18 The word of the Lord Almighty came to me. 19 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “The fasts of the fourth, fifth, seventh and tenth months will become joyful and glad occasions and happy festivals for Judah. Therefore love truth and peace.” 20 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Many peoples and the inhabitants of many cities will yet come, 21 and the inhabitants of one city will go to another and say, ‘Let us go at once to entreat the Lord and seek the Lord Almighty. I myself am going.’ 22 And many peoples and powerful nations will come to Jerusalem to seek the Lord Almighty and to entreat him.” 23 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “In those days ten people from all languages and nations will take firm hold of one Jew by the hem of his robe and say, ‘Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you.’”
Thought: Zechariah, one of the Old Testament prophets, writes about sad and challenging fasts and how joyful and pleasant feasts replace the sad fasts. He tells people a message of God’s love for His people, reminiscent of holidays when families gather around a table to share a meal.
What holidays do you and your family celebrate?
Families make plans and celebrate all types of holidays such as New Year’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Passover, Labor Day, Holi, or Christmas. Some families come together each year for a family reunion while others celebrate a holiday unique to them. Some host Hawaiian Luaus, Memorial Day picnics, and others watch fireworks and picnic on the 4th of July.
Tradition, according to Wikipedia is, “a belief or behavior passed down within a group or society with symbolic meaning or special significance with origins in the past.” * Traditions are true because they are believed to be true. In the case of Passover, angels of death passed over the Israelites, who had brushed the lamb’s blood, over their doorframes. (Exodus 12:7). God saved the Israelites, and the tradition of celebrating Passover acknowledges the event and commemorates it.
Traditions can last thousands of years or last only a few. However long a tradition continues, it creates memories. Holiday gatherings take place year after year and our children expect a house full of relatives. Right? Yet, we often forget how separation and divorce changes tradition. In some cases, it ends. Families no longer gather as years pass.
Thankfully, the truth of God’s love is eternal and not measured by years of tradition or mistakes. It is simply the truth. The truth, as the prophet Zechariah wrote, in the last days, people from all nations will want to touch the hem of Jesus’ robe. Let’s keep traditions alive so we all can have the opportunity to touch Jesus’ hem. Shall we?
Divine gifts – sharing religious traditions with family opens us up to experience grace and truth.
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.
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!
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?
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.
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 SpiritofGod 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.
In this blog post, I have taken the liberty of looking at random phrases in The Bible where the word “fall” is used. Go ahead and read each of them:
Now, re-read them. What do you see? How do you feel? At first, the word submission comes to my mind. Yet, maybe surrendering is the better word. In Julie Lopes’ blog, Dancing with God, she reflects on the meaning of submission and surrendering. She says that surrendering is an act of love where we respond to an invitation, whereas submission has a power and control element. So, with that, we will look at these phrases collectively from a surrendering viewpoint.
Falling is an act of surrender. Surrendering to God, oneself, and to others. In the first three verses, there is the commonality of anatomy – heads, side, feet. What do you see or feel?
For me, there is a sense of Jesus. Jesus dying on the cross, hanging his head, and being pierced in his side and through his feet. I see a total surrendering. Surrendering of physical body and spirit. Jesus takes his last breath, and in that, he is providing salvation to the world. Abba Father, Why have you forsaken me? Jesus surrendered as an invitation for us to surrender our wants, desires, and purpose to God.
The fourth and fifth verses are analogous to the wealthy man who must sell all of his possessions to “get eternal life.” In this case, the surrendering is his tangible assets. Jesus tells the man if he wants to be perfect, he would need to sell all of his possessions and give them to the poor. Scripture says, “he went away sad,” leading to believe he chose his possessions over entering the Kingdom of God.
How often do we feel so secure, confident, and powerful that we would not want to give that up? Some of us work hard in our careers wishing to get to the next leadership position, and we don’t. Promotions are sometimes given to those who don’t work as hard. Or those who have less tenure? Or, perhaps to the person with the right pedigree, not the one who actually has the skills and experience. Falling from a secure position requires trust. And faith. Often, we fail to see what is ahead of us, or at least we fail in trusting God to direct our lives. Speaking from experience, God wants the details, and God wants alone time with you. We need to place our lives, position, power, and children in God’s hands. Then, we can enter into eternal life. Essentially, we need to “die” to self and “live” to faith.
