I and Thou: A Father’s Day Tribute

Father’s Day Tribute

Caption:  Even though I grew up with the expectation that I would have to fend for myself, I saw a rare moment when my Dad was a bit sad at letting go of his youngest little girl.

Photo Credit: Lucinda Photography

Because there are gaps in the ages of my siblings, we each have very different memories of our parents.

Dad – The Music Man

The fondest memories I have of my dad involved his love of music. He sang in the church choir for decades. Even sang solos! He also played several instruments. The sweetest picture I have embedded in my mind is him playing his mandolin for my almost 1-year-old son. My son’s face shone as he lovingly looked at his grandfather, and my dad was beaming as he played. My dad played by ear. He played the piano. The organ. The banjo. The harmonica. And the mandolin. I’m pretty sure he passed on his good singing and music talent genes to both of my sons. My oldest played trombone, and my youngest played saxophone. Each also sang in the church children’s choir for many years.

My Dad taught me some people have the gift and talent of music, and some do not.

Although I love to sing – I have been told I am in the “not gifted and talented” camp. Oh well, I still sing loudly and proudly and off-key.

Dad – The Putterer (Is that even a word?)

My father was a putterer. He puttered around the house most of the time. Except in the evenings, he would sit on the floor, lean against the couch, and watch animal shows or the World Series. He was not much of a sports guy, yet he enjoyed watching baseball and would root for the team that played the best. It was never a “this team” or “that team” sort of thing. It was what team was the most strategic and played well.

I learned from my Dad that playing the game is more important than winning or losing.

Dad – The Master Camper

Camping was my dad’s favorite thing to do in the whole wide world. It still gives me the willies. I don’t care for bugs, dirt, being dirty, or not having a bathroom nearby. Camping was not my thing. Growing up, we all endured week-long camping adventures each year. We usually didn’t go too far – my dad wanted to escape from the smog and sounds of everyday life in suburban New Jersey. So, our usual jaunts were New York state and Pennsylvania.

Before “aging” out of this family ritual, our last adventures were in a campground named Scot Run in PA. A few years ago, I visited the campground, and even though it was now a “members only” sort of place, the kind lady allowed me to drive around for posterity’s sake.

My Dad taught me how camping is for some people, not others, and definitely not for me!

Dad – The Peacemaker

Peace, at all costs, was the name of the game growing up. If we were mad or angry, we had to keep it to ourselves. No loud voices, no yelling, no calling names. Simple rules. Maybe not so simple. In adulthood, I learned that sweeping emotions under the rug is not the way to go.

Growing up in this peace-at-all-cost mentality did not prepare me for real people who get angry and yell.

It took me years to figure out that conflict can be helpful. Who knew?

Dad – The Chef

Last month, I promised to fill you in on my dad’s role as Chef when he retired. When he retired, he took over the meal prep and execution and was surprisingly creative. He would go into the cupboards, see what was there and work with whatever he could find. Rice Krispies? Sure – he would throw them in a stew or use them as batter for fish. Nuts? Sure – we can throw them in too! Cheerios? Sure – Mash them with potatoes. Spices? If he didn’t know which one – he would use them all. Most of the time, the meals were tasty and colorful, unlike my mom’s typically gray and overcooked meals.

My Dad’s culinary skills brushed off on me and he taught me to experiment and not be afraid of mixing odd ingredients.

In my cooking, I try to balance the plate through color. For example, orange, green, blue, and red would be sweet potatoes, peas, blueberries, apples, and fish or chicken. Just the other day, I used cornflakes as a batter for fish.

Dad – The Pie Maker

Now onto pie-making. Pumpkin pie, apple pie, and lemon meringue pie. Since my dad was the baker of the house, the holidays were filled with various yummy homemade pies, and he also would make the obligatory Fruit Cake each year. Seriously – my dad was a great pie maker. Fruit cake? Not so much! I learned that pie-making requires a skill set that I don’t have. Baking neither. And that’s okay – I’ll stick to gourmet cooking! By the way, Sprouts has the best vegan cupcakes!

