Thursday, June 30, 2016

Needleworkers

When I visit blogs here on Blogger/Blogspot, making comments often automatically refers bloggers to this blog. I do have another blog where I post needlework, however. It's more relevant than this blog.




Monday, May 02, 2016

I have been watching Morgan Freeman's The Story of God. I am finding it very interesting. I would love for them to put it in book form with all the details and extras that they weren't able to put into the series. What I think I really would like would be to have a chance to talk to Morgan Freeman,  himself. Ha! Not very likely,  but nonetheless, this is a series I can watch again and a direction of study that I would like  would like to follow.  I think it might be a comparative religions course.

Monday, February 01, 2016

God of Backed Up Drains

Today I have been reminded of Matthew, chapter six

It has been my experience that whenever we worry or fret about something, something will come of it... and it's usually not pleasant at the start. When our fretting is due to impatience,  we seem to encounter all sorts of situations that make us impatient. When we worry about money,  we encounter expenses.

My dear husband worries way too much about our finances. Now we are finding out how expensive a backed up drain can be. I am stressed by the circumstances of so much water where it doesn't belong,  but I'm also very greatful that my sewing studio was unaffected, and that only a tiny portion of the art studio got wet. Personally,  I rarely ever worry about money. I just know that I will be taken care of one way or another.  Especially when I do my part and simply trust.

I'm sure that there are a lot of people who don't see any connection between a backed up drain and worrying about money.  I agree that the latter is not the cause of the former. Things do happen. Nevertheless,  there is a connection. Whatever happens to us is an experience from which we can learn.  Too often we don't. That's usually because we don't make the connections.

Deep down,  most of us know our own weaknesses.  At some point in our lives,  we realize we need to work on one of them. The problem with worrying is not the expenses.  It's what worrying does to us. So the lesson here is not 'stop worrying and expensive problems won't happen.' The lesson is 'things are going to happen,  some of them expensive,  and life will be much easier if we simply do our part (in this case,  save, and invest and spend responsibly), not worry about the rest and trust God.' It's not easy to learn,  and I can't say I never worry about anything, but in those times I have leared and applied it,  life REALLY IS easier. The struggles don't go away, but somehow they aren't as bad. I can handle them.

For me,  the backed up drain has been a reminder of all this. I hope it helps my husband to stop worrying so much.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Necessary comment limitations

Due to an excessive number of comments that were totally inappropriate, I will no longer accept anonymous comments and am also implementing the word verification for comments. I am happy to have anyone read this blog, but I am not interested in nor care to be an advertisement for sex, drugs and I don't know what else.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Loving God

Although I claim to be a fundamentalist, I'm not always sure any more. I suspect many fundamentalists would not consider me one. I do have some very strong fundamental beliefs, but I am more open to consider other religions than other fundamentalists I know. For example, I know Jesus is the only way to God for me, but I wonder if it is Jesus or what he embodied? Is there a difference? I can't say definitely that he is the only way for everyone else. That is between God and the individual. This doesn't negate my trust in him, nor my need to tell others about him. Jesus said "go into world and preach the good news to all creation," but he also said "Do not judge, or you too will be judged." Paul said to [m]ake every effort to live in peace with all men. He didn't say all Christians, so I take it to mean people of all religions. To live in peace doesn't mean we have to believe what others believe, just not to harass them. (Even if he had said 'other Christians,' we haven't done very well with this one.)

I tend to think that most, if not all, religions take a particular element, or group of elements, to an extreme. From the little I have learned about several of them, the basics are all the same. Probably 99% teach a variation of the golden rule. Jesus was the living example of the golden rule in an active sense. Perhaps others teach a more passive version - not necessarily to go out of our way to do for someone, but to make a point of not doing anyone any harm. If we're going to take one element, this seems to be a good one. It makes sense to me, too.

The Bible teaches that God made man (male and female) in
"his own image." It only makes sense to me that we honor God by treating his reflections on earth decently. After all, what other form of God will we ever see? We often teach our children that how we treat "A" is a true indication of how we'll treat "B" because we have seen the connections. It's no different in the God/people connection. That's why we have the golden rule. That's why Jesus told John "If you love me, feed my sheep." We express our love for God by showing it to others. (Matthew 25:40) When asked the greatest commandment (Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.) Jesus also gave us the second (Love your neighbor as yourself.) and said all the law hangs on these two. (Matthew 22:34-40)

What people often (usually, it seems) forget is that love is an action verb. It is not simply a feeling. Loving God, just as loving our spouse, or children, or friends, requires us to show it in our actions. It can be as simple as feeding someone or giving them a drink of water. Jesus pointed out that doing this only for those close to us (family, friends), while still good, is very limited. Reaching out to those beyond our circle is more meaningful. Giving a glass of water to someone who is pretty much the antithesis of what we consider "right," because we do it for a love for God, shows Him that love... not to mention the person to whom we are giving the water.

