Grow Accustomed …

Reading through some notes from what I think was a Franciscan retreat many years ago I came across this. Enjoy!

One retreat handout was entitled God – With – Us Paraphrase by Leslie F. Brandt Psalm 139

O God, You know me inside and out,
	through and through.
Everything I do.
	every thought that flits through my mind,
	every step I take
	every plan I make,
	every word I speak,
You know, even before these things happen.

You know my past:
	You know my future.
Your circumventing presence covers my every move.
Your knowledge of me sometimes comforts me,
	sometimes frightens me;
but always it is far beyond my comprehension.

There is no way to escape you, no place to hide.
If I ascend to the heights of joy,
	You are there before me.
If I plunge into the depths of despair,
	You are there to meet me.
I could fly to the other side of the world
	and find You there to lead there to lead the way.
I could walk into the darkest of nights,
	only to find You there
	to lighten its dismal hours.

You were present at my very conception.
You guided the molding of my unformed members
	within the body of my mother.
Nothing about me, from beginning to end,
	was hid from Your eyes.
How frightfully, fantastically wonderful it all is!

May Your all-knowing, everywhere-present Spirit
	continue to search out my feelings and thoughts.
Deliver me
	from that which may hurt or destroy me,
and guide me along the paths of love and truth.

Looking up Leslie F. Brandt online just now, this was likely taken from a book called Psalms Now.

On the back of my paper I wrote “Grow accustomed to encountering the hidden Christ …” and then:

“I am a holy God and Lord of the Broken Things. My greatest victory was through My broken body and spent life. I use imperfect beings perfectly. My love covers, cleanses, fills, renews.” Have no idea if someone spoke this at the retreat or I heard it in my spirit.

“I too shed tears. My tears were not some painless spiritual symbol, but pain-filled, aware feeling tears. And they were born out of my hurt and disappointment, anguish and anger at how things COULD have been. I know tears. And I feel and am aware of yours.” Again, I have no idea if someone spoke this at the retreat or I heard it in my spirit.

“This mornings flood has left fresh ponds where dust was before. On contemplation this puddle is teeming with life. Worms with feathered heads writhe out a dance of life. Bugs I always associated with DIRT scurry along unhindered underwater. Oh voice of many waters, make me this adaptable and joyous I pray.” Fairly certain I wrote this one!

Reading and typing these things out makes me aware how I SO need a spiritual retreat! When I go on retreat I make an effort to still the chatter in my soul, listen for His still small voice, wait for the King of Glory. If nothing else, I am refreshed from stilling that chatter. Usually I am refreshed by the Presence of the Lord in ways I could not create on my own.

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;

    I will be exalted among the nations,

    I will be exalted in the earth.”

ISA 46:10

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord

Acts 3:19

Then the Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.

1 Kings 19:11-12

“Life Sayings?”

This seemed to show up for a few folks. I am sending it again for those who did not receive it. Hope it strengthens your faith.

When I used to mingle with some folks they would speak of their life verses from the Bible. I have those, but what I want to examine here are sayings or sentences that have influenced my faith life over the years.

How often I am walking outdoors and a feather comes on the breeze. At times it is from a bird on the roof or in a tree. Most times I cannot locate the source of the feather. Can you imagine yourself as that feather?

“‘Held by God … like a feather which has no weight from its own strength and lets itself be carried by the wind” – so wrote the medieval mystic, Hildegard of Bingen. Her image of a feather lightly floating on the wind is more than spiritual poetry; it gives us a way to live. Being like a feather on the wind is particularly necessary in these difficult days that teeter-totter two millennia.”

-Unknown

This one came from my struggles to obey the Lord my God regardless of circumstances.

Constant peaceful yielded joyful obedience to the Almighty.

I have made alphabet-beaded bracelets in so many forms to remind me of this. In the Old Testament the believers were told to take the commandments of God and “Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:8-9 So I have worn them, recited them, shared a few with friends, lost a few bracelets and made a few more. Recently I shipped most of my collection to my friends in Nepal.

One year tired of hearing myself complain about chronic pain I wrote the following and posted it on the bathroom mirror.

I have determined that this day, each time I am drawn up short by pain, I will praise You for I love You better than life – even better than quality of life.”

I so needed to type these out this week, especially about being drawn up short by pain and what reaction I will choose. Chronic pain never takes a vacation, but God is ever-present and loves me. When I was first diagnosed I heard Him say, “I will be with you in this.” What could be better than to have the Lord with you?

Endurance

You know, we thought the pandemic was hard. Trying to keep a positive mind and overall positive attitude. Then the unexpected snow accumulation came totaling 9 inches and then a day or so later another 3 inches. Unlike most snows over the years in Cincinnati, it has not all melted yet. Now we have a fresh 2 inches while we wait for the forecast 8-12 inches more this afternoon. The Pandemic is still here and variants are beginning to overtake the USA. People were celebrating Valentine’s Day in bars and restaurants as if nothing was going on. (We saw on TV.)

I read and heard a few quotes in the last 36 hours that are helping me a bit.

“The days you keep your gratitude higher than your expectations are fine, fine days.”

Ray Wylie Hubbard on Austin City Limits

“You’ve got to remember: you must have a forward-thinking, positive outlook at all times.”

