blaze

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Sunday, it rained suddenly and briefly and made the most beautiful noise. These past incredible days, incredible for their warmth in late October – my body anticipates it colder – which it snapped for a bit and now has snapped back with the sun making surprise appearances.

Just as that cheeky sun was setting today, on my way out, I passed the most magnificent bright yellow tree. It was as if the leaves were all about to fall off, which – was because they are. Even if I caught it in a picture, (and I hope to try for it tomorrow) it wouldn’t do it justice, but – anyone who has been Midwest or East knows this phenomenon, it’s breathtaking. God’s fire without anything being consumed. All the more captivating because it’s so brief.

I didn’t know it, but that was the stage of my husband’s life when I met him again. He thought he had a few years, but the reality was that he only had several months. Taking in the tenuous beauty of that tree, made me realize that his outstanding love for me was the same.

Inside somewhere it hurt because the scale fell away that there is a person in my life now can love me like that. God loves me even more than he did, and I have history with people helps cultivate deep friendship that sustains, but that unique partnership – and perhaps God will get me to a place where I can do it again, but I’m not there. Nor has He given me the will to be there.

But all the unreality that goes with that – the projections, the false hopes, the comforts, have not actually convinced me that he can be replaced. And they just dropped. Like shedding skin. My unconscious mental coping wasn’t needed.

At the readings in small group for the Catholic church, we discussed from Wisdom “As gold in the furnace, he proved them,
and as sacrificial offerings he took them to himself.
In the time of their visitation they shall shine,
and shall dart about as sparks through stubble;”

It was written as if this happened after death, and maybe it does, but it seems to be happening to me after someone else’s death. And maybe a little of my own.

As painful as it is, it is an amazing relief to sit with the truth of the loss. This man who could make anyone and everyone laugh, had friends that would do anything for him because they knew he would do the same, and got me to love him for the rest of my life is not gone forever but the for now is still – after three years, shocking.

At the same time, just as I treasure the tree even though I wouldn’t dream of trying to keep its leaves on, I can’t say that I would want it any other way. Not that I have much choice in the matter and not that I always live that way, but the way it is is well with my soul tonight.

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stories within the stories for the Book Wars

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My favorite book before I could read, the one I would ask my great-aunt to read over and over again, was The Sneeches by Dr Seuss. If you are unfamiliar, you need to rectify this situation immediately.

At the time I was blissfully unaware of the sense of justice it appealed to, but it was captivating all the same.

Also before I could read, I would spend hours pouring over a dark version of Beauty and the Beast, I put in something called a “tape” and hit play on the “cassette player” and it dinged when I was supposed to turn the page. It was far from what Disney did to it and I am as suspicious of all things Disney now as I was back then.

Unfortunately, there were a lot of beautiful layered stories that I never got to until I was an adult and the Narnia series I would highly recommend to any young reader.

Also a huge fan of the parables of the bible and often keep the parables on heaven in mind in terms of chasing after God’s will in my life. The man who sells all he has for the treasure in the field, for example, has strongly influenced my decision to take this plunge purchasing a home.

The best stories I’ve found so far, and continue to seek out, are the ones that G-d is writing in and through the lives of other people, as well as my own. There are so many people I talk to that don’t seem to realize that their story is just one layered in a much larger one. But when I do find people like that, my heart sings. I spent less than half my life denying that fact, this last half waking up to it, and now am stepping into a new adventure He is unfolding as well as trying to make note of it happening to let people know it’s His work.

Stories is also why I love science, because all you can get from it is very clever fiction. We can claim that there’s objective truth or we can claim that there is not and the world still goes on and things still happen just the same as we chase how and why and never quite know what to do with it – regardless our perceptions.

I trust the Author of all of it is telling the most magnificent story of all times as sure as the ice’s density is less than liquid water so that fish can survive the winter, a story a chemistry teacher told me, so impressed that, unlike other matter, water expanded when it froze.

A math teacher told me the story of all the convoluted paths of the planets scientists had come up with until Kepler thought of the idea that since G-d is perfect, why not the planets be a little less perfect, but in the family of circles. Ellispses inspired by the idea that we are not G-d but yet made in His image.

I am so grateful for my parents, my teachers, writers, and all those along the way, the extended family of G-d, that have been fostering this love of the story that is simply marvelous on its own but also illustrates a much deeper reality with so many facets, I can never get my mind around it. I rejoice in this journey where nothing is as it seems and the best is yet to come.