Dad – The Tool Man

Dad had an elaborate workbench and toolset in the basement. He could bend the aluminum. Use a vice, cut wood with an electric sander, paint a door on horses, and use his power tools, including a drill press. He seemed to have lots of tools and knew how to use them for odd jobs around the house. He was the consummate jack of all trades – handyman and overall jerry rigger. Why spend money on a specific item for a particular purpose when you can make one yourself and have to go buy parts that were more expensive than the item you needed anyway?

Growing up with a fixer Dad, I learned to hire professionals who are experts in their field.

Dad – The Consummate Driver

Drive to the comfort of your passenger was my father’s mantra. When he was driving, which was most of the time, he would routinely ask if you were comfortable. Which seems to be a bit comical because we didn’t have air conditioning, and he didn’t like the windows opened because he might get a draft leading to a stiff neck. Hmm.

Like my Dad, I ask my passengers if they are comfortable as well. 

Speaking of driving, I remember my sister driving (my dad’s car) and hitting a guard rail in a rainstorm because the tires were threadbare. This incident taught me to maintain my vehicle regularly by scheduling maintenance visits with the car dealer according to the manufacturer’s recommendations because they are the experts!

When driving, if my dad saw a person he knew walking on the street, he would pull over, roll down his window, and ask if they would like a ride. He would say,

 “God gave me this car, and I need to offer rides to others who don’t have one.” It was a nice gesture. I’m not sure if anyone ever took him up on his offers.

Dad – The Christian Guy

My dad had quite a black-and-white view of Christianity. You were either “in” or “out.” There was no room for any gray areas. He grew up Presbyterian and somewhere along the way figured out it was not “Christian enough.” In his early years of marriage, he, my mom, and my older brother attended a church, and when they moved, they attended another similar “fire and brimstone” church. The second minister seemed to have filled their minds with an orthodox type of belief. No playing cards. No dancing. No make-up. No alcohol. If you did not believe 100% the way they did – you were not worthy and doomed to hell. When my brother was a teenager, he started attending a non-denominational church with much more lenient views much closer to home. That very same non-denominational church is the church I grew up in.

A sandwich, an apple, and a bible in a lunchbox. This is what he brought to work each day. He used his lunch hour for a “devotion” time where he would read and pray. He believed the bible’s every word as gospel, even the parts that make no logical sense. It certainly would have been interesting to witness his life at the turn of the new century. He left this earth in 1994. His steadfastness is what impacted me the most.

I learned that faith is an everyday affair, and I am truly grateful for the love of God that my Dad instilled in me.

Dad – The Blue-Collar Worker

My father was a typical father of the ’60s and ’70s. He was a blue-collar worker and worked hard for an honest day’s pay. He had quirky theology both about religion and labor unions. In retrospect, this makes perfect sense to me since he was never a member of anything. He would probably say he was a member of God’s army. And that was all. He was not an official church member – although he attended more regularly than any member ever could. He would not join the labor union, the Masons, or any other organized structure. Not sure where any of this thinking came from – I’m assuming God, of course! I also believe he would have been much happier being a priest or a monk. 

Father’s Day is a day to honor all the dads who worked hard to support their families, trying their darndest.

Dads are not perfect.

Not my dad.

Not his dad.

And certainly not my children’s dad.

Today, I honor my dad. The father of four children – each one with significantly different perspectives.

(or, maybe not so much?)

He was by no means perfect. He was not the warm and fuzzy type. And I know he did the best he could and made the best decisions for himself and his family at the time. I wish I had been closer to my dad even though we were cut from different cloths.

So, go ahead. Call YOUR father and wish him a

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!

One day, he might not be on this earth to pick up the phone.

Call to Action: Share, Like, Follow, Comment. I would love to know what you learned from your father.

I and Thou: April is Stress Awareness Month

An open note to estranged parents:

Deviating from the norm of this blog, I share this article to bring light and hope to parents who have been alienated or estranged by a child.

I know the depth of my love for my child and the void in my heart. I feel the intensity of pain that never seems to go away. I ask myself why? Why me? Why my child?

