On a more serious note

Though you may not agree with my religion or with faith in general, the following is a post regarding an experience I have been having through scripture reading. I invite you to read on if you are feeling open or respectful; likewise, I invite you to close this blog window if you are feeling the least bit contentious. The topic is one of a very serious and personal nature for me, (and I hesitate to share it for those reasons) while at the same time I feel that I need to open my heart to my dearest blog readers. You guys and gals and your support mean so much to me in this little global community we call the Internet. 🙂

Last May, I began reading the Four Gospels in the New Testament of the Bible, namely Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. I have finished Mark, am half-way through Luke (I read that at night with my little ones) and am concluding Matthew in my personal study.

And I hurt.

You see, as I finished Mark–by far the shortest of the four books–I mourned at the suffering and death of Christ.

Yes, of course, I relished in His resurrection and triumph over sin and death…but I hurt for Him.

Recently, when I read Matthew’s recounting of the plea from the Master to His disciples to “watch with him” through His sufferings and atonement for all people on earth, I could barely hold back tears. I found myself hesitating to finish, not wanting to hurt with Him and for Him, and because my own weaknesses and issues caused Him pain that He willingly took on so that I could feel the power of redemption.

But when Matthew is finished, I will begin again with John….

“In the beginning was the word.”

And I will read of his words to Nicodemus regarding baptism; I will sit by the well along with the Woman of Samaria and feel the power of His word.

And I will walk again along the Sea of Galilee as He calls, “Come, follow me.”

And I will hear Him call to me…and the pain, bringing about a change in my own heart which draws me closer to Him will be fruitful.

So, I will continue reading.

(Photo credit for all photos pictured in this post is here.)

The Words We Speak

Author’s Note:  I found this post in the archives this morning, and I do believe it merits posting today.  I have been working on my words and tone lately, and I have seen a difference in tone in my home and life…just FYI.  Sending hugs!

I’ve been thinking on language lately and how the words we speak in many ways define us.  Do you think they do?

As a writer, I find words enlightening, amazing, powerful.  I want to learn to craft them into meaningful sentences, paragraphs, pages that speak to those who read, that touch them deeply in their souls.

As I have had this war of words battling for my attention lately amidst fatigue, stress, and discouragement, my words and tone have followed more negatively.  I was grateful for the opportunity to attend church a number of weeks ago (we have a lay ministry in my faith, and members of the congregation accept assignments to speak during the service each week), where a fifteen-year-old boy stood at the pulpit and taught truth regarding the power of language.  His words spoke to my soul and gave me strength and determination to guard my words more carefully and to use them more cautiously.

Speech Bubbles
photo credit

 I have some changes to make.  Thankfully, a new beginning is on the horizon.

And I am grateful for this chance to become a better person.

Life really is a blessing.

And words are a gift…so use them wisely.  I know I will try harder from now on to use my words with intention.

The people with whom I speak are beloved and need to be handled with care.

🙂

Connected

I have twins. They are NOT identical. They are not even the same gender. One is brunette and olive-toned; one is blonde and pink-toned. They are both beautiful. But they DO NOT get along all that often.

In fact, they haven’t gotten along super-well since womb and birth. Think Jacob and Esau, if you read the Bible. But, occasionally, I feel the privilege of noticing what I have come to term a “twin moment.” These moments are sweetly connecting moments, where they seem like more than friends and more than siblings…like two people who inherently need each other and have been inseparable since before birth. I love these moments. 🙂

One happened this weekend, as we were studying scriptures together as a family. The twins were sitting side-by-side with their backs to the arm of the couch and their feet under a blanket together across the cushions. They shared a large-print copy of inspired words, and the one who is more proficient at reading helped the less-proficient one with tough words as we all took turns reading.

I felt like one happy mama.

Then, I began to reflect on those moments when I bask in the connected feelings with my husband, children, sisters, brothers, parents, and friends. I live for those moments when, just being myself, I can CONNECT with another individual. Connecting with others is one of my happiest purposes in life. I’m not sure I can adequately describe the innate desire and need through words…
…so I’ll share with you one of my favorite songs from (brace yourself) my favorite Barbie movie, Barbie and the Diamond Castle. This film celebrates the power of friendship and music, and I LOVE IT. 🙂 Here you go:

And, just for the record, this is post #99….
#100 is up-and-coming…and a celebration! Thanks for sharing this journey with me! I love to feel connected to you!

