The sunrise was beautiful and jet trails scribbled their journey across the horizon as I haphazardly dumped all my work gear on the driveway to search for my keys.
I have a certain routine, and usually place all of my work stuff in one place, and place my ID badge, keys, belt and work phone all in my “go” bag. And my uniform and shoes are laid out. Lunch is a cinch because I have in mind what I am taking.
But this morning, I woke up and all morning felt like I just could not get one thing right lol.
Couldn’t find just basic stuff. Had my quiet time before work, but this morning I sat in the living room, snuggled with my coffee and stared like a bug eyed squirrel into open space as the sun came up.
Sweetness, the coffee finally kicked in and I thought hey I got this day handled forthwith.
Seize the day, they say. It will be fun, they say.
I dropped things I was holding. (My peanut butter crackers wrapper in the elevator. Thanks to the kind soul who retrieved it for me.)
Have you been there? The one day out of a thousand where it seems like you cannot get it together.
Later in the day, I met a sweet lady who makes teddy bears. She is known as the “teddy bear boss” in her teddy bear making group. How adorable is that? How she chooses to spend her time, helping others.
And all of a sudden, my day got better.
You might wonder why I chose peppermint candy canes as the photo for this blog today.
Peppermint is a smell that soothes me when my nerves are frazzled. Just being real here. Everyone has a frazzled day or two here and there, and mine was fuzzy indeed.
So I thought the visual of candy canes might do the trick.
Aromatherapy, they say.
My day got a lot better and I thought about various things going through my head. And how there is nothing wrong with hope and positivity, and how healthy that is, even, to pursue such things. How it is good to encourage yourself and believe in yourself and also to believe in God and His power to hold you when you feel like all the crackers are crumbling, even if they really are not.
Side note here. Someone said there was some sort of solar flare or solar storm.
Well there you go.
The keys buried in the bottom of my bag seemed almost relieved to be rescued thereof.
Tomorrow is Tuesday, and I have already decided it shall be a Happy Tuesday. How shall we celebrate just being alive?
Let me know what you do to celebrate your ordinary day tomorrow.
Maybe by all of us sharing a little light, the world will be a brighter place.
“When kids come to our church youth room, they find a place where they can kick back and fellowship, enjoy a soft drink, some snacks, play games and listen to music.”
I was stunned as a large mega-church youth and college leader showed me their enormous youth room. Much larger than the youth rooms I visited elsewhere in my own teen years. (You know, back when dinosaurs walked the earth. Lol.)
Yet the concept was still the same. Keep up with trends .. we are at this blessed place in history. Technology, transportation, fashion, entertainment, even occupations have changed drastically in the last two hundred years.
It has been said that trains of thought have polarized greatly. Many studies and statistics say that while there are a large number of Believers in the United States, not all of them are gathering to fellowship, while pastors and youth leaders wonder why this is occurring, the pandemic beside.
Church attendance and participation in service clubs has wained over the past twenty years, I am told, by those who manage those organizations.
Is God still relevant?
Is He relevant to me? Is He relevant to you?
Relevant .. relatable, necessary.
Surrounded on all sides by a Jesus believing family, I memorized scriptures as a kid.
And I craved a relationship with the Lord. My prayers were full of the God blesses, etc.
The “be with” prayers. Be with those who are suffering. Be with those who have lost their way. Be with those who feel empty and don’t know why.
Why is God Relevant?
It seems that those who believe in God really, really believe, and those who don’t, really, really don’t.
A long time ago, someone told me that trying to win the world by admonishment or accusation would never work.
“But your testimony, your story, no one can dispute. And when they see the light in your eyes, they will know.”
They have seen God. The God of all creation, the Almighty Author, the fantastic Painter of all things beautiful. The Creative Musician Who sings over us as we sleep.
Lord, we seek You. Right here, wherever we are. There is no place on earth where You cannot be found. We love you so much, and seek Your Presence in our lives.
Psalm 104:1-2 (New King James Version) “Bless the Lord, O my soul! O Lord my God, You are very great: You are clothed with honor and majesty, Who cover Yourself with light as with a garment, Who stretch out the heavens like a curtain.”
