iBelieve

Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Mark 9:24

Archive for the tag “Christianity”

The Coffee Bean


Follow me to the fragrance section at the department store. There we will smell a variety of florals, some soapy scents, and some woodsy scents. After a few sniffs, we will need to pick up a little jar of coffee beans and sniff them too to clear our sense of smell in order to keep on testing the aromas. As we continue to go through the plethora of scents, not all of them are pleasing. We sniff the coffee beans intermittently as we make our way down to the end of the fragrance counter.

There are scents we are drawn to and could smell all day and there are some scents that make our nose hairs recoil. Usually the offensive scents are the ones hardest to forget for some reason. This makes us thankful for the coffee bean.

Life is like the fragrance section at the department store. We encounter people, places, and things in which we would love to be in the midst of forever. For me, my husband and our cats, family, cousins, friends, and work associates (past and present) come to mind quickly when I think of people. Places include memories of my family cottage while growing up, my current home, the church building on Sunday, and silent directed retreats that I attend at least once a year. As for things, I love my Bible and currently the internet game, Wordle. My sewing machines are very important to me and my sanity as well.

Life is like the fragrance section at the department store full of the things that are too strong and unpleasant to the senses. Top of the list for me is the violence and vulgarity in movies. Our society has become desensitized to such violence and filth and I choose not to watch such things or encourage them either. My heart breaks for the kids that are confused about their gender. God created us in His image and in the Bible it states that He created male and female and said it was good. I believe satan is the father of lies and he is running loose encouraging confusion, family division, and hatred, all of which top the news cycle every day.

I bring the fragrances of life to God and thank him for the pleasantries. I also lay at his feet my grief and concern for the state of the world; all the things that are too strong and unpleasant. God responds, “Follow me and let me be your coffee bean.”

My faith hits the reset button, and I can continue on.

Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another —and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:19-25

Let Go of Control


I was as inconspicuous as I could be considering I was in the middle of the pond in a paddle boat.

Read more…

Stick It In the Swiss Cheese


I volunteered to help with a funeral at my church last weekend. Although I did not know the man who had passed away, I know the importance of being behind the scenes helping to make a luncheon a pleasant and non-stressful event for the grieving family. As the setup was nearing completion from the small crew of volunteers, I made my way up to the sanctuary where the memorial service was being held to see where they were in service to get a feel for the timing of everything. I was fortunate to listen in on the stories of the life of the deceased from the viewpoint of a granddaughter, daughter, and brother. Although they were the Cliffs Notes of a life well-lived, the stories made me wish I had the opportunity to have known the man.

I am a work in progress as mentioned in yesterday’s blog. I sometimes think my body looks like Swiss cheese from how incomplete I am. To fill the voids, I like to observe people and take a chunk of what I like about them and incorporate it into my own DNA; filling in my Swiss cheese holes.

As the youngest of five, I have had years of opportunity to take what I love about my siblings and integrate those aspects into myself. From my siblings, I have incorporated the following good stuff: compassion for others, the ability to nurture, knowing how to sew, having a sense of humor and quick wit, working hard, being kind, and most of all, my faith.

When I attend funerals, I keep alert for the positive things that are said about the deceased; the special memories of what made them so special. I have always walked away from a funeral with a little bit more good stuff tucked away in my Swiss cheese.

Are you living the sort of life that makes people want to take the good aspects of who you are and integrate them into their DNA either now or after you pass away?

Micah 6:8 New International Version

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly[a] with your God.

Was it Just a Dream?


Last Tuesday night, or sometime into Wednesday morning, I had a dream. I was standing in a space. There was nothing special about this space, but I remember standing there with people I did not know. I asked one person next to me, “What are we doing here?”

“Waiting for someone”, was the reply.

“Who?” I inquired.

“Oh, you will know them when you see them” was the casual response.

“Are you sure?” I questioned.

“Yes, I am sure” they said.

I stood in my place; I had no urgency to leave and I was curious to know for whom we waited.