Estrangement is not normal, so the rules of normalcy do not apply. I urge you to read each of the 8 stages slowly and carefully. I pray that you will glean a nugget, a treasure you can hold in your heart to help you move forward. I finally feel I am moving forward…less pain, more acceptance, and more healing.

May the God of love, mercy, and healing be with you and your pain today. May tomorrow be less stressful, less painful, and much brighter. 

8 Stages of Estrangement

There are eight stages of estrangement between a parent and child. In this article, a child refers to any child at any age, including adult children. The estrangement in this article is the estrangement of a son and a mother. A son blocked his mother from social media and stopped all communication with her. She tried endlessly to reconnect to no avail. Ten years later, she still does not know what triggered the estrangement. Parent alienation may have been at play. 

Estrangement and grief go hand-in-hand because, at some level, estrangement is loss, and so is death. The difference is that death is final, and estrangement may not necessarily be absolute. There is hope in estrangement. Death is final. One could probably argue that hope is not healthy, and perhaps hoping less will lead to more efficient healing.

On the other hand, others will continue to hope – a glass-half-full, half-empty type of analogy. Emotions play a critical role in the process of healing from loss. Individuals who are more empathetic and have more of an advocate personality may have a slightly more difficult time processing loss. Those who are less empathetic and more optimistic may have an easier time with loss. 

According to Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, experiencing these five stages of grief, regardless of order or even vacillating between each one, leads to healing. There is plenty of information on the internet regarding grief. Kubler-Ross’ five stages of grief are:

Denial

Anger

Bargaining

Depression

Acceptance

E. Kubler-Ross

In estrangement, a similar set of components are necessary for healing and moving forward. This process can take years or even decades to complete in both grief and estrangement. The eight stages of estrangement are:

Denial

Acceptance Part 1

Rejection

Shame and Blame

Anger

Acceptance Part 2

Fear

Healing

R. Walton

Denial

Denial is not believing a situation exists. It is pretending that the estrangement is not real and hoping it will disappear. Surely, a child cannot estrange themself from a parent. What type of child would do that? Denial is a normal response, and it is the path of least resistance. It is typically short-term. Eventually, denial replaces accepting the reality of the situation, whether the parent likes it or not. In death, denial does not want to believe a loved one has passed on from this world onto the next. Denial is a defense mechanism wishing the estrangement is not absolute, and normalcy will return. However, that is often not the case. Once parents understand the estrangement is not going away, Acceptance Part 1 begins.

 Acceptance – Part 1

Once the denial phase is over, a parent begins to accept the concept of estrangement. A parent first seeks to understand the growing number of estranged parent-child relationships by scouring the internet for possible resources on the subject. A parent may not even know how commonplace it is and can quickly become an expert on the topic realizing other parents have encountered a similar situation. In this Acceptance Part 1 stage, a parent acknowledges that the parent-child relationship has changed. At this stage, reconnection becomes an obsession. A parent attempts to discover the reasons that led to the estrangement and remains hopeful for reconciliation. During this stage, a parent realizes that the relationship that once was is no longer. Coming to terms with this acceptance leads to rejection. Furthermore, feeling both accepting of the situation and rejection by it simultaneously is quite common.

Rejection

Rejection is an emptiness and a feeling of loss and causes both physical and emotional stress. Rejection of a parent by a child is a traumatic experience. It is very much related to power and control. A child has exerted power and control over the relationship by walking away from it, which is hurtful. Reactions such as anxiety, panic attacks, and other physical pain or stress occur when rejection occurs. If estrangement occurs during a divorce, a rejection by a child can add fuel to the fire of feeling rejected by the spouse. In some cases, an entire set of relatives and friends disappear in what may seem like an instant. During this stage, a parent feels physically and emotionally depleted. Lost. Loss of a child. Loss of a marriage. Loss of a family. Loss of what was. Loss of what was to be.

