Expand, expand, expand…

Circles are everywhere.  Our lives are filled with both figurative and physical circles.  We see them in nature, we see them in actions and re-actions and we experience them physically around tables, in meetings, and during circle time as children.

We include people when we are willing to expand our circles, but we can just as easily exclude others by refusing to expand our circle for new arrivals.

My sister wrote a blog that I loved last year, Is it a pie or a triangle?.  The conversation we had regarding this blog stands out clearly in my mind as a moment in my life when I finally started to scratch the surface in my personal understanding of Jesus and what He did for me.

Ever since this conversation, I have thought of God as a large circle that we are all held within.  I then picture all of us as small circles within the God’s large circle.  Some of our circles are bigger and some of our circles are smaller and some of them overlap.  The bigger ones represent those who have accepted or included more people, and the smaller ones have accepted or included fewer people.

I don’t think heaven or paradise is possible without everyone and unfortunately we are the ones imposing limitations and building walls within God’s beautiful, all-inclusive circle by excluding others.

Pray for everyone, try to empathize with everyone…
Empathy will lead to forgiveness, and forgiveness will lead to love.

OUR best life doesn’t work unless everyone is included!

I pray and dream for OUR best life for everyone, everyday!  I hope you do too… together we can expand our circles!

Out of the mouth of babes…

Tonight as I was putting one of our girls to bed, I was praising her on how kind she had been to one of her sisters this evening and she said to me.

“You know Mom, when I am not good it is because God is letting me try to be good on my own, and when I am good it is because God is helping me to be good.”

I asked her where she learned this, and she told me, “I just feel it in my heart.”

WOW… this is something I have just recently started to understand and I still have a hard time remembering it everyday, and my daughter already knows it.

Thank You God for the three blessings in our life and all of the children throughout the world.  Please keep our hearts, eyes and ears open to their pure and perfect praise for You.

The first shall be last…

I have been thinking a lot about the following passage from the bible.

Mark 12:1-12
Jesus then began to speak to them in parables: “A man planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a pit for the winepress and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place. At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants to collect from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. But they seized him, beat him and sent him away empty-handed. Then he sent another servant to them; they struck this man on the head and treated him shamefully. He sent still another, and that one they killed. He sent many others; some of them they beat, others they killed.

“He had one left to send, a son, whom he loved. He sent him last of all, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’

“But the tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ So they took him and killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard.

“What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others. 10 Haven’t you read this passage of Scripture:

“‘The stone the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone;
11 the Lord has done this,
    and it is marvelous in our eyes’?”

12 Then the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders looked for a way to arrest him because they knew he had spoken the parable against them. But they were afraid of the crowd; so they left him and went away.

The first time I read this parable I didn’t get it, I skimmed over it and read on, but I just reread it yesterday and I finally understood it.

As many others have written and as I finally understood, in this parable Jesus is referencing God as the landowner, the Jewish leaders as the tenants, the prophets as the servants and then Himself, Jesus, as the landowners only son.

As I was thinking more about this today, I thought about all of the other spiritual beliefs and religions spread throughout the world.  I thought about how the core teaching of all of the major religions is the same as Jesus’ core teaching, The Golden Rule.

Do unto others as you would have done unto you.

Then I began to think about all of the other religions whose leaders could have also been considered tenants.  I thought about how these other religions have also had prophets come to share this message, The Golden Rule, and I started wondering what was the difference.

Did the leaders of these other religions, the tenants, actually listen to their prophets, the servants of the landowner, thus not requiring the landowner to send his only son?

If this is the case, then we have been quite lost for some time.  If this is the case, then we, the Christian children of our Jewish ancestors, appear to be among the last to follow God’s law and the one’s who required and took the most from God in order to listen and believe.  We wouldn’t take the word of His prophets/His servants, but required Him to sacrifice His only Son for us to finally listen and believe.

Thank you God for sacrificing Your only Son, Jesus, in order to bring us, Your chosen people, home.  Please help us to understand that You chose us not as a preference over our brothers and sisters throughout the world, but because You love us and refuse to abandon Your lost sheep even if it means sacrificing Your only Son.

Please help us to open our eyes and see that we may have been the lost sheep all along.

Please help us to open our eyes as we look on our brothers and sisters throughout this world and help us to see that there are so many who knew Your Son before you sent Him and so many who have loved You, lived by Your words, and attributed any goodness found within them back to You longer than we have.

Please help us to see that we might be among the last.