Forgive and…forget?

I’ve been pondering the gift of forgiveness lately…and one morning lately, I wondered if “true” forgiveness involves actually forgetting the wrongdoing (or whatever action called for forgiveness).  Can you forgive and still hurt inside your heart?…or inside your head?  Can you remember the pain and still consider yourself to have forgiven those around you?  Do you try to remember and hang on to what hurt you, like tying a ribbon around your finger?

I don’t have answers yet, but I certainly welcome your thoughts.

As always, sending hugs your way.

Who Are You?

As I’ve been connecting through blogs and Twitter with many new and wonderous people lately (yes, I’m talking about YOU!), I’ve been reading several lines regarding what each person says “About” himself or herself…and I’ve been delighted to feel a little better acquainted with each of you!  Still, this experience of seeing what you write about yourselves (and pondering also what I have written about myself) has produced some thoughts upon which I would like to expound this lovely Thursday….

Who are you, really?  (And what are the first thoughts that come to mind when that question is posed?)  If you asked me that question, I might start by listing my roles in life (mother, daughter, sister, wife, friend, neighbor, etc.), or my interests (“I like to write, paint, cook, read to my kiddos…”), or I might even define myself by my appearance (“I am about six-feet-tall, caucasian, hazel-eyed and have long dark hair”)…but does that really answer the question?

Some of us define ourselves through our experiences (“I am a widower,” or “I am a cancer-survivor”), while some others of us use our religions (Catholic, Mormon, Muslim, Presbyterian, Baptist, Methodist, Hindu, Buddhist…) to describe ourselves.  At times, (like during this last US election), people present political party platforms (how’s that for alliteration?) as part of their identities (though I would propose that quite a few Americans do not believe in the entire platform of a single party).  Some define self through a list of achievements (“I’m a straight-A student” or “I’ve published seven best-sellers”), while others cite their origins of life (“I’m adopted” or “I was an accident”) as part of who they are.  Some people define themselves by their sexuality (“I’m gay, lesbian, straight, bisexual, hormonal, sex-addicted”).  Some use their careers as a definition of self (“I’m an engineer, radiologist, writer, nurse, cashier, toll-booth attendant, farmer, manager…”).  And let’s not forget the describing words regarding learning styles or brain capacity (such as I.Q., dyslexia, slow-learners, visual, auditory, kinesthetic).  Each of these labels come complete with social connotations and repercussions, but do any of they define who we really are?  I propose that they do not.

When my husband and I brought children into this world, I felt a desire to teach them to look at individuals in a holistic manner and not to piece them apart with labels.  All people in this world have varied experiences and belief systems, but–on the basis that we all share this planet together–I wanted to help my children respect the diversity of each person’s experience and not pre-judge an individual on the basis of skin color, religion, achievement, family situation, or any other label.

And don’t get me started on the use of labels to excuse behavior.  I know have been guilty of that in the past, but–in my current quest to live the best I can and live a life with no excuses–I am trying to do better.  I have heard people say, “Oh, that person is [or was] ____________; he’s [or she’s] just like that.”  When we accept a label to define our present circumstances, we often close the door on inviting ourselves or others to change for the better.

So, here’s a two-fold invitation I am willing to accept today (and I hope that we can be in this together):  first, examine the labels with which I define myself, and, second, examine the labels I use for others.  Am I projecting a negative or fear-filled belief from my past toward myself or this person?

For example, I have a wonderful, long-time friend who practices the religion of Islam.  She and I have discussed religion since we were in grade school, and I find her to be one of the most peace-loving people I know.  When the attacks on 9-11 (2001) came, several people spoke out against her religion while I defended it, knowing that true followers of Islam do not believe in violent behavior.  But, I know that people have given her upsetting looks since that time, simply because of the fear-filled belief surrounding that event over eleven years ago.  Are you hanging on to something like that which holds you back from being a better version of who you are?  I’m ready for some self-reflection–and I’m ready for this post to be over now!  🙂

As always, I invite you to share your thoughts here in the comments or here on my Facebook page.  Hugs!!!