Keep on Keepin’ On

If you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps life moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you to go on in spite of all. And so today I still have a dream. 

~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

 
Then Jesus turned to the Jews who had claimed to believe in him. “If you stick with this, living out what I tell you, you are my disciples for sure. Then you will experience for yourselves the truth, and the truth will free you.”
~ John 8:31-32
 
     There is that triangle again.  Martin Luther King Jr. sees what is going on around him, and still chooses to have a dream and Jesus, turns to his believers and entreats them to essentially keep on keepin’ on.  Martin is following Jesus, seeking to be a peacemaker, and he can see the reality of the way his people are being treated, mistreated.  
     Jesus knows who he is, and knows the consequences that his followers face, especially the Jewish followers, and yet, both entreat them to keep believing, to keep following the truth.
     I don’t know why, but this morning, the song that comes to me is not even close to being a Gospel song, but it spurred me to think about heaven, about American such as it is right now, divided, unsure, stormy.  It is called Imagination by Gladys Knight and the Pips.
 
     We must keep seeking the truth, seeking the Lord, seeking the best in one another.  I can remember years ago when the denomination I belong to was all about inclusive language in the liturgy, about saying she and he with some equality.  I asked our then interim pastor, “Why is this so important, the way I learned to speak English, when the word “he” was used, it meant all of us.
    This wise woman turned to me and said, “If one of us isn’t free, then none of us are free.” and then she went on to explain  that when some people say their prayers, “He” represents a father that was abusive.  For me, the important part of that conversation was the freedom statement.  I kept my opinions to myself and allowed for others to experience God the way that they did/could.
    Today, I still seek the truth.  I am still quite comfortable with the image of a loving father and God as that loving father, but I am mindful of others, women in third world countries who are valued as property, not precious children of God.
     As the song says, we got to keep on keepin’ on, until we “get home.”
 
Lord, help us to seek YOU as we experience others and their stories. Help us to lift YOU up and see you through the lens of Jesus.
 
Because of Him,
Linda
 
 
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So Will I

My definition of a free society is a society where it is safe to be unpopular. 
     ~Adlai Stevenson, speech, Detroit, 1952
 
Pushed to the wall, I called to God;
    from the wide open spaces, he answered.
God’s now at my side and I’m not afraid;
    who would dare lay a hand on me?
God’s my strong champion;
    I flick off my enemies like flies.
Far better to take refuge in God
    than trust in people;
Far better to take refuge in God
    than trust in celebrities.
 
     ~ Psalm 118:5-9
 
Inline image 1
Consider the above colorful triangle.  Picture you on the bottom, either angle, and someone with whom you disagree on the other.  At the top is God, who is your priority.
And, even though you disagree with the person on the opposite angle, God is their priority.   As you keep your eyes on God, on the Lord of all the Universe, the other party is also doing the same.  
As you move closer to God, so does the other person.  
Eventually, you meet in God.  This illustration was used by a former priest friend of mine, as he advised me in a relationship I was interested in pursuing.
That relationship did not work out, but the illustration was marked indelibly on my soul.
I am applying this right now for myself to the present political climate, where I often feel unsafe being unpopular.  I am so thankful that the friends I have
follow this model, whether they know it or not.  Else we would probably not be as close.
With the Lord as one’s goal, all the other voices in the world fall into another place, and love reigns.
 
How does your triangle look?  We all want to make it to the Lord.
 
So Will I (100 billion x) – Hillsong – United
 
Because of Him,
Linda

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Shine Like a Lighthouse

Christmas is the day that holds all time together. 
     ~Alexander Smith
 

God’s readiness to give and forgive is now public. Salvation’s available for everyone! We’re being shown how to turn our backs on a godless, indulgent life, and how to take on a God-filled, God-honoring life. This new life is starting right now, and is whetting our appetites for the glorious day when our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, appears. He offered himself as a sacrifice to free us from a dark, rebellious life into this good, pure life, making us a people he can be proud of, energetic in goodness.

       ~Titus 2:11-14
 
     The bottom line is: I just don’t feel so “judgy” anymore.  It is not on me the way that others do or don’t follow Jesus, it is on me to follow Jesus and live that life in such a way that doesn’t say “Hey! Look at me! I am dong this right and you should take note!”  It is  on me to life in such a way that shines light, like a welcome light that is left on for the weary traveler, like a lighthouse that shines during fair weather or story.  It is on me to stay attached to Jesus, Christmas and crucified and risen and live as if it matters.
     Let my motivation be loving you Lord. Let me actions speak love, not judgement.  Let me love you and live like that no  matter what.
 
Lighthouse – James Taylor 
(singing the chorus!)
 
Because of Him,
Linda

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Merry Christmas?!

Great little One! whose all-embracing birth
Lifts Earth to Heaven, stoops Heaven to Earth.

     ~ Richard Crashaw
 

Oh! Teach us to live well!
    Teach us to live wisely and well!
Come back, God—how long do we have to wait?—
    and treat your servants with kindness for a change.
Surprise us with love at daybreak;
    then we’ll skip and dance all the day long.
Make up for the bad times with some good times;
    we’ve seen enough evil to last a lifetime.
Let your servants see what you’re best at—
    the ways you rule and bless your children.
And let the loveliness of our Lord, our God, rest on us,
  Oh, yes. Affirm the work that we do!

 confirming the work that we do.