The chilly drive on the Indianapolis interstate dumped us out in inner city Indy, where my Dad found a parking spot amid spaces covered by hard packed snow outside a storefront coffee house usually frequented by the homeless and those just seeking a touch from God.
Already dark outside, the trunk of the car was almost a welcome sight, as Mama unloaded her guitar, Dad grabbed his bass, and together, they made a second trip for the amplifier and microphone.
Mama was in the house.
The Watch Night service, as it was called in those days, started around 7 o’clock, with supper around 8.
As congregants waited for the midnight hour, to pray in the New Year, one person or group after another would bring special music, share testimony, or pray.
Dressed in my blue corduroy jumper dress and tights with a striped turtleneck, I wrapped my winter coat a little tighter because it seemed to be colder at times.
Then it was our turn to sing.
Shedding the long coat, I followed my parents to the front of the room, surrounded by maybe thirty people, seated on barrels and metal folding chairs, drinking coffee and leaning on wagon wheel tables.
This was my first time singing with Mama and Daddy, and I was so nervous.
“Throw Out the Lifeline,” was the song we sang. My voice was sometimes strong, yet I struggled.
Applause and cheers loudly followed and I found my eight-year-old self questioning whether my “performance” warranted that.
Hours stretched on, with songs and hymns, and bursts of encouragement, and soon the midnight hour was upon us, where we prayed in the New Year, asking God for His blessing.
Jesus met us in the worn down coffeehouse, a Haven for the searching, comfort for the weary, light and warmth for the distressed.
I often wonder what Jesus would look like if He came to us now? Would He have long hair and ride a skateboard? “Hit me up on Facebook,” He might say. “Send me a text, day or night, I mean it. I am here for you.”
I like to think that He would be as relevant and approachable to us now as He was then, even though “our God dwells in inexplicable light.”
A lifetime has passed since that night.
I went on to join an adult church choir at nine years old and continued singing in some form or fashion even to my life now.
The performance has changed to worship and seeking that familiar Presence, Who moved with grace among the group who sought, some with tears in their eyes, their Savior.
I am so grateful for His love. He sees past all my shortcomings. He holds me when I can’t see my way. He gives me a hand through difficult days. He scatters His glory across the sky to show me there is hope, yes, in this life and beyond.
When your mother has flown to be with Jesus. Or your brother. Or sister or friend or coworker.
When all the news seems to be a steady replay of death, controversy, suffering and pain.
When the money is not enough.
It won’t buy health, it won’t buy time, it won’t replace the years lost.
When you feel so defeated and wonder why even the good you try to do for others seems to go nowhere.
A song on the radio plays and you find yourself in tears.
Having bottled up your pain, the cup finally tips and you let it gush.
It would not be good for your friends or family to know you cried, you think.
Because why not, society only admires strength and this is not that.
A voice comes over the radio.
A paper thin female voice, wispy and soft and comforting.
“Give it all to Jesus,” she says.
She talks about prayer and how God loves you and how your life will never be the same when you let Him in.
Nine years old, eight years old, six years old, you remember the baptismal waters .. A crowd of Christians and Sunday morning dresses …
Spearmint chewing gum your Grandmother handed you from a thirty year old purse that smelled like old roses and held one Kleenex and a lipstick ..
The preacher and the cross and the music.
Maybe the question isn’t “Have you let Him in?” but “Have you let Him back in?”
Not wanting to be vulnerable, you go on a number of months, even years, and admire the people you see and how they smile as they share their faith and wonder why isn’t it like that for me?
The God of the fancy is the God of the every day person, not a pick and choose God that some would paint Him to be.
The Godhead with muscles. The Ancient of Days Who Gets It.
The One you can talk to about anything without fearing society’s pilfering opinions or judgment of man.
The tears, the fears, the concerns overwhelm you and suddenly it becomes clear.
This God thing is a relationship thing and not a religion thing and is something quite tangible.
God is Bigger than the cross around our necks.
He is Bigger than the altar at our church.
He is Vast and Omnipotent, Unchangeable, Ever Present and yet loving enough to pull up a chair in our hearts and have coffee with us as we dish on the day and all its cares.
