TIME…Time…TIME…Time…TIME

Today Virginia is out of time (LoL!) so here’s a previously shared (still relevant) post…

Out with the old, in with the new.  Sure, we’re supposed to do that @ New Year’s, but Lent is a time to get rid of old stuff cluttering up our hearts and minds & strangling our wills to do new things we have been nudged to do – but never seem to get around to it.

When do we have THE TIME? 

Time tends to bulldoze our lives with commitments, duties, family and work as we madly dash (or trudge along) making it through each day.

If it’s important, however, we make time for it. Not to add any (extra) Lenten pressure, but Jesus did say: “Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for the least ones, you did not do for Me.”  Of course, we can flip that around to what He said earlier in Matthew 25, “Whatever you did for one of these least ones, you did for Me.”

Maybe we are doing lots of things that help others in our spare time (or maybe it’s our work? like a doctor or nurse or teacher or pastor or priest or relief & development worker or business owner or as a full-time mom or student or what what…)

But how do we view time?

We sometimes look at what we do as the same old, same old stuff.  Humdrum.  What does each hour bring? More of the same as we pressurize ourselves to keep running from deadline to deadline without taking time to blink. Or we just do the next thing by rote.

So, here’s today’s Lenten challenge: take some time to consider, how do I view time? Can I ask God for wisdom & verve to meet each hour expectantly – that His love & grace & mercy & peace & joy may rise anew within my heart to see & be new beginnings where I am?

“Each new hour holds new chances for new beginnings.”   Maya Angelou

grace, peace & (hourly) new beginnings

     Virginia : )

p.s. After last week’s horrendous shooting in Florida, I’ve been wanting to do a blog post about gun violence – but Gwen over at play-grand.com posted something today that says it straight up. (Gwen & her husband Pepper were my high school Sunday School teachers & dearly beloved by my parents & especially me!)

Please check out her blog by clicking here: play-grand, “B.S.”

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Cloudy Day Son-Shine

A quickie quote for us to mind-munch on this cloudy Lenten Friday…

“I cannot feel

That all is well, when darkening clouds conceal

The shining sun;

But then, I know

He lives and loves; and say, since it is so,

Thy will be done.”

S. G. Browning*

grace, peace & cloudy day Son-Shine

Virginia : )

(*from Daily Strength for Daily Needs, one of my favorite devotionals compiled by Mary W. Tileston. My edition is literally in tatters, but thankfully also have a version on my Kindle!)

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Just as I am: R.I.P. Billy Graham

Billy Graham passed yesterday at the age of 99. With the support of his beloved wife, Ruth, he ministered as an evangelist to countless thousands all around the world. While he’d be the first to admit he wasn’t perfect, he served God faithfully for more than 60+ years of active preaching that proclaimed the love of Jesus for each and every person.

“Just as I am…” Just as we are, needing God’s transforming love to mend our brokenness.

My Papa & Mama loved Billy Graham. Papa once had the opportunity to meet him through family friends in Va. Beach who were from Billy’s neck of the woods in North Carolina. Papa recounted that encounter many times and always espoused Billy Graham’s leadership, faithfulness and integrity.

What a life for a farm boy from the mountains of North Carolina! Crisscrossing continents with the message of the Cross of Christ, speaking to royalty and ne’er-do-wells from the streets with equal equanimity & esteem. Using (what was then new) media like television to make the love of Christ known to even larger audiences.

Billy Graham also counted among his myriad friends Archbishop Fulton Sheen, the first to bring the Gospel to television in 1940. (Papa was also a Fulton Sheen groupie – we watched his shows often on DVD.) When Archbishop Fulton Sheen died in 1979, Billy Graham was seated with Catholic dignitaries in the very front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral at his funeral mass in New York. (Altho he tried to sneak in the back of the church!)

He also met with Pope John Paul II at the Vatican, whereupon the Pope clasped his hand, “we are brothers!” (It’s interesting that they both suffered from Parkinson’s disease in their later years.)

How do you measure a life like Billy Graham’s? From his autobiography, Just As I Am, here’s his take on that in his own words:

“As I look back over the years, I know my deepest feeling is overwhelming gratitude. I cannot take credit for whatever God has chosen to accomplish through us and our ministry; only God deserves the glory, and we can never thank Him enough for the great things He has done.”

As the world mourns the loss of one of the greatest statesmen of Jesus Christ in the 20th Century, may we take to heart the message of Billy Graham’s life:

Jesus loves me – just as I am.