   ~ Psalm 90  :12-17
It’s still Christmas.  Jesus and his family must have gone on to find other shelter.  I don’t know where the star went.  Mary must be feeling somewhat better. Joseph is looking at his little family in awe and wonder.  Fear is in the air like a distant whistle.
And still I wait for Christmas to be  born in my heart.
None of what happened was planned to happen, especially in the order it happened.  
None of the company we expected came when we or they thought they would.
There are still presents not delivered, un-opened, but this:
I am sure that this year (especially this school year) has gone nothing like I thought it would, and surely my plans are in flux instead of in stone.
That is the gift of this year, that is the burden of this year, that is the challenge of this year:  to love my colleagues despite their actions, to love my fellow believers despite their expectations, to give my absolute best in every endeavor, because, as my dad used to say, the only thing that stands after all else is said and done, is your name.  So you want it to stand good and strong and true.
What is born in my heart this season, is the letting down of expectations and the letting in of the way it IS going, not the way it SHOULD.
Thank you Lord, for entering in, amidst the chaos, the threats, the uncertainty of this world, of this new year.
Merry Christmas dear reader, and a Happy New Year.
Because of Him,
Linda

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Kind Words

Kind words are the music of the world. They have power that seems to be beyond natural causes, as if they were some angel’s song that had lost its way and come to earth.” 
                            ~ Frederick William Faber
 
 
And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.
 

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)  To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

                       ~ Luke 2: 1, 4-5

     If you have ever known someone who was pregnant or been pregnant, and close to delivery, you have known how uncomfortable it can be.  It’s hard to get behind the wheel of a car, it’s hard to be far from a bathroom, a favorite food, the ability to move the covers on and off due to over heating.  Getting dressed can be a comedy of errors.

     Yet here was this young wife, traveling on terrain that would inspire labor, moving through the streets of Nazareth with her husband. Waiting as he tried every place in town to find them sleeping quarters and a place to deliver their child.  I wonder what her conversations with God were while Joseph tried to secure a room.  I wonder if she had any complaints at all, if she kept them to herself, if she was just “done” and ready to deliver NOW.

     Place after place gave them no quarter until at last, they arrived at an inn.  Once more they heard the words, “There is no room.” I wonder sometimes if the innkeeper’s wife was just inside taking a good look at Mary, tugging at her husband’s homespun garment, urging him to let the couple go to the stable, or maybe the husband had compassion for the young dad, remembering his own wife’s labor.  No matter what his motivation, I am sure the kindest words every heard in that night of nights were, “There is room in the stable.”

     Today, try to make your words kind, belay the sarcasm that comes so easily in this climate.  You never know just how much they are needed by someone you encounter on this journey.

     Try a Little Kindness

 

Because of Him,

     Linda

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Breath of Heaven

“The ultimate victory in competition is derived from the inner satisfaction of knowing that you have done your best and that you have gotten the most out of what you had to give.” 

          ~ Howard Cosell

 

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to the Galilean village of Nazareth to a virgin engaged to be married to a man descended from David. His name was Joseph, and the virgin’s name, Mary. Upon entering, Gabriel greeted her:

Good morning!
You’re beautiful with God’s beauty,
Beautiful inside and out!
God be with you.

~ Luke 1:26-28

Imagine.  You’re up, clean and dressed, ready for work, no matter where that is.  Home most likely for Mary.  Or maybe you’re up and not yet prepared for the day.  Nonetheless, you turn around and there is Gabriel.  I have no idea how that impacted Mary at first sight. But Mary loved God and was prepared.   She looked up and then she heard:

“Good morning! Your’e beautiful with God’s beauty, Beautiful inside and out! God be with you.”

     Tell me, how would you react?  How would you respond?  Would you cock your head and say “What do you want?” with your hands on your hips?  Would you fall to your knees and put your head down? Would your eyes fill with tears that God had answered your prayer that someone saw God in you?

      I know that there are many who would not receive that compliment well.  And yet, do we not pray to be more like Jesus?, to have God shine in us?  Mary must have prayed. And before her stood not only an affirmation of her prayers, but she was chosen to be the mother of God’s only begotten son!.

     Mary was not in competition. She was not prepping for a beauty contest. She was living her life and one morning met the angel Gabriel. It changed her life.  It changed yours and mine.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8_475FKJWQ

Breath of Heaven

Good morning, you who are beautiful inside and out in God.

Walk forward in that light today.

Because of Him,

Linda

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Smell Your Arm

Focus on what you know you can do. Know what you’re capable of on any given day, and what you can count on. Do the simple things well, and then use the confidence to build up the rest of your game.” 
       ~ Mia Hamm
 
Jesus said, “I am the Road, also the Truth, also the Life. No one gets to the Father apart from me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him. You’ve even seen him!”
     ~ John 14:6-7
 
     When I was little, I used to love to sit in my mother’s lap.  I would love to nuzzle up against her arm, and just smell her skin. One summer, years after she passed away, I remember touching my nose to my arm.  There she was!  I could smell her skin, feel the comfort of her lap, 
     She was there, in my DNA and inside of me.  I know her, I know myself and she is in me.  So it is with the Father.  No matter what earthly father you have known, this Father loved us so much, he gave us his only begotten son.  
     Think of your favorite relative, person, mentor, teacher.
Every time you touch on a teaching point that they imparted and that sank in, every time you quote them, employ their wisdom, they are right there. In my case there is a chorus of joyful mentors; some played notes just for me so that I would know what to listen for and find my way, some taught me how to breathe, pick out a consonant and let it be heard without beating someone with it, some taught me the art of constructive criticism, how to improve my poems, some taught me to love the sinner, not the sin, some just love my out loud.  They all represent all things bright and beautiful in my life, they represent Jesus, they represent the Father Almighty.
    Jesus must have been a choir director, because He was always hoping, directing faces out of the book and upwards.
    Today, smell your arm, or take a breath, or look in the mirror. See?  There is your chorus of mentors  lead by Jesus, right to the Father.  
 
All Things Bright and Beautiful – John Rutter conductor, arranger.
     Because of Him,
     Linda

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