Rant on the State of Things for Emily

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Following FollowingafterJesus Emily’s journey and from what I’ve read of what she’s written so far, her latest title threw me off.  But it was a very clever hook with a challenge so here’s mine.   Reader, i’ve hooked you too so you are it.  What has our Lord blessed you with?

I also feel blessed this turn to fall.  The sad close of summer and assurance it’ll be back.  The new crisp bite to the air, the desire for hot tea instead of something cold, and I saw a pumpkin at the grocery yesterday.

Although God blessed me with a warrior for God has well, and it amazes me how the brief time we had together was so powerful and loving and how if I dwell in a good memory of something he said or a moment we had it can sustain me through – well – anything.

What I have to learn seems to get bigger in proportion to the time I spend diving in.  Endless depths of wisdom and knowledge that make His word come alive through circumstances, beautiful stories on blogs, books, articles, and interactions with so many loving people that love Him.  And even people that don’t by contrast.

Tonight I have a class to attend that’s going to help me better minister to the women I work with Friday.  God has blessed me with a magical house, a vision for my temporary home here with lots to work on and see come alive, and sure sense of a heavenly home to store up treasures in too.

Saturday I get to go to Shabbat services by invite and then I’ve plans to walk in the Botanical gardens with a good friend who is quite the gardener herself and wants to look for ideas for the house’s yard.  Like our own little garden to tend to.

Then Sunday, church, a friend, and more church!  Blessed by the freedom to worship without persecution and the Spirits reminder to pray for the suffering.

And as much as I don’t like a lot about myself, God keeps pushing me to show me about what a beautiful child I am because if I can’t see that, I can’t see how beautiful everyone else is.

So yeah, things are pretty good here too.

first week

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“Yet what happens in the first week meditations on sin is the subtle but effective cultivation of imagination and consciousness. To reflect on the classic stories of the sin on the fallen angels, the sin of Adam, and the catastrophic destructive acts in history is not only to experience horror and grief, but also to know the disappointment of what might have been and has not been realized. Combined with the cultivation of the unfailing power and loving care of G-d, and leading into reflection on the meaning and impact of the events in the life of J-s-s, these meditations on sin are also an invitation to imagine the world and one’s own life as becoming quite different” Monika K Hellwig, Sojourners 1991

The first time I tried to do the Spiritual Exercises, I had found a copy of my husbands – right after he had died – and took time to meditate on my own and got very scared and agitated. A priest told me to stop and read about St Therese. I did.

Fast forward 3 years and I am enrolled in a class to become a lifeguard – that is – a spiritual director. One of the two texts we are reading is “An Ignatian Spirituality Reader” by George W Traub, SJ.

It occurred to me how entrenched I was in the disappointment of what might have been even though I couldn’t have possibly been aware of that at the time. I’m not starting the exercises or anything, just reading a little about them now, in preparation for my first class on Sept 10th.

God is transforming my life into something completely different. I realize now that my fear of getting married was that I would fail to be the person in the relationship I needed to be and I would marry someone that wasn’t a good match. Not only did I make a good choice, but I stepped to the plate in a very hard circumstance. And then in days, he was gone. Just like that.

I have to believe that the cumulative fear for years of evading this kind of intimacy has consequences. But I also have to believe that it doesn’t matter how severly you have “missed the mark.” He will and does restore.

Father God I cling to your promises and trust You with everything I have. This life is already worlds different. As I continue to step forward, I call on You to rush in. Thank You for Who You are and what You are doing. Grant that this house and all You’ve called me to with ministry brings even more people to trust You with all they have, and much more.

this wood and clay

This has been quite a week.

Monday, the loudest Scripture was 2 Timothy 2:20-21.

“Now, in a great house, there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.”

I like wood and clay better. Not because I think I should or from some false humility place. This verse speaks to my soul. I’m too far gone to strive for greatness, but I’ve said for years, ghetto heaven would be good with me. Reading this gave me a sense of relief and acceptance and even love for who I am, the path I’m on and where I’m going. And who with.

Wednesday after work I dug – literally – outside – to see how deep the concrete slabs were that need to come out of the yard in the back so no water will go towards it and we can make some sort of patio, and I found the concrete was 4 inches deep, (as well as 72inx52in.) Thursday, one hour later, I took a picture and asked for help.  earth

 

And I wait and pray.