Lord, come sit with me in the quiet of this time. Walk through the corridors of my soul. Fill me with Your love and healing. Hold me close and give my bones strength for another day. Let me be a blessing, Lord.
After church and a quick run to the grocery for a few lunch items for next week, came home and jumped in the pool for a while.
Swirling the water around with my toes and doggy paddling, I’m not a real picturesque swimmer, but I make do. Most of all, I just floated and paddled, soaking up the sunshine and enjoying the scent of freshly mowed grass.
As I looked up at a few white billowy clouds, I thought of their beauty and thought also, hey this is really cool.
Floating weightless, and observing the clouds do the same, it occurred to me that most people have some kind of God connection, and whether they acknowledge it or not, it is still there, I believe.
I have never been one to get into deep religious arguments or skirmishes about the status of things.
Quietly go and do, hopefully live in such a way that I am a blessing.
Grandma always said don’t talk religion nor politics, and that is safe.
Yet I admire when folks are real with me because proverbial smokescreens of relation seem so shallow at times.
So when I write about God, or a muse, or something I have pondered, it is my way of sharing a part of me that blooms because of seeds others have planted.
Girl, get to the point.
Our pastor shared something today that I found very thought provoking. It went along the lines of “Are you showing up” for God?
And I thought you know, I have always felt the need for God, for His Presence in my life. I have always, even as a child, thought how on earth am I going to be good enough to get into heaven?
This might have something to do with me spending years of my childhood grounded, lol, for either sassing my parents, or foraging my own way instead of following instructions (for the last time, button your coat, turn the faucet so it does not drip, do not bring home C’s on your report card, as we already know you are a minimum B).
I laugh now when I look back, really, because as an adult I am such a rule follower.
So salvation to me has presented many challenges, as I thought to myself you have to be more than perfect to get to heaven.
Youth group changed all that for me, as our youth leaders glowed with the love of Jesus and were not hypocritical. They knew they would never win any of us by beating us over the head with a Bible, but by living it out before us, Christ in jeans.
Jeans. Opposite of a conservative Baptist church I attended in my early childhood years, the Southern Baptists reached into my heart and home and slowly, showed me their faith in action. My parents were impressed with the preacher who owned one suit and used to be a rock musician. Amazing Grace was really something when that man played the piano.
One half of my family was Baptist. The other side of my family were Church of Christ (non-musical.) And of course, that was one of the grounding occasions of my teen years, having an interesting discussion with one of my grandmothers over church history and music, and how music is so a part of worship.
After attending a number of Baptist churches, I came to the non-denomination Christian fellowships (i.e. the Alexander Campbell movement, not the only Christians, but Christians only.)
I raised my kids in those churches, and returned to the Baptist denomination after my first marriage ended.
Eventually, I came to the Assemblies of God, drawn by the open worship concept, and the warm and inviting church, who helped me through some of the worst parts of my adult life.
I also attended jeans and Jesus churches, which reminded me of my youth group.
In my second marriage, I went to a charismatic church and also joined a Jewish synagogue (by marriage, it was obvious I could not sing in Hebrew, though I did try!)
By the end of that decade, my marriage ended. So I was like wow, in church circles, this does not look good. But sometimes it is not meant to be and you have to move on.
I found I also began a heavy spiritual search. Who are you anyway? Every church I visited had a little pamphlet, a small handheld cross, a religious coin, a pen or a church coffee cup. I enjoyed the fellowship of many churches before I finally landed at my current church, Episcopal (Anglican.)
There are several of us who attend who came from different denominations. Some confirmed, some did not.
A Jewish friend of mine, who is a dear friend, to whom I still owe an Indiana pot roast, said once to me, how did you go from Baptist to Charismatic/Pentecostal to Episcopal/Catholic, so I thought I would share.
The God connection.
I feel like we all have a place for God in our hearts that only He can fill. Every nation on earth has some aspect of religion or relationship, worship or tradition.
I still feel drawn to Him because I have seen Him in others, and in nature – the works of His hand – in day to day things like sunrises and a child’s laugh, and the light of a candle on a stormy day.
Have a splendid evening, all. I was thinking of doing my spiritual writing on Sunday, then creative and life encouragement the other days.