Shame and Blame

Shame typically begins during the rejection phase after a parent has worked through the acceptance part 1. The reality of the estrangement starts to set in. The questioning begins. A parent may think they lack parenting skills. What on earth did a parent do for a child to shut a parent out completely? Or, what did a parent not do? This stage is when a parent internalizes the pain and questions the validity of the source. Frequently, a parent does not know the reason(s) for the estrangement. A parent begins to feel shame. The mere thought of a child rejecting a parent is vile; therefore, a parent experiences shame. A deep to the core type of shame. The shame of a child’s rejection and the shame of what behavior a parent may have or may not have done or said or not said. Shame and blame often coincide. A parent blames themself. A parent blames a child. A parent blames a spouse (or former spouse). Or, in the case of parent alienation, blames a court system. In the end, the question remains, was the estrangement caused by another human being? Or was the estrangement caused by an action? A miscommunication? A series of misfortunate incidents? Lack of communication? Or no communication at all? There is blame, shame, and anger all around. 

Anger

Anger is the reaction to an unpleasant situation. It is a normal emotion and frequently occurs in the everydayness of life. The anger resulting from estrangement runs deep – much more profound than the everyday kind. This one is the ugly cousin of shame and blame. This anger is volatile, yet, it can also be quietly simmering beneath the surface, waiting to explode. During the estrangement process, anger is necessary. It is anger with oneself, a child, a spouse or former spouse, family, friends, and even God. Anger that questions the estrangement and the role others may or may not have played to either lead to the estrangement or to support and encourage it. Did a parent do all they could do to prevent this? Did a spouse (or former spouse) encourage counseling? Did family members disown the estranged parent or intervene? Was there a feeling of hopelessness? Or did not do enough? Or did too much? This anger phase involves questioning oneself and others, which is necessary for healing. It is vital to vent by deep breathing, talking to a therapist or friend, exercising, or alleviating the stress that builds from the anger during this anger stage. Even though thoughts of murder, suicide, and kidnapping may occur, one cannot act upon them.

Acceptance – Part 2

Once the anger has dissipated, a parent can start the next phase of Acceptance Part 2. This stage is where a parent accepts the estrangement as part of a bigger picture whereby a child may not have estranged willingly. Or thoughtfully. Or knowingly that the estrangement would last for months, years, or decades. The acceptance stage acknowledges that a child may not know how to reconcile. It also comes to terms with a child making “no contact” and respecting the decision. This stage is a promising one. Once a parent has accepted the estrangement as part of life’s circumstances, a parent can start to let go of the past and realize that there may be no future with an estranged child. A parent should no longer attempt to mail letters, send friend requests, and ask others who may know the child for any information. This stage is tough to journey through, especially for hopeful and generally optimistic people. Thinking that one day, reconciliation may happen conjures up visions of unicorns and torture. The goal of Acceptance Part 2 is peace and respect for oneself and others, including an estranged child.  

Fear 

This stage involves non-estranged children. It is the fear of potential estrangement from another child. After estrangement, fear clouds the relationship between a parent and the non-estranged child. This fear negatively influences parenting decisions. A parent will discipline the non-estranged child less. A parent will adjust their communication for fear that something said will trigger the non-estranged child to estrange. Is the fear realistic? For a parent who has lost a valued relationship with one child – the fear is real – it is a perceived danger and potential threat. The risk of losing another relationship often leads to also avoiding intimate conversations. The relationship is fragile, and a parent wants to guard it to ensure it does not break. Living and parenting with the fear of estrangement are not easy. It is a difficult stage to endure and learning to live day by day keeping worry at bay is a good goal to have. As the non-estranged child matures, the fear of estrangement may dissipate based on their behaviors and communication.  

Healing

Healing comes in all sizes and shapes, and moving forward with life and becoming unstuck, is essential. Healing can begin with writing, therapy, exercise, or workshops. Breathing retreats can help. Seminars on Living a Miraculous Life can help. Spiritual vacations can help. Whatever helps heal a parent from estrangement is worth doing, especially if it means being open to a conversation with someone who loves a craft or activity that you do not. No matter how healing takes place, there is nothing more important in this world than for a parent to be their best authentic self.  

