Category Archives: triste ambulant

fides ambulant – day 0

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“For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.” (James 1:3 NLT)

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It is a new year – 2013.  What are we going to do with it?  I offer a short list – not resolutions but extensions or reinforcements of my existing faith – then I am done here for awhile.  Thanks for following along.  And thank you for your patience, sympathy, and understanding in the year past.

1. Get out of God’s way

2. Share shalom with those who will accept shalom

3. Pursue quality friendship

4. Meditate

5. Talk and live faith

6. Listen

7. Serve

8. Kneel instead of reach

9. Expose and pursue hope

10. Bridge the gap

11. Be thankful

12. Calm down

13. Relish the memories – create a future

14. Laugh

15. Accept grace

16. No excuses – just intention

17. Get off the fence

18. Empathize

19. Meat – not milk

20. Take the time

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Perhaps you will join me in making 2013 a year of renewal in our faith. I will need your help.  Maybe I can help you out, too.

Together. Forever.

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triste ambulant – day 1

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“This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” John 11:4

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It’s the last day of the year – the end of a long year for me.  One year ago, Regina was not doing too well – she had a strange infection of some kind that had showed up several months earlier that was being treated and that, later, would require surgery.  She was still teaching, of course, but was enjoying the holiday break.  As I recall, we had not planned to do much during the holiday because she was dragging quite a bit.  Unlike her, she would sit down on the couch during the day and fall asleep for hours.  For several holiday seasons prior, we had agreed to go to a movie every day for one week – five movies.  Unfortunately, last year there just weren’t enough decent movies to see but, also, she just wasn’t up to it.

She was failing.  Little did we know that the dominoes were already beginning to fall…

And God’s view of things is unique.  He can see all and sense all, I believe.  But I don’t think seeing all and knowing all is what God uses as license to do all.  As parents, we often could see all and sense all with our little boys, but there were many times when intervention was not the appropriate action for us to take.  Of course, we could have stepped in every time the guys needed something – we were fully capable.  But in the natural order of ‘little boys growing up in the world’, we were almost compelled to let them fend and fight and experience what little boys needed to experience and learn.  Often times, it was very hard to watch.  And often times, the boys did get hurt.  It made us sad.  Hopefully, the experiences were used by the boys to learn and then be stronger the next time that difficult situations arose in their lives.

I can’t even possibly begin to explain and even touch on how God masters his universe day to day.  It would be silly for any of us to try to explain his mastery of the universe even in ‘like as’ or metaphorical terms.  I think it is just too big and that it is beyond what our human minds can comprehend.  Let’s leave it at that.  I have.

But what I do see and feel are the ripples of the countless decisions made by us and people before us since the beginning of time.  Decisions that God let us and them make.  I know God can see and feel my hurt, but I also know that much of what happens to me (and you and all of us) is what is brought on by our own skewed approach to living in this difficult, broken world.

And here we get into philosophies that men of all ages have struggled with – why doesn’t an all-powerful God step in and prevent our human suffering?  Or put another way by those more cynical or by those who have been directly hurt, “If God is so big and powerful, why did he let … happen?”

We are coming full circle now.  This is how I am trying to work through all of this.  We began about a month ago with a brief discussion from John 11.  Now if you haven’t made the decision to believe in God or in the Bible then this may not help you too much.  I’m sorry and we can, of course, talk about it – I would love to talk with you.  But I have been pretty clear that I do believe in God and that I do believe in the message of the Bible.  And in this belief, my questions and answers are all bounded by God and his mysterious governance of the universe.

But back to John 11.  Jesus knew that Lazarus was going to die – he sensed it and his friends had also told Jesus that Lazarus was going to die.  It was pretty obvious that Lazarus had little time left – he was going to pass from this life.  Yet, Jesus lingered in taking any action.  In fact, all he did do was to say, basically, that God would be glorified.  God would be glorified?

So Lazarus died.  And even Jesus was sad – along with all of the friends and acquaintances of Lazarus.  I supposed that Jesus was sad because everyone else was sad – sadness spreads, doesn’t it?  Each person comforted each other after the loss.  Just like today, isn’t it?  When someone passes, we are sad and experience loss.  We hurt.  We grieve.  We feel for each other.  And we try to comfort each other.  But it still feels horrible.  And of course, it is horrible.  Like with Regina.  She’s gone.  And it’s horrible.