We can’t get up unless we have fallen. The last verse is speaking to all of us. We will all have hills and valleys in life. In other words, trials and tribulations are part of it. And to overcome these obstacles, we must fall into them, and through them, we can come out the other side as more robust and more faithful people.
In this Fall season of thanksgiving, I invite you to “fall.” “Fall” into your hills and valleys, and lying in the depths of the ravine, cry out to God. Give God your everything. Only then you will be able to stand tall, brush yourself off, and spread God’s love to others.
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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:
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.
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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Time for temperature checks Time for thirst Time for travel Time for transparency Time for transformation
Watercolor Art Credit: Kateryna Savchenko
Do you notice more people talk about the weather in the summertime? How warm will it be? Will it be 70 degrees? 80 degrees? Or, 90 degrees? Will we need to bring a light jacket? How about a breeze? Do we need to bring cooler bags for the groceries? Temperature seems to carry a bit more weight in the summertime. Which makes perfect sense since the temperature can help aid in the dressing department. Shorts or slacks? Sleeves or no sleeves? Bathing suit in the carry bag? A dip in a pool or a casual splash in a creek.
Summertime is fun!
Summertime is a time for unexpected adventures!
Thirst and sweat and summer all go hand in hand. The hotter it is – the sweatier it gets. And that means to hydrate. The best way to hydrate is with water. Other favorite summertime beverages include iced tea and lemonade. Of course, there are alcoholic drink possibilities as well. Just remember, if your body is thirsty – it needs water, not alcohol. Add them to iced tea or lemonade to add a kick! If you do drink in the summertime, drink responsibly.
Summertime is time for travel. During a global pandemic, however, this becomes a bit tricky. Cars seem to be safe if traveling with the people in your household. Last summer, a one-hour boat ride on a lake was a vacation. This summer is renting a home with a pool. Driving by car, routinely now includes, more hand washing, hand sanitizing, and keeping a face mask within a moment’s reach. Masking up when at rest areas or other public indoor places is important.
Perhaps it is a good idea to ponder the concept of transparency. Interestingly, Wikipedia defines it as “implies openness, communication, and accountability.” The summer is a great time to explore new ideas. To be open to new possibilities and think about the future. To communicate more openly and to share more often. To be accountable for yourself and your actions. Transparency is considering your authentic self. Being better.
When people work on themselves, they set in motion the wheels of transformation. Transforming themselves to be able to help transform others. Summertime provides an opportunity to take a breath. To take a weekend. Go to the lake. Or the community pool. To read the book, you have been wanting to read. In this pandemic world, we live in right now – there is always time to transform yourself into the person you want to be. Keep striving for betterness. There, you will find the true treasures of life.
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Time for family Time for friends Time for fun Time for flowers Time for fiddling Time for fellowship
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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?
Time to splash Time to sip Time to sing Time for solitude
What better place to splash than in a gorgeous built-in pool with a waterfall?
There is something spiritual about a waterfall. Hearing water cascading down a tiled and glass blocked wall sounds like rain falling on a hot summer day. The dripping sound is very calming. Does water calm you? It sure calms me! Oceans, pools, lakes, rivers – you name it – if there is water – there is calm. Yet, where there is a pool, there is bound to be splashing! Splashing water with hands and feet takes me back to childhood. Splashing seems to wipe years away in an instant. So, the next time you are in a pool – go ahead and make a splash!
Splashing brings out child-like qualities.
Sipping a beverage in the summertime is different than the rest of the year. Do you agree? In summer, whether it is sipping iced tea, lemonade, or a favorite alcoholic beverage, summer makes it sweeter. Maybe it is the casualness of the outdoors? The warm summer breezes. Or the flip-flops? Whatever it is, sipping a glass of ½ iced tea, ½ lemonade, with a splash of limeade – sure is my favorite! Sipping reminds me of savoring. Savoring a piece of pie or the last spoonful of ice cream. Sipping is slow. It is a way of saying, slow down! But, after sipping, I feel rejuvenated. Do you?
I come from a very musical family. Both of my brothers were in the high school band. My brother Bob was a music teacher for decades. My sister played the piano, as did both of my parents. In addition, my dad sang in the church choir and often performed solos. I, however, did not really inherit the “musical” gene. Although I sure love to sing, I’m not really good at all. Yet, my heart overflows with joy, and I sing anyway, especially in the shower. For me, singing is expressing joy. Joy of love. Joy of life. I really try to embrace joy and bury the sorrow. The sorrow of a failed marriage. The sorrow of an estranged/alienated son. Maybe the singing is just my way of expressing sorrow – the deep sadness that I live with every day. For me, it is a choice. I can choose to cry. Or I can choose to sing. I decide to sing because singing soothes my soul. So go ahead – sing a tune and see how you feel. Do you feel better?
