Friday, December 20, 2013

The Moon Moments

The first thing I saw when I walked out the door for my morning walk was a bright moon with an almost golden aura around it.  It was beautiful.  A little farther along, the sun started to rise.  And oh, what a sunrise.  Big, bold strokes of color - bright orange and yellow, deep pink and purple, vibrant blue... it was awesome!!  I looked back over at the moon.  The aura was still there, and there were also subtle, pastel purple stripes around it - broad and soft at the edges.  Such a difference between the two.  It made me think about how I've found God in my life lately.
Morgan had a major turning point in his career this week.  He's been working very hard for it, but the timing was a big surprise.  Definitely a huge blessing and an obvious God moment - big and bold like the sunrise this morning.  But I kept thinking about the moon.  And I thought through the past few days and realized another small place I had found God.  I was in the doctor's office - the last place I wanted to be in this hectic week - and a few of the nurses were wearing Santa hats.  I was stressed and rushed, and those Santa hats made me stop and smile.  I'm smiling now as I think about it.  I realized the thing I miss most about writing this blog was how it made me stop and find those small moments - the "moon" moments.  Don't get me wrong, I love the big stuff.  The grand sunrises that take your breath away, the sudden unexpected miracles in our lives that just can't be missed or mistaken for anything other than God's grace.  But I need to go back to that daily exercise of finding God in the routine.  In the everyday humdrum life that really makes up the bulk of most of our lives.  Whether I write about it or not, I'm going to strive to look for it daily again.  So where did I find God today?  In the subtle beauty of the golden aura around the moon, or that gorgeous, amazing sunrise?  Tough choice, but I think for today, I'm going for the moon.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Laundry Chute

When I was born, we lived in an apartment on Linden Avenue in Arbutus, Maryland, but shortly after that we moved to a row home on Council Street, also in Arbutus.  (At that time, they were row homes, now they're called townhomes which I guess sounds more respectable, but either way, they were houses in a row!)  We moved again when I was about 4 1/2, so most of my memories of that house come from pictures, but there are a few things that stand out as true memories.  One was the laundry chute.  I remember being fascinated with it!  It was a three-story house, and you could drop things in the laundry chute from the top floor, and it ended up in the basement where the washer was.  To my young mind, there were few things more exciting than that!  One time I remember standing in the hallway and looking towards the bedroom at the front of the house.  The sunlight was pouring in and filtering through to the slightly darkened hallway.  I wanted so badly to find something to drop in there!  I can't remember if I did on that occasion, but I have a recollection of doing it at some point and racing down the stairs to watch it come out at the bottom.  Of course, I never made it, but I don't think it stopped me from trying.  The laundry chute... what a fun memory!

The other thing I truly remember is standing at the gate of the big field next to our house and wanting to follow my brother, Wayne.  He and my brother, Bentley, were much older than me (13 years, and 11 years respectively), and I idolized him.  I loved both of my brothers, but Wayne always paid special attention to me as a child.  Our house was at the end of the row and right next to the fields that were part of the junior high school.  They would walk to school and games and such, and I remember one time in particular wanting so badly to follow Wayne.  There was a big bar-type gate that was really just meant to keep cars out, but I knew I wasn't allowed to cross it.  I can see the grass and the sky and emptiness before me - no Wayne.  So I must have stood there until he was out of sight.  I clearly remember the longing.

There were other fun things about that house and neighborhood.  There was the strawberry man who walked the street calling out, "Strawbears!!" ( He never added the "ry" for some reason.)  And getting our picture taken on a pony, also from a man who walked the streets drumming up business.  Do you remember that stuff from your childhood?  Those kinds of things are long gone.  But the laundry chute and wanting to follow my brother are the memories that planted themselves in my young mind.  It's funny because most of my memories of that house are in black and white due to the photographs we have.  But I remember the yellow sunlight of the bedroom next to the laundry chute, and the green grass and blue sky as I watched my brother.  It's amazing what God has done for us.  He gave us colors that can provide so vivid a recollection that you can actually experience the feeling all over again.  His wonders never cease, and I find Him not only in my daily life in the present, but I see Him there in all my memories.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Everlasting

Jeff and I have been watching "The Bible" series on The History Channel.  I know a lot of the stories, but seeing them brought to life is very powerful.  The thing that has struck us most is the violence.  Reading it is one thing, seeing it enacted takes it to a whole other level.  By the time Jesus comes on the scene, you just want Him to use His power to wipe out all of the violence - all of the bad people. 
In church today, we read the passion with different people reading the parts, and the congregation together reading the part of the crowd.  When it gets to the part where Pilate wants to let Jesus go, and the crowd is shouting "Crucify Him!",  I wanted to cry.  The voices of our congregation all together saying "Crucify Him!" was bad enough, but I was also imagining a huge crowd shouting it out.  How badly they needed Jesus, and they didn't even know it.  How badly our violent world needed Him (and we still do.)  So even though Jesus could have called on the power of God to wipe out that violence, He did something far greater and far more lasting.  He used His love.  He used His love to reach the world and touch millions of hearts.  And here we are 2,000 years later, and we still feel it.  We still cry for Him, and we still celebrate His ultimate gift to us.  I believe when He said, "He who believes in me shall never die", He was talking about love.  Our love for Him, and our love for each other.  That's our promise of eternity.  Who among us hasn't lost someone they cared for?  And though they're gone, our love for them lives on - everlasting.  Just like Jesus promised, and in my mind, proof of heaven.  God is with us, God is in us, now and forevermore.  Amen.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Abundance