To me, any religion that expresses this loving connection for God and man has the basic element necessary to be a true faith. Those religions that have lost this and put other, sometimes more trivial things first, are missing the most basic element. If I can't give someone a drink of water because they wear the wrong clothes, listen to the wrong music,
even have different priorities, or call God by a different name, I've forgotten one of the most important lessons Jesus taught. If they say "My God is the only God" or even "My way to God is the only way," I have a problem with it. In the first place, there is only one God and, even though in polytheistic religions one may be worshiping a lesser "god," ultimately we all worship the same God. And to claim that anyone has it 100% right... well, I believe we can say it for ourselves, but I'm not sure how much we can say it for others.

If we do good things for others, but only as a means to "convert" them, we are missing the point, as well. It is true that when we show kindnesses, we help to create an environment that will open others' ears to our discussions of our beliefs. The problem is that, if we do them for this purpose,
we are not doing it for love for God or man. If we are truly doing something out of love, God will use the opportunity. It's not up to us. To me, and I suppose this is a personal view, it's better to give the water with the attitude of "God, I don't like this person, but I'm doing it because I love you" than "I'll give this person the water so he'll listen and I can convert him and then I can like him." I'm happy to say that I've encountered some of the former, but, unfortunately many of the latter, as well. In my experience, God provides the love for others when we do things for Him.

Loving God is expressed by loving others. It doesn't mean we have to agree with them. You don't have to like what they do or how they believe. Simply treat them as you'd like to be treated. It's all really easy. Once you've committed yourself to it, God will give you the grace to follow through.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

A Dreams, A Vision and Worship

I've been driving to Portland most of the past week, working on some shelving projects for my son. I have been tired and today I slept late, getting about eleven house sleep. When I'm well rested, I dream. Well rested dreams are often good stories or messages to myself. Today was no exception.

I only remembered the end of the dream when I woke. In the dream a man was on stage singing. I was with someone, though I don't know who, now. There was something about being there to learn to sing as he was, but I'm totally in the dark about what that was about in the dream. In the dream the singer was Willie Nelson, but that was not him. It was someone younger and with a clear voice. I'm not sure why I named him as Willie Nelson unless that was just the first name that came to my dreaming mind.

Anyway, he was singing and came to the chorus "and I did it all for you." My friend and I were following him as he walked along the stage. (We weren't on the stage, but were following right along the front of the stage as he walked out the projected part of the stage.) As he got to that line, a large picture of Jesus rose up before him, covering him from the chin down. I remember feeling a thrill at connecting his words to that picture.

It sounds like he was singing from Jesus' point of view, but that wasn't it at all. I woke up at that point and I knew what it meant. That's only one line from the song. I've been working on trying to put lyrics together that express the full meaning. So far, all I have are the leading lines of the chorus, which change from verse to verse, although the rest of the chorus is the same. Those lines are 1) I did it all for me, 2) He did it all for me, 3) I did it all for Him and 4) I did it all for you.

I don't know yet if I have the skill to write the whole thing. I'm certainly working on it. Right after I woke, I thought of MC Psalmist, but I don't know if it's a rap song or something else. Maybe it'll just be a poem. Maybe my son will create some music for it. (I, the dreamer, actually heard no music in the dream even though "Willie" was singing.)

What struck me is the progression of those four lines. I believe this is the true order of a believer's life. We do things for ourselves. We see what God through Christ did for us. We are thankful and do things to please Him. Finally we realize the meaning of the Golden Rule and do thing for others.

This falls in line with a "vision" I had. Maybe "vision" is the wrong word. "Message from God" or "Revelation" sound too pompous and make me a possible candidate for the looney bin in the eyes of many. Perhaps "Vision" does too, but I'm not sure how to label it. Neither is it exactly an "answer" to a prayer, though it was through prayer that it was shown to me. Shown in the meanig of making me to see, to understand.

I have been concerned about not attending church. For a very long time I rarely missed and since about 2000 or 2001 I have not attended. Originally my reasons were based on how I felt physically. At that time I was always exhausted. I've come to realize since, that, at least some of that exhaustion was being depressed. But during that time I also came to see the fundamentalist churches a little more clearly. I see too much blind faith and I was born again out of seeing, not blind faith. Many, most of the believers I have known in these churches are wonderful true believers, but somehow, the fundamentalist church as a whole has become essentially pharisaical. The "silent majority" is still silent! I think most of these pharisees are still looking for that which they thought they'd found. It comes down to "religion," rather than people, being important. (And this is not to say that these people are not really Christian. Anyone can get lost along the way. God will bring his true followers around as He sees fit.)

