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. 

I and Thou: 3 Spirit Pearls of Wisdom for You

Watercolor by: Jose Trujillo

Fall into The Bible – Part 1

Choices.

When the Spirit of God falls on you, there is a choice. Do you accept it? Or deny it? If you choose the Spirit, then the Spirit will enter the very depth of your soul.

So, how do you think that happens?

In this blog post, I have taken the liberty of looking at random phrases in The Bible where the word “fall” is used. I will focus on “fall” and the personal pronoun “you.” Go ahead and read each of them:

Fall on you – Deu. 31:29

Fall upon you – Isaiah 47:11

Fall within you – Ez. 28:23

Fall away on account of you – Matt. 26:33

Now, reread them slowly. What themes come to your mind? The themes of Spirit and relationship come to my mind when I read these phrases collectively. For the sake of clarity, let’s call Spirit the voice of God. For me, the Spirit can fall on me, upon me, within me, and away on account of me.  Relationship, for this blog post, refers to two people who interact at some level. They can be couples, family members, friends, and colleagues. Like the Spirit, relationships can fall on me, upon me, within me, and away on account of me. Let’s further explore – shall we?

Falling on you and falling upon you are interchangeable and simply means the Spirit is with you. Falling within you refers to an inward flow of the Spirit through you, and falling away on account of you seems to me to imply a divide or separation. How about you?

When the Spirit of God falls on you, there is a choice. Do you accept it? Or deny it? And, when there is a falling away, what prompted it? A behavior. An action. A word. Or, perhaps sin!  

For me, Spirit and relationship intertwine, and I can’t have one without the other. For me, it is about faith. Faith in God. Faith in myself and faith in others. If you surrender yourself to a higher power and open your mind to new possibilities, I believe the Spirit within you will attract others who may need or want you to be in your life. And, that may be a greater purpose is being fulfilled. And, how awesome is that?

Spirit Wisdom – Global Level

How often do you ask God to help people? Feed the hungry. Give to the poor. Shelter the homeless and support meaningful organizations. I call these global needs – praying and meditating on the world as one family. One humankind. One connection. Humans connecting through shared needs. I would venture to say that the majority of us have asked God to help others. Whether it has been for a sick loved one or to comfort a family in losing a loved one.

In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, he refers to the most attainable need as “physiological needs,” what I call” shared needs.” For example, how food and water sustain life. He refers to the least attainable need as “self-actualization” as the highest level of psychological development where the personal potential is fulfilled. I call this “being the best human you can be.” And, how can you become the best human you can be? 

What if you flip this thought process upside down and connect to all the people in the world through the Spirit, focusing on shared needs and replacing personal potential with collective potential? What do you think? For me, it is similar to the concept of “it takes a village.” It is collective potential that makes the world a better place. One family under God. Global!

Spirit Wisdom – Personal Level

As you tap into the wisdom of the Spirit, you have every human right to bring your personal thoughts and requests forward. Pray. Meditate. Bring value to yourself and to others. Open your heart and let God hear you!

Keep in mind that seeking wisdom from the Spirit enhances yourself, your relationships, day-to-day issues, and decisions. In contrast to the global level, the personal level encourages you to see yourself through the eyes of others. How do others perceive you? What type of personal work do you need to do on yourself – for yourself? How are your compassion, empathy, servant leadership, and acceptance levels? Do they pass the test of time? Or, are you like me, and you have to work at being more compassionate and accepting? There is time to change. Always! So, what can you do to make yourself a better person?  

Jesus! Do you ever wonder about Jesus and His life on earth? His childhood? What types of food He liked? What or who comforted Him? I don’t have a clue. I do know that Jesus took an interest in others before, during, and after He received the Spirit as the dove descended upon Him while being baptized by John. It is this same Spirit that can enter you. What are you waiting for?

Jesus loved, healed, and offered eternal life and knew He was unique. He knew He was a part of God – from the beginning. And during his life, He consistently prayed to God. Being the best starts with understanding your unique place in the world and balancing yourself in a relationship with others. Just like Jesus did. With Jesus – it is personal!