 About the Author 

Ruth is a blogger of I and Thou Reflections on WordPress and Facebook. WordPress exhibits her heartfelt reflections on life, love, and relationships. Facebook contains excerpts from her devotional book on human relationships as well as her I and Thou Reflections. She has authored a fiction book on love, travel, marriage, and separation due out at the end of this year. Ruth has also written a 365 devotional on reflections on God, scripture, and human relationships, which will be part of a series tentatively titled, Sacred Traits, hoping to publish in the following year. Ruth is currently working on numerous other writing projects, including a Career Journal. She is a former director of career services at the University of the Ozarks in Clarksville, AR, and Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ. Her younger son recently graduated college and lives on the east coast. Ruth’s eldest son lives on the west coast and estranged from her more than ten years ago. Through research, writing, and prayer, she has healed to the point where she can respect his feelings and remains hopeful for a reconciliation.

I and Thou: Happy St. Patrick’s Day

So, what would you do if you found out you were Irish one day?

I grew up being told I was 1/2 Dutch and 1/2 English. Black and white – clear as glass. I also remember growing up sensing that our family didn’t have anything in common with Irish people (or other people who were not like my parents.)

I also think my parents placed people and groups into stereotypical buckets. And, sadly, I probably did it to in my growing up and young adult years. But that was eons ago, and that is just how some people felt in the early to mid- 1900’s. I don’t fault them at all – they were kind, loving people for the most part!

Recently, one of my brothers did a DNA test and found out we had some Irish – which is probably making my dad roll over in his grave.

So, what did I do when I found out I had a bit of Irish in me? My first instinct was to think, “Hmm, I wonder what else my parent’s didn’t tell me…How did they not know this?” After the initial shock, I thanked God for creating the universe with diversity, making people in all colors, ethnicities, shapes, and sizes. And I thanked God for good old Irish Whiskey!

Enjoy your bangers with mash and have a Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

I and Thou: Be My Valentine

Valentine’s Day – Share the love!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. 
– 1 Thessalonians 4:9

Does this scripture remind you of Valentine’s Day?

What exactly are its origins?

Have you heard about the god of Lupercus?

Well, apparently, that is how it all started. According to americancatholic.org,

The roots of St. Valentine’s Day lie in the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia, celebrated on Feb. 15.  For 800 years, the Romans had dedicated this day to the god Lupercus.  On Lupercalia, a young man would draw the name of a young woman in a lottery and keep the woman as a sexual companion for the year.1

The Catholic Roots of Valentine’s Day

Sexual companionship for an entire year may sound appealing, especially during a pandemic; yet, what happens after the year is up?

Long-lasting relationships are built on love. Love is sharing simple things in life, such as walking in the park, cooking a meal, giggling while watching a comedy, or discussing life’s spiritual mysteriousness. And, when you find love, it is like winning a lottery – every day.

During the 18th Century in England, Valentine’s Day evolved into a card and flower-giving holiday celebrating love and romance.  Maybe this holiday is an opportunity to proclaim God’s love for humankind? 

Let’s think about spreading God’s love, not by participating in the billion-dollar holiday it has become but by simply loving others. Welcome God’s love and share it with others.  This special once-a-year day reminds us to show our appreciation for one another. For partners.  For family members. For church members. For Friends.  So, embrace love. Let Valentine’s Day become an opportunity to express your love, respect, and friendship to someone in your life.

  • Human connection – speaking your love language to your Valentine helps keep the spark alive.

Action:  Send Valentine Day wishes of love and laughter to all the special people in your life.

1Guest Author, The Catholic Roots of St. Valentine’s Day.  Retrieved on November 2, 2016. .https://www.franciscan media.org/ the-catholic-roots-of-st-valentines-day/

I and Thou: Belonging

Merry Christmas!

Reflection on Luke 2:22-35

Artist Credit: Jan van ‘t Hoff

Mary and Joseph head north to Bethlehem, the town of David, for a census ordered by Caesar Augustus.  Upon arrival to Joseph’s hometown, Mary gives birth to Jesus.  The familiar Christmas cast expands to include Simeon and Anna in this chapter.  Both of these older adults proclaim Jesus as Messiah.  In this passage,

28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:  29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. 30 For my eyes have seen your salvation, 31   which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:  32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”

Luke 2:28-32

Simeon’s proclamation is his “ah-ha” moment, and it speaks to us about salvation, in other words, belonging. 

