Wednesday, November 26, 2014

What Advent Means to ME

Deuteronomy 7:9 (NIV) “Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.”

The season of Advent is upon us and while many believe this is a season for the Catholic faith to celebrate the coming of Jesus’ birth, they are sadly mistaken. While the Catholic Church does celebrate through rites and rituals such as burning a colored candle each week as they focus on the coming of the Lord, many Christians such as myself celebrate Advent as a spiritual renewal.

This was a time in history documented and prophesied about in the Old Testament and came to fruition in the advent of the New Testament. The weeks leading up to Christ being born into this world are a pivotal proclamation to every single Christian. Our faith in Jesus Christ is solid proof, to ME, that the Advent of Christ is true to the biblical word.

Granted I don’t believe December 25th as the exact day He was born. But it is the day that man has chosen to appoint and celebrate as the day of Jesus’ birth. Advent to me is preparing for the coming of the Lord instead of getting all caught up in the commercialization of a sacred Holy Day.

We’re living in a world where people make up their own choices and minds with how to honor the King of Kings. Christians everywhere claim to be Christian but shrug off Lent and Advent and other spiritual expectancies that the very bible they claim to read speaks of and are happy just declaring they’re Christian’s. To me, that’s a mockery of Christ and the Holy Bible.

Yes, claiming to be a Christian is all well and good but it is more than just words, you have to put physical and spiritual ACTION behind those words for them to be believed. Even through my computer screen I can tell which friends are spirit-filled and which ones put on a show. When sitting in Church I can physically see who is there just to show people that they’re there. I am not judging people; I am confirming that I have eyes to see.

THIS is why a spiritual rejuvenation is needed throughout the year. THIS is why Advent and Lent are so dear to ME. Yes I spiritually reflect throughout the year, but these two seasons take on special meaning to my spiritual growth.

I watch as a globe erupts in turmoil; races against races, wars against innocent, death to believers, fear in the loving. Satan is standing at the threshold of corruption, rising in great power throwing swords of fire at the earthbound physically and spiritually weak.
The flames have reached every corner of the earth, blades of fire have licked the spirit of all as we sit and watch, waiting, just waiting to understand.

THIS is the season for true Christians to fully understand the biblical elements at work. This is where we gather our spiritual strength and prepare for the coming of Christ. We can’t shrug off what we are called to be; we can’t ignore and draw a blind eye of what is to come. We can’t walk and pretend that we’re doing everything in our power to prayerfully heal a nation in the throes of an uprising while we're too busy to reflect even once on the spiritual growth of our being. We’re not called to ‘just’ believe.

This is not a time to wear a mask and delight in the show of the Christmas spectacle; this is the time to be spiritually awake in the depths of your soul. This is not the time to look around at all you don’t hold in your hands; this is the time to be grateful for every little thing you DO have. This is not the time to walk in confidence knowing you have a faith and belief in God; this is the time to meditate on all you are, all you hold true and all you hope to one day become THROUGH the blood and power of Christ.

THIS, my friends, is the day the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it. (Pss.118:24)

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Poetry Sunday ~ The Nativity

pic from google images

Isa. 9:6  For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

The Nativity

They walked… in the still of the night.
On an ass… as the two took to flight
They fled… to save their unborn child
They paused… for grace was mercy mild.

The inn… no room for them to stay
A manger… is where the babe would lay.
The Light… would guide this virgin birth
He came… to save this fallen earth.

The lamb… would watch and bow his head
The beasts… huddled ‘round the hay-filled bed.
He lay… against His mother’s breast.
She wept… for now the earth was blessed

They came… to see the Newborn King
The star… led the wise men to sing.
He’s here… wrapped in swaddling clothes
Come now… His living water flows.

Rejoice, Rejoice, Oh Israel
To you has come Emmanuel.

Luke 2: 11-12  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Quotation Saturday ~ Advent

From the internet

Matt. 1: 23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

It is under the false assumption for people to believe that Advent is for a denomination and full of rites and rituals. Advent is a Spiritual Christian Season that all Christians normally celebrate. It is the love of Christ, the Coming of Christ and a season to cherish the gift that God gave to us. THIS is the reason for the Season! ~ Amen

One of the essential paradoxes of Advent: that while we wait for God, we are with God all along, that while we need to be reassured of God’s arrival, or the arrival of our homecoming, we are already at home. While we wait, we have to trust, to have faith, but it is God’s grace that gives us that faith. As with all spiritual knowledge, two things are true, and equally true, at once. The mind can’t grasp paradox; it is the knowledge of the soul.”
~ Michelle Blake, The Tentmaker