Then to the ones who were hurting, Jesus said something that I am hanging my whole entire existence upon.  My hope that I can see Regina again someday.  My hope for my sons and daughters and their children.  My hope for friends and acquaintances that I care deeply for.

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My hope comes from these words of Jesus.

“I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.  Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26 NIV)

Yes. I do.

Happy New Year.

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triste ambulant – day 2

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“This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” John 11:4

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And fourth, I believe that the decisions that I make now will have much to do with me being able to see Regina again someday.

I miss her terribly.

Yes, I do think that who and what I am now has a tremendous impact on where and what I will be in the next life.  Whether it’s up there, over here, or somewhere, I think that I can look forward to seeing Regina again.  I believe she will be able to somehow laugh, giggle, and say ‘good grief’.  I also believe that she will be vibrantly healthy and strong – something that she never was able to fully enjoy here with us.  

No, I don’t think we will look like or act like we do now – in physical form.  But I do think that we will recognize each other somehow – in God’s mystery – and we will be able to acknowledge each other and that somehow we will have a bond of some kind.  It won’t be marriage – that is over and gone.  My marriage to Regina is now and forever a memory.  But it will be something special – none of this here has been a waste.  Whatever our future lives hold together, it will be really special, I think.

I want to see Regina with her parents.  I have always wanted to see all three of them together.  She never had parents that she could talk with about her kids and grandkids – they were gone too soon.  And I hope that they have all been able to do a lot of catching up in the past six months – she so much loved her sons and daughters and grandchildren and I’m sure she can talk non-stop about them all with her parents.  She truly lived and existed for her kids.  No question about it.  And I hope that she now is living in the presence of her parents and her memories of her offspring – she could not be happier, I am confident.

I think a lot about the decisions I make now.  I want to provide for my sons and their families.  That will not be too hard.  I also want to prepare for my next life – and I want to prepare in a good way and in a way that brings distinction to God.  I want to live the rest of my years in a way that is honest and beneficial to me but also to others.  This is my hope.

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I think that the emptiness and loss that I feel is proportionately but oppositely felt by Regina – she is now bathed in safety, reconciliation, and peace.  And I am happy about it.  And if I can gain any sense of comfort in all of this, I am comforted to think that somehow God let me live with and experience just a tiny bit of his heaven while loaning his Regina to me for a few years.  It is truly mysterious and grand to think that God would do this for me.  It is beyond my imagination.

Anyway, a final quote from one of my favorite books and author.  Victor Hugo wrote in Les Miserables the following:

“To love another person is to see the face of God.”

I have seen God.

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triste ambulant – day 3

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“This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” John 11:4

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Third, my decision-making must have integrity and honesty.  A lot of water has crossed under my bridge in years past and it simply doesn’t make sense to me anymore to participate in activities that demean and mock existence or hopes and dreams.  There is always a place for quality commentary and humor, but there is not a place for serious and hurtful degradation and denigration in relationships and in matters of existence.

The thing is, there is so much mystery and uncertainty in life (these are not the same things, by the way) that it hardly makes sense to spend inordinate amounts of time trying to unlock things that are impossible to unlock.  Instead, it makes more sense to fully engage in what is good, honest, and fair.  Engaging in things like building up relationships, vocation, and faith.  Taking care of my part of the world.  Keeping an eye out for those around me and who are important to me.  Making sure the fires keep burning where they are needed to give comfort and strength.

This may all sound like a lot of words, but it is really easy to be employed by trivia and tasked by inane.  There are 500 channels on my TV of which the vast majority are easily categorized as being trivial and inane.  The Internet is jam-packed with time-consuming and energy-eating fluff.  Most entertainment is hardly even entertainment – in the truest sense of the word.  Instead, so much of what is called entertainment is nothing more than styrofoam box packing material – it takes up space but serves no useful purpose in my heart and soul.

Again, this may seem like something that almost doesn’t need saying, but searching for and finding quality and integrity in our existence most assuredly must be done with intentionality.  It does take effort to find what is good and precious in life.  If, rather, I depend on fair and balanced news reporting, quick 140-word blasts of back-and-forth texting conversations, or self-medicated flights of fancy for my view of existence then absolutely the world will look like a pretty scary, angry, paranoid, and dark place.

