Tag Archives: jesus christ

I got lost …

for a bit of a while.

Wandering aimlessly even though I knew full well the direction.

But I didn’t follow them.

The directions.

It happens to everyone at one time or another.

I left what I knew to be true and followed what I wanted to be true.

A path that can lead to nowhere in particular.

I have made it clear in previous posts that “religion” has very little to do with me.

Depending on what someone believes, their “religion” could be just about anything.

I love Jesus.

I do.

I fail to show it more often than I succeed, but it is true.

People fail.

It is in our nature to falter and to struggle.

We. Are. Not. Perfect.

But Jesus doesn’t expect perfection.

And that is a very good thing.

Otherwise, we would all be doomed to what we have done.

Don’t shake your head and say you haven’t done anything because trust me, you’ve done plenty.

If my past was the crux of my salvation, I would already be doomed.

I could tell you stories that would curl the hair on your head, and if your happen to be bald, it would sprout growth.

I deserved to have stones thrown at me.

I still do, every day, and yet, for some reason, Jesus loves me.

One day, He will dry the last tears I will ever cry.

That is a lovely line and I would like take credit for it, but it comes from a song from Casting Crowns called “The Wedding”.

It says a lot of things that mean something to me.

Why?

Because I know that any goodness I have, have had or will ever have comes from Jesus.

He made a choice to give His life for all of us.

God didn’t make him.

Jesus was, as we are, of free will.

He could have opted out and even prayed that the cup be taken from him.

He could have refused.

But He didn’t.

It should be enough to know that he could have and didn’t.

I judge myself daily, multiple times.  I don’t need others to judge me, but they do anyway.

All I really know is that He shows me incredible things through His creation.

I feel the wind on my face, the sun on my skin … see the lightning and hear the thunder.

I am amazed by who He is and what He has done.

I feel odd saying that He loves me, but He does.

I don’t know why and have stopped asking.

He just does.

Via Casting Crowns:  “There’s a stirring in the throne room” … “the last tears she’s will ever cry have been wiped away”.

Today is Easter.

The “Third Day”.

“Resurrection Day”.

I believe this just as I believe the birds sing, the sky is blue and the moon is beautiful.

He loves me even when I am unlovable, tainted, scarred, sinful, judgmental .

He finds me beautiful as He will find you.

I will share this day, not my photographs, which He has given me through the eyes of His spirit, but a song by the group Casting Crowns.

Know your worth in Christ.

He is beautiful and finds you to be the same.

Don’t be ashamed of who you were, be joyful in who you are.

We are His and He loves us even though we are not worthy.

A beautiful thing, that.

Psalms 139:14 ~ I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.

 

 

My Orchard Awaits …

a visit from me.

Or maybe it doesn’t.

It isn’t really my orchard, but my father’s, and his father’s before him.

Maybe it doesn’t need me nearly as much as I need it.

It is lying, quiet and serene beneath the mountain peak, on a little flat on top of a rise.  It is perfectly happy to be there, in the cold, soaking up the rain and snow that will make for succulent, sweet, juicy red apples in the summer.

The gnarled trees will stand, stalwart and solemn through the worst that Winter can bring without ever missing my presence or needing me among their barren branches.

They take no glory for the music the wind makes as it weaves and wanders through their wonderfully crooked branches.

They accept no praise for the beauty they exude as they stand firm against a gray, snow-laden sky.

They refuse thanks for the fragile seeds of  the fruits they protect through the bitterness of cold nights so that when the times comes, they can say come, eat of me, for I am sweeter than nectar.

They entice the bees and butterflies from their hiding places so that they, too, can partake of the bounty.

I imagine if God had a taste, He would taste like the sweet apples born from the mountain orchard that waited silently through the harsh winter.

They stand and they wait and they will live.

They have no idea how much I need them.

My orchard.

My solitude.

Laying on the brown grass of winter looking up through their branches and knowing that I, for this moment, am part of what grows beneath the earth.

No, it has no need for me or anything that I can offer, but part of my sanity, my strength, my well-being comes from what the orchard gets from God and passes on, without ever being aware, to me.

I suppose, because I love it so, it is my orchard, after all.

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I wish I could promise to lie in the night
And think of an orchard’s arboreal plight
When slowly (and nobody comes with a light)
Its heart sinks lower under the sod.
But something has to be left to God.
~ Robert Frost

There is nothing …

like that moment when a locked box pops open.  When things that I thought I had no knowledge of became clear because there was a remnant of it somewhere in the recesses of my mind.  Something that had a familiarity about it, felt good, wholesome and real; that  lingered just beyond my grasp.