“ADVENT—the four-week period that leads up to Christmas—is a series of events designed not to delay the celebration of Christmas, but to enhance it. It’s a kind of delayed gratification that culminates in a … satisfaction that is all the richer for the waiting.”
~ Joan Chittister, Listen with the Heart

The season of Advent means there is something on the horizon the likes of which we have never seen before… What is possible is to not see it, to miss it, to turn just as it brushes past you. And you begin to grasp what it was you missed, like Moses in the cleft of the rock, watching God’s [back] fade in the distance. So stay. Sit. Linger. Tarry. Ponder. Wait. Behold. Wonder. There will be time enough for running. For rushing. For worrying. For pushing. For now, stay. Wait. Something is on the horizon.”
~ Jan L. Richardson, Night Visions: Searching the Shadows of Advent and Christmas

“The spirituality of Advent calls us to start our journey in expectation of the second coming of Christ. The end time is the period in history when the work of Christ will be consummated, when the powers of evil will be put away forever, when the earth will be restored to the golden age described by Isaiah and St. John.” (see Isa. 65; Rev. 20-22).
~ Robert Weber

“IT WAS NOT suddenly and unannounced that Jesus came into the world. He came into a world that had been prepared for him. The whole Old Testament is the story of a special preparation … . Only when all was ready, only in the fullness of his time, did Jesus come.”
~ Phillips Brooks, The Consolations of God: Great Sermons of Phillips Brooks

In Advent spirituality we are also called on to meditate on the birthing of Christ in our hearts. In this matter we are dealing with the conversion of life, the movement away from the old life lived under the power of evil to the new life lived in the power of the Holy Spirit. True conversion is a turning from one way of life to another. Christ calls us to be converted to him, to make him the pattern of our lives, to make our living and dying a living and dying in him.
~ Robert Weber

This Advent we look to the Wise Men to teach us where to focus our attention. We set our sights on things above, where God is. We draw closer to Jesus… When our Advent journey ends, and we reach the place where Jesus resides in Bethlehem, may we, like the Wise Men, fall on our knees and adore him as our true and only King.”
~ Mark Zimmermann in Our Advent Journey

Friday, November 21, 2014

Tis the Season to be...

Depressed?


Neh. 2: 2 Wherefore the king said unto me, Why is thy countenance sad, seeing thou art not sick? this is nothing else but sorrow of heart. Then I was very sore afraid,

While many of you find this the season of joy, sharing and caring with family, there are so many others out there that don’t see it as the season of joy. Depression hits an all time high during the holiday season and thanks to massive commercialism we’re hit with, it doesn’t help.

It seems like as soon as Halloween hits, Christmas is here in the blink of an eye and we wonder where the time went. I saw Christmas commercials BEFORE Halloween so the media coverage of joy, joy, joy begins in October thrusting what is deemed normal upon people, people who don’t feel the joy of the season; we’re left behind with a burst of depression.

I’m taking a course on Writing the Personal Essay and this has brought a joy to my life. I can now hone in on the craft of telling my personal story, hopefully with more concise precision. The class has hardly begun so don’t expect perfection right away. Why am I telling you this? Because of something I read in one of the books for the course.

Take little bits of memories and write something that comes to mind: Thanksgiving, turkey, family, food. From those four things it will lead you to more of the memory surfacing. In my case, nothing really great surfaced from the memory.

I have four brothers, a sister, a mother and father. Thanksgiving was the only day we sat around the table to have a feast of a meal. We said grace, but again, it is the only day of the year we EVER said grace. I remember wine being served. Did I remember the joy of the day; the celebration of being with my family? No, I remember the jell-o for dessert.

I’m wondering if never having family joy is going to be a catapult of some pretty ugly stories as I venture along this six-week class? I’m also wondering if this is the reason for many people to see this as a season of depression. Maybe they lost a loved one who can’t be here with them, maybe they have bad memories of their childhood and as the season gets underway, memories, not all good ones surface and take over creating a ‘Season of Depression’.

Sadness swells up inside of me right around thanksgiving. Not only for the non-memorable memories but for the more memorable memories that creep up like worms out of a hole.

One memory at the forefront is the loss of my unborn child. Eight and a half months pregnant my child was STILL born. That hung an ugly memory around my neck and has clung there for thirty-two years now.


Grief is not something you just get over and I believe there is no amount of time that can whitewash the event. Whether it is through death, or the loss of a husband or friend that is no longer a part of your life. The holiday becomes the season of grief.

I don’t allow the grief to ruin the holiday for others, instead I carry my grief like a sponge, absorb everything alone, smile and remain appearing happy on the outside but tightly woven grief is wrapped around my heart.

