I and Thou: Summertime

It’s Summertime!

Artwork: Tropical Holiday Hawaii Beach by Robin Wethe Altman

Time to refresh
Time to renew
Time to reflect
Time to repent

Refresh.

What better place to refresh than a beach? 

Oak Island, NC, is a lovely, quiet, sleepy beach town. 

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! 

Refreshing is gaining a new perspective on the present.

Renew. 

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. 

Renewing is being grateful for what you have and looking forward to what will be.

Reflect.

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.

Reflecting is learning from the past.

Repent.      

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.

Repenting is coming to terms and making peace.

Enjoy the rest of the summer!  Life is a life-long learning experience.

I and Thou – Global Pandemic Part 3

Christmas Season 2020

Online services
Music streaming
Celebrations by zoom
Dinners at home
Small gatherings, if any

Here are updates from the post on 4/13/20.

In Arkansas…

April 13, 2020

  • 1,280 confirmed Covid19 cases | 27 deaths

December 24, 2020

  • 176,744 confirmed Covid19 cases | 2,959 deaths

In Massachusetts…

April 13, 2020

  • 25,475 confirmed Covid 19 cases | 756 deaths

December 24, 2020

  • 335,731 confirmed Covid19 cases | 11,752 deaths

In New Jersey…

April 13, 2020

  • 61,000+ confirmed Covid19 cases | 2,350 deaths

December 25, 2020

  • 458,900 confirmed Covid19 cases | 16,650 deaths

In New York…

April 13, 2020

  • 188,00+ confirmed Covid19 cases | 9,000+ deaths

December 27, 2020 9:45 a.m.

  • 920,171 confirmed Covid19 case | 36,870 deaths

In the United States…

April 13, 2020

  • 558,000 confirmed Covid19 cases  | 22,000 deaths

December 27, 2020

  • 19,103,992 confirmed Covid19 cases | 335,265 deaths
Artwork: Tree Tapestry by Miriam Schulman, @schulmanArt

Revive Us


May God mourn with us the lives that have been taken,
Provide us with comfort and care,
Instill community in all of us of near and far.
Revive us, O Lord
Mark us by your Holy Spirit,
Speak to us and make it clear,
So we can fulfill the mission you have set.

I and Thou – Numbing Times

Blog_Pic52300,000+ Covid-19 cases in US
8,000+ Covid-19 deaths in the US

Today seems to be a good day, to begin with, a prayer.

Dear God,
As our nation and the world grieves for those who have suffered, are suffering, and those who are yet to suffer, lift your country, your world, your creation up to God.  Pray that God will comfort those who are facing death. Weak with labored breathing. Void of their loved ones. Alone. Pray for our health care workers. Doctors. Nurses. Therapists. A warm hand. A warm smile. These front-line angels who are the last people on earth your dying brothers and sisters are seeing. Thank God, for these angels who are connecting patients with their loved ones by cell phone, or other technologies. Thank God, for signs in windows. For claps at night in the streets for front-line workers. Ask God for courage. The courage to help neighbors in need. Even if it means staying home. You need to do your part to limit the spread of this deadly virus.  Ask God to provide the strength of Samson to each front-line worker. Health care workers. Public safety workers. Grocery stockers. Grocery cashiers. Corporate leaders who are stepping in and out of their game to help the greater good.  Thank you, God. As you enter HOLY WEEK, this week, say a prayer each day of gratitude. Gratitude for what you have. Amen.

Today is also a good day for a spiritual check-in.

How are you? How is your spirit?

This pandemic has extraordinarily impacted you in some way, shape, or form. Whether it be wearing a face covering when you embark on your food shopping trip or finding websites spinning in never-never land. Or, working from home, or not working at all. Weeks have gone by, and your life is different. There seems to be much more noise. More news. More chaos. It is more difficult to calm your spirit. To take a deep breath. To take all of this in. Stop. Take a deep breath. Close your eyes. Count to 10. And then open your eyes. Are you breathing? Then, you have life! Life to live. Life to love. It is okay to feel sadness. To feel lonely. To feel hopeless. When you do – take a breath. And remember you have life! Life to hope and life to love. Reach out to those you love. It only takes a few minutes to pick up the phone. In these times, it is essential to hear a voice. If you have no one to call – Call God. God hears all.

 

Photo Credit:  <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background photo created by kjpargeter – http://www.freepik.com</a&gt;

I and Thou – Christmastime

Christmas season is a time of reflection and a time for hope. A time to bBlog_Pic47e thankful for Christmas past. To be grateful for Christmas present and to hope for a new Christmas yet to come.

Christmas past is full of memories, good and bad. Ornaments. Electronic games. Church. Children’s Choir. Families hustling and bustling. Cooking, cleaning, and entertaining.