“I don’t know the future, but I know this: the best is yet to be! Heaven awaits us… I know that soon my life will be over. I thank God for it… but I look forward to Heaven. I look forward to reunion with friends and loved ones who have gone before. I look forward to Heaven’s freedom from sorrow and pain. I also look forward to serving God in ways we can’t begin to imagine, for the Bible makes it clear that Heaven is not a place of idleness. And, most of all, I look forward to seeing Christ and bowing before Him in praise and gratitude for all He has done for us, and for using me on this earth by His grace – just as I am.”  (Billy Graham, Just As I Am, p. 730)

R.I.P. Billy Graham (07 November 1918- 21 February 2018)

grace, peace & faithfulness

Virginia

“You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds rest in Thee.” Saint Augustine of Hippo

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Snapshots & Whatnot: Thorny Roses

SNAPSHOT:

A rose in Kosovo (circa 1999)

& WHATNOT…

“Some people are always grumbling because roses have thorns; I am thankful that thorns have roses.” Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr

Isn’t that like our lives, like our faith? Sometimes there’s hard spiky stuff on the way to making something beautiful, to realizing our dreams. Then there’s the thorny crown of suffering that allows Easter to blossom in our hearts.

There’s no Easter without the Cross.

Roses & thorns have each other, like suffering & the joy of resurrected Hope.

grace, peace & thorny roses

Virginia : )

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Our Father: A Prayer for Daily Help

Today’s Gospel reading from Matthew 6:7-15 encompasses what we call the Lord’s Prayer, how Jesus taught His disciples (& us) to pray. Sometimes we say this prayer so quickly the words barely register, but if we slow down it can become a ‘grid’ from which to pray – something I started doing years ago at the beginning of each day. Here’s a prayer snapshot of what that looks like.

Our Father, who art in Heaven *** Hallowed be Thy Name…

Your name, O Lord, is greatly to be praised! How magnificent is Your name, the Name above ALL names: King of Kings, Lord of Lords, El Shaddai, Almighty All-Powerful God, Heavenly Father… Blessed is the name of Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, Wonderful, Counselor, Prince of Peace, Rose of Sharon, our Bright Morning Star, Emmanuel, God-with-us… Blessed is the name of the Holy Spirit, Holy Comforter, Dew of Light, Flame of Heaven…

Our hearts bow before You, Heavenly Father, in adoration & praise – Holy Redeemer, Savior & Lord, Most Merciful & Compassionate God…

We thank You for Your faithfulness, Your forgiveness, Your mercy and Your miracles – for Your Heavenly paintbrush in the beauty of creation all around us, within us.

We worship You, O Lord. We praise You. We love You. We thank you for Your unfailing love that remains constant: the love of our divine “Abba”…

Thy Kingdom come *** Thy will be done *** On earth as it is in Heaven…

Please pour out Your Holy Spirit upon us, so that Your Kingdom may come within us – in our hearts and minds and spirits. Let Your light shine through the cracks of these earthen, clay pots to touch the lives of others. Help us reflect the Light from Your Kingdom, where love and joy and mercy reign supreme.

We ask that Your will be done. May Your will be done in our lives, in our families, in our churches, in our cities, in our countries, in our world. Where violence, despair, and apathy prevail – where there is conflict (Sudan, the Congo/DRC, Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel/ Palestine, Syria, Somalia…) – may Your will be done. Where diseases – HIV/AIDS, malaria, cancer – ravage lives, may Your healing love be touched and felt. May Your will be done on this earth, as it is in Heaven…

Please align our desires with Your desires. Transform our hearts and minds with Your wisdom and love so we may know You better. Let the eyes of our hearts be enlightened to grasp the hope for which You have called us, the riches of the saints who have gone before us, and Your incomparably great power for us who believe. Empower & empassion us, Lord God, to be Your hands and feet of love to all we encounter today.

Give us this day our daily bread…

Lord, please meet all the needs of this day. Anoint the work of our hands and affirm us in Your love. Please help us to be calmly content in all situations (especially the challenging ones) with extra doses of Your grace & peace. May You bless our loved ones with Your love & mercy throughout this day.

And forgive us our trespasses,

                                    as we forgive those who trespass against us…

Forgive us, O Lord, for our sins… for what we have done and what we have failed to do in our thoughts, words and deeds. We are sorry, so sorry, for sinning against You. Your forgiveness comes at a great price: the sacrifice of Your son, our Lord Jesus Christ, His blood running through thorns and nails down the side of the Cross.

Have mercy, Oh Lord, have mercy on us, on me.

Forgive us.    Forgive us.   Forgive us.

Help us, O Father, to forgive those who have hurt us. Fill us with Your supernatural grace, as You have forgiven us, to forgive others through the power of the Holy Spirit.

And lead us not into temptation *** but deliver us from evil…

Father God, our faith is so fickle when we fall with the darts of the enemy; too often and too easily he preys upon our weaknesses. Strengthen our faith, O God, to withstand temptation. Through the precious blood of Your Son, Jesus Christ, protect us from evil. Please set watch-guards on the gates of our minds, hearts and spirits to shield us from the lies and deceit of the evil one.