Having a key to open a lock is, for obvious reasons, optimal, but the key … who is to say, at any particular time, what that is?  As a photographer, I know a bit about light, shadow, depth and perspective, but in photography, the image is already there and I simply capture it.  It sometimes takes a great deal of work and, at times, planning and a hint of imagination; other times, it is just there.  Tonight, I found that I had the ability to capture another kind of image.  The one that lives in my head.  The one I can’t see with my eyes until I actually create it.  It was the closest thing I can imagine to writing a song, taking a blank page and making something that wasn’t there before.

Starting new things is often difficult for me as I lack something vital.  Confidence.  Confidence in myself, my ability, my strength and even in my weaknesses.  I find that I look, with distressing regularity, for an outlet to take me somewhere other than where I find myself to be.  I use words, images, nature, books and music to name a few, to transport me.  I seem to be  continually trying to expand my horizons; horizons that I am often afraid of because they force me to step outside of my comfort zone.  Expanding ones  horizons takes confidence, and therein likes a big part of the problem.  Why, I ask, would anyone care to look at photographs I’ve taken, read words I’ve written or hear of experiences I’ve had?  It is difficult, when something comes from deep within, to believe that anyone other myself has any reason to find it interesting.

Tonight, I learned a valuable lesson.  It came in the form of a charismatic genius.  An artist who opened his world to me.  His time, his mind, his talent.  And as I sat in the class, following the instructions he gave, I watched, in awe, as an image appeared on a previously blank page.  An image that wasn’t there before and emerged as I coaxed it with lines and perspective.

I was apprehensive about trying something that I had already convinced myself I could not do, but was willing, simply for the need to know, try.  I left my first art class feeling like there was nothing I could not accomplish.  I learned that I could, in fact, draw a straight line with a ruler and that the possibilities are endless.

The box I opened tonight wasn’t Pandora’s, for it was full of things that were inspiring and wonderful.  The box I opened tonight was was the one I drew by using the knowledge I have, the tools I was given and the instruction I received.

I am, for the moment (and the moment I am in is all I really ever have), at a place where I decide whether I will stay where I am or move forward and become more than I thought I could be.  When I went to bed last night, I felt broken.  That feeling carried over to the morning and self-doubt, my oldest nemesis reminded me that I had no talent or artistic ability.  This evening, that self-doubt took a serious blow.  I found it to be one of the most empowering times that I have faced in a very long time and I was reminded that I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.  Yes.  A long time, indeed.

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Christmas, to a Follower of Jesus …

is, second only to Good Friday and Easter, the singularly most important religious holiday that is celebrated.  It is true that Christmas, to the secular world, has been commercialized with thoughts of Santa, spending money and giving gifts that may or may not have any bearing on the holiday itself.  It has become a day about getting, getting more and then being disappointed in not getting enough.  But to those of who hold Christmas in our heart for what it truly means, it isn’t about getting at all, but giving.  It is the celebration of the Virgin birth of the Christ child.  Now, it is no surprise that there will be many who will scoff at this.  That is not unexpected or taken in offense.  I know, in my heart and soul, what I know in my heart and soul.  It brings me great pleasure to honor Jesus at the celebration of His birth.  To revere  Him for the Savior that I personally know Him to be.

It is a beautiful image in my mind to think of a sweet little baby, wrapped in swaddling clothing, lying in a manger that is normally used to feed farm animals.  As it has been taught to me by wise teacher, swaddling clothes were usually reserved for females in order to depict the suffering that they would endure through childbirth.  To find a male child wrapped in swaddling clothing was simply not done.  But Jesus, more than any woman bearing a child, would suffer.  And not only would He suffer, He would do it willingly.

I can think of none of the children in my life, not my daughter nor my nieces, that I would sacrifice for anyone, much less a sinner, a murderer, child molester, thief.  Not a chance.  I would sacrifice myself before I would offer up any of those little ones dear to me; and only then as a trade.  But willingly?  I cannot fathom.  Nor can I fathom knowing the day and the hour that I would have to turn my back on any one of them, leaving them to fend for themselves while I remove myself from from their suffering because that was the only way to obtain the redemption that their death would bring.   It would be hard enough losing a child unexpectedly, but to know, day after day, that the time was drawing near.  I cannot fathom.  Were it up to me, it is quite obvious that mankind would be doomed to die in their sins for at the last moment, I would balk.  I am, after all, only human.

I find it, therefore, an honor and privilege to revere the Christ Child and the Father who was willing to sacrifice Him for my sins.  I’ve heard it said that God is callous and cruel, but what an enormous amount of love it would take for mankind in order to make Him turn His back on the Son He loved just so that we might be redeemed.  Nothing callous about that.  It is, without doubt, love in its purest form and I can only hope that, as I go along this life I’ve been given, I can give as unselfishly as my Father and my Savior.

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Luke 2:1-7

2 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.

