Life in Action

life and loveLife is about taking action, about weeding out and winnowing down that which corrupts us. Whether we are paralyzed by fear or pain, bad memories or relationships, anger or disappointment, the #1 person you damage by sitting in those (rust) spots is yourself.

Life in action. Take some time today, and then once a week, to look into the spiritual mirror and ask yourself, what should I get rid of? And to whom have I given the power to “make” me feel small, meaningless, belittled, invisible, scarred, less-than?

John 19:11:  “You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above; therefore he who delivered me to you has the greater sin.”

Think about that: people who have come in and out of your life and left you more scarred, bear the brunt of responsibility for that.

What you, yourself, bear the responsibility for, is letting go. For forgiving.

John 20:22-23: “And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’ ”

Tomorrow – or on the day that I die – I want to know that I released anyone who has ever hurt me, that I have forgiven them. That doesn’t mean that they will be spared of the spiritual consequences of their actions, but it means that if I am successful in this, I will travel this road lighter – and cleaner! – then I would have, had I held onto that pain.

I love the Serenity Prayer:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;

Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
Amen.

–Reinhold Niebuhr

 

May you be blessed with Serenity, this day and forevermore!

 

 

City That Never Sleeps

lovely blog post by my good friend Lisa

The Long Way Home

View from Ellis View from Ellis

I traveled to New York last month with my friend Becky, whom I’ve known for over 20 years. Her sister Angie and brother-in-law Mark were gracious to open their home, and their world to us, 41 floors above this magical city – because even years later, even after years of life’s twists and turns and travels  – New York still has a soft spot in my heart for magical things to happen. Our main agenda for the trip was Ellis Island – Becky wanted to look up her family roots – and so I aimed to take postcard shots since Ellis was the most touristy thing I’ve done on a trip in a long time. It was a beautiful fall day, so we walked, everywhere: through Times Squares on our first evening; from Battery Park all the way back to Midtown the next – each neighborhood we slipped…

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I am what I am, not what I do

Nunni, Becky '72

This is me as a baby, yawning, probably exhausted, being held by my Nunni who refused to take off her robe if she wasn’t leaving the house –  but put her earrings on first thing in the morning. Being 7 of 10 (ah, yes, the Title of my Future Semi-Autobiographical Comedy Book!!) wasn’t easy.

Compared to what I ‘be’ now, though, it was a freakin’ piece of cake.

I consider motherhood my vocation and not my function.

Motherhood is not incidental to me, it is central. I am terrified to think that someday I will lose one of my children to accident, illness, or worst of all, the death of the spirit: that they will walk away from everything about we have taught them about the Trinity and grace and salvation and redemption. And motherhood doesn’t exclude the importance of everything else in my life, but if I had to choose, I would give up everything else to that vocation: writing, traveling, cooking, eating, even breathing.

I see my number one role as ushering them into heaven. That’s a “be”, not a “do.” There’s no way to earn your way into heaven, it is belief that opens the door. (Awkwardly), there’s a reason that it is called belief and not do-lief.

Function is not central: my role didn’t peak or end at the last gasp of delivery. That’s also how I feel about my children, that it’s not their job to perform their way into my good graces. I ask my children to do the best they can, and then call it a day. There’s no expectation that all of them will go to university, nor have initials after the name Brad and I gave them at baptism, nor initials before. Whether they do or don’t do higher education, get married, have children, we are called to love them either way.

Of late, I have seen multiple incidents of my role being labeled as “breeder.” I wish this were an isolated incident, and maybe it is a defensive posture of people who feel themselves made less by society for their lack of children, but it is laughable as a label. The least of what I have done is birth my children.