My concern has been that I know I'm no better than any of those whose religiosity frustrates me. I fall short of the ideals I aspire to. I see myself closer to the woman I once imagined I would become, but further away from it in many respects. So I was frustrated at how to worship. How can I return to a church I feel so often has blinders on? How can I attend a church that ignores some of the fundamentals I believe are important? Where do I go? How do I worship.

It was with astounding clarity that the answer came to me. "Worship with your life." I know this is a true answer for several reasons. The first was the clarity of it as a command. Then, my gut reaction was a whimpering "No." I don't want to do that because it is not easy. It is uncomfortable. My life is 24/7, not Sunday morning, or even Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night and special occasiona. It's also biblical. My holey (not holy) brain can't recall the exact chapter and verse, but I know it's in the Bible to live our lives in such a way as to let people know we are believers, in such a way as to reflect the true God in His mercy.

Besides those reasons, it won't go away! It pops into my mind in all sorts of places and situations. I believe that is what the dream was about. Not so much for me to write the lyrics of the dream song, but to comprehend the message they convey.

That final lines of the song expresses the golden rule.
It says I care enough about you to give you what I want for myself. It also reflects the tale of the Good Samaritan. Leviticus 19:18 tells us to love our neighbor. It is the scripture that the golden rule is based on. Jesus' expression of it points out that loving is doing, not a feeling or merely politeness.

It isn't easy. I'm somewhat of a hermit by nature. When I am around people, I tend to be shy and quiet. I still need to learn what to do and how to do it in terms of worshipping God by loving and doing for others. Sometimes it's obvious. Sometimes it's obvious, but... (ie.: is it safe to give that person a lift?) Sometimes I haven't a clue even if I sense I should do something. I still have a lot to learn to become the woman I want to be.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Some Connections

Originally posted at Tapestry on Aug.26, '07.

My own confusion apparently came through on my previous post. Comments I received all show a different understanding of what I meant. Or, perhaps I should say, different facets of understanding. As I say, I had, and still have, confusion about what I mean. I'm certain only that there is something important here. Perhaps only for me, perhaps for anyone else who will hear. It's something I'm on the verge of grasping, but haven't yet gotten a firm grip.

What follows may or may not be illuminating to me or my readers. I'm writing as I think, thinking as I write.

The element of connections was the start of it. I chose this word because what happened made me think of the television show called Connections wherein James Burke would take a modern concept/technology and say it was caused by a seemingly random, unrelated fact from back in history. Then starting with the historical fact he would lead the viewer through time and show how they were indeed connected.

I took an on-line quiz. I do these things for fun. I don't think such things are able to accurately determine anything about a person, although some of them do try to use valid research and psychological understanding. If I really wanted to know more about myself, serious introspection would prove more useful. The values of these quizzes is the entertainment. It's fun to see how close to my view of myself they come. Sometimes they make me think as well as laugh. Like this time.

When I got the results of this quiz, several things hit me all at once. Well, not quite "hit" and not quite "all at once." It was more like I read the results => I read something related => that reminded me of A => which reminded me of B, etc. These things happened over my lifetime and it is only now that I'm seeing any connections among them. They aren't quite a disparate as Burke's various facts, but the idea is the same... Because of A, B happened and that led to C... up to the present. (It's a lot easier to see how A led to Z than how A1 led to Z37.)

A) Sometime between the ages of 8 and 18 I developed an image of who I wanted to be at age 40. I don't think there was any specific impetus for this. I generally admired wise, calm serene women and that's what I wanted to be. I don't recall ever doing anything to become this person. I merely decided that is who I would be. I'm sure I thought about it now and then, but it was never front and center of my consciousness.

B) About the age of 12 I read an article (in Guideposts, I believe) stating that we are all the children of God and we should not forget it. I took it to heart and decided I would always remember that I was indeed a child of God. I don't know if this is because of A or not. The what had much more impact on my memory than the why.

C) Just shy of age 19 I became a "born-again" Christian. Of course, other things in my life at the time influenced my decision as well, but already believing I was a child of God was very motivating.

D) I spent the next 30 years in Fundamental Christianity. The best thing I got out of it was some good Bible study. (Though I'm hardly an advanced Bible scholar, I am a Bible student.) Although I know the subject of faith cannot be proven (by definition) I don't accept things about my faith blindly. I don't question everything at once and I don't question for the sake of questioning. I want to understand all that I am capable of understanding. An awful lot of people of any religious persuasion take whatever they're taught without thinking about it. I honestly don't understand this. So, through these years when the church I was attending could not satisfactorily explain something, I learned to keep my own counsel. For me, the true fundamentals of Christianity are summed up in Romans 10:9-10 "9That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved." (NIV) Anything else has room for disagreement. Most Fundamentalists don't agree with me on this, but they don't always agree with each other, either. I've seen either 5, 7 or 12 "fundamentals" that must be adhered to to be a Fundamentalist. That's OK. Nonetheless, most of the people I met in church through the years were very nice people. Very few fit the rabid "Fundamentalist" stereotype.

