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Showing posts from 2012

What a Difference a Year Makes!

New Year’s Eve is a perfect time to reflect on what the past year has taught, challenged, inspired, and changed you forever.  Examen has long been a spiritual tool of the church.  It is so easy to simply live out a year without learning from the year.  Although God is so infinite I imagine He could pack 1,000 lessons into every twenty-four hour day, it is important for us to learn at least one or two.
 What difference did this year make in your life?  Today is a perfect time to do a one year Examen.  Think about the past twelve months and consider what was the most important lesson or experience you received in each month.  List them and consider how you will bring all the lessons of the last year into the New Year.
 Last January, I led a quiet retreat for women to do just this.  We started the year together listening for God to lead us to ways that we could draw closer to Him in the coming year.  It was a great spiritual exercise.  It helped prepare me for the year I had ahead of m…
Jane Sadek knows the world of blogs much better than I do.  I was honored that she nominated Soulsistertime for a lovely blog award. I found out about this nomination by looking at her blog
Thank you Jane of http://traveltalk.wordpress.com/ for nominating my old blog, Soulsistertime, for the One Lovely Blog Award.
The rules of this award are
Thank the person who nominated me and link back to her.Share 7 unknown things about me.Nominate 15 other bloggers for this award. Seven things you probably didn’t know about me.
I am not all that quiet, in fact my kids would say I'm bossy.I do not like to read fiction unless it gives strong insights into personalities.I have the gift of Stephen--I see what is wrong in the church--a gift and a curse.I have to remember to watch the news to keep up with what is going on in the world.Most people think I am much more holy than I really am!I am not technological or am good at blogging, etc. though I have had a website and blog before most people.I …

Peace on Earth

It’s Christmas Eve.The last week of Advent this year will last only two days.All four candles of the Advent Wreath burn brightly as the days before Christmas draw near.The Feast of the Nativity is celebrated on December 25 when the Christ candle (white center candle) is lit for just one day.
Peace is definitely what this earth needs most this Christmas.Americans have been crushed by the horrific tragedy that occurred in an elementary school this 2012 Advent season.On everyone’s hearts and minds we wonder, How will the loved ones of innocent children and teachers cope this Christmas?At the Newton, Connecticut, memorial , President Obama spoke these words of truth:
We know that much of our time will be spent groping through the darkness so often unable to discern God’s heavenly plans.There is only one thing we can be sure of and that is the love that we have for our children, for our families, for each other…A love that takes us out of ourselves and binds us to something larger.We know th…

Pink Candles

Who came up with the idea to add pink to Advent purple that already clashes with Christmas red and green?You can search for yourself on the internet and realize that there are many views on the origins, but it is somehow related to the Catholic church and a Pope receiving a pink rose from a parishioner that gave him great joy—the focus of the third Sunday in Advent.Whatever the reason, I prefer it when Advent Candles come with a pink one.This year I had to search high and low for a pink tapered candle, and the one I ended up with is much shorter and wider than my slender purple ones.
I do like what the pink candle represents to me though.It is the joy of this season.As I told you not all churches treat Advent as they do Lent and focus on repentance.Even if you are fasting and repenting in preparation for Christmas Day, you get to open your heart to joy on the third week of Advent as you light a pink candle.
Joy comes to all who open their hearts to hope and love.A sign that you are focu…

Radical Love at Christmas

It is heartwarming to see the overwhelming demonstration of love that brews during the Christmas season.News reporters focus on stories of the kindness of strangers and communities pulling together to make sure that no one goes without a Christmas gift in between the never ending accounts of crimes and catastrophes.

It’s deemed newsworthy that soldiers are reunited with their families on Christmas Eve.Food banks and homeless shelters are flooded with volunteers.Otherwise unconcerned citizens make efforts to smile and greet one another.Love fills the atmosphere at Christmas and brings joy to the season.
The radical love that produced Christmas is bittersweet.Christmas began because of the separation of Jesus Christ from His Father as He came to earth as a baby.I have never imagined what that separation felt like more than this Christmas when I am separated by heaven and earth from my beloved husband.Our separation is my hope.I know that heavenly living is what I was created for, and I lo…