There is so much around me that can capture my attention.  Some of it is pretty serious stuff.  Some of it is just ambient noise.  Regardless, however, there is always something trying to work its way into my brain.  It keeps rapping rapping rapping until either my brain’s door opens up to it and gives it some attention or my brain simply runs out the door and beats the pesky visitor with a big stick until the attention-wannabe leaves me alone.  It is tiring, isn’t it?

So, there needs to be filtering going on almost all of the time.  Don’t let garbage pile up on the porch of my soul.  Don’t let waste blow up on the threshold of my heart.  Don’t let rubbish peek through the window of my mind.  Keep it all away – a long way away.  Keep it out of the yard, off the block, out of the city, and beyond the state line.  

Instead, greet what is quality and has integrity.  Say hello to what is good and kind and compassionate.  Extend a hand of friendship to that which offers peace and consolation and wisdom.  Wave heartily to that which is about love and distinction.

With not too much effort, it is easy to get lost in some dark and depressing swamps.  But with some planning, faith, and intent, it is also very possible to stay above the fog on the high-road where there can be peace and understanding.

This will probably be hard to do by myself…

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triste ambulant – day 4

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“This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” John 11:4

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Second, maybe my existence is not as much about me as it is about me taking opportunities to expose others to God.  Maybe others can’t see God but they can sure see me and how I act and do things on a day-to-day basis.  In seeing me, do they see God or do they see a self-centered and tired out old person who has lots to say but not much to show?  Do my decisions demonstrate a desire to serve God and others or do my decisions end up all being about me?

Maybe I should consider the possibility that my existence might not be as much about me getting all that I can out of life as it might be about me needing to represent a spiritual God in a physical world.  Maybe I am supposed to be doing this until God takes it all back?  Perhaps I’m the gap-filler until God decides that enough is enough and that his human experiment has about run its course?

Do I think that I am more important than I really actually am?  I’m not suggesting that I don’t have value of some kind but I am suggesting that maybe I have picked up somewhere that somehow this is all about what I feel and what my opinions are when really I should accept the fact that God has plans for me and I either accept them or I reject them.  And God will act accordingly regardless of how important I think I have become.  So, maybe my decision-making should have less to do with what I think I need and want and more to do with a sensitivity and awareness of what God wants out of me.

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As I get older and experience loss, there are too many complications and too much stress in trying to live on the tightrope that stretches between platforms – one being all about me and the other being all about God.  I’ve tried.  How much can I get away with on my side and still make God happy over on the other side?  How angry will God be if I do this or that?  Wow, look at what a great thing I did so now I should be earning some points with God to make up for those recent slip-ups.

I have a good friend who is literally trying to figure out how much self-medication God is ok with.  Another friend wonders out-loud just how much alcohol can be consumed and still be ok with God.  And yet a third friend figures that there is only one chance to do some things so its hoped that in doing them at least once that God won’t get mad.  

Where has this idea come from that there is some kind of sliding scale from really good to doggedly bad and that God somehow grades on a curve and that we can somehow game the system?  Sadly, I think we have all bought into this bad juju to some extent.  And this discussion will careen off of a high cliff into a dark night…

What about me?  Play the game of tension on the tightrope day in and day out?  Or make a commitment, frankly, to either be a bad and Devil-evil person or, on the other hand, be a good and God-fearing person?  Sounds simply, I know, but we all have to deal with this conflict and tension.  Some more than others, it seems.

“No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matthew 6:24 NLT)

I probably can’t do this right on my own…

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triste ambulant – day 5

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“This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” John 11:4

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First, I want to make decisions based on a faith that there is something coming after this life – something bigger and better.  But I don’t mean to exist now simply to earn a big, fat reward later – a huge grand prize!  In fact, I believe that if something big and amazing is going to come later then – I believe – I can probably start experiencing some of what is coming – now! If I want to be with loved ones after I’m done here then why not start enjoying fellowship with family and friends now – a small taste of the afterlife right here now on earth? If I want peace when I am done here then why not experience some of it now – live as a person of peace with an attitude of peace?  If I believe that people won’t cheat, lie, and scam me later when it is all over, why not hook up with people and do business with people now who won’t cheat, lie, and scam me?  If I hope for a time when there will be no drama, gossip, and shame, then why not look for and associate with people who are not all about drama, gossip, and shame now?  

