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Braking Points

Pausing in the midst of Life to ponder, pray and find footing to continue.

I BELIEVE IN . . .ADJUSTING MY VIEW OF THE APOSTLES’ CREED

 

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I believe in. . .thus begins the Apostles’ Creed, the oldest of Christian creeds. Millions of Christians around the world recite these words in church weekly, others more often, some never and some use other Christian statements of belief [Nicene] to collectively declare the tenets of their faith.

IMG_6107I grew up in a church tradition where such liturgy had been discarded as unnecessary and frankly, a bit suspicious, especially if it was merely rote recitation or used as standard for acceptance or rejection for church membership or access to Communion. From an early age I heard, ‘no creed but Christ’, no book but the Bible’, ‘we are Christians only, but not the only Christians’. I grew up believing and still frankly do that Jesus established Holy Communion [The Lord’s Supper] as a Sacrament, though I admit I never heard that particular word until I was well into my teens. We celebrated Communion every Sunday and often at special services. Baptism was by immersion at the age of ‘accountability’ [usually 11 or 12 years of age following a Pastor’s class] on a statement of faith—did they sneak a creed in on us—that went something like, “Do you believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God, and do you accept him as your personal Lord and Savior?” The appropriate answer of course was, ‘I do.’ After which baptism occurred.

So while other Christians were baptized with less water and some as infants, while others celebrated their first Communion around 7 years old, followed by Confirmation classes at what my tradition called the age of accountability, I have discovered that we are more alike than different. Some of us have drifted from the faith of our childhoods, some have deepened faith, some struggle to find their faith footing among a plethora of world views, many non-Christian or even anti-Christian.

I am sharing this so that whoever reads this can understand that the path I have traveled to embracing the Apostles’ Creed as a powerful way to succinctly express Christian doctrine.

As I age, rather than closing up, huddling in my self built bunker, I want to open my heart and mind and body to receive ALL God has for me to grow in Love. . .His Love, His Grace, His Power. I want to firmly plant my feet in the concrete of Jesus, but to open wide my eyes to see and embrace life rather than just waiting for ‘Heaven’. Living here, eyes open, heart open, loving, laughing, suffering, from the hour I first believed prepare me for EVERLASTING LIFE. I won’t say heaven will be less wonderful, if I waste time or hide out here on earth, but I do believe personally it opens my eyes to the blessings here and now. I want other Christians and even those who have other faith traditions or no tradition at all to see and understand God’s love and action in their lives. And as I age I have more opportunities to bless others, even if it is only to pray that they might know God loves them.

That is one reason I presenting this commentary and Terry and I are hosting a two week Lenten Study on the Apostles’ Creed at 6 PM EDT, Sunday in our home in Florida. And for those of you in Kentucky, I hope we can do this for a longer period of time when we return. Among other resources we are using Matt Chandler’s study guide along with the Bible. This is not a lecture, but a sharing group and all are welcome. This is not a gathering that seeks to pull anyone into a specific church tradition, but instead to celebrate the Oneness with Have one with the other as Christians.

IMG_1105The Apostles’ Creed is not merely words generated by men, nor does it have special mystical power, like an incantation. The words find their origin in Scripture, both [and this may surprise some] Old and New Testament. The words for me embrace the whole of the Bible beginning with Genesis, ‘In the Beginning, God’, the ‘Word became Flesh’, and ‘Come, Lord Jesus, Come’. Not only do they center me on the Trinity, but on the importance of the Church [the Body of Christ with its many parts, UNITED, UNIVERSAL], the reality of our own accountability before Christ and EVERLASTING LIFE.

SO consider yourself invited.*

*NO ONE PUT ON THE SPOT OR PREACHED TO–PROMISE!

 

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CHANGE IN THE HANDS OF GOD

3854CF61-AD49-46BA-9DFF-3BA38C3D12E3A few years after my ‘be still and know’ moment, I began to struggle with the multitude of changes occurring in my life. Now let me let you know I have always been a dreamer so seeking new beginnings, new adventures whether actually or simply in my head provides impetus for trying new things.

HOWEVER,

I hate being blindsided and forced to CHANGE. Perhaps, God knew that about me—OK, so God knew that about me. The physician I worked for in Bartlesville, OK gathered us all one afternoon to inform us that at the end of the month, he was closing his practice, heading to Indianapolis to do a fellowship in plastic surgery, and WELL! There we all were, open mouthed and taking deep breaths to keep from screaming…OK, I can only speak for myself, I was close to screaming.

Change that happens because I choose to change and Change that happens suddenly, capriciously may be related but they are not congenial.

