iBelieve

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

Archive for the tag “Faith”

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…

The Potter


Do you remember art class in grade school? The teacher placed a ball of clay in front of you and said, “Today we are going to let our imaginations open up to the possibilities of this clay. You are going to mold it into whatever you wish.”

Warming the clay in your hands brought it to life. Kneading and folding, kneading and folding, the clay is more pliable. So you pinched off a piece, rolled it between the palms of your hands and voila! A worm! After having pinched another piece off, a tiny pearl appears along with another and another and another until your strand of pearls turns into a caterpillar. Another hunk is pinched off and you rolled into a ball in the palm of your hands then transfered it to your left hand so your right thumb could press in the center to form a bowl. The ideas just kept flowing.

You looked over to see what your classmate made from their allotment of clay and saw that they created a bigger bowl than yours and they used their rolled worms to adorn their bowl. You looked down at your creations, you began to think of ways to change up the caterpillar and you took a cutting tool and engraved little lines on its back. You pinched off a piece of clay and started to adorn your bowl with little square shapes and triangles. The first worms you rolled out have since been kneaded back into the ball of clay to allow your imagination to take new shape.

The possibilities are endless and all in your control because you are the creator.

This creation process is very much like Creator God. He molded us in our mother’s womb and does not stop shaping us all throughout our lifetime. Pieces come off and stay off and new pieces are added. God knows when we need adjusting and tweaking, whether it is mentally, physically, or spiritually. His fingerprints are on us all. We are his beautiful creation.

Then the word of the Lord came to me. He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel.” Jeremiah 18:5-6

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.

MARCH 2, 2022


Today is Ash Wednesday. It is a solemn day in which I take my Christian faith seriously and begin the next 40 days on a journey to the cross of my Savior Jesus Christ knowing that the cross is not the end. I observe fasting ingrained from my Catholic upbringing and tie it in with a Lenten Grace group devotional from my practicing Protestant tradition.

Today also marks the third anniversary of my mother’s entrance to heaven.

I started this blog in 2010 after my father passed away in 2009. Writing helps me sort out all the thoughts that tornado in my mind and gives you, the reader, a peek at how I incorporate God in the whirlwind.

I wrote many blogs on grief (Late Night Visitor series) after my mother’s passing. It was a healthy way for me to voice the pain of loss. I acknowledged the elephant in the room of my mind and gave it space even though it was very hard. But it was definitely healing.

I think of my parents daily as they were such big influences in my life. After helping to care for each of them at the end of their lives, I remain a little empty and lost. When my mom passed away, I paced around my house not knowing what to do with myself since she was a big part of my day for the three years prior to her passing.

As we read in the Bible, the disciples of Jesus were lost and confused after Jesus’s death on the cross. In fact, they hid in fear that they were next. But the three years they spent with Jesus on his journey to the cross gave them the directions they needed for their life ahead. God gave them His strength for their calling to grow His kingdom.

My parents worked hard to give my family a good life. I know my mother would be shaking her head at me if she saw me shed a tear for her today. She and my dad raised me in the Christian faith, and I know death is not the end. She is face to face with Jesus and all her family and friends that went before her. So mom, the tears I shed today are because I miss your physical presence. I miss the wonderful aromas filtering through the house from your days of cooking and baking. I miss talking to you each night and I miss how you kept our family traditions. I am so thankful God gave me you as a mother.

Today I will have ashes placed on my forehead as remembrance that I am from dust and to dust I shall go. I will begin the journey on the road to the cross with Jesus knowing that death has no victory. I will shed a tear or two in remembrance of my mother and then God will give me His strength to keep going to grow His kingdom.

Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:25-26

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

Late Night Visitor – Left Behind


I haven’t been writing during Covid. With limited interaction with other people for a year, I did not want my blog to give voice to a pandemic that took away so much for so many. But I had to write today to let you in on a little secret.

Last weekend was Mother’s Day. I have no idea why, but nothing pushed my buttons to trigger the grief of childlessness or the reality of being an orphan. Sure I miss my mom immensely, but I have thanked God numerous times over for calling her home when he did in 2019 before all the pandemic craziness happened. I am not sure how caring for her the way my family did would have been possible. So once again, “Thank you, God!!”

The secret, then, and I feel like whispering, is that I looked around my house and realized grief is gone. Without thinking about it, I cleaned and rearranged the room he was in and I saw one of his favorite sweatshirts lying across the back of a chair. I have this weird intuition about this sweatshirt though.