Let Your light blot out any darkness within us. Shine Your flashlight of holiness into the dark corners of our souls. Deliver us, O God, from evil, that we might be Your hands and feet to the hurting of this world, especially those decimated by evil. “But for the grace of God, there go I…”  Deliver us, O Lord, so we might bring them into the warmth of Your forgiving arms – as we place ourselves there.

Fill us with what pleases You — Your love, Your joy, Your peace, Your grace, Your mercy, Your compassion, but especially Your wisdom, O Lord, to follow Your path and resist temptation, as we place our hope in You.

For Thine is *** The Kingdom *** The Power *** and The Glory…

Yours is the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory, O God. Please give us ‘Kingdom eyes’ to see what You’re about around us, within us. Equip us with Your power, especially when we think we can’t, we’re not & we don’t want to – O Lord, help us know what YOU want, who YOU are, and what YOU can do – even the impossible in us, through us, with us…  

…that You may be glorified–this day & always!

 Forever and ever, AMEN.

grace, peace & daily prayers

Virginia : )

p.s. LoL! Scurrying about this morning I rushed through the Our Father – then read the Gospel for today. Sat down & prayed it again, this time reverently & slowly (with all the worship bits included.) A better way to start even the busiest of days. 🙂

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High-Flying Courage : )

The past week my brother & I have been getting lots of virtual exercise as armchair kibitzers cheering on athletes from all over the globe competing at the Winter Olympics in South Korea. (How ’bout those dashingly domineering Norwegians!?!)

After watching various snow-cross skiing, aerials & snowboarding events (yaaaay Chloe Kim, Jamie Anderson, Shaun White & Red Gerard!), it’s amazing how these athletes fly up so high to do their ‘tricks.’ Especially doing them under pressure, like Shaun White’s third run where he laid down something truly phenomenal to win gold medal in the half pipe. (Why do they say they ‘put down a run’ when they’re leaping & flipping up so high over the pipe course?) hmmn. Virginia, a snowboarder is not, but she likes to watch them (a bit more exciting than curling, not to offend avid curling fans out there, but what’s up with that?)

Methinks these ‘high-flying’ athletes need extra strong courage muscles to fly hundreds of feet above what is essentially a large block of ice covered with snow. Or flying up into multiple aerial flips over a snowy mountainside. Many rebounding after injuries to compete again = really strong courage muscles = inspiring.

And this relates to Lent, how? Maybe our courage muscles need a bit of spiritual encouragement to open the wings of our hearts to fly a bit higher (at least take a few flippety-flaps, however wobbly, more than 2 feet away from our comfortable nests?)

“Why do you complain…’My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God?’  Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:27-31)

“What good are wings without the courage to fly?” Atticus

grace, peace & high-flying courage

Virginia : )

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A Prayer: Too Many Things

Sorting through old files, I found this prayer letter from my time in Tanzania. May it bless any & all of us today overwhelmed with ‘too many things.’

Dear God:

Too many things overwhelm me: too many goals to accomplish, too many piles to sort, too many issues to grapple, too many people to call, too many projects to finish, too many overdue tasks, too many priorities to re-prioritize, too many things left undone, too many things crushing my heart.

Too many, too many, too many…my feet are sinking in the mire of too many things. Glimpses of joy seem fleeting. Hope is a distant dream vs. the reality of today.

Yet, joy is a choice, and I can choose hope, too. Hope in Your love, Your joy, Your peace, Your wisdom, Your grace, Your mercy: Your Presence all around me and within me.

But, my heart sometimes forgets, distracted by tasks (even if enacted for You.) Too many distractions to sit quietly before You for more than a minute.

Please, Lord God, let the power of the Holy Spirit flow through this clay pot. Let the Light of Your Son, Jesus Christ, shine through the cracks. I’ve been trying to use my own glue that is not holding up so well in the rain of too many challenges. Forgive me. Please reapply Your superglue to keep the disparate parts of this cracked clay pot together.

  • I can’t. I can’t deal with the piles, missed opportunities, disappointments.
  • I can’t. I can’t seem to get a grip on my inadequacies.
  • I can’t. I can’t let go (of control, my ways, selfish me-me-me-itis.)

You, however, CAN. You can take all these burdens off my shoulders, or at least re-arrange them so I can look up to see the Light of love reflected in Your mercy & grace.

  • You can. You can take the controls and guide my heart.
  • You can. You can transform me with wisdom to discern Your priorities.
  • You can. You can fill this clay pot with Your joy, Your peace, Your grace, Your love.
  • You can. You can provide a reason to hope, even when everything seems dark & gray.
  • You can. You can shine Your light through the cracks of this broken clay pot.

Thank You, God for hearing this prayer.  Please help (& please hurry – I’m sinking in too many things!)

In the name of the Father, Son & Holy Spirit. Amen.

Your humble servant,

Virginia

Maybe one day I’ll be able to manage many things like this precious lady in Morogoro, TZ, juggling a case of bottled water, office supplies & her baby with such grace & verve!

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