The Season of Advent

Traditionally, the season of Advent has been a time of penitence in preparation to celebrate the Feast of the Nativity. This is why the church color for the season is purple even though it clashes with the red and green we typically associate with Christmas.Purple signifies the season of repentance.The Feast of the Nativity on December 25 marked the beginning of Feasting and celebrating.The Feast went on for the 12 days between December 25 and the Epiphany on January 6.
Through the years the traditions have been altered in different ways by our culture.In the Greek Orthodox Church, for example, the period of fasting in preparation for the Feast of the Nativity begins in November yet they do not wear purple at all during Christmas because they consider their fast as preparation not penitence as in Lent.It is a hard to keep a fast in America anyway when our celebration of Thanksgiving is totally focused on food.Different churches made alterations on these traditions to help the people ke…

Who Speaks to Your Soul?

It is important to monitor who speaks to your soul.It will make a huge difference in life and even more in death.You don’t want to be a fool when it comes to supervising your soul.
The thoughts of a rich man found in Luke 12:19-20 reveal why such scrutiny of soul thoughts is necessary.And I’ll say to myself, You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.But God said to him, You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?

I imagine that this foolish man did not even realize that he was speaking to his soul.He was so focused on the earthly realm that he did not even consider that he has an eternal soul, and the things that concern him on the earth are minor in comparison to the things that concern his soul.Sure, it is nice and important to have plenty of food; that is a necessity of living on this earth.But this man had way more food than he could possibly eat. Rather than find…

The Thin Line

Two years ago I sensed God calling me to take special notice of sunrises and sunsets.I had always enjoyed their beauty and had many memorable sunsets or sunrises, especially when traveling and I had time to focus on the beginning or ending of each day.
I will never be able to forget the sunset I saw from the rooftop of my hotel in Rome.I was all alone because my family was tired after a long day of touring and decided to take a nap before dinner.I was in Rome!I could not sleep so I ventured up to the roof.What was so amazing about this sunset was that earlier in the day I had seen the Sistine Chapel, but that masterpiece could not compare to the sights and sounds of the masterpiece in the sky.I loved sharing sunrises and sunsets with my husband in magical places like Hawaii and even at home in Dallas.Two years ago during Lent, God called me to catch as many sunrises and sunsets as I was able.I learned a lot during that time.I learned that God does not always give us a glorious sunrise …

Wanting God

If God wants what is best for me, then why do I have a hard time wanting it too?Our minds have definitely been damaged by the fall.Even though I know better than to want what I want, I can’t stop myself.I find it difficult to transform my mind from wanting what I want into wanting what God wants.
Wanting God isn’t easy.It’s only the seasoned saints who truly breaks through to fully wanting God more than their selfish desires.They don’t want God on their own.They need help just like I do.To want God is to want His will. In the Christmas story the Virgin Mary seemed so prepared to do God’s will, more than Zachariah.Eventually they both wanted God’s best; it just took a few months of speechlessness for Zachariah to come around.This means there is hope for me.
The main reason that it is so hard to want what God wants is because God’s wants are so much higher than my wants. I want the easy way.I want the instant way.God has better plans than I do.St. Bernard of Clairvaux explains it this way…

God’s Grief

God’s love is unimaginable.The depths to which He will go to bring those He loves into relationship with Himself are awe inspiring.My own personal experience of being separated from my husband through death has brought richer meaning to God’s love for me.

As you can imagine, it is not easy to learn to live in the absence of someone who has been a constant strength for almost three decades.All my siblings and I have long-term marriages.I have noticed in each of us that we have taken on the characteristics of our spouses through the years.For instance, I became more generous through living with Brian, and he became more willing to plan and save for the future through being married to me.Decades of marriage merges minds as well as bodies and souls, thus your whole being aches when these unions are separated through death or divorce.I have also observed in other widows that the longer you live with a soul mate (I had a mere 27 and a half years) the more agony you feel in separation.
I can …

The End of the Story

I need to keep reminding myself that I know the end of the story.When you read the Bible the beginning starts out so amazingly and it quickly goes downhill.By the sixth chapter, God has to flood the entire universe.The all-time low is when God is crucified and is laid in the grave.That was literally and figuratively hitting rock bottom.
You’ve got to read all the way until the end to know the end of the story.If you read it from beginning to end, you will see Revelation as the ultimate in God’s love poured out over the entire universe.
I have to admit that it took me a while to read Revelation that way.In fact, though I have been reading the Bible from beginning to end since I was 16, I never read Revelation until I was in my late thirties.Frankly, it scared me.I didn’t want to know the end of the story.I worked on digesting the rest of the Bible.
Before the year 2000, a friend was teaching Precepts three-year study of Revelation. I decided if Y2K was bringing on what was written in Rev…