I had come a ways in my journey with God so after a prayerful rant on the way home from work that day, I took a breath and listened. Nope! Nada! Not a word! Tears flowed. Panic threatened. The landscape stretched out around me, flat beauty alive with May wildflowers, as a new vision filled my head. Dr. Craig hadn’t done this to me, to us. God had. Left to my own ways, all my dreams and aspirations would have stayed in my head as I settled into a comfortable job, with comfortable people, enough challenge to keep me dreaming, and no reason to fly.

S0 GOD like the eagle removed my nest. . .and I was reminded HE was holding me, my hopes, dreams, and all those I loved.

Change comes! Some of the changes associated with growing older challenge me greatly, but WHAT I DO with change, how I respond is MY choice. AS long as I realize that as I step into the precipice of the unknown, God will either ‘catch me or teach me to fly’.

“When the night is holding on to me, God is holding on.” King of My Heart, John Mark and Sarah McMillan

The Hour I First Believed…

I have spent way too much time in my life chasing after people who caught my attention and seemed to have everything I did not have. It wasn’t so much that I wanted what they had as that I wanted to be included in their circle of friends, to be included so that others would view me as having value based on my proximity to them. It wasn’t that I had NO friends, but it seemed that I always fell short of the golden glow of popularity. It wasn’t that I had NO successes in school or life, but let’s just say I wasn’t Valedictorian or Homecoming Queen or Star Basketball Player…and somehow that seemed to be very important at the time. Of course, I blamed it on the fact that I was ugly, short, poorer than a church mouse, and believe it or not, that I did not have a boyfriend. I decided to change that status when I got to college and I did. Found my man and low and behold after 50 plus years still have him.

Unfortunately, I still found my self circling the ‘golden’ people working to fit in, wanting to get close enough to feel valuable, funny, and accepted. Sometime in my early thirties someone made the statement that ‘the person who loved the least in a relationship, had the most power’ so I adopted that attitude. I realized the formula worked fairly well but I did not like the effect it had on me. At the time my life was pretty much in turmoil in just about every area except education….I was acing that track…I was number one in my field of study at the University of Tulsa and I was owning it. I was also failing in my marriage, failing as a mother, and in general a pretty pitiful person. I hit a wall after I got my master’s degree, even though I got a really good job.

I met a woman at work who rubbed me the wrong way. She was always talking about her faith and God. Now don’t get me wrong I was attending church at the time. Why! I was even active in my church, but hey! She just rubbed me wrong. I suspect I do that to people now. I am ashamed to say, I even mocked her behind her back, rolled my eyes and even baited her. All the while my LIFE was in shreds. I was hurting others, people I loved, and they were hurting me as well. I found my self one step away from annihilation. Then Dorothy’s grandson David was hit by a car and left brain dead on the same day that his Uncle David had died in a car accident 16 years before. In the midst of my personal turmoil I witnessed how she responded and handled this horrific event and relived as her grandson died the loss of her own son. I watched as she and her husband comforted their son and daughter in law. What she had, I wanted but I had NO IDEA how to get it. I MEAN HEY! DID I MENTION I WENT TO CHURCH!

One night driving home from work, 50 miles on a two lane road, I sobbed so hard I had to pull over to the side of the road. I could not see. I prayed…not the first prayer of my life, but the prayer that saved my life. “God, if you are real as Dorothy believes, show me how to get through this time no matter what happens to my marriage or to me. Forgive me. Show me!” I did not even say Amen. As I sat there my tears slowed. I felt a peace within unlike any I had felt for a very long time. And as clear as a real voice in my head, I heard, Be Still and Know that I am God!

Spoiler alert: I did not immediately become BETTER, still letting God work that out in me.

What I did become WAS HIS! That is when I knew that the saying I had been relying on in all my relationships that the one who loved least had the most power was WRONG! Oh, it works if you want manipulate people, but NO ONE CAN OUT LOVE GOD AND HE IS ALL POWERFUL. So my goal is to become MORE LOVING of others and MORE LOVING to others…some days are better than others.

As the first few months of my new faith took hold, I sought out Dorothy and we became the best of friends. As I applied all I was learning to changing me, as I let God lead, as I opened the Bible and studied, I found myself hungry to know more. And low and behold, events occurred that changed my closest relationships and changes began to happen that I had only dreamed were possible. None of that came without some pain and suffering, but it allowed me to love my husband through a very difficult hurtful time in his life. Without God I could not have done that, but God gave me a new appreciation and love for the man I had married. He helped me to be a better mother, still screaming at the top of my lungs at times, but still better…and they all made it to adulthood.