Spirit Wisdom – Relationships

For me, relationships can fall on me, fall upon me, fall within me and fall away on account of me. Relationships that fall on or upon you are those where people cross your life path. To help you for a season or more. Take siblings, for example. You grow up with brothers or sisters, or both, and typically have a relationship with them for your entire life, whereas others come and go throughout your lifetime. 

Relationships that fall within you are those relationships that tug at the core of your being. It could be how you talk to God. Do you talk to God? Or when you marry. Or when you have children. Falling within means the person takes up residence in your heart, and these relationships take time, energy, and if you really want it to work well, financial resources. Sure, you can love someone and spend time with them doing activities that don’t require money, such as playing frisbee in the park, taking turns reading a good book, and walking on the beach. Yet, at some point, you will have to eat and sleep. For me, money equals trust. That has been my experience time and time again. Just ask me! 

When a relationship does fall away, ask yourself, was it your behavior, an action, or a word? If a relationship divides or separation occurs, perform an introspection. Ask the Spirit to reveal what may have caused the rift. Sometimes, relationships fall away and have nothing to do with you, or your behavior, action, or word stressing the relationship. In some cases, people fall away for their own reasons. Whatever the case, be sure to seek wisdom from the Spirit. Reflect on yourself, make changes when and if appropriate, and follow the call of God.

Your Choice

When the Spirit of God falls on you, there is a choice. Do you accept it? Or deny it? If you receive it, the Spirit can guide you globally and personally in all of your relationships by tapping into its wisdom!

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I and Thou: Summertime Part 3

It’s Summertime – Part 3

Time for family
Time for friends
Time for fun
Time for flowers
Time for fiddling
Time for fellowship



Photo Credit: Steve Grundy’s Lily Pond Perfection

Family.

The other day, a group of cousins spent a few hours with each other. Many of them had not seen each other in years – if not decades.  What makes a family special? It is the relaxed nature of strangers coming together and sharing a special bond that is really unexplainable. It feels like an old shoe – you know – the comfortable pair that stays in the closet even when worn and tattered. Make time for family. Go the extra mile(s). It is worth it!

Family comes in all shapes and sizes – warts and all. 

Friends.

Often, friends feel like family, or dare say, better than family. Family is not chosen – friends are. Friends can be from childhood, or they can be someone who we met few weeks ago. Having friends surround you with love is necessary for life. Friends support and encourage. Friends are there when you need to talk or just sit still. Sure, friends come and go.

Hang on to the ones who are uplifting.

Let go of ones who aren’t.

Friends chosen wisely provide encouragement when needed.

Fun.

Summertime is the perfect time to have fun. What is fun? Fun is something you do that brings you joy and delight. Sometimes it is going beyond a comfort zone and trying something new. Visiting an amusement park, playing a game, sharing dinner with a sibling, floating in a pool. Fun creates laughter. Having fun is essential. It is vital for health and happiness.  

Fun is the cornerstone of life – make time to have more fun!

Flowers.

Summertime is a time for flowers so vibrant and lush. Leaves variegated and velvety soft. Or leaves that are prickly and stiff. Roses and hibiscus that bloom week after week.

Or, how about the Schefflera? Schefflera, grow outside in Florida – who knew?

Flowers are like friends. They are uplifting and can brighten an otherwise dismal day. 

Flowers are fresh, colorful and enhance wellbeing.

Fiddling.

Fiddling is something you do that you usually don’t have time to do. It can be riding a bike. Writing a short story. It can be puttering around the house, organizing, cleaning, or fixing. Fiddling also reminds me of a friend of mine who is really a professional fiddler (you know the music kind!) and violinist. He makes it all look so easy. And fun? Fun is having a preschool teacher dance the Irish jig played by a professional fiddler in front of an audience of senior citizens. Yes! That IS fun!


Fiddling passes the time whether it is the musical version or not.

Fellowship.