Eastbound from Flagstaff by Annette Valentine

Those are easier written than lived! Gratitude that we have snow but also an “electric broom”, snow shovel and blower. Gratitude that the snow plow came down our street plowing and salting the surface twice so far today. Gratitude that the dog does not need to be walked MORE.

Forward thinking, positive outlook. That is difficult when all construction on the new house has totally stopped due to weather. Maybe they can begin again next week if the thaw forecast for next weekend actually occurs! We positively have not put this home on the market yet. If we change our minds it will be the most clean this building has been since we moved in, I think! Forward thinking? Well, Bob continues to want to arrange the furniture in the new building though we do not have a move-in date for certain yet. Someone is to come this week and give us an estimate on packing and moving. The realtor is to come also and give us advice about showing the property. I do wonder if either of those appointments will be kept though!

I won’t even elaborate on the futility of trying to get a Covid-19 injection appointment. Our names are on a list with the Board of Health. Hopefully they will call sometime soon?

The neighbor who helped clean part of our driveway loved the chocolate frosted walnut brownies I shared. Wonder if I should make more of those or the chocolate layer cake they loved once? I am certain when the wave of snow today arrives he will help once more.

How does your gratitude fare in the balance with your expectations? Is your forward thinking suffering with the weather and pandemic or are you staying mostly positive at all times? As we struggle on to be our best selves, may the Lord give us wisdom and strength for the journey!

A wise warrior is better than a strong one,
and a man of knowledge than one of strength;
 for you should wage war with sound guidance—
victory comes with many counselors.”

Proverbs 24:5-6

Molly the Jumping Bean

When you were a kid did your parents let you order the Sea Monkeys advertised in almost every comic book of that era? Not mine. I might have had an ant farm once, unless that was my children? Can’t rightly remember. I did however have jumping beans. No idea where I got them, but they did jump. The ones that did not jump the kids in the neighborhood called duds. Now when I look up jumping beans on the internet they seem rather nasty and are not beans at all! Wikipedia, the know-it-all of earth, says Mexican Jumping beans are seed pods inhabited by the larva of a small moth. (Had she known, that would have made my mom say a resounding, “No!”)

Here is an entertaining two minute twenty-two second video coupling a Rube Goldberg set-up with time lapse photography and basic bean information.

This morning I woke up with agitation. I told Bob that packing and moving was a nice distraction from the pandemic, but now what? I was agitated and bored with all of this isolation and waiting to see who gets ill next. (My daughter has Covid for the second time and her entire family is infected.) The recent horror of politics is over for a few years, now what?

I had difficulty concentrating during my morning prayer time. I told the Lord “I am tired of doing this.” Almost immediately I realized this IS my life right now. So I need to make the most of this freezing rain, isolation, between was and is to be – this present moment is when my life is. Here. Now.

I have been using a new-to-me app called Calm. They provide meditations, music, ten minutes of relaxation (new daily) and BEDTIME STORIES. The stories are great and I rarely hear the end of a story! Recently I copied this quote from Calm: “The beginning is always this present moment.”

When I first read that I had to tell myself to soak that in. Live that out. The beginning is always this present moment. Quiet that jumping bean-like behavior. Be still in the shade of God’s Glory. Rest. “Oh Molly, be still. Rest, absorb, receive.”

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

Psalm 91:1 NIV

In a little while I began writing this blog again. Thank you to all of you who follow these ramblings! I am always amazed when Word Press shows me how many folks are following and where they are all over the world. I realize I am not the only one bored with the whole Pandemic and isolation situation. Praying perhaps what I write helps you to smile and occasionally to calm down.

The beginning is always this present moment.

Author unknown

Organizing

While paring down I have also been organizing words I have saved over the years. I found a card to “Dear Mom” that I thought my son had made for me. Surprise! I had made it for my mother, likely 1958 or so. Besides my personal words, I have once again come across my collection of quotes and retreat notes that have had meaning to me. I am thinking they might touch your heart and soul, too? So periodically, I will post these for your perusal. So many of these are quotes whose author I do not have a name for – in which case I will note that fact.

In the book God Calling on May 13 it reads “What joy follows self-conquest! You cannot conquer and control others … but through God’s power you can conquer yourself.” One class I took emphasized that through obedience, at the end of the day you feel noble. Obedience to God builds self-esteem.

As the adult child of an alcoholic, after studying codependency I learned this stark lesson: We have no control over others. Children of alcoholics believe events are their fault. “If only I am good enough this will not happen.” If my grades are good enough, if I am quiet enough, and on and on with every faulty thinking pattern you can imagine. It is a hard thing for those of us who grew up this way to realize we had nothing to do with the situation. And it is also a hard belief system to UN-learn. It can lead to entrenched codependency that transfers to every person around, not just the parent where the behavior was learned.

Francis of Assisi referred to his body (i.e., himself) as brother ass. He was always trying to train that animal. He is quoted as saying, “Above all the graces and gifts of the Holy Spirit which Christ gives to His friends is that of CONQUERING oneself and willingly enduring suffering, insults, humiliations and hardship for the love of Christ.”

In the Revised Standard version of 1 Corinthians 9:27 Paul wrote that he pummeled his body and subdued it.

Instead, I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified.

1 Corinthians 9:27 (HCSB)

Thoughts, words, habits, deeds – all of me needs discipline and I can only hope to train myself through the help of the Holy Spirit. I am the only person I can hope to control, and only with God’s help.

Come, Holy Spirit. Have Your way in and through me. Amen.