Dream a little dream with me…

Today I have been thinking about our sweet Jesus and all of the pain and suffering He will go through for me, for you, for all of us.  I am so sad.

I keep thinking of Simon the Cyrene helping Him to carry His cross and Veronica leaning in to wipe His face.  I want others to be there for Him, for our sweet Jesus, during His pain, during His agony.  I have so many friends who love Him so much.

I want to a dream a little dream today.  I want to dream that my sweet friends are there with Jesus.  I want to imagine all of you quietly standing up and taking up His cross so that Simon’s hands are free to carry our Lord.  I want to imagine you sprinkled through the crowd and quietly leaning in as He passes to wipe His face, kiss His wounds, and gently care for Him.

We cannot change what happened, it had to happen, the scriptures had to be fulfilled.   Maybe we can dream a little dream to ease His pain, ease His suffering, and send Him our timeless love.

Thank you my friends for helping me to find our sweet Jesus.  Please love Him today, please care for Him today, and I pray with all of my heart that you have the honor of being with Him today in our dreams.

 

Hold your head high!

When I was young I played tennis and I had a coach who once told me to be confident.  He said to hold my head high and walk a little slower when changing sides between games.  I always remembered this and since that conversation I have tried to do hold my head high, walk slow and have confidence in myself.

As I was running today I was thinking about how nice it is to hold your head high.  It gives you such a different perspective and view as you walk or run through life.

When you look down most of the time you see more of the man-made things, shoes, pants, streets, side walks, cars, tires.  When you hold your head high you can see more of what God has made, the eyes of others, flowers, birds, trees and even the sky in your peripheral vision.

I want to keep holding my head high, but I am going to try to change the reasoning behind it.  I don’t want to hold my head high anymore in confidence, pride, or superiority.

I want to hold my head high so that I can keep God in sight!

Jesus, thank you for the beautiful and natural things that fill our world and surround even our man-made things with your beauty.  Please help us to always keep You in our sight!

 

Lead from behind, but don’t forget to follow from in front!

I was running today and as I was running I was thinking about St. Patrick’s prayer

Christ be with me
Christ be before me 
Christ be behind me
Christ be within me

As I was thinking this, I thought about the miniature Jesus I used to imagine living in my heart when I was little and laughed at myself.   Then I imagined Jesus running in front of me and running behind me and thought to myself, what a beautiful circle that makes and isn’t it amazing that when Jesus is running behind me He wants me to follow Him!

I hear the saying and use the saying,  Lead from behind, a lot, but I don’t think I have ever heard someone say, Follow from in front.

I don’t think following from in front is easy, but I think it is extremely important.

Take a look at Jesus’ Warriors of Love, women in abusive relationships.  They are not considered leaders according to our man-made criteria, but we should see them as leaders in how to love others recklessly, how to love others as Jesus and God love us despite our flaws and terrible actions and treatment of others and ourselves.

Take a look at the slaves world wide.  They are not considered leaders, but we should see them as leaders in resilience, strength and the faith as they go on living one more day with every dawn.

Take a look at the people of any third world country.  They are not considered leaders, but we should see them as leaders.  They lead us daily in gratitude as they give praise for clean water to drink, a simple meal placed before them and whatever shelter God has provided for them.

Finally, take a look at the sweet and generous widow in the bible.  She was not considered a leader at that time.  She was seen as a quiet and small follower, barely noticed by the powerful leaders at that time, but Jesus saw her, talked about her, placed her in a position to lead from behind, reminding us yet again to Follow from in Front.

Mark 12:44
They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything — all she had to live on.

I think when the leaders and followers get mixed up as a lot of us are now, leaders, leading from in front and followers, following from behind, we very easily get lost and it becomes very hard to find God.

Let’s get out of the desert, let’s end this aimless wandering, let’s begin following the real leaders of our world.  The poor, the oppressed, and the children.  They have big things to teach us if we are willing to listen!

So many of us have been trying to lead from in front.  Jesus please help us to have faith and trust in You and our fellow brothers and sisters so that we can complete your circle and remember to follow from in front.

St. Patrick!

I didn’t know anything about St. Patrick before reading an article about him today.  I am sure there is still a lot more to know about him, but what I read, I loved and I wanted to share it with you.

Our Heroes: St. Patrick of Ireland by Edward Hoyt

Towards the end of the article Mr. Hoyt says that he has been sitting in the first person for far too long when saying St. Patrick’s prayer.  This was yet another reminder of how I was saying “It is MY best life” for far too long.