Where do you belong?

Joseph belongs to the house of David, similar to us belonging to the home of our parents.  And our children belong to us.  So, where does all of this “belonging” fit in?

Luke does not tell us the lineage of Simeon. And maybe that is for a good reason. I’d like to think that Simeone is you and me!

A recent study found when social relationships provide a sense of belonging; people feel life has more meaning.* We know some of us are more social than others due to different personalities, levels of mood, amount of energy, and time.    Whether we feel social or not, we can know with certainty that we do belong to the family of God. Why? Because God loves us. Nothing can separate that love from us. God’s love is eternal; it can bring us a sense of belonging and contentment. 

As parents, we hope our children have a sense of belonging – to their heavenly Father and us. Earthly relationships can be full of disappointment and sadness when loved ones choose to be “un” belong themselves – stagnant, separated, divorced, or estranged.   God never does this; like a parent, God accepts us and loves us unconditionally.  This unconditional love makes us feel loved and provides us with a broad sense of belonging in life.

To those of you out in this world who have turned your back on unconditional love – maybe it’s time to turn back toward it again? Thoughts?

  • Human families – bringing us a sense of belonging is crucial in all aspects of life.

Action:  Discuss belonging and separation with a loved one.

*Sense of Belonging Increases Meaningfulness of life. (n.d.).  PSYBLOG. (Lambert et al., 2013).

I and Thou: A Simple Gesture

Fall into The Bible – Part 4

Art Credit: Tara Patterson- Beauty4AshesArt

In Part 4, the last of the “Fall into the Bible” series, we will see how two Old Testament and one New Testament stories helps us understand how faith can thwart a military attack, surrendering power affirms God’s sovereignty and worship requires surrendering of self.

Read the three phrases below.

Fall on him – 2 Sam. 17:12

Fall from his hand – Ez. 30:22

Fall down before him – Rev. 4:10

Sudden Attack

The characters in the 2 Samuel story for this blog post are King David, his son, Soloman, and an army of men who want to kill David. To better understand this 2 Samuel 17:12 verse, let’s read the entire sentence.

12 Then we will attack him wherever he may be found, and we will fall on him as dew settles on the ground. Neither he nor any of his men will be left alive.

Here, we see an army of men that will fall on David as dew settles on the ground. So, how does dew relate to this? Interesting minds want to know!

Going back to general science 101, we learn that temperature and air play critical roles in the dew process. The higher the temperature, the more water vapor the air holds. In the evening, depending on the atmospheric pressure and humidity, the air can no longer retain the water vapor, and hence water forms. It forms on the ground from the ground up, so it blankets the earth.

Saved by Faith

In Fall on him, it is an attack. Sudden. From all points. Like dew. Quite ominous when you think about it. In this scripture, it is not Spirit, like we saw in the previous blog post, Fall into the Bible – Part 1. It is an army of men planning to attack King David. At the end of this story, King David and his army are safe. Why are they safe? God keeps David safe because of the faith he has. King David lives till the age of seventy, passing the throne on to his son, Solomon.

Surrender of Power

In the second phrase, from the book of Ezekiel, the Lord is speaking through his Hebrew prophet, Ezekiel. There,  

The sword will fall from his hand” refers to Pharoah’s imminent loss of power. It is clearly God exerting influence and control over Egypt. It is a surrender. Let’s read the entire verse, 

22 Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against Pharaoh king of Egypt. I will break both his arms, the good arm as well as the broken one, and make the sword fall from his hand

Hmmm. God will break Pharaoh’s arms? Metaphorically, of course! The visions of Ezekiel were prophetic and centered around judgment on Israel, Judgment of nations (Egypt as one of them), and future blessings for Israel. Then, Ezekiel warns of destruction. And in this scripture, we see the warning of the destruction of Egypt. Ezekiel taught the importance of people needing to affirm God’s sovereignty.

Surrender of Self

In our third phrase in the tenth verse of Chapter 4 in Revelation, there is a surrender.