(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered

.And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

The Pianist …

was in the mood to play.  This has been one of those rare spaces of time that I live for.  Moments that move me past my everyday life and touch the very core of that which makes me who I am.  A time when emotions show themselves and then are pushed aside as the sheer joy of  music fills my spirit.  Before tonight, I didn’t realize how low my Spirit was feeling.  Putting on a smile for the onlookers is easy.  Those who don’t know what they are looking at take it at face value.  I had begun to almost believe it as well.  Until tonight.

I got all jazzed up and found that I was only going through the motions at the employee Christmas party.  Afterward, however, was the turning point of the evening.  I stopped by the house of two of my dearest friends. There was laughter, friendship and camaraderie that one can only get from those they are closest to.  And then the offer came.  The offer to listen as he played the piano.  After the first song, I simply burst into tears and was moved so deeply as they ran, unashamedly,  down my face.  It was as if the notes on the page weren’t there at all, such was the depth of the music.  I found myself feeling freed of every negative thought that was swirling in my mind.  The profoundness of the notes were so moving that my Spirit had no choice but to open itself, becoming released from burdens and sadness that I had not really, until then, been aware were there.

I felt transcended; removed from time and space .  There was nothing in my world at that moment but the musician and the music he made; his hands flying over the keys, the sound touching me intimately,  stimulating every cell in my body.  I felt awakened and content; calmness and exhilaration blending to become an emotion of its own.  Thoughts that had filled my head for days and weeks were swept away, leaving nothing but the serenity of hearing such brilliance being played in my presence.

It is hard to explain what the sound of a piano does to me.  It makes me feel breathless and full of something so wonderful that the world can’t touch. I consider myself immensely blessed to have a piano man in my life; and am thankful beyond what I have the capacity to relay in mere words that he plays for me.  I suppose it isn’t really for me, but for himself, but I like to think it’s for me because he knows I love it so.  Thank you, my friend, for sharing your gift with me.  I am richer now than I was only a few hours ago because you took me somewhere so ethereal that even my vivid and encompassing imagination has a hard time comprehending it.

Even as I write this post, the rain is beginning to fall.  I can now say, without reservation or hesitation that this has, without a doubt, been the best evening I’ve had in a very long time.

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Isaiah 55:12 ~ You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.

What can you do …

when you are trapped between that realm of normalcy and  insanity?   A tough question with no easy answer.  After  years of battling hours, days, even weeks of rapid cycling, I still have nothing to offer.  When those times come about, it seems that we, as beings, cease to belong to the world around us.  Everything is distorted and there is no orientation or order to any of it.  It comes down to the ability to realize what is happening and take it, as much as possible, in stride, until it passes.  I’m sure there are many people who have no idea what “rapid cycling” is and do not recognize it when people they know are going through it.  To the “normal” person, it looks like acting out or even attention seeking behavior.  Without knowledge of the situation, it would seem, and aptly so, that the person you know has become someone that you cannot comprehend.  I suppose, without actually meaning to be, this post is as much for the people who cannot fathom a place of uncertainty,  and downright dubiety than for those of us who know it more intimately than we would like.

Rapid cycling is a real and, most often, a permanent thing.  I am blessed to only have this occur once or twice a year; not so in my youth as it would happen two or three times per month and could, in the worst of times, last a week or more.   It is not uncommon for rapid cycling to last for months or even a year, but for the rest of us, the lucky ones,  rapid cycling comes with little or no trigger and can last as little as four hours.  The mood swings are awesome and completely, enigmatically  exhausting.  By the time it is over, I usually feel like I have been ran over by a very large, heavily loaded truck.  My brain is foggy, my senses slow and my reflexes, at least for a short time, are nonexistent.  In the grand scheme of things, it is not dissimilar to a seizure that lasts for hours.  Right and wrong seem to meld seamlessly and, from previous experience, it is most important to try to maintain control during one of these episodes.  After all these years, I have learned the warning signs and work very hard to isolate myself, as much as possible, until it has ran its course.

I know, without reservation, that there are others who feel the same way.  It makes me feel extremely vulnerable to speak of such things, but one person’s experience can often mean the difference between making or breaking to someone who feels the devastating, overwhelming range of emotions that define who we are at a given time.  Everyone experiences, at some point, sadness and joy, but this goes beyond that.  It is joy that is so inexplicable that jubilant takes a back seat; sadness that threatens our very being and, in the midst, every conceivable emotion in between.

I subscribe to the supposition that most adults have, at this point, learned to recognize the warning signs and may even be able to pinpoint the triggers; for that reason, this post is not directed to you.  It is directed to younger people who have thoughts and feelings that they cannot understand and find that, when trying to describe it, the people they love and trust do not understand.  It is important to know that it is likely that they will never truly understand.  They will accept you, humor you, try to get you, but unless they have experienced the phenomenon, they will not ever really and truly know what you speak of.  BUT … that doesn’t mean that there aren’t people who do.