Have you ever been in a relationship that just wasn’t working out? One person pines after the other and it gets to be annoying. The annoying one finds every excuse to return if only to get a glimpse of the one whom they so desperately want to spend their life. One excuse is to leave behind something important to them, like this sweatshirt, for example. My intuition tells me that grief may show up to get the sweatshirt.

Maybe it isn’t really intuition, but reality that reminds me grief could be back at any time. However, for now, I am enjoying the freedom from grief while I have the chance.

I started a new hobby; quilting. It keeps my mind occupied with creativity and learning something new. I would love to show my mom some of the things I have been creating, but have a feeling she has been around in my quiet times observing my creations and the gifts God gave me. As for the childlessness and quilting, I would love to give to my own kids or grandkids quilts sewn together, every fabric pull to match their personality and every stitch with them in mind, but instead I gift family and friends with the same intentions.

Giving may just be what turned grief away. I like this revelation.

Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land.
Song of Songs 2:12

The Traveling Banana


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

Late Night Visitor – More Visitors


When I wrote my first Late Night Visitor post on April 10, 2019, I didn’t know it would become so important in my grief process and become a series of posts. If you are grieving, I hope each entry has helped you in your walk with grief as it has helped me to get it out of my head.

In that first entry, grief came to me in the middle of the night, standing next to a large suitcase and without a return ticket from where it came.

Recently grief, ignoring the shelter-in-place orders and social distancing regulations, has invited anxiety and panic into my home. They follow me around and have been known to hold my hands, whisper lies in my ear, and wake me out of a sound sleep. So annoying.

As they hold my hands, I am not able to clasp them together to make praying hands. I cannot lift them up to the heavens to give God praise and honor He rightly deserves.

The whispers in my ears I know are blatant lies, but they are said over and over and over especially when I am alone. And during this pandemic, I am alone a lot of the time; I started to believe this negative one-way conversation. As they whisper in my ear, they grip my throat in a way that it tightens and my breathing becomes shallow.

From my experience, anxiety and panic are nocturnal too. Their most active time is around 2:30 in the morning while I am sound asleep. They poke and prod at me. They continue the negative whispers in my ear and in the silence of the night, it rings louder. I lose about 1.5 hours of sleep because of their active lifestyle.

I alone do not have the strength it takes to fight these enemies. I am weak and powerless on my own when grief and its friends, anxiety, and panic, gang up on me. But even when my hands are constrained and my throat feels tight and my breathing is shallow, I can find it within me to whisper four syllables, “Jesus, help me” and I am no longer alone.

Listen to my cry, for I am in need; rescue me from those who pursue me, for they are too strong for me. Set me free from my prison, that I may praise your name.

Psalm 142:6

Jesus brings His army of angels to fight these battles for me. They rush in and unbind my hands and they force the grip away from my throat.

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

Exodus 14:14

I cannot see the spiritual war going on around me, but I know angels are present and God’s peace covers me like a blanket. Suddenly my hands are lifted high as my heart and mind recall what I know about my relationship with God…

I am a child of the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.  I have Jesus Christ living inside of me. My God has promised to meet every one of my needs and He is right here with me at this moment.  

If you are bound by grief, anxiety, and panic, know that you too can cry out to Jesus for this same protection.  You are not alone.

 

Late Night Visitor – Grief Does Not Social Distance


My aunt passed away yesterday on the most beautiful, blue-skied sunny day of May.  There were no clouds in her way when her spirit met with Jesus and together they soared up to heaven to meet her husband, her baby boy, and all the family and friends who have gone before her.  Her 93-year-old body has been vacated.  She can breathe, walk, run, and move freely forever in the light of Christ.

The funeral will be small, holding to the group size restrictions during the pandemic.  Not all of her immediate family will be in the same room to gather for the final blessings, but they will be near by.  The grief felt at a funeral is temporarily snuffed out by a hug; however, there will be no touching and the face masks worn will double as tissue.

I grieve with my cousins, their spouses, and the grandchildren.  From my own experience, I know the feeling of being an orphan and losing the matriarch of the family. It feels so unnatural to not be there to hug each cousin, kiss my aunt on the forehead and wish her godspeed.

    my eyes grow weak with sorrow,
    my soul and body with grief.

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