“…lift up our hands and bless him.”

baby-feet13Today is the first of May.  Spring is really here!  There is a small patch of snow under our front window, trying to hang on.  But I think the grass will win…we have a whole week of sunshine predicted!!

Yesterday was an awesome day.  I had the car…so that is a huge thing for me! I was all over town, having been to three places, before 9:00am! Whoopee!  And then we got texts from our middle son, which totally made our day.  His wife is expecting baby #2 and it is a GIRL!!!!  Having raised three sons (well, #3 is almost done), I love having little girls around. It just melts my grandma heart.  I love all things girly – except on me! Ha-Ha!  I love the little outfits, the socks, the cute and frilly undies that cover their diapers, the shoes, the BOWS!!  They never had bows like this when I was a kid.  My mom used to use Caro’s syrup to glue a ribbon on my head so people knew I was a girl – I was pretty much bald until I was 2 or so!!  The two granddaughters I have so far have such different hair…one is looking a sandy blonde (leaning towards brunette) while the other is a strawberry blonde (leaning towards outright red!!).  Both of their smiles just take my breath away; they melt my heart (I know I keep saying that).  I absolutely adore my grandkids. My grandson, being two and the oldest grandchild, occupies a special place in my heart, too.  He was the first and he opened the floodgates of my heart when he was born.  Who knew??  I think I was created to be a grandma. It is the best thing – ever!!!  (I think the meme below applies to grandmas is such a special way…)

PreciousJewelsYesterday was also a day when I just could not stop crying.  I got some news that a friend we were close to many years ago passed away from cancer.  It devastated me and my husband, too.  We have such fond memories of their family and some great times spent with them.  And I have been praying for his soul and for his family.

HolyOilCandle.HolyBookAnd there have been some other things going on and I am trying to juggle all of them.  I usually fall back on what I know and I rely upon – my faith – to help me make sense of things.  I try to listen to others, and to see where perhaps they are coming from or to understand why they would communicate in the way they do.  But sometimes I feel like people already have a response in their head; it’s almost like a previously written and prepared litany they have to get out, that comes out in spurts between what I am trying to say.  They aren’t really listening at all, which becomes obvious by their responses. I pray that I am not like that; I really do.  If I could glean anything from what I have learned, observed, and been taught it is that each life is precious. Each person has a divine right to be here, and as such, they deserve our attention.  In an earlier post, I spoke about leaving people out of our lives, and not paying attention to what people are saying is exclusionary.  I pray, pray, pray that I do not do that to anyone.

Intent to replyI majored in Anthropology at a major University. I received an amazing education.  I minored in Biblical Archeology.  What an eye-opener that minor was!  Through that education, I came to look at the world a little differently. I am not set in my ways as some assume.  I love learning about new cultures, ways of doing things, and traditions.  One of the most annoying things about us converts to other faiths is that we come at them from an adult perspective.  We come to our faith with our eyes open, having experienced some of life, already.  We are exploring, digging, learning about this new thing we have found.  You know how annoying former smokers are? Or people who were fat and are now thin?  People who used to be couch potatoes but are now marathon runners?  People who were liberal but are now conservative? (Or, egad, the opposite??)  All of those things are annoying to those who were born and raised in it.  Why?  I think it is because those born into it are somewhat complacent about it.  They take much for granted.  But another issue is that when people who are born into it, stop learning about it.  Whatever “it” may be.  In the area of religion, I came to my faith after quite a few stops along the way. I have been baptized more times than is even sane, and have experienced worship for some time as a Protestant (and a few versions of that, too!), Mormon, Jewish (Reformed), Roman Catholic, and now Melkite Greek Catholic.  And all of that was accomplished in just 50 some years.  I have been Melkite well over 10 years now, pushing towards 15.  And I am still learning.

Don't compareI endeavor to make sense of the patterns shown to me of this life. And I try, really try, to give people the benefit of a doubt.  Sometimes people try my patience and I loose my cool.  On Facebook today, a young person challenged me, in a very rude and obstreperous way, and I lost my cool.  I have learned to remove myself from the string when things like that happen, but I allowed this kid to get under my skin.  Why?  Because I have all these other battles I’m dealing with and this kid was an annoying gnat flying around my face. I just could not be bothered with the comments any longer.  And I find that is, as I said to a new friend, “my bad.”  I need to be more tolerant because faith is not about who “wins” or who is “right.” Salvation is each of us, reaching out to help our fellow sojourners to God.  It is not being first across the finish line or being able to turn around from some higher place, sneer and say, “Neener-neener, I was right!”  How many of us will absolutely not give in to someone simply because we don’t want to hear the comment, “I was right?” And quite often we allow people who are raging at us, or persecuting us for what we say or believe, or who completely disagree with us, get under our skin.

“Bless them that persecute you.’ If our enemy cannot put up with us any longer and takes to cursing us, our immediate reaction must be to lift up our hands and bless him. Our enemies are the blessed of the Lord. Their curse can do us no harm. May their poverty be enriched with all the riches of God, with the blessing of Him whom they seek to oppose in vain. We are ready to endure their curses so long as they redound to their blessing.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

And I strive for this; I really do.  And so even though battles wage here and there in my life, I do endeavor to shrug them off and replace them with love and blessing.  It is difficult some days, and today I tripped, yet again.  God is just so good and teaches me from my knees, where I have fallen before those who hurt me. I did not raise my hands in blessing today; I should have. I chose to react and for that I seek God’s forgiveness.

But then again, God blesses us in so many disparate areas of our lives.  I lost a friend yesterday, but I found out I am blessed with another granddaughter.  One of my oldest son’s friends and co-workers was hurt very badly yesterday, but today he texted my son from the ICU and said, “I’m going to make it.” What a blessing.  I worked on an issue that I thought had become a lost cause, but was encouraged enough later in the day, to be very hopeful.  These “givings;” these “taking away”…they balance our lives; they give us character and strength; they motivate us to keep going, keep learning, to keep our journey of Theosis pointed in the right direction – towards Him Who saves us.

Elder PaosiosAs of this afternoon I have already faced some demons in my life and in my little neck of the woods. I also dealt very poorly with a particular young man, but out of that experience, I sought forgiveness and I grew another step in learning patience to raise my hands in blessing when someone opposes me.  This morning, lolling its way into this afternoon, has produced some awesomeness of its own! I have had very productive talks with two different sons about a variety of subjects, thrown in a couple of loads of laundry, worked on some issues with friends, and if I can just produce an evening meal, I will feel really blessed!!

God is working in me today and I rejoice in God my savior.

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