In church today, Father Tom spoke of abundance.  How when we give, even if we feel we have little to spare, it makes what we do have feel abundant.  In his words, "...if all we see is scarcity then we cannot see with the divine vision of abundance."  It reminded me of the time after my divorce when money was so tight.  I was making barely above minimum wage at the time, and even with child support, we were stretched very thin.  But somehow, we never felt deprived.  Yes, there were things we wanted that we couldn't afford, but they were just things.  And at the end of the day, we were happy.  We still did pretty much everything we wanted - just in a less expensive way.  Pizza on Friday night was frozen pizza; vacation was paid for with money from tax returns, and it was a long weekend instead of a week; we bought all of our clothes and household needs from Kmart, and for a special treat I would let the kids pick out a candy bar or a pack of gum at the checkout.
Things got better money-wise.  I got a better paying job, and eventually I met Jeff and our two salaries combined eased the financial strain immensely.  But honestly, when I look back at those days, what I remember is being happy.  The money situation just wasn't a factor in that.  After the kids were grown, I asked them how they felt about it.  They both said they never felt deprived.  They felt they had a great childhood.  We had plenty to eat, a roof over our heads, a yearly vacation, and we always found something fun, but cheap, to do on the weekends.  Great times!  And abundance.  It dawned on me with Father Tom's words that we never dwelled on the scarcity of what we had.  We saw abundance.  God was with us always.  And in those lean times, He showed Himself so clearly to us.  We gave to each other - in the fun and laughter we shared, in the love for each other, in the warmth and security of our home.  And in that giving we found abundance.  There is no scarcity when you have love, and God is love.  Indeed, His blessings were - and still are - abundant.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Faith

While in Greece for the first time (the trip after the ship when I was three), I met my cousin, Rita.  (In Greek, we pronounce it with a sharp "t" sound, not with the "d" sound, like Reeda.)  I absolutely adored her though I can't exactly remember why.  I just know I wanted to be with her all the time.  I have a distinct memory of her holding my hand and walking through Athens, but that's all I remember.  She made such an impact on me that when my parents told me there was another baby coming, I just knew it was a girl and her name would be Rita.  Apparently, it became kind of a game for people to ask me if I thought it would be a boy or a girl.  I never wavered.  I had no doubt.  And looking back, I see it was my first act of faith.  Faith in something I couldn't see.  And guess what?  When the baby was born, and my aunt who was watching me said, "Your mom had the baby, and it's a girl!"  I said very  matter-of-factly, "I know, and her name is Rita."  My parents said they didn't have much choice with the name because I was adamant, so it was lucky that they liked it, too!

I can still remember the feeling of love and adoration I had for my cousin though I've only seen her twice since then; the last time being over 30 years ago.  And I can still remember my feeling of absolute faith.  I wish I still had that, but I think that only comes along with the innocence of a child.  As an adult, we have too much experience with loss, betrayal, and just everyday life to have that unswerving type of faith.  But it's something to strive for.  God was there with my young self, showing me what faith feels like in it's truest form.  I give thanks to Him for that.  What a blessing.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

On The Ship

I've been having a lot of health issues lately.  Nothing serious; just annoying stuff.  But it seems I no sooner get over one thing then another problem crops up.  It's been this way for the past few years, and it got me thinking about my life before - when my health was better.  That in turn got me thinking how blessed I've been in my life.  I've had my share of problems with health, family, etc., but God has always been with me.  So I decided I wanted to write about that.  I wanted to go back as far as I could remember and write where I found God in my life.  As I started to picture memories in my mind, I started seeing God almost as a physical presence.  It reminded me of that scene in "The Sixth Sense" where the boy's mom starts looking through his childhood pictures and sees a mysterious light in every one.  Except this is no mystery.  I have no doubt God has been with me all along.

My first real memory is from when I was three years old.  My dad is Greek, and we were traveling to Greece on a transatlantic ocean liner to visit family.  I was on the deck of the ship, spinning around and around because I loved to watch my dress fly out around me.  The sun was shining brightly, and I could feel the warmth on my skin.  And looking back on that moment, I see God with me.  I see Him in the sun pouring His light down over me, drenching me like a fall of golden water.  All I can see with my eyes are my dress, my little arms flinging out as I twirled, and the light so blindingly bright I couldn't see more than a few feet around me.  But the security I felt, the freedom to dance and spin - that was God.  He was shining down on me before I even understood what it meant to look for Him.  I found Him there in the light and the warmth twirling on the deck of a ship in the middle of the ocean.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Glowing Daffodils

 One side of our yard doesn't get much sunlight, so not a whole lot grows there.  But sometimes our daffodils bloom.  I say "sometimes" because last year they didn't bloom.  The leaves were there but no flowers.  I had worried they wouldn't be back, so I was very excited to see the first bloom this year.  There are just a few scattered here and there.  We didn't plant them; we inherited them with the house so it's always a surprise to see where one is going to pop up.  As I said, we don't get much sun where they're planted, so the sight awaiting me after my walk this morning was extra special. As I came within sight of the yard, the flowers were glowing from the early morning sun.  One in particular was lit up as bright as the sun itself.  Those few little blooms shining in the sparse brown landscape were so beautiful to me that I laughed out loud!  We don't fertilize the ground, we don't water, and yet there they are.  It's amazing to me how they keep coming back, seemingly against all odds.  Another lesson to be learned from God's natural world.  I found Him today in those gorgeous glowing daffodils shining bright as the sun.