Fall down before him

Surrender of self. It is also respect. Respect for God. Respect for themselves and others. Respect for the earth and the totality of creation leads to worship!

10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: 11 “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”

A Simple Gesture

What actually creates a stir in one’s soul? Is it Spirit? Is it logic? Is it faith? All good questions. For me, it is angels! The Godcidents, like the woman at the Rest Area the other day, overheard we didn’t have utensils for our lunch. She handed me four individually wrapped plastic utensils. Brilliant! Personal! It was a God Thing to me! All in the simple gesture of a kind person.

Over these past four blogs, we have broadened our perception of the word “fall.” Whether it be the Bright Light Path, the Deep Dark Path, or the Path Filled with Grace, we have seen it used for spiritual and physical purposes. If we choose to allow the Spirit of God to enter our life, we gain spirit wisdom at the global, personal, and relationship levels. We have freedom of choice. Thanks be to God!

I and Thou: Thanksgiving Day Prayer

Japanese cranes by CheetahArt on DeviantArt

God of heaven and earth, hear our prayer…

Thank you for all the abundant blessings you bestow upon us…

Ability to gaze in the eyes of a newborn.

Majestic feeling of a dolphin jumping within arms reach.

Gracefulness of a crane walking nearby.

Muscles that kayak under tunnels of deep luscious green vines.

Active minds that enjoy playing games with family and friends.

Hands that built caves in Mesa Verde thousands of years ago.

Bountiful food prepared for family dinners.

Creativity expressed through birthday-themed celebrations.

Gentle breezes felt on a boat ride.

Feeling truly loved.

Instead of falling into the hype of the holiday season, what would it look like if you took a step back and pondered what really is essential to you? Is it to mend a relationship? To spend more time with your children? Your parents? Or is it to reach out to someone less fortunate who could really use a helping hand?

Let’s focus on more simple ways of celebrating the holidays in this season of Thanksgiving. Shall we?

I and Thou: It’s All About Perspective

Fall into the Bible – Part 3


Artwork: Light on a Straight Path by Cynthia Jewell Pollett

In this blog post, I will look at these “fall” phrases in The Bible where the word “fall” and the personal pronoun “me” is used. Go ahead and read each of them.

Fall on me – Psalm 69:9

Fall on me and my family – 2 Sam. 24:17

Fall in behind me – 2 Kings 9:18

Fall away on account of me – Matt 26:31

Who or what is falling? In Fall into the Bible – Part 1: Three Spirit Pearls of Wisdom for You, posted on October 11, 2021, we read how we can choose to accept God’s love or not. We learned that the Spirit of God provides us with inner Wisdom when we tap into the depths of our soul when we are quiet and receptive. This blog post will focus on Spirit and choosing the path filled with grace.

The Bright Light Path

There certainly is a propensity to make good decisions and see the good in all things – don’t you think? Most of us like happy endings. The fairy tale. The underdog. The success story. Yet, in real life, we make decisions in situations where there is little information. Take dating. Do we go out with this new person? There is a choice. Trust and be positive or doubt and have anxiety. It does not need to be an either-or decision. We can be optimistic and still cautious as we enter into a new relationship.  

Now, let’s look at a relationship with God. We really have little information.  Right? God’s profile is not on a dating app. So, what exactly do we know?  We know that there is a force in this world that made the world what it is. Genesis 1:1-2:3 details The Creation Story for those of you who might need a refresher. Simply, let’s just say that God created every living, breathing creature that exists today in the world. Are you with me so far?  

Point 1. God created every living, breathing creature.

In Genesis 1:2, “Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” Then, in Genesis 2:7, we read, “Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” Then, fast forward a few thousand years, and we see in Matthew 3:16, “As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him.” Hmmm. So, here we have the Spirit of God from the Old Testament, making a debut in the New Testament.  

If you are like me, you might now be thinking, what is the difference between the Spirit of God and the Holy Spirit? At first, having thought that the Holy Spirit was a New Testament construct, I was pretty surprised that the Holy Spirit was first mentioned in Psalm 51:11. It is when David lamented to God after he was rebuked by Nathan about his affair with Bathsheba and having her husband murdered, “Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. My theory was incorrect. After a bit of digging, most scholars believe there to be no difference between the Spirit of God and the Holy Spirit. Whew! That’s a relief!