The group of people around me once casually standing started to move back and out of the way as someone was coming through the crowd. When I saw the person, I exclaimed, “Jesus!”

Although excited, I felt a great amount of peace at seeing Jesus. He had long brown hair, dark eyes, and wore a white robe with some brown lines or something on it. He was not glowing as I imagined He could be, and the more I think about it, the whole dream seemed a bit muted from color.

The person in the crowd was correct. I knew Him when I saw Him.

When Jesus and I locked eyes, my only question was, “Can I have a hug?”

He opened His arms toward me and He hugged me.

I used to think I would be nervous meeting Jesus, but in my dream He was peaceful. All I wanted was a hug and he obliged. I woke up and felt His peace.

50 And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Luke 7:50 NRSV

The Traveling Banana


I have good intentions, but those good intentions are only good if acted upon. Read more…

Meager Offering


I often feel like a five loaves of bread and two fish sort of person. I don’t have much, but when I hand it over to God, He can do miracles.

When Jesus heard that John the Baptist, his cousin, was beheaded, He boarded a boat to be alone. I can only imagine His thoughts about John. After all, he was preparing the way for Jesus by baptizing people. He was given the honorable task of baptizing Jesus.

John suffered a horrible death. His work on earth was done.

The crowds may not have realized the relationship between Jesus and John. They may not have known why Jesus pushed off shore for some alone time to grieve. What they did know about Jesus was his ability to heal. So they chased after Him and when He saw them, He had compassion on them and went ashore.

Jesus often told people around those whom he brought back to life, such as His friend Lazarus, to feed them. Jesus spent a good portion of the day healing and reviving those who sought His attention on that hillside.

It was time to feed the crowd that followed Jesus that day. To me, this indicated new life and giving His people strength to go forward to show others who may be nonbelievers, how to believe.

A young boy, who happened to be nearby, packed a little lunch for himself that morning not knowing he would be handing it over to Jesus. He had a meager offering of five loaves of bread and two fish and Jesus blessed it, multiplied it, fed the large crowd and had left overs.

What meager offering do you have to hand over to Jesus today?

I often feel like a five loaves of bread and two fish sort of person. I don’t have much, but when I hand it over to God, He can do miracles.

If Jesus healed you or a loved one, restored a sour relationship, or has given you peace over a situation out of your control, grab a bite to eat because you have been given new life. Celebrate and give God the glory He so deserves.

Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand.

Mark 6:41-44

Late Night Visitor – Grief and Joy


Living with grief takes a toll on one’s emotions, health, and spiritual life. There is a time to mourn just as there is a time to laugh; so I had an idea. I put grief and joy in the same room with me (with 6 feet separation and we are all wearing masks).  Here is what happened.

Grief:  “Hi Kristine, are you going to introduce me to your friend?”

Me:  “Hi Grief.  Yes, I am going to introduce you to my friend.  Grief, this is Joy, Joy this is Grief.”

(Neither can they shake hands, nor can they see a smile on each other’s face, so they nod to each other.)

Joy:  “Hello, Grief.

Grief:  “Hello, Joy.”

Me:  “Grief, Joy, I brought you two together because I need you to know that you both exist in my life. Grief, you and I were spending way too much time together and it was taking a toll on my concentration. I had some negative comments when you were at your peak, but not everyone knows how tight we have been and it just looked like I was not on my game.  I was reading the Bible one day and I met Joy.

As the Bible states in Ecclesiastes 3:4 it is okay that both of you are in my life.  The verse says, “a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance”.  I don’t always want to be sad and I don’t always feel like laughing or dancing, but whatever emotion I want to feel, I need you two to respect, as well as, get out of the way of the other.  I would like to send you away, Grief, but Jesus said that in this world we will have trouble, but He has overcome the world and that is why Joy needs to step in between us more often. I am hanging onto Jesus’s promises rather than settling in with sadness. Jesus overcoming this world is really good news for me because I cannot do this alone or with my own strength.”

