ 10 But they kept asking him, ‘Then how were your eyes opened?’ 11He answered, ‘The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, Go to Siloam and wash. Then I went and washed and received my sight.’ 12 They said to him, ‘Where is he?’ He said, ‘I do not know.’

35 Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’ 36 He answered, ‘And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.’ 37 Jesus said to him, ‘You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.’ 38 He said, ‘Lord, I believe.’ And he worshiped him.

Philippians 2:1-4

Mark 12:28-34

We Do Not Believe in the Nicene Creed

He has Reached a Place where He is Not

“Quiet, Enough”

At this moment, I have a young intact male Beagle throwing a tantrum in his crate. He might not be used to using a crate; he may resent staying in it last night while I was at work; he most likely is simply a young Beagle wanting to move and resents confinement. I ignored him till my noon devotions were completely obliterated (on my Earthly side) by his wailing and banging. Then, I went and dressed him down, telling him “quiet….enough” in a very low, firm tone.  As I complete this paragraph, he is quieting – the question to myself is, would he have quieted with or without my intervention?

Sometimes, I think this is the way of my relationship with God. She never sends me trouble to punish – Christ removed such need , but She may let me linger while I rant and rale, allowing me to “quiet….enough”, so I finally can hear Her soft, small voice.

Have  you listened to what is around you today? Have you seen what is so normal, you no longer see? “Quiet….enough.” Let’s mind what we do in each action, thought, and inaction. Listen to what God is saying or sharing with you today.

Amazing. All is calm.

Thankful Thursday #2 – Community

Thankful Thursday #1 is HERE.

Radio

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I listen to To the Best of our Knowledge via podcast since our local station no longer airs it. I enjoy the varying topics, interviews, and insights. The host, Jim Fleming, asked to pick his favorite show for 2012, “Just one?.” What a question! What a challenge! He wisely chose “Parker Palmer on Life.” Life is itself enough meaning to live and be alive….I’m grateful for every year of my life, some days more so than others but all in all, I celebrate each birthday.

Thanks be to God.

Friends

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Yesterday, following a phone call the night before from a dear friend, I drove her and myself to St. Louis for physician appointments at the same place and about the same time. Coincidental? Perhaps – a God thing? Definitely. Both this friend and I have gone through some tough medical times; mine is less threatening than hers. I’m so grateful for this friend. We can talk, discuss, converse, disagree, commiserate  and support one another no matter how long it’s been since the last time we saw each other. Kathy is a true friend – and I’m grateful for her presence and wisdom in my life, as well as other close friends.

Thanks be to God.

Dog Rescue

Beagle Todd
Beagle Todd

Houndsong – Houndsong is an audio link to my send-off before leaving home yesterday; the hounds on occasion all howl/bay at the same time and then stop as if following a conductor. It is amazing to hear. I’m sorry this is the tail end; they were more “in sync” before I recorded them on my iPhone. As I thought about the hounds and my enjoyment of silence, I realized the advent of the hound rescue and my quest for a place in a worship community almost coincide. Interesting – I’m grateful for the blessings each dog has brought to my life – and the lives of others, those I’ve met in rescue and those who adopt/foster/donate to save animal lives

Thanks be to God.

Worship

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In the previous paragraph, I allude to my quest for a worship community. Several years ago, I visited three very different monasteries in my region – and took wisdom home from each. I hoped God was leading me to join up with one; instead, She wants me more active in my local church and community while engaging in an active home prayer life. I’m grateful for the leading of my Lord – and the ability to listen, pray, & act in this country of my birth.

Thanks be to God.

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This is a Thankful Blog Hop. Please click on the image above to visit PepiSmartDog, our host, to see links to other blogs grateful today.

Icons:

The stylized icons used in this post hand-made by Double-J Design.

Beagle Todd adopted through the Boothealers Puppies on Parole, Southeast Correctional Center program, from Safe Harbor @ Silverwalk Beagle Sanctuary. 

Engage #1 – Treasure Map

Treasure Map

This makes me wonder how many times I’ve stopped short because of some obstacle or fear denying myself the treasure God has laid for me. I listened to a TED talk by Karen Thompson Walker over the weekend about fear: how it’s perceived as a weakness when it’s story can make us strong use with discretion & consideration. How do we know if “X” marks the spot or is just an X if we don’t dig deeper, walking into our fears, finding the real reason we are afraid – and the means of dealing, changing our perception not only for our good but for the good of all those traveling with us.

Asking myself to “engage” this year is one way of facing my fears of inadequacy, ineptness, social awkwardness, and isolation. I won’t become an extrovert (God is not expecting this of me – I think) but I will become more adept in different situations.

This past week, I actively searched for  opportunities to engage.

  1. I again drove a transport leg (well, two as I had to travel from my hometown to another 1.5 hrs away to pick up the lovely GSD (German Shepherd Dog) and bring her back to my town. She went on to St. Louis with another driver, finally ending up in her foster home in WI. 
  2. I stopped in to give a friend of mine a Xmas present that screamed the name her granddaughter bestowed upon her, “YaYa.” While there, she told me of a doctor friend of mine who would appreciate a visit from me. I went to see him last night – we had a nice discussion, he looks much better, and I’ll visit again.
  3. Before visiting my friend, I attended my church open house on behalf of my retiring priest – and again met the people who make me love that little, vibrant church which blossomed under the care, compassion, and direction of this priest.

These are simple activities but they pulled me out of myself and my house to engage with others. Have a wonderful week – hope to see you here with other reflections before next Monday.

OneWord2013_Engage

Feast of St. Stephen

St. Stephen
St. Stephen (Photo credit: quinet)

As I read the Morning Office of the Common Book of Prayer, the difference in response between the martyrdom of Zechariah, son of the priest Jehoiada (don’t confuse with John the Baptist’s father) and that of Stephen is striking.

2 Chronicles 24:17-22 (context):

21 But they conspired against him, and by command of the king they stoned him to death in the court of the house of the LORD. 22 King Joash did not remember the kindness that Jehoiada, Zechariah’s father, had shown him, but killed his son. As he was dying, he said, “May the LORD see and avenge!”

Acts 7: 1-59 (context):

54 When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. 55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”

57 At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, 58 dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.

59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.

Why is this so? I posit it is because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Messiah. During Zecharah’s time (before and after), prophets admonished the people to return to God and His ways; sometimes they did, sometimes they refused or said they would and did not (sound familiar?). Despite a history of miracles, the trust in God was tenuous, until He poured himself into human form and demonstrated as a Man how He wanted us to live and worship. That human form was Jesus Christ. Because of the genuine hope held by Stephen, he was able to ask for forgiveness, not revenge, just as Christ did on the cross.

Go and do likewise.