I am sharing this because my granddaughter opened up and shared and I felt it was time for me to share this story. Perhaps that is what Lent is about, looking deeply at our journeys of faith or for some lack thereof and telling God how we feel. He knows anyway. Perhaps Lent helps us focus on what Love really is and HOW POWERFUL AND BLESSED THOSE WHO LOVE REALLY ARE…Whether they are in the Popular circle or Not.

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Watching and Waiting–Ash Wednesday

A watched pot never boils, but as I unintentionally proved just yesterday an unwatched pot boils dry and scorches the beans.  Charred remains, ashes imbedded in the bottom of the pan, evidence of my inattentiveness.  There is definitely a correlation to the ashes crossed on the forehead, a tangible mark reminding we Christians why we take 40 days before Holy Week to meditate on the sacrifice.  Even I, who does not have ashes crossed on my forehead, knows the significance.  Jesus asked his disciples in the garden, ‘can you not watch with me one hour?’    Watching and Waiting link arms as this season of Lent begins. 

SO . . .

How can I overcome my tendency to try to rush life along?  When does ‘watching’ become hovering, which is only one small step from–you got it–meddling.

How can I wait with expectation, with excitement, with hope, with gratitude, without       Considering the darkness in this world.  Waiting and watching this Lenten Season  involves active participation in carrying the light until the Morning Light!

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Wait, Wait, Wait–One of My Least Favorite Things to Do! Preparing for Lent, 2018

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I am pretty darn sure that the purpose of waiting extends beyond simply getting on my last nerve.  Indeed some waiting periods involve little more than tapping my foot or glancing at my watch every few seconds while sending a slit eyed look at the closed door in say the doctor’s office.  Having experienced some gall bladder issues lately, some waiting involves letting the pain subside or the nausea to pass.  Some waiting involves getting through cancer treatment and then holding one’s breath until the tests reveal whether or not you have beaten the beast.  Some waiting periods anticipate good things, the birth of a child, Christmas, family visits, vacation trips, the return of a loved one from deployment overseas.  Whatever the anticipated event or the delay, waiting demands to be reckoned with!

This Lenten Season I want to consider the wait.  I invite you to join me. Why? Because God seems to have a purpose for waiting.  Plus it appears he likes the number 40, because he kept the Israelites in the wilderness with Moses for 40 years and Jesus in the desert for 40 days.  So Lent’s 40 days stretching from Ash Wednesday  to Palm Sunday give time to pause and reflect on how the sacrifice of waiting can build character and teach me how to utilize if not embrace THE WAIT!  Perhaps together we can even find the miracles within the time in the Waiting Room.  For as Isaiah wrote:

“He gives strength to those who are tired; to the ones who lack power, he gives renewed energy. Even youths get tired and weary; even strong young men clumsily stumble. But those who wait [hope, trust] for the LORD’s help find renewed strength; they rise up as if they had eagles’ wings, they run without growing weary, they walk without getting tired.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭40:29-31‬ ‭NET‬‬

Surely WAITING has a PURPOSE in God’s economy…just saying.

God’s Got This–BE STILL

IMG_1057.JPGThe Lord will fight for you, and you can be still.” (Exodus 14:14 NET)
Let the weight of this simple verse sink in. Whatever comes my way, your way, today, The Lord has my (your) back.

In fact, The Lord advances into the fray.

What does He want from me? He wants me to be still, be silent, observe from the wings, allow Him to clear the path, and although not specific in this verse to trust and then follow. Watch with silent wonder as God handles your battles today, hands off, expectations heightened and share the power of waiting upon The Lord.

Have a fantastic Thursday, drive safe and be kind to those who don’t!

The Right Time to Forgive

 

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Forgiving Wednesday

If I waited till the hurting stopped,

or the wrong could be made right.

If I waited for I’m sorry or for amends to be in sight,

I might wait a lifetime,

waiting for the right time and

then my life could end still holding on to all that pain by failing to forgive.

In Matthew 18, Peter asked Jesus, how many times he had to forgive. Jesus gave him a number, but then he told the parable of the unforgiving servant, who failed to honor the forgiveness he had received and ended up being turned over to be tortured.

If I choose to not forgive, I choose to dishonor God who has forgiven me and distance myself from the spirit of Christ, leaving me in discomfort and eventually torture. Not what Jesus wants for any Christian.

Choose forgiveness to be close to God and for inner peace.

And remember:

Instead, be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32 NET)

September, 2016. A Touch of Fiction

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For September, I encourage those of you who have ever considered writing a story, a novel, a memoir to write.  It is scary, but fulfilling…every person possesses within stories, either real or imaginary–which by the way contain reality.  I find sharing fiction harder than writing my blog.  In a sense they expose a person in ways essay type writing does not.