Time

Time can feel like an eternity depending on the circumstances in which you find yourself.When engaging in a meaningful conversation, you may lose track of time; but managing each second of intensifying pain while waiting on your dental appointment can feel like an eternity.
The time between birthdays as a child can seem like forever; yet those same 365 days seem to fly by in a flash after adulthood sets in.Today is my mother-in-law’s eightieth birthday. The Bible teaches us to think of time as short.Psalm 90:12 says Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.A heart of wisdom will say there is just enough time for me to fulfill the ministry that God put me on this earth to do.Wisdom is knowing that God has given me only enough time to do what He planned for me to do.He won't waste a minute of my life, but how many minutes do I waste not focusing on what this life is really about?
Working through the grief of losing someone you love can cause tim…

Giving Up My Faith

Sometimes you need to give up your faith to get faith.What I don’t need is the kind of faith that is committed to what I believe is the right way for things to go.I must constantly guard my heart, mind and spirit from clinging to my own rendition of faith.For faith to be real, it has to be given by the Spirit of God, and not based on my own understanding.Faith is sure of what is unseen.
I can’t move forward in faith until I recognize that I carry unexamined expectations of where the road of faith will lead me.My childish beliefs about faith must be laid aside if I am to grow in true faith.Since God is always for me, my faith might cause me to believe that everything will work out well for me and therefore not so good for those who come against me.When the opposite happens, my expectations reveal that I have faith in my plan—not true faith.I will never grow to true faith as long as I cling to childish faith, unexamined and unquestioned regarding the harsh realities of this world.
Hebrews…

Hey Jude

Sometimes we find ourselves at an impasse in a relationship with another human being.It can even be a relationship with someone who claims to be a Christian.We expect more of people who call themselves followers of Christ.When you happen to find yourself befuddled by the actions of another, think about how Jesus treated Judas.You can learn a great deal from how Jesus responded to the ultimate betrayer of all time.
Henri Nouwen said, Without deep roots we easily let others determine who we are.But as we cling to our popularity, we may lose our true sense of self.Jesus dealt with Judas in the opposite manner of our natural human inclinations when we become aware that we are being wronged by another person.Judas Iscariot is known as the great betrayer.Though the Beatle’s song might play in your head, your heart probably resists empathy when you hear the name Judas.So deceptive and hidden was his betrayal that he did it with a kiss.Jesus demonstrated compassion and acceptance of who Judas …

One Dimensional Jesus

Being a Christian is more than making a decision to accept Jesus as your Savior.Being a Christian is a decision to be conformed to the person of Jesus Christ.Jesus Himself explained how seeds of faith that are planted sometimes show signs of growth that don't last.In Matthew 13, Jesus tells the Parable of the Sower, stating that it is only the seed that is planted on the good soil that bears fruit. In many Christian circles today, we have developed a one-dimensional Jesus.Jesus is presented to an unbeliever as a good deal.It may sound too good to be true, but all you need to do is make a decision for Christ and you will be saved.We focus on a one-time decision and ignore the long and tedious process of opening your heart, mind and spirit every day in deeper ways so that you move toward actually becoming indistinguishable from Jesus as the result of that decision.Jesus is much more than a ticket to heaven.We actually dumb Jesus down when we don't live out the wonder o…

In Heavenly Places

In the short book of Ephesians heaven is mentioned nine times.J.I. Packer says that it is this phrase, which can also be translated in the heavenlies, that sets Ephesians apart from other letters of Paul.He defines what Paul was referring to in this phrase to mean the spiritual environment in which we live.This environment is, first of all, invisible (things that cannot be expected to be seen by vision) and, secondly, transformative (the effect of living out the promises of the Christian life).The Gospel which testified to the truth of God’s Work, Christ’s work and the work of the Holy Spirit is the power for the vitality of the transformation that takes place in our spiritual environment.
Paul describes the reality of the heavenly places and its effect on our spiritual lives in Ephesians 6:12. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the…