I can’t help it, I miss my son, I miss my mother and father back home in Maryland, I miss seeing and talking to my sister, I miss hugging my nieces and nephews who grew up without me in their lives. As warped as they are, I miss my family!

Now don’t get me wrong, I am extremely thankful that God saw to it that I was placed in a loving family so I could actually experience what a family does on any given holiday, a normal family anyway. I’ve had the love of this family for 11 years now, but only six years of actually being around them on the physical level; that was when we moved to Nebraska.

I had always wondered if I made the right decision in taking my son, Adam Omega, away from my not so normal family and placing him in Texas then moving to Nebraska. I got a somewhat confirmation last week when the mailman asked about my sons name. Low and behold, he shares the ‘unique’ name also! Adam never thought in a million years that he’d EVER meet another person with that name and there he was, delivering mail with the exact same name! I don’t believe in coincidence, so there was more to the meeting than meets the eye. I know now I made the right decision, but I can still miss my family.

I’m thankful Steven only has to work four hours on Thanksgiving (as the previous years he worked a full day AND Black Friday). This year he works 9-4 turkey day and is off Friday giving me the hope that he’ll help Adam and I get ready for Christmas.

I’m so not ready for Christmas. It’s going to be a lot different this year and it will just get more and more different in years to come. It looks like once again my writing will be the saving grace to a more memorable holiday.

So if you’re the kind of person who is surrounded by a family during the holiday, embrace them, be joyful and celebrate the love you are fortunate enough to have surrounding you. Also remember the people that have no one and nothing, remember those who are grieving, remember those who are missing their families. It’s not all about joy, joy, joy to them. We’re grateful for every little morsel of love that is bestowed upon us. Be a light of love for others.

This doesn’t have to be a season of depression, I CAN and WILL make it a memorable season of joy. With the upcoming season of Advent, I will reflect on the true meaning of the season.

God Bless…

Job 6:10 Then should I yet have comfort; yea, I would harden myself in sorrow: let him not spare; for I have not concealed the words of the Holy One.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Insomnia - Food


Jer. 8:15 We looked for peace, but no good came; and for a time of health, and behold trouble!


With yesterday’s post, we learned insomnia is a disease not just a simple brush-away illness. I’m referring to the people who have had trouble with sleeping for years upon years and never tried to find the culprit.

Today is the day we discuss some culprits that can keep you awake at night, most importantly – food!

Did you know certain food will inhibit your sleep? The time of day or night that you indulge in food can be a real problem when you’re an insomniac. Knowing the smart healthy foods to eat can help your sleep pattern while the wrong foods are going to do a number on your getting a good nights rest.

The right/healthy foods, no matter how tough it is to stomach, are going to enable you to sleep better at night. Whole grain breads and pasta, fruits and vegetables are all going to aid you in a better nights sleep.

I notice many insomniacs overindulge in unhealthy eating habits such as greasy foods, sweets, sugar and caffeine. They say they want to sleep better but do nothing to change or help in their sleeping behavior or even try to change their eating habits.

Like I said yesterday, I sleep a good seven to eight hours a night, peaceful, restful sleep. Am I a health nut? By no means! I eat two to three meals a day and a light snack well before bedtime, never right before and I never ever wake in the middle of the night seeking out a snack because I’m hungry.

I don’t eat greasy foods, I rarely cook in oils and I even more rarely eat out at a fast food restaurant or ANY restaurant for that matter. They are not concerned with your health when selling you that tasty, mouth-watering meal; they’re concerned with a sale and it tasting so good you return over and over again to their establishment.

I eat chocolate maybe twice a year and if I have pie it is either pumpkin or some sort of fruit pie like apple or peach. I sometimes snack on cookies but no more than three. I have never been one to eat more than my stomach can handle and have never been a glutton for things that just aren’t good for my health. My son says I eat like a bird. But I'm only concerned for my health NOW before it becomes a problem like the health issues that haunt my family members.

My mother developed Type 2 Diabetes because of her love of Whitman’s Chocolate, my father developed heart disease because of all the greasy foods my mother cooked and the over abundance of salt in their food. While I love seasonings, salt is hardly ever used in my house. I just never acquired a taste for it after being fed it for 17 years; salt was never a staple in my home cooked meals. You want it, you add it, that’s my motto! I love adding seasonings to my food to make it more appealing; pepper, Italian seasoning, garlic powder/salt, oregano, etc., etc. I also love to add garlic, onions mushrooms, green pepper, you name it.