Solitude is spending time with yourself. It is a time to just “be.” How often do we really do that in this busy, instant messaging world? I think of Jesus. Jesus often went off to pray, leaving his disciples. Maybe Jesus needed solitude to think or to refresh. Or to reenergize. Or, perhaps, Jesus needed time to speak to God. In The Word Among Us, Father Mitch Pacwa, writes an article entitled, Jesus Sets Out Alone to Pray, where Father Pacwa announces, “We’re Invited to Join Jesus in His Secret Place of Prayer.” What do you need solitude for? As humans, we all need solitude. Time to getaway. Time to unplug. Time to “be.”
Enjoy the rest of the summer! Life is a life-long learning experience.
Artwork: Tropical Holiday Hawaii Beach by Robin Wethe Altman
Time to refresh Time to renew Time to reflect Time to repent
What better place to refresh than a beach?
Growing up in NJ, where the shore was an hour away, it could take up to three hours to get there because of traffic. And, of course, once you arrived, you needed to pay for parking and pay to go on the beach. No free beach in NJ. That is if you can find a public beach. Many beaches are private and require a “badge.” In NC, it is entirely different. Free public beach access that is clearly visible. Plenty of free parking nearby. What a joy to be able to enjoy an hour or so at the beach without the hassle!
Renewing our minds every once in a while, is good medicine for our souls. How do you renew? I renew by stepping out of my comfort zone and trying something new.
Growing up in a non-denominational evangelical home environment, the Church was the center point. All seemed to revolve around Church. Church was on Sunday. That is what we did—Sunday School at 9:30 a.m. and Church service at 10:45 a.m. Then, sometimes, fellowship hour after Church. Then home for Sunday dinner. Maybe a ride in the car. Then, rest time. Then a lite supper and then back to Church for evening service.
Wednesday evening was Prayer Meeting, and I remember my dad faithfully going. Then Thursday evening was choir rehearsal which my father participated in as well. Thursday was also Pioneer Girls, similar to Girl Scouts, which I participated in for many years. Youth group at Church plus a regional youth group, Youth for Christ, were activities held at various times throughout the years that I regularly attended. I do remember one summer attending a bible study that was at 7:00 a.m. I woke up, grabbed some juice, and rode my bike up to Church. It really wasn’t that far – about 1 mile.
When I was a bit older, the regional group expanded my horizons to meet other kids in nearby towns. I appreciated learning more about different churches; yet I felt a tug to be more involved in my neighborhood. My parents discouraged me from community activities. And strongly encouraged Church-sponsored events and outgoings with “church kids.” I also vaguely remember one summer going away to camp at a Christian Camp named Camp Cherith. That is where I learned to do archery, shoot a rifle (BB’s), and horseback ride. Reflecting on my childhood, I felt that I was in a bubble; I could only do activities that were Church related. I thought that I missed out on friendships with those who were unlike me.
My first experience with discrimination was when my parents did not support my friendship with a little girl up the block named Charlotte. She was Jewish. I don’t know why my parents were afraid of people who were unlike them. I was five. It had a lasting impact on me and my life. It was then when my first questions started about religion, faith, and Christian love. I still wonder if Charlotte knew why I couldn’t be her friend.
There were lots of rules growing up.
No playing on Sunday.
No bike riding on Sunday.
No going to school dances.
No going to movies.
No playing cards.
I felt deprived. I felt like a freak. I’m sure being bullied by a girl named Debby in junior high school didn’t help either. I was so scared, and I don’t really know why. Perhaps, I’ll never know.
What exactly is repenting? And what do we need to repent from? First, repenting requires acknowledging a wrongdoing or a regret. Who in this world has not done something they have regretted? Not me – for sure! Then, repenting requires coming to peace with the regret. For me, repenting is freeing. Once you have come to terms with a situation, and only then, can you then move forward. At the University of Ozarks, their mission is “to live life fully,” and you can only do that after you have reflected, repented, refreshed and renewed. Not necessarily in that order.
Enjoy the rest of the summer! Life is a life-long learning experience.