But taking a big deep breath, I have chosen a few mainly Flash Fiction Shorts [250-750 words] that I have written over the past few years to share. I hope you enjoy some of them, but even if you don’t, I hope YOU will try writing down some of those stories you have inside.  Let’s start with:

Curiosity Nips Cat

I am a curious person. For example, while watching PBS News recently, I asked my husband if he thought I looked as old as the woman being interviewed…

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Barefoot Book Club: Recent Good Reads, Recent Good Listens, Currently Reading

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One ongoing goal I set EVERY year involves reading.  I love a variety of genres so I am open to suggestions.  I say that but I shy away from syrupy romances filled with hot sweaty bodies and torrid sex scenes. Last year I attempted to run across the room, leap into my husbands arms only to collapse both of us onto a piece of furniture thankful neither of us broke a hip.  So aside from that, I welcome book suggestions and love discussing what I am reading or have read.

I try to read at least ONE Classic a year.  Terry and I both tackled Mobey Dick and I swear there were moments in the multiple pages on ‘WHITE’ that I almost quit..Glad I didn’t.

So with that being said:

What I read on my Christmas Vacation

A Walk Across the Sun by Corban Addison

On the surface this novel, the second of Corban Addison’s that I have read with The Garden of Burning Sand being the first, is about human trafficking of children. Ahalya and her sister, 17 and 15 find themselves orphaned and homeless following a tsunami. These middle class Indian girls who have lived a privileged protected life at home and at the convent where they attend boarding school. With few resources scavenged from their destroyed home, they set out for the convent only to be abducted, sold, and transported to a brothel in Bombay.

“Corban Addison leads readers on a chilling, eye-opening journey into Mumbai’s seedy underworld–and the nightmare of two orphaned girls swept into the international sex trade.”
At the same time, Washington, D.C., attorney Thomas Clarke left by his Indian wife after the SIDS loss of their infant daughter faces both his personal unraveling and a professional crisis. With only a few options and an experience of a young girl’s abduction on a North Carolina road fresh in his mind he makes the fateful decision to pursue a pro bono sabbatical working in India for an NGO that prosecutes the subcontinent’s human traffickers. He also is motivated by the possibility of reuniting with his wife.

There tagging along on a raid of a brothel notorious for under age prostitutes he becomes a part of the rescue of Ahalya, but Sita has already been sold and transported. Learning this Clarke makes it his personal mission to rescue Sita, setting the stage for a showdown with an international network of ruthless criminals.

While the subject matter sent me into waves of revulsion, slavery exists all around us, the conclusion of the novel was one of redemption and hope.

What we listened to on our 2 day trip to Florida from Kentucky

The Guilty by David Baldacci

Fourth in the Will Robie Series

Will Robie is the government’s most professional, disciplined, and lethal assassin. He infiltrates the most hostile countries in the world, defeats our enemies’ advanced security measures, and eliminates threats before they ever reach our shores.

But now, his skills have left him. Sent overseas on a critical assignment, he fails, unable to pull the trigger. Absent his talents, Robie is a man without a mission, and without a purpose.

So what does he do he returns to the backwater Mississippi town where he was a star quarterback in high school, but where he has not set foot in over 20 years. Why does he return? To help his father, to whom he has not spoken in the same 20 some years. Obviously, there is a back story here. Also, his father, a judge is in jail for murder, he has a stepmother close to his own age and a half brother who is a toddler. This plot has twists and turns from beginning to end with Jessica Peel, Robie’s colleague coming to his rescue and then hanging around to see it out.

A great book for a long drive. Good narration by the two readers.

What I am reading now

Audacious by Beth Moore

Just on the third chapter of this book that asks the questions–not unusual ones, if you are in the first half of your life:

What is your dream? What is your vision for the future?

And yet, here at almost 71 years old, I am contemplating those very questions, AGAIN.

Hey! I am not dead yet. There is so much I want to do, to experience, to share….SO

I suspect God had a reason for Carolyn and Charles Foster giving me this book for Christmas.

Here’s the blurb on the back of the book, if you are interested.

“Thirty years in the making, Audacious is a deep dive into the message that has compelled Beth Moore to serve women around the globe. Glancing over the years of ministry behind her and strengthening her resolve to the call before her, she came to the realization that her vision for women was incomplete. It lacked something they were aching for. Something Jesus was longing for. Beth identifies that missing link by digging through Scripture, unearthing life experiences, and spotlighting a turning point with the capacity to infuse any life with holy passion and purpose. What was missing? Well, let’s just say, it’s audacious and it’s for all of us. And it’s the path to the life you were born to live.”

Please let me know your suggestions for a good read.  I would love to hear from you.

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