Christmas present is full of friendship, love, and reconciliation. Quietness. Instrumental music. Church. Stillness. Reflection. Sadness. Loss.

Christmas future is full of hope. Hope for a newfound family. Spouses. Children. A new generation. Accepting. Communicative. Trustworthy. Safe. A place to be yourself. No masks. No drama. Harmony. Peace.

Psalms 37:7-8

7Be still before the Lord
and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.
8 Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
do not fret—it leads only to evil.

Photo Credit:  Marie Gale

I and Thou – Where is your Peace?

Beaver Lake, New Jersey. It doesn’t change. Year after year, the lake is the same. The kiddie beach, teenage float, wiener roast, square dance and the boat parade is the same. The Sunday Church Service on the lake (only accessible by small motor boat or kayak) is the same. The clay tennis courts are the same. The clubhouse is mostly the same. The only change is the Pic_BL5people. The people are older, wiser and sometimes different. Owners come and go as homes pass down through the generations. A fairly timeless place. A place of peace. A place of serenity. A place of community.

Are you in the right place at this right time?

Photo Credit: Ruth Walton

A placed deemed worthy. Worthy of you.  A place to flourish. A place to excel. A place to find peace.

God wants you to feel peace. A sense of peace in the community. A peace in the world around you. A peace in fellowship with others. Do you have this peace?

God’s world is heavenly. It is a world of goodness, love, and peace. A place where there are no politics or any other volatile issues. One day, the world will change. It will become the world God planned for all along. A world that is hard for the human mind to grasp.

God is real. Sometimes too real. God is in each of us, waiting for us to hear. Just like you. It takes strong faith and a full surrender to find the peace that God wants you to have. The peace that all is well. The peace that allows God to work miracles. The peace that will enable you to enjoy your work. Passion. Calling. Peace.

God wants you to find a Beaver Lake.

Philippians 4:7 NIV
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

I and Thou – Purge and Grow

 

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Today is the first day of the rest of your life. You are about to begin a journey that God will take you on. It is the journey of faith, love, and grace. God is taking you from your toxic environment and taking you to a place where people respect, value and appreciate one another. God knows your reservations. The numbers do not add up. Trust God and know that it will all work. Follow your passion.

Purging is good for the soul. And, before you embark on your journey purging is a must! Have less clutter in your life. Less clutter means more focus. More focus on what really matters. After the purge, you will be all set to move. Moving is cleansing. Moving is growth. Moving can mean a new opportunity.

Whether you are moving literally or figurately, Spring is a great time to rethink your future. Reach out to your neighbors and friends. Connect with them. Show your new neighbors how God works in your life each day. Help them to see that life is in God’s hands no matter what you plan and or hope for. Love them. And, when you do, God will bless you!

I and Thou – Life is Short

Life takes you in many different directions. Seasons come and go, and the human developmental process moves forward. Taking care of elderly parents is a stage blog_pic31of life that we go through. One parent may need help or nursing care and then the other. Elderly parents have years and years of material stuff that needs to be weeded through. Homes, where they have been for years, need to be sold. Senior housing or assisted living options need to be explored. Then, days, weeks, years go by and then illness followed by passing from this earth. Life. Death. We learn through this process that life is precious. Life is short.

How do we balance parents, children, work, and other activities? God leads you through transitions. You have a lot to offer. Use your knowledge wisely. Each decision made is a growth experience. Every situation you have been in – you have learned from. Leave the worrying to God. If God wants you to be somewhere, God will open the doors for you. Follow where God leads, and the rest will fall into place.

I and Thou – The Gift of Time

Christmas time. Holiday gatherings. Gifts. Christmas can be stressful; especially when your heart is larger than your pocketbook. You wrestle with the premise of gift-giving, and you wrestle with materialism. How do you find the right balance for your family? Consider the gift of time. Time to write a note. Time to write a poem. Time to make a hand-made gift.Blog_Pic27

During this holiday season, surround yourself with people who love you. You may not be a millionaire; yet, God knows you feel like a million bucks when you are spending time with family and friends. You will not be judged for not having the “perfect” gift. The “perfect” gift is presence…not presents! And, for family members who cannot be present for the holidays, give them grace. Wish them well. Love them from afar.

God wants you to keep your mind open to new ideas and new beginnings. Use this holiday season to refresh. Pause. Take a moment to reflect on where you have been, where you are now and what the future may hold. Whether you stay in your hometown or are led to a new and exotic place, God will be with you. God will guide you. Say, “Yes!” God is in you, and you are in God. God wants to give you the gift of time. You deserve to take a break and work on something uplifting…that will fill your heavenly basket.