Living with grief takes a toll on one’s emotions, health, and spiritual life.  Let Jesus in with the joy He has in store for you and watch your emotions, health, and spiritual life be rejuvenated.

 

Your Most Important Meal of the Day


My drive to work is a leisurely 25 mph around 7 a.m. through an affluent residential neighborhood. Some houses along the route illumine against the dark winter morning sky. Families are waking at this hour and because they do not have window coverings, I am allowed a glimpse of their morning routine.

For example, I pass a house with a little child pushed up close to the table in a high chair sitting to the left of an adult at the head of the table. The adult is feeding the child, which to most of you reading this is no big deal. One of those, “been there, done that” moments in life. But I was never blessed with a child and this is a moment I can only imagine taking place in my kitchen.

Each morning, I eat breakfast alone.

I am not desperate enough for breakfast companionship to knock on the door of the family I spy on my way to work; that would just be creepy.

I recently started to watch YouTube videos by Max Lucado, who is a best-selling Christian author and pastor at Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas.  He has a series on prayer called, Your Best Ten Minutes. Your best ten minutes are about prayer.  Even if I did not know how to pray, Max teaches this simple prayer: “God you are good. I need help; so do they. Thank you.” This prayer packs a punch. Each part of this prayer is a conversation starter with God. When this little prayer is barely a whisper, Jesus knocks on our heart, to be with us eagerly waiting to hear our praises to Him as well as share what hurts us and what hurts others.  According to Max, “Prayer is the hand of faith on the doorknob of my heart”.

Revelation 3:20 NIV

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

“God you are good. I need help; so do they. Thank you.”

I never will eat breakfast alone again!!

Late Night Visitor – Time Travel


Today we drove 5 hours, round trip, to celebrate the life of my brother-in-law.  I did not know very many of the people there, but it was a nice turn out of family and friends who were touched by his life.  Although drugs consumed a big part of his life, the bigger part was when he met Jesus on his own road to Demascus.  He was on fire for the Lord and that makes my heart happy.  Distance and finances had kept us from really getting to know each other, but I do recall one Easter brunch in a restaurant several years ago, I had the opportunity to sit next to him and we talked “God”.  It was a refreshing conversation, especially on Easter, my favorite holiday of the year. We had a few telephone conversations after that brunch and we shared God stories.  I love sharing God stories.

I recall when my niece, Jill, passed away a little over three years ago.  My brother-in-law heard the news and called me while I was at the funeral home with hundreds of people paying their respects to her and my family.  He shared the love of Jesus with me and comforted me with his prayers for peace. He shared Easter with me in December.

In the last leg of our journey home this evening, we passed the bus station.  The dark evening sky and the lights inside the station made it so I could see the bench that my two sisters and I sat on as we waited for a bus to transport one of my sisters back home after the funeral for Jill.  I remember how I did not want my sister to leave.  The closeness of family is the only thing I can grasp onto at such times and sitting on the bench made me want to stop time and keep my sister here with me.

Death is a wake up call.  We feel close to those we love; we cling to those we love that are still with us.  But as time moves forward, we hit a snooze button and “forget” we had that closeness.  Life moves on.

Even though we know we will all one day die, death is a shock.  Recent posts on Facebook of death notices include the familiar comment, “remember to spend time with your loved ones as you never know when someone will be called home”.  Why do we have to be reminded to spend time with those we love?

Funerals are the one occassion we stop what we are doing and pay our respects.  Our pictures and stories become extra special as we recall the relationships that have suddenly ended.  Distance doesn’t seem to matter when there is a death.  Most funerals are held only when everyone can be there that needs to be there.  We take the time to travel to be there.  Whether it is a 5 hour round trip or a bus ride across a few states; we make the time because we know love.  This love is what Jesus taught us.

Godspeed to the newly deceased.  To be absent from the body means they are present with our Lord.  Rest in peace dear brother-in-law, great is your reward.

John 3:16 (NIV)

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Reference Check


Have you ever been asked to be a reference for someone for a job they were applying?  Read more…

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