There is an old saying you are what you eat. I believe this for some odd reason. If you eat unhealthy foods you are going to be unhealthy and have all the illnesses that unhealthy eating will bring about, including insomnia, heart disease, heart failure, diabetes and so many other illnesses that unhealthy eating will cause to surface, usually after it is too late to turn back the clock.

But the good news is, you CAN turn back the clock! You CAN begin to eat healthy and watch your weight change, watch the positive healthy change take place in your body. Your health will change, your sleep or lack thereof will change and you’ll feel better and hopefully live a longer more productive life because of these changes. The choice is up to YOU!

Jer. 33:6 Behold, I will bring it health and cure, and I will cure them, and will reveal unto them the abundance of peace and truth.




Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Insomnia ~ Peace


Pss. 1:2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

Peace

I have quite a few friends who suffer from insomnia. Now mind you they are all God loving people, so when they say they have insomnia, I scratch my head. I’m not talking one or two friends either, I’m talking like 10-15 friends all suffering with the inability to sleep and stay there. So if your reading this, I’m not targeting you, I’m trying to understand the condition, the disease.

We live in a world of stress, noises and images that all clog the mind. I used to have disrupted sleep when I was younger but I knew it was from the stress of the day and the long arduous days and nights of simply living as a drug user and alcoholic. But after coming clean, clearing my soul and conscience of the poisons intoxicating my body, I honed in on ways to fall asleep and stay asleep.

Granted I was twenty-one when I came clean and am now nearing 50, I still rest peacefully and comfortably for seven-eight hours a night. Some of my tricks to get me to this point are now conscious forming habits that led me to just keeping still and falling fast asleep.

It all might change again in my later years but for now, I’m relishing the peace that washes over me every single night and I carry it with me throughout my waking days. What are my tips and how do you attain the peace? I don’t know if it will work for you because most are chronic sufferers that have had this struggle since childhood and have tried everything to no avail. You have my sympathy.

Look at the list for symptoms of insomnia:

Difficulty falling asleep
Awakening during the night
Not feeling well rested
Daytime tiredness
Irritability, depression, or anxiety
Difficulty paying attention
Increased errors
Tension headaches
Distress in the stomach
Ongoing worries about sleep

That’s quite a list. Do you see yourself with ANY of these symptoms? One or two probably doesn’t signify chronic insomnia but more than three; you’re a chronic insomniac.

We’re not going to add medications to the list here because the older you get or the more medications you take can be a cause for sleepless nights. But the main cause of insomnia, especially chronic insomnia that which you’ve had since you were a child, is stress and anxiety.

As a sufferer you may fool yourself into believing you don’t have any depression or stress. You may lie over and over again making excuses with it’s the meds, it’s the noise, it’s the ______, you fill in the blank. What lies do you tell yourself? Let’s face it, you’re stressed! Whether it is meeting the standard of what other people see in you, bills you can’t pay, the job you hate, or facing old age, stress is the killer. Yes KILLER! If you’re happy and content with that, then read no further.

The Mayo Clinic reports: “Sleep is as important to your health as a healthy diet and regular exercise. Whatever your reason for sleep loss, insomnia can affect you both mentally and physically. People with insomnia report a lower quality of life compared with people who are sleeping well.” 

Do you remember as a kid our parents told us that if we had trouble sleeping to count sheep? Do you know why? What does sheep have to do with the inability to sleep? Well for starters it’s a way of focusing the mind on something other than your stressful thoughts. It’s a form of meditation.

Meditation is a secret tool I implemented in my early days of clearing my mind of stressful distractions and it has been an essential tool in finding a peace like never before. Some may laugh and scoff claiming it doesn’t work, but you DO know God has placed very simple tools in our hands, like herbs instead of drugs, to help aid us with our diseases and illnesses that take over our bodies. Meditation is a tool from God to use and aid us in stress-filled times.

Pss. 63:6 When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches.

Many people listen to audiobooks when they’re trying to fall asleep, this is stimulating your mind and the very reason it doesn’t work for insomniacs. Some listen to music but again this is stirring the mind and doesn’t have long-term effects. To find sleep, one must relax the mind.

What is MY method? I’ll share, but first let me tell you I am not without stress, depression and illnesses so don’t think this is just coming from a happy-all-the-time gal. I have experienced many depths of darkness but I still enjoy seven to eight hours of SLEEP!

Before falling asleep there are things I do first, like pray. Not for myself, not for my situation not for me me me. I like to pray for others in need (there is always time to pray for me). I’ve said my prayers.

The second thing is to have my rainfall cd playing in the background. I love rainfall and thunder and since snow makes no sound, rain is my choice. You might have another comforting sound to focus on but mine is rain.