Look inside yourself, learn to know the warning signs and be aware of the consequences of rash and often, irrational choices.  Even when you feel out of control, at the core, you are in control.  The decisions and choices you make, the roads you take, the destinations you choose will all define who you are in the end.  Just because you have moments of weakness doesn’t give you free reign to make poor choices.  It is of inimitable importance that one understands the state they are in and realizes that the choices they would normally make are much, much more complicated during this time.

If I can do nothing else, I encourage everyone to learn about rapid cycling so that when faced with it, whether personally or through someone they know and love, they will understand that it isn’t something that can fixed by advice.  It can’t be fixed by instruction or direction and it has no understanding of “buckling down”.

It just is.  And, as quickly as it comes, it will end.  Have faith that God will not let you destroy yourself and know, with certainty, that this too, shall pass.  I tell you this from experience so that  you, whoever you are, will know that you are not alone.

I believe in an Awesome God and know that the experiences and trials we face will help us help others.  If I didn’t believe in God and the unshakable Spirit of Christ, then I would be certain that I was cursed.  But I am not cursed, I am me and I will make the very best of it that I can.  Be encouraged and then encourage others.  Your life will be richer for it.

Religious? No. Follower of Jesus? Yes

On this day, Good Friday, I woke up, feeling both ashamed and humbled, loved and cherished, thankful and remorseful, hungry and fed, and far more blessed than I deserve.  Why would anyone do what Jesus did, suffer the way He suffered and die a death so horrible that my mind cannot wrap around it.  That question can be answered in one word.  Love.  My love for Christ has nothing to do with religion or gatherings or congregations.  It has no beginnings in tradition or repetition.  It comes because Christ first loved me.  Enough to die a terrifying and horrific death for my sake even though I was a full blown sinner.  There was nothing religious about the death of Jesus.  It was prophesied from way before that a Savior would come.  The lamb to the slaughter. It was a gift from God, who loves at a depth that no man’s heart can understand, even if they know and follow Him.  Religion has taken on a life of it’s own that, in some cases, has little or nothing to do with the teachings of Christ.  There is ritual to complete and rules that must be followed in order to be a part of it.  There are repetitive gestures and misinterpretations of what Jesus has said.   Groups like KKK call themselves religious.  Groups who bomb abortion clinics call themselves religious.  Men, women and children who strap bombs to themselves and blow up others call themselves religious.  Churches who talk about what great things they’ve done and then turn away those who come to them seeking help call themselves religious.  Jesus wasn’t religious.  He was just Jesus.  The Savior, the Messiah, the Holy son of God.  He didn’t conform to the traditions of the world, but set the example for others to follow so that eternal life could be available to everyone.  Everyone.  Not just this church or that sect or this mission or that cause, but everyone.  He gave His life and shed His blood for sinners.  Just going to church or to communion, taking mission trips or giving money does not open the doors of heaven for us to walk through.  There is only one way.  He is the way.  He is the truth.  He is the life.  Without Him, there is no hope of eternal life.  But saying that I know Jesus is not enough.  Proving it is required.  If we walk a good life, give to the poor, help the needy, and show the world how religious we are, we have accomplished nothing if, at the core, there is no love.  Love doesn’t cross the street to avoid a homeless man, a prostitute or a drug addict.  It doesn’t turn it’s back on those in need and it doesn’t just surface on Sunday. When Jesus communed with the people, He did it in the midst of sinners.  He walked among those who had no hope, who had nothing.  And He loved them.  None of us are good.  Not even when we are being good are we good.  Sin is the blackness of evil that follows every step we take, just waiting for the moment when it can trip us and cause us to fall flat on our face.  No matter how devout we claim to be, falling on our face is part of the journey that we are on because unlike Jesus, we are not perfect.  The church can’t save us.  The community can’t save us.  Our family and friends, though supportive and loving, cannot save us, and most certainly, we cannot save ourselves.  No matter where we go or what we try to accomplish, if Jesus is not at the center, then any good that could be done will fall short of what we could do if Jesus was at the center. There is only one way to be saved and that is through the blood of Jesus Christ.  I am a follower of Christ and owe everything I am or ever hope to be to Him… and to Him, not religion, I give all the glory.  For religion, after all, is just a man-made word and I have my hope in that which man has no hand in.  The grave could not hold Him, Satan could not bind Him and He rose, conquering sin and making a way for all people to live in Glory with Him. He lives and He’s coming for us.  What Jesus did, He did out of love and religion had nothing to with it. Praise His Holy Name!

Colossians 2:8 ~ Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.