This is the version of St. Patrick’s prayer that I want to say.  I hope you will join me!

Christ be in our hearts every time we think of anyone
Christ be in our mouths every time we speak to anyone
Christ be in our eyes every time see anyone
Christ be in our ears every time we hear anyone 

Saying “It is Our Best Life”…

I started saying “It is our best life” every morning and every night on Jan 23, 2012.  If you have read the background or the first post on this site, you already know that before this date I was saying “It is my best life” on a regular basis.

About a week before Jan 23, 2012, I posted a note on facebook for my friends.  In my note, I gave them the background and then challenged my friends to say “It is our best life” every morning and every night for a month.  What I didn’t tell anyone at that time was that I was scared to start my own challenge.

At that time, my life was good.  My husband had recently taken a new job that allowed him to be home more.  My girls were happy and healthy and attending a new school that we all loved.  Since moving to a new city, I had reconnected with a college friend who quickly became a best friend.  Life was good and I was scared to rock the boat.

The whole week before Jan 23, 2012, I stopped saying “It is my best life”, but I did not say “It is our best life” either.  I waited until the morning of Jan 23, 2012, but when I woke up that morning I whispered “It is our best life” and I meant it.

The fear of having opened a unwanted can of worms with my new mantra “It is our best life”, didn’t go away for a few weeks, but I kept saying it.  No worms showed up, no axe fell and by the end of the month, I had formed a habit and my old mantra “It is my best life” was gone.

The challenge for my friends came and went without much follow-up, but I was hooked and I kept on saying “It is our best life”.

By Easter 2012, I had found Jesus and come to the realization that I hadn’t known Him before despite having thought I knew Him.  I love Him so much!!!

Now as Easter 2013 approaches and over a year has passed since I started saying “It is our best life” and close to a year has passed since I truly fell in love with Jesus, I look at my life and I almost don’t recognize it.  I have never been more deeply in love with my husband!  I have never been in such awe of my girls and the amazing things they say and do.  I don’t think I have ever been so relaxed, as much fun or full of so much laughter with my family!  I know I have never in my life been full of so much gratitude.

Thank you Jesus for making all things possible!  I believe Our Best Life will only get better as more people believe it is Our Best Life!

Lamp posts

I have been thinking a lot about John the Baptist.  I am inspired by and in awe of him.  He rejoiced as his followers/disciples left to follow Jesus.

He was like a lamp post along the path.   He clearly understood that he was not the goal, but instead a guide, directing his pupils down the path toward Jesus.

Since I started looking for a teacher I am finding teachers everywhere.  Therefore I have now started wondering how to figure out which teachers to listen to and learn from?

I think the answer lies in our first teacher, our first lamp post, John the Baptist.

I think…

  • We need to look for someone, something to inspire our ongoing search for Jesus.
  • We need to look for a teacher who is willing to humbly share the job of teaching us with others.
  • We need to look for someone who will understand that one day the relationship might change/grow from student/teacher to friends and then rejoice in this change/growth.
  • We need to look for someone who knows and understands that they are lighting our paths… they know they are not the final destination and they don’t want to be the final destination because they understand that this desire would hold them back in their own search for Jesus!

Jesus, thank you for John the Baptist!  Please help us to rejoice from the depths of our souls as others find You, just as Your first lamp post, John the Baptist, did!

Write it in the stars!

I am reading a book that talks about soul mates.  To enjoy this book you have to first be open to the idea of reincarnation.  If you can consider this with an open mind, then the book talks about the fact that you might not spend every life with your soul mate.

While reading this book I was thinking about this a lot and it made me wonder… what if my husband and I aren’t soul mates like I have always thought?  What if we are just heavenly acquaintances working together in this life? This thought made me so sad.

Fortunately, I usually bounce back pretty quickly.  I was sad for about a day, but then I decided there is no way for me to truly answer this question and maybe the answer hasn’t been written just yet anyway… maybe our free will comes into play as the question is slowly answered over the course of our lives through our thoughts and actions.

Therefore I am going to return to my original belief, that now has a little more substance and thought behind it.  We are soul mates!  Believing this with more conviction than ever, I now want to continue loving him, but loving him more, continue caring for him, but caring for him more, and continue connecting with him, but connect with him more. I want to find my joy in bringing him joy!

Then when this life is over and our souls meet again… we will have so much love in our hearts for each other, so many wonderful memories shared and so many lessons learned together that we will be soul mates… we will have written it in the stars!

Jesus said, “Whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”