Begin focusing on the sound. Stress creeping in? Put it in a box, a cardboard box, for safe keeping until tomorrow, right now you need to focus on the drops. Bills, things to do gnawing at you? See the paper of the bill? See the word? Place it in the box. Picture the box floating in the midst of stars, millions of stars, the box looks quite small doesn’t it? You’re placing whatever is stressing you into the box as each distraction tries to get through, place them one by one in the box. If it gets full, start a new box!

The box will get full as you fill it with your worries, y’know. If you don’t have enough self control to focus because of a pain your feeling or the thoughts are too numerous, this box trick might take some time before your nights are filled with rest.

The box or boxes, are floating in the universe. You see them, you know they’re your worries, but the drops of rain make you realize the box can’t get wet. Drip after drip the box moves out into the solar system, you see the paper fluttering from the boxes; worries all stored for another time, you see numerous boxes and all your problems are in there. You’re focusing on the box as it is floating…floating…you sleep.

You’re going to try this night after night. It’s not a one-try deal. Repetition and perseverance is what’s going to make this work. Now if you’d rather think of your worries and focus on them, then you will be maintaining the disease and keeping it alive for years to come. Please don’t tell me you like stress and enjoy restless nights of sleep, it is up to YOU, your mind, your conscience and your very SOUL to be WORTH the change.

God Bless!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Nurturing the Seed


Luke 8:14 And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection

A lot of times people walk on rubble filled roads. They stumble and feel their feet are on unsure footing but they keep walking. Trudging along a dirt path yet always looking up to see if the sun will lighten the path, dry out the rubble and help them get to where they are going to in warmth without sinking in the mud.

Have you ever walked this path? Walked, stumbled, picked yourself up, then walked some more. Yeah I think many of us have. It’s always nice when the sun is shining down, isn’t it and we have light to show us the way?

I oftentimes think of those who stumble as I myself have sunk in a few mud traps myself. But what pulled me out, what gave me the strength to go on, knowing there was mud holes everywhere just waiting for my feet? The Son.

A seed, when placed in soil is sunken into the depths of darkness that we humans might not understand. Sometimes we cling to the darkness and linger there. A seed knows better than us! It knows that when the warmth begins to surround it, the seed rears its head and perks up, it feels even the slightest ray of sunshine and it begins its ascent in reaching for that Light that calls it to rise.

When we get comfortable in the soil, the mud pits, whatever you wish to call the deep abyss we sink into when depressed or fallen on hard times, the dark is the only thing to warm us. What happens to a seed, unattended by light and water? It dies, just as the soul does when not nourished.

My friend has a beautiful picture of a Christmas cactus that she shared. I told her my mother has one about 15 years old. I thought that was pretty long but she reported that her friend has one that is 35 years old! Wow! Talk about endurance. Love and care is what makes these plants so hardy. They weather many changes, through drought tolerance and climate changes; the Christmas cactus is one of the many plants that are perfect examples of human life.

Many people say they have no luck with plants. Luck, really? It is not by luck that a plant thrives nor does ones soul find rejuvenation by luck. I can bet that those who have no ‘luck’ with plants are the pessimist and realist of society.

I myself, while having many plants around my home that have survived 11 years so far and are still growing strong, I could never get a handle on Miniature Roses. I’ve had many but they all seemingly died! And I took the same care of them as I did my other plants. What was wrong? Care! I wasn’t caring for the sensitive plant. Like my soul, I let it do its thing, watering and tending thinking this was all it needed.

Love, it needed love and light and it needed care. My experiment this year was with another miniature Rose; a tiny frame in a 2-inch pot. I set it on my windowsill. It was really loving the Light, water and pruning! Just like my soul, AHA!

Spring arrived and I got the best soil for it to be replanted, a much bigger pot and set it outside in the warmth of the sun. It didn’t like the heat of the midday sun, but it thrived in the morning sun. There it sat until the temperature changes in late August had me pulling my very full and beautiful roses inside.

The leaves began to fall almost immediately to the extent I had bare twigs. Instead of seeing it as dead as in other years, I saw it as reviving itself. Shedding the old, bringing in the new, the next month would show a resurgence of life and this very day it is still alive and has a rosebud on it.

Sometimes we give up on our souls and just let them do their own thing. I’m sorry people but that is just not good enough! You need to nurture and tend your soul with the very best you can give it. I choose the Word of God but that might not be for everyone. We need to find what our soul needs to grow and feed it, treat it well, lavish it with tender care and beauty and you’ll see it flourish, even in the darkest of times.

Silent Protocol

Silent Protocol
Angel Always...godspeed

Sunshine Award

Sunshine award