Point 2.  Spirit of God and Holy Spirit are used interchangeably.

 Back to the four verses above. Re-read them now.  

Fall on me – Psalm 69:9 | Fall on me and my family – 2 Sam. 24:17

Fall in behind me – 2 Kings 9:18 | Fall away on account of me – Matt 26:31

In the context of Psalm 69, David is crying out to God, and he is asking God to save him, and he is feeling like a foreigner in his own home.  Others’ insults of God “fall on him.” David is choosing to have faith and not let the insults get to him. David is choosing God.

From a different perspective, “fall on me” can be seen as a request that may sound something like this, “God, please have your spirit fall on me.” The same can be said about the second verse, “fall on me and my family.” We ask for the Spirit of God to shower us with love and blessings. We trust God in the hope that we “fall” toward the light. The light of the triune God. The light of Wisdom. The good. In other words, faith.  

In 2 Samuel, God is asking David to prepare for battle against Israel. God was angry toward Israel and sent an angel to strike down people.  When David saw what was going on, he begged God to punish him and his family to spare the innocent as he said to God, “Let your hand fall on me and my family.” So, here we see an angry God and a faithful David. In the end, David builds an altar and offers a burnt sacrifice, and God ends the battle.

Point 3. Faith is a choice.

Fall on me” can also be a plea, especially in times of trial and tribulation. We may cry out, “Help us!” as we ask for protection. So, if God created every living creature, wouldn’t it be only natural for us to want to find favor with God? 

The Deep Dark Path

As Christians, we all have strayed from time to time, and we have allowed Satan to influence us. Our decisions. Our friends. Our surroundings. Our entertainment. Fall in behind me is authoritative. It can refer to commanding Satan, or the Evil One, to “get behind me.” In this scenario, we exert our authority over Satan, and we begin to gain control of the situation. In other words, trying to turn a bad situation from spiraling out of control. If we don’t do that, evil can overcome us and separate us from God. We really don’t want to do that, do we? 

In 2 Kings 9:18, Jehu was anointed by the prophet Elijah, King of Israel. Elijah instructs him to destroy the house of Ahab. As his enemies approach, Jehu asks, “Do you come in peace?” And, when they do not answer, Jehu commands them to “fall in behind me.” Jehu ends up killing two kings and ordering eunuchs to throw Jezebel out the window to her death, as seen in verse 36, “…This is the word of the Lord that he spoke through his servant Elijah the Tishbite: On the plot of ground at Jezreel dogs will devour Jezebel’s flesh.

So, the question is, does sin really separate us from God? From the 2 Kings story, murder is condoned, which certainly adds a bit of mystery to the whole sin concept. Yet, we must remember that Jehu was following God’s instruction. As we see in the New Testament, God emerges as a more loving and less angry deity.  

Sin does separate us from God; remember, there is grace. Grace to bring us back into harmony with God. When we feel God “falling away on account of me,” it is vital to recognize our shortcomings and ask God to help us overcome them. Not only when we strayed, but when we may have pushed God away.

Can you think of something or someone you may have lost or broken on account of something you said or did by pushing or pulling too hard? I know that I tried too hard with my children. To be completely different from my mother, I wanted to be the “involved” mother to my children. You know the type. The one who is the class parent. Then, the head of all the class parents. The parent who leads one of the segments of the annual school play and teaches Sunday School. The one that just goes over the top. Pushing too hard without even realizing that being involved with all the “parent” activities, there was very little time left to play that favorite video game. Or the patience to play the Monopoly game. Or the time to just be there when my child needed me the most. Even in the bad…there is good news! The good news is God loves us even when we push, pull, or fall away.  

The Path Filled With Grace

Separation from God may prevent us from blessings; yet, accepting God’s invitation of love and grace gets us back on track. The right track. The track to more blessings. The path that grants us the privilege and honor to be called a child of God.