E) As I approached age 50 I did not see that I had become the woman I had wanted to become. I was a bit disappointed in myself, but simply kept it as my goal, believing that I was headed in that direction. (I even wrote a humorous poem about it in 2003 or 2004.) 2004 was a year of extreme stress for me, but at the end of that year (or early 2005) my son told me how much he depended on my serenity and calmness!! Evidently I'd moved closer to my goal than I'd realized.

F) My sister took me to a "Get Over Yourself" seminar. I didn't feel like I'd learned much new, but I appreciated how it brought it all together. I developed my life vision at this seminar: I see a world where all people accept each other as friends and neighbors and celebrate each person's uniqueness as a vital part of everyone's life, like threads in a tapestry.

G) My son was misdiagnosed as having ADD in 2004. In our efforts to learn more about it, it seemed more and more that it described my problem with focus and organization. In 2006 I saw the (only local) psychiatrist who treats ADD patients. He agreed that I have ADD, but his approach is quite different from any I'd read. I get frustrated that every year I set goals to become organized and every year I'm about as disorganized as ever (2004 and 2005 were among the worst organization years). I'd never had a goal in life other than that image that I never really saw as a goal. I never have figured out what I want to be when I grow up. I simply went with the flow of life. At first, all I could think of was a 2 year old because he asked "Why?" to every thing I said. Why do I get frustrated? Why do I need a goal? Why do I need to accomplish something (since having ADD doesn't actually compromise my functionality)? (There were many more whys I don't specifically remember now.) Then he said something very profound. The only important goal anyone need accomplish is learning to love. And we must first learn to love ourselves in order to learn to love others. Now, I've heard this a thousand times just like everyone else has. I went home thinking that that was not what I expected a psychiatric visit would be like. But I kept replaying our conversation in my head and at some point and (((ring))) it resonated and I made a connection. Developing serenity, being a child of God, the Bible study, the life vision, these are all part of that process of learning to love myself and others.

H) In April 2007, I shared with the psychiatrist a transcript of a conversation I had with someone going through a crisis. His comment to me was that I was remarkably calm and therefore a good influence and help to this other person. I am still getting closer to my vision of who/what I want to be. It's one thing for a family member to say this, but for a trained professional to say it in the context it was in... can we say ego boost? :-) (And I don't mean that in the big headed ego sort of way.)

I) The quiz. I got a 100% on the positive quality of Peace! It's just an on-line quiz. It isn't accurate. I know myself well enough to say that. But still it's not 100% wrong either. It got me thinking. What is serenity but the "peace that passes understanding?" And I am a peace maker. I instinctively try to bring people together, to bring them to a calmness with each other despite differences. That made me look up the beatitude about being a peacemaker. "Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God." Matthew 5:8-10 There you go! I didn't make it to Z, but I've come full circle. I am a child of God!

Then came the conversation with my brother. He considers himself a christian, with a small "c" because he's pretty unorthodox in many ways. He believes that Jesus died for our sins, but questions his divinity. He loves the Catholic Church in one sense, but thinks they really need to get with it and realize that the message needs to fit the age. He was confronted by the devil many years ago and chose God. (:-) Is there ever a more appropriate time to say "Hell, no!") What has been bothering him, what we were talking about (among other things theophilosophical) was the question of prayers. Why, when surely more people want and pray for it than not, do we not have world peace? Why are children starving to death every day? Why are poor children in Argentina (I think I have the right country) being killed merely because they are a nuisance to those who have the money to help them? Of course, we didn't get all the answers, but the main thing to come out were:

Matthew 25:39-40 (KJV)

39Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
40And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

and John 15:10-12 (NIV)

10If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love.
11I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.
12My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.

And he ended with the questions "What are we to do to bring world peace?" "What are we to do to save the starving children in the world?" "What are we to do to stop the killing in Argentina and help those children?" Unspoken was "What are we to do to about all the other problems in the world that the people, ordinary followers of Jesus can do?"

This is all part and parcel of the foregoing. The feeling of resistance is because doing something often means sacrifice and that's something we all resist (even Jesus asked the cup be taken away, though he had a much better reason since I don't think I'm going to be asked to give my life).

Also tied to this somehow, I think, is three nights of very restless sleep with dreams of death, and then waking up to an awareness of God's love. Death in a dream needn't mean an actual death, but the end of something. I don't think I'm having any premonitions. (I certainly hope not!) This does not mean, as I was asked, a change in my beliefs, but it may mean a new understanding. Romans 10:9-10 still holds true for me. I don't know what, specifically this change will be, if it is, indeed, related.

______
The mix of Bible versions is because I learned quotes from different versions at different times, and when I look them up, I find them using the words I remember.