Growing up in a Christian home, fellowship was a common word that referred to the coffee hour after church service. For me, fellowship has taken on a much deeper spiritual meaning. Fellowship is a gathering of friends and sharing an experience. Whether it be a homemade fish and rice dinner, a dinner at a restaurant of salmon and mashed sweet potatoes with a sprinkle of ginger or touring an unfamiliar town.

Fellowship is sharing deep thoughts.

It is getting to know someone just a bit better.

What better time to have fellowship than summertime?

Fellowship is taking the time to learn a little more about a person than you did before.

I and Thou – Zero Contact

Blog_Pic56Relationships are not simple, far from it. Many parents have experienced children who pull away – sometimes for reasons parents can’t figure out others for apparent reasons. Children who distance themselves from parents believe the parents failed in some significant way – typically unbeknownst to them. The parent is left befuddled and profoundly heartbroken. Like a limb that has been severed; yet still feel is there. Human relationships are fragile. A relationship with the Divine is 100% contact. Faith in God is your rock. For those of you who have zero contact with your children – don’t lose hope. As long as there is breath in life – so is there a chance of reconciliation. Today, tomorrow or the day after. May you find restoration.

 

I and Thou – Global Pandemic Part 2

Family Roots.

These unprecedented times in which we now live may cause you to reflect upon the Pandemic of 1918.   Did the 1918 global event impact your family?

It has certainly inspired me to do a bit of family research. I am grateful that my Mom wrote down some of our family history in 1993, of which, I paid little attention to until now.

Since my dad was bBlog_Pic55orn in 1918, I thought maybe somewhere in my family history I could find out whether or not the pandemic affected my family tree. And, yes, sadly, I did discover a death in my family due to the Pandemic of 1918.

According to History.com (https://www.history.com/topics/world-war-i/1918-flu-pandemic)…

The Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, the deadliest in history, infected an estimated 500 million people worldwide—about one-third of the planet’s population—and killed an estimated 20 million to 50 million victims, including some 675,000 Americans. The 1918 flu was first observed in Europe, the United States and parts of Asia before swiftly spreading around the world. At the time, there were no effective drugs or vaccines to treat this killer flu strain. Citizens were ordered to wear masks, schools, theaters and businesses were shuttered and bodies piled up in makeshift morgues before the virus ended its deadly global march.

My maternal grandparents were married in 1910. My maternal grandmother who died way before I was born (at the age of 48), had 5 pregnancies. Her eldest son, died at age 3 from whooping cough. In 1912 she gave birth to  a girl and in 1919 she gave birth to twins, a vibrant girl and a stillborn. 5 years later, in 1924, my mother was born. It turns out she had scarlet fever at age 9. Quarantine signs appeared on the doors of her home indicating no one could enter for 30 days. She writes that she felt like a leper because everything she had touch had to be burned including her toys and books. Hmmm. That explains a lot.

My maternal grandmother was born in 1890, making her 28-29 years old during the Flu Pandemic of 1918-1919. She was one of 7 children. It was my grandmother’s sister who died during the Pandemic of 1918. My great Aunt Bess, (not to be confused with my not “great” Aunt Bess) was born in 1893 and died at age 26 in 1919 leaving two small children behind. I never knew them. (as far as I know).

My father, the youngest of seven children, was born in 1918.

From theconversation.com/past-pandemics, “Those conceived or in gestation during the 1918-19 flu crisis in the US had reduced educational attainment, lower lifetime incomes, and disability rates that were 20% higher compared to those in other birth cohorts.”

I regret not asking him if he felt any impact of the pandemic on his childhood. What I remember most about my own childhood was the reference to “the Great Depression” of 1929. We (me and my siblings) never knew how good we had it – my parents would remind us quite often, especially if we were complaining. My father left school in the 8th grade to care and support his family. Later on, as an adult, my father earned his GED. My father was a sheet metal worker and died from pulmonary fibrosis in 1992.

As of today, June 28, 2020 there have been 10 Million people who have tested positive for Covid19 with 500,000 deaths so far. In the US, there are 2.5 Million cases with over 127,000 deaths. If this Covid19 virus is anything like the 1918 flu, we will be experiencing infections for the foreseeable near future.

