Affordable comforts?

Yesterday while I was shopping, I noticed that the price of the lunchmeat I buy had changed again.  It has bounced around quite a bit over the last few months.  Last year I could purchase a package for $2.50 and then a few months ago the price jumped up to $3.20 and since then I have watched as the price has slowly come back down.  Today it was priced at $2.89.  I was pretty happy when I first saw the new and lower price, but as I continued shopping and pushing my overflowing cart past other carts that had 2, 5 or maybe 10 items I started thinking a little more about the drop in the price of the lunchmeat.

I started wondering about my fellow shoppers who have had to pass up the purchase of this lunchmeat for the last few months because of the high price.  These are the people who have had to go without in order to bring back the lower price.  I am sure that they go without more than just lunchmeat, and their sacrifices make my comforts affordable.

Their sacrifices make my comforts affordable.

  • Are these comforts really affordable when they are gained through the sacrifice of others?
  • Is our daily surplus even ours when it is gained through the sacrifice of others?

This is the supply and demand economics of the world economy that we have built and yesterday in the grocery as I watched an empty cart go by it felt backwards, if felt upside down, it felt turned around and it felt wrong.

Lord please help me remember the backs of others that I am standing on the next time I go to the grocery and come out with a little extra in my pocket.  Please inspire Your generosity within my heart, help me to give with Your open hands and help me to remember that no comfort is truly affordable when it is gained through the sacrifice of another.

Cleansing

Sometimes when I am working out I like to pray to be a straw that is full of holes so that anything good poured into me from above will not be held within me, but instead will flow through all of my holes surrounding everyone I encounter or see with His Grace.

As you know I have been going to the gym pretty regularly for the last 5 months trying to get back in shape. Over the last few weeks I have started really focusing on trying to improve  my diet and have started reading about body cleansing. I read an interesting article a few weeks ago that discussed the benefits of sitting in a sauna after a workout and how this can help cleanse many toxins from your body. After reading this I started sitting in the sauna of my gym for a few min at least once a week.

Today while I was sitting in the sauna following my workout, it hit me! As I watched the sweat drip down my arms, I realized I am already full of holes… my body is covered in tiny pores.  I am a straw full of holes… we all are!

I think now I need to focus on cleaning out my own physical and spiritual gunk so that someday the clogs will be cleared and everything that pours forth will be clean and full of His Glory.

I am cleaning out my friends… please pray for me!

How will we know Him?

If you were alive during Jesus’ time on earth, would you have known who He was? Would you have felt something stir in the depths of your soul when you first saw Him?   Would you have stopped to listen to Him?  Would you have followed Him?

I don’t know if I would have known, I don’t know if I would have truly seen Him, and I don’t know if I would have followed Him.

Wondering about this makes me so sad as I picture the possibility that I might have walked right by our Lord and Savior, our sweet Jesus, without a second glance.

I don’t want to walk by Him. I want to stop and kneel as He passes by me, I want to crawl behind Him and touch the earth that He has just graced with bottom of His beautiful foot and I want to yearn for Him to turn towards me and smile.

For now I want to prepare to truly see Him and know Him when He returns by looking for Him in everyone I see.  If I can find Him hidden in everyone I see, then maybe I will be blessed with the opportunity to see Him and know Him in His full and glorious form someday.

Jesus, please help me to look for You and see You in everyone I meet.

Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will Be Done

Do you ever buy a lottery ticket when the jackpot has become extremely large?

I do, and then for the next 24 hours until the drawing I start fantasizing about what I would do if I won.  I start divvying up the money in my mind, deciding how much I would keep, how much I would give to family, estimating how much would be lost due to taxes, estimating how much I would have to pay advisors and then, finally, the last category tagged on as an after thought is how much I might give to those in need.

Usually by the end of the 24 hours, the amount I “need” to keep has gone up and the amount I would give away has gone down.  It is pretty disgusting how quickly I get sucked into thinking/imagining/dreaming that I “need” $XXX,XXX,XXX.

Can you imagine my kingdom coming to be?  Every time I hear the song Demons by Imagine Dragons I am reminded of my inner demon and I shudder at the thought of my kingdom coming to be.

My Heavenly Father, my Lord, my Love, my sweet Jesus… all I can say is thank You, thank You, thank You, for sparing me from ever winning the lottery, and instead using each ticket purchase to open my eyes to my own demon buried deep within.

I pray to always remember and I pray to always pray…

Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will Be Done.

Wake up!

God really wanted me to wake up this morning.  I first woke up at 5:40 am and thought to myself, I should get up and read the Bible or my devotional, but I felt too tired so I rolled over and went back to sleep.  I woke up again at 6:03 am and again rolled over to go back to sleep.  Finally at 6:10 am, I had to get up because the alarm in the girls bedroom went off and was blasting NPR all over the house.  I took this as a sign that God was not taking “No” for an answer this morning :)  Thankfully none of the girls woke up… I’m not sure how they slept through it, but they did!

I think what I took from all of this was a reminder not to get swept away by the wrong things this Christmas.  The last few days have been a little hectic as I have been preparing for Christmas, sending cards, shopping, cooking, wrapping, cleaning, etc. I haven’t found much time to sit in peace and quiet and just listen.

I want to listen during this Holy time.  I want to sit in peace and think of our Savior, His Mother, His earthly Father and His Holy Birth.  I want to be moved to depths of my soul as I reflect on Him.

Thank you my Loving and Heavenly Father for nudging me awake this morning.  Please help me to keep You always in my sight and to stay awake!

Listen carefully my friends, He might be trying to wake you up too!

