I and Thou: Traditions

Photo Credit: Sarah Loft fineartamerica.com

Zechariah 8:18-23

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.

Maybe this post will change the minds of couples who are no longer couples – to forget about themselves for a day and to think about tradition, not for their sakes, but for the sake of their children. Go ahead and invite your former spouse to your holiday meal – I dare you!

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.

Action: What makes your family tradition special?

* Tradition. Retrieved November 3, 2016, from the Wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tradition

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: 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: Summertime Part 2

It’s Summertime – Part 2

Time to splash
Time to sip
Time to sing
Time for solitude

Splash.

What better place to splash than in a gorgeous built-in pool with a waterfall? 

Rotunda West, FL is a lovely, quiet, sleepy wagon wheel-shaped area on the west coast about ½ way between Sarasota and Fort Myers.

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.

Sip. 

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?

Sipping allows you to savor the moment and enjoy the relaxation of summertime.

Sing.

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?

Singing to yourself or out loud often soothes the soul.

Solitude.

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.”

Solitude quiets our minds and restores our souls.

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