The hard work started after that: prayer, prayer, and more prayer.  Prayer that they would survive every incident of serious illness in infancy,prayer for safety at the bus stop, prayer that they would find that one best friend in school before Thanksgiving, prayer that they would never catch the eye of a predator or an opportunist, prayer that they would have a good sense of humor (for my oldest, most serious child), prayer that they would look out for younger siblings and respect their elders, prayer that they would catch on to all the niceties that I teach them a thousand times over (please, thank you, you’re welcome, how can I help?), prayer that they would have a heart of service and be Jesus’ hands and feet on this earth, prayer that the rote prayers would become heartfelt and true for each of them as they progress in maturity.

But also, the hard work is being a good example. There are times, like today, where I am sick and would love to crawl back into bed instead of getting the kids off to school, and with a good attitude. But I do it – anyway. From love. There are times where you hide worry and shame and guilt and fear so that your kids can live their lives unencumbered and worry-free. Times when the uncertain future of each child can so burden you – that you can barely catch your breath; and then I breathe, and pray, and watch a good comedy or watch them goofing off with each other, and it’s oh, so worth it.

I try to operate from love. Sometimes the worry gets in the way, or one of the teens’ attitudes or dismissive nature, and then I get caught – Adult Behaving Badly. (I need to get a bright red t-shirt – preferably tie dyed – that says ABB so that my kids have ample warning.)

But I get up the next day, and be again.

Let Your Flag Fly High! (or, Much Ado About Everything)

having had conversations on this topic with eight to ten people in the last couple of weeks, thought it made sense to re-blog this one; have a great day! let love be your flag –

shesabadmother

flags NYC  Recently, a family friend, a Christian, came out. As a fellow Christian, I could have seen this as a complicated sequences of events that were mine to judge or to make commentary on; to closely examine and then to discard.  Much ado is made nowadays about the state of a person’s sexual identity, and as Christians, we are told by Pat Robertson that gay people are “terrorists” (well, if I watched Pat Robertson…).

If I allowed Pat Robertson to speak for me, I would look like the craziest person in the world.

I allow scripture to speak for me instead: 1 Corinthians 12:4-8 “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all…

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30 Lbs. Later / Food Love

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Friends and family have asked how I have lost so much weight in a short amount of time – I’m now down THIRTY POUNDS – Yay!  (I’m celebrating, not bragging.)

The short answer is: finding a food plan that works for my body chemistry, and then being self-disciplined about it. That meant 21 weeks of saying “no, thank you!” to pasta, bread, cakes, cookies, anything white-flour based, packaged and processed.

But it also meant replacing those products with healthy and delicious foods:

* items made from potato or rice flour, or plantains

* walnuts, pecans, almonds, raw pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds without added salt (“naked”)

* brown, jasmine, or basmati rice

* spinach pasta or quinoa

* Toufayan low carb/low sodium wraps in place of bread

* cheese cake or oatmeal crumble instead of cake

* Crunchmaster Multi Grain crisps (found at Rite Aid)

* crunchy granola bars or other (homemade) oatmeal snacks without corn syrup

* fresh chicken, pork, beef, or turkey (cook with skin and fat on, trim off before eating)

* ALL types of beans, canned or bagged (rinse first to lower sodium); legumes; lentils

* wild-caught salmon (preferably from your own country)

* cheeses: the older, the better! ; olives, pickles

* sweet potatoes: wash, poke, and put in microwave for five minutes

* fresh veggies and fruits (google the Dirty Dozen/Clean Fifteen list), esp. greens like spinach, and squashes

* snacks: mix nuts with dried berries and chocolate chips, cheesecake squares, squares of dark chocolate, pudding or sherbet without corn syrup

Do I think that my approach will work for everyone? Probably not.  But the foods I listed are in any Aldi’s grocery store, so no luxury food source is needed. That’s good, right?

What I do know is that food that is closest to the source is best, and homemade is best.  Our American fast-food, pre-packaged lifestyle isn’t working.  Diabetes, obesity, heart disease and cancer, are epidemic in my country.  The amount of fake sugar, soy and corn products and fillers in our grocery foods are suspect in these diseases.

Have to start somewhere, right?