Seeking the sacred within the secular…

I am reading a book of the complete works of Saint Francis of Assisi and Saint Clare of Assisi, Francis and Clare:  The Complete Works.

In one the letters that Saint Francis wrote to the clergy, he quotes Corinthians 2:14, The person who does not have the spirit does not perceive the things of God.

I loved reading this today because I have been thinking about the sacred within our secular world versus the secular within His sacred world.  Is there a difference?  Can a strict line define sacred versus secular or are we the ones who have imposed this distinction?

I have been trying to be a little more attentive to every song, every book, every discussion, every thought with the hope to perceive His message everywhere.  I think it is everywhere and I want to be still and listen.

Jesus, please fill us with Your spirit so that we can perceive the things of God and realize that we are surrounded by Them… They are everywhere.

Our Best Life might not be comfortable…

When I originally started this blog, I did not understand very much.  I still don’t understand a lot, but I think I am learning more about myself.

At the beginning there were times when I confused “comfortable life” with “best life”.  As I have continued on my journey this mistake is now so painfully clear that I am actually quite embarrassed to be typing this even though I wish instead of embarrassment I felt thankful for finally realizing this and humbled as I see how blessed I have been to be surrounded by so many comforts.

At the beginning of my search I kept asking questions about my cousin’s premature death…

  1. Why didn’t she get to graduate from college?
  2. Why didn’t she have a chance to fall in love?
  3. Why were we at her funeral instead of her wedding?
  4. Why did she miss out on the joy of motherhood?
  5. How could this have been her best life or part of our best life?

Then a few months ago I pondered the question of whether my cousin’s death was a gift of grace in disguise for our grandfather?

Maybe her life was a gift for our grandfather to finally find what he had been searching for his whole life?  Maybe her life was a gift for me to finally have my eyes opened, if even just a little, to see my own greed and selfishness?

I don’t know the answer to this, but if her death was our gift, then maybe she did live Our Best Life… His will!

What better life could one live than to follow so closely in the footsteps of our sweet Jesus, Who was sacrificed for all of us?

Grace in disguise?

It was a dark and stormy evening.  A young man who had recently received his license was on his way home from picking someone up.  As he approached a red light, he pumped the brakes, they locked and the car continued right through the light.

There was a collision, people were hurt, a young child in another car was killed.

The young man driving was my grandfather.

I know he thought of this child often.  I know he carried the pain of having caused the death of this child for the rest of his life. As I think back to discussions and time I spent with my grandfather, I can remember the painful expression I would see cross his face if we ever heard about or discussed any type of car accident.  I remember seeing him wince as if he was physically in pain when we discussed a news article about all of the fatal car accidents caused by faulty tires back in 2000.

I think this moment drove him to spend the rest of his life seeking to empathize with those who had recently lost a loved one in death through his work as a funeral director. He sought to feel their pain, he hoped to feel what the family of that young child felt, and he searched for forgiveness by easing the pain of others as they faced the death of a loved one.

I now wonder if God graced my grandfather with an end to his search just before he died?

My young cousin, his granddaughter, was killed in a car accident on a dark and stormy evening about a year before my grandfather died. After his years of searching and empathizing with others, he finally felt what it was like for the family of that young child who had died so many years ago. He finally felt what it was like to look into the face of the mother of that child as he looked into the face of his own daughter as she wept for her child.

My sweet young cousin was the only one who was ready to go home.  Maybe her death was a gift of grace to our grandfather?

God thank you for loving both of them so much!

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!

Bottles at sea…

I have been a recluse over the last few months.  I haven’t had much interest in seeking out or calling my friends to talk, watching the news, or even sending out Christmas cards to my friends and family.

Today while I was running I was thinking about this and wondering why?  The thought crossed my mind that maybe Jesus has been sheltering me.  Maybe He has been protecting me from the competition and constant comparison of the world by taking away my motivation to talk with my close friends and others who could spark envy, competition, or comparison within my heart.  Maybe He has been giving me time to grow stronger and really imprint upon my heart the necessity to stay outside of the race going on in our world while still fully living in our world.

Maybe this is just my overactive imagination, but I still like this explanation, because today I finally called one of my best friends.  I was so happy to talk with her and hear about her life and what she has been doing over the last few months.  While we were talking though I felt myself being pulled back into the race, not because I compete with her, but because she has so many wonderful plans and ideas.  She is an amazing mom and wife.  She will soon be back in the workforce and I am sure she will someday start the amazing business of her dreams.  In our 30 min conversation we covered all of this and following months of talking to only the same small group of people, I started to question my plans or lack of plans, my ideas or lack of ideas and began to worry about where I am headed.  Luckily, although I felt myself being pulled into the race, I was aware of it which I hope is a start for keeping myself out of it.

As I was running home, I pictured all of us as bottles bobbing in the sea.  As bottles in the sea we don’t realize that it is impossible for us to sink as we are tossed about in the waves, dunked under water, and crashed into each other.  We are all fighting to stay afloat even though it really isn’t possible for us to go down.  Then by the grace of God, sometimes we float into a secluded harbor where we can see the beach and we know that true peace exists.  The waves slowly wash us in and then drag us back out in a repetitive motion.

Jesus thank you for the safe and secluded harbor You have given me over the last few months.  Please help me to remember that no matter how many times the waves pull me back, I am a bottle filled with Your spirit and I can’t sink.  Knowing this gives me faith to brave the open sea again and brave the waves with a new perspective.

Maybe on my next trip in You will bless me with a job to help You bring a few more bottles into Your peaceful shores!