I saw three women tonight and didn’t expect to both laugh and cry with them. One of them has an amazing sense of humor and is in jail as a result of her child’s father’s accusations. The charges has all be dropped and now it’s just a matter of time before she’s free, but as she waits she’s been blessed with perspective.

The woman that prompted the tears didn’t see them, but she made a gesture toward me when she was talking about whether she’d go to boot camp or prison. She had previously been terrified of prison but now is trying the mentally prep herself for the possibility, and just learned that she can have one on one visits with her young son in prison, which she can’t in jail.

She moved her hand towards me and said, “if I could have this” pointing at me then back at herself, “with my son,” then I’d be alright.

Immediately the power of not being able to sit in a room with Jim hit me. I knew what she meant but she didn’t know why. I didn’t tell her and continued to listen.

Driving home later, I realized that I do have “this” with God who I can’t see and the longing to sit in a one on one with Him is at the root of all this longing. There are snap shots I get now and again with a person, where it’s like I am with the Lord. Tonight was one of those for a minute. I wonder sometimes what it would be like to have a steady body of people around you like that, and know that what God longs His church to be. But it’s not.

My pastor is on the fence about joining with the priest for a house blessing. The priest, however, said, when I asked if he was willing the bless the house with a rabbi and protestant pastor, “the more the merrier.”

Lord knows I am not for tolerance and condoning bad behavior and allowing people to be hurt by devestating consequences where sin could be avoided.

But Father God, please don’t ever let me deny anyone “this.” Thank you for your Son and giving us the chance to be so much closer to you than we deserve. Thank you for this.

the swing backwards

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Today I called the woman who stayed with me that relapsed after she left me a few messages regarding her stuff. A few Saturdays ago I had taken it to her work, after being told by someone who works there she was on shift. Later that week I got a call from her, in Ypsi, asking for it. I texted back I had dropped it off where she worked.

She called again yesterday and left a message. A very close friend of mine who runs a men’s house, (and is in the process of buying his own house now), advised me I had to call her and let her know I’ve done all I’m willing to do -she might have never got the text or can’t understand it.

That’s what happened. I had the feeling I was calling into a place where everyone is using and I heard in the background, as she got upset at me for doing that, “that’s very Christian of you” and then there were expletives at me and then she hung up. She had given me a few spaces of time to say something but I said nothing beyond explaining what I had done and why. I was told she was still employed there and left it.

My friend encouraged me that in the future we’ll have rules and contracts and it’ll be more clear cut. The truth is she was supposed to pick it up on the weekend and never showed. She went over a month without contacting me. I couldn’t keep those things forever.

But I did keep a picture of her as a kid. The other one that went back to using – I kept her letters, (didn’t open them, just have a pile of them). the stuff is set by a candle where I pray over them and the other women I work with.

The house is in the appraisal stage so it’s a waiting game. The advisory board is next, but my partner and I have to come up with a list of things we want to cover and accomplish. I’ve got a venue now, a Jewish recovery meeting on Tuesdays that I think the last board member will be at.

All I could think about – although I hated getting accused – was the abuse I’ve given my parents or God or people I’ve dated and warped perspectives I’ve had – this was the receiving end for me for the first time of such hostility. I sort of feel relieved as if it’s some sort of penance, but mostly it stings because I’ve done it. The passages about persecution and blessings flitted across my mind but I know its nothing in comparison to what our church (universally speaking) experiences. But I felt good because I’m taking one for the team, I guess. Even if it’s just scrape. I felt like I was on the right path. Deep down I know this woman knows the truth.

It’s like I am on the swing and trusting God as I freefall backwards, legs tucked, eyes squinted shut, fingers clenching the chain and ears ringing. It’s a thrill, an adventure, and totally not what I’m used to. I’m safe in Him but not safe in the world.

He’s also sent me this friend, the guy that runs the sober house, to walk through all of this with. The man is not Christian but is reading a copy of Dangerous Devotions (that I gave him) – the first book I read about the bible about 6 months after I converted. I figured that I needed something simple and since I was like a kid, a kid’s book sounded perfect. It was a great foundation and I’ve worked through it a handful of times, and used it for an 8th grade summer study once, (though it was a little too young for them, the principles are solid.)

He’s in control. We’ll see what happens.