To end on a more positive note, live each day as if there were no tomorrow.  Be kind.  Be gentle and please think before you speak. (that goes especially for me!)  God has a purpose for your life.  Go live it!!

As an update to my April 13th post –

My long time friend from high school lost her dad to Covid 19.  Both of her parents had the virus and her father passed away while her mother was recovering from the virus in a rehabilitation center.  So sad, to hear that a couple married for so many years that one spouse could not attend the funeral of the other.  On the other hand, maybe that was a good thing? May God rest his soul.

Photo credit: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/211528513717826885/

 

 

I and Thou – Memorial Day

 

Today is Memorial Day. A day to remember people who have lost their lives for the sake of freedom. Yet today is different. Something seems radically different. A renewed sense of hope is emerging as the country slowly begins to open back up from the ravages of the global pandemic. Be cautious. Life is short. Every day is precious.IMG_0528

  • Take time to reflect. Pay homage to veterans. Mourn with the families of nearly 100,000 who have lost loved ones over the past few months.
  • Take time to connect. Reach out to family and loved ones with a phone call.
  • Order a surprise gift by mail. Write and send off a letter. Most of us have had our lives turned upside down.
  • Take time to enjoy. Stop and smell the flowers. Notice how many shades of yellow are in a daffodil. Count how many different trees you see in a park.
  • Take time to listen; hear the birds chirp and frogs croak. What types of sounds do you hear in the morning? Or, at night? Hear the fire snap in the fire pit. Listen to the owl hoot far off in the distance.
  • Take time to see. Watch the clouds glide by. See the stars and the leaves sway back and forth.

We mourn together as a nation. Lay aside political views. Honor those who have lost their lives in service to our county.  Let’s learn from past mistakes, so we can move forward together toward a new normal.

I and Thou – Heart is Home

blog_Pic51Home is where the heart is, so you say. You have all heard this before. Yet, after 15 days of “social distancing,” maybe home isn’t really where the heart is.
Where is your heart? Is it with family? Friends? Or is it sad and lonely? Is it reaching out to those you love? Or, is it making amends of a fractured relationship?  Home is where you feel attached.  And, that may just be in your heart.  And, your heart wants to feel loved. It wants to feel comfortable. It wants to feel secure.    Safe.   Safe from hurt.   Safe from harm.
As the country shuts all non-essential services, it creates the opportunity to assess what is indeed essential in life. Don’t look backward for the what-ifs. Look forward to what’s next. You now have the time to dream. Or, at the very least, to contemplate what is really important. Dig within yourself to create that bucket list of what you want to do in the years ahead.
Spend more time with family.
Spend more time reading.
Spend more time with friends.
Spend more time doing what you love to do – whatever that is.
Name it. And, why don’t you create a cute container that you can write a note to drop in?
In fact, how about list the following:
One activity you want to spend more time doing.
One act of kindness you want to do next week.
One book you want to read in the next 30 days.
Take this gift of “shelter in place” and make it count for yourself and for others.
Humanity in the face of a global pandemic…starts with you!

[Photo Credit: Rainbowswithinreach]

I and Thou – The Beacon

Blog_Pic50

You are a beacon of God’s light.
The light reflecting on water from the moon.
The light at the end of a tunnel.
The light that inspires us.
The light of strength, energy, confidence, and encouragement.
The light that guides others to the love of God.
The love of friends and family.
The love that comforts us in grief.
The love that rejoices in our accomplishments.
An unconditional love.
Love for ourselves, others, and strangers.
Love for humanity.
The desire inside all of us – to be the beacon of light.


Image credit:  http://www.lightworkerenergyart.com/

I and Thou – Love

Love is all about giving and taking, ebbing and  flowing. Love is innate. Blog_Happy-Valentines-Day-by-PLATUX-modern-Art-ArtistIt drives us to become the people we are meant to be. Love encourages. It builds up. And, yes, even times, it causes pain. Loneliness. Separation.  However so lonely, however so separate…deep down, love will prevail. It always does.

Happy Valentine’s Day!