And so forth.

I can’t explain exactly what it will be like later – all I can use are metaphors and ‘it’s like’ statements – but I do believe that what I expect later can manifest itself partially even now – if I look in the right places and make the right decisions and have a good attitude about these things. No, I don’t expect it to be perfect – probably far from perfect.  But I can experience and get glimpses of what I believe my afterlife will be like and look like by being with people and being in places that I think mirror – if only slightly – what the next life will be like.

God is something I can’t quite put my finger on – is it someone or something or both?  And many will now proceed to explain what they understand their Bibles to say “to us” – it’s absolutely clear, of course –  or tell what others have told them about God or explain what their faith tells them about God.  I get it all – please – I really do.  But I honestly and fundamentally think we actually – instead of knowing more about God – are, instead, limiting God by thinking that we can study and explain and put our finger on who and what God is.  If this God can be explained, then he isn’t the God that I want to have any faith in.   

You see, the God in my head is awesome and huge and amazing, but those are just human words and ideas that do not satisfy me at all.  I, instead, want a God so big that he will blow my socks off with things that my mind can’t even begin to comprehend.  This is the size and shape that my God needs to be for me – so incredible that he can, in fact, do things beyond anyone’s explanation or imagination.  My God needs to be this big else he is nothing more than a conjurer of fantasy and a manipulator of human emotions – any snake oil salesman can conjure and manipulate.  

Of course God can love and care and feel our hurts.  This is an essence and vastly important characteristic of God.  But God is capable of so much more – how can that be?  And when he is loving me and caring for me individually – it is all I need sometimes – he is still running the universe and managing all the hurts and cares of the other billions of people on earth and…

Where does it stop?

How do I want to make decisions in the future?  Well, I partially want to make decisions that allow me to get a glimpse – just a glimpse – of this entity – this someone and something – who keeps the eternal universe running and who is the eternal universe.  All in one.

“I am the Lord God. I rule the world, and I can do anything!” (Jeremiah 32:27 CEV)

What’s left?

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triste ambulant – day 6

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“This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” John 11:4

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Christmas Day was as comfortable a day as possible, I suppose. I spent a nice morning with NiLaLi – thanks so much for your hospitality and understanding. I received many phone texts from family and good friends – you don’t know how much your words meant to me – throughout the day. The messages started coming in around 7am Tues morning and they kept coming in until last evening around 9pm. I also received phone calls from family and friends, too. Of course, I appreciate your time and the energy you invested to think of me.

I only hope that I can be as out-going next time someone is in need and is hurting. This is one of the many lessons I have learned in the past few months – take the time to reach out to someone who hurts. It is simple and very meaningful – especially when coming from special people. I hope I can do as well with others as many of you have been doing for me.

I am about to wrap up this month of opening up for you in this forum. Then I will take a break. It may or may not have been coming through clearly, but I’ve wanted to inspect the mysteries of God and the universe that I believe I am now facing.

Basically, my world was rocked when I lost Regina and everything ended up – and is still – falling into one of two buckets. One bucket seems to be leaky and has no staying power – the other bucket seems like it could extend into eternity and is something I can’t really explain. These are the two buckets:

1. Stuff that doesn’t matter that I should throw over the side – I don’t need it

2. Stuff that really matters that I should keep hold of – I really need it

It may not be quite as black and white as what is in the list below, but these are becoming some pretty compelling filters that I can and have been using to make decisions that I’ve had to make – and will continue to make – as to whether something stays or goes. And yes, this applies to things and it applies to relationships. This is what my filtering has started to look like:

1. Have I used or done anything with it in the past twelve months?

2. Does it encourage and strengthen me or does it drag and choke me down?

3. Does it hold an aspect of faith and endurance or is it about quitting and giving up?

4. Is it about building someone else up or is it about building me up?

5. Is it good or is it evil?

6. Can it be used by me or someone else in the future?

7. Does it smell like an eternity thing or is it a flash-in-the-pan?

8. Is it popularly valuable or is it popularly faddish?

9. Does it cause thankfulness or shame?

10. Is it mysteriously uplifting or is it safely debilitating?

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And my extra credit:

11. Is it because I am thinking with a level head or is it because I am angry?

And I think somehow – again – these two buckets are basically different in that one is all about the here-and-now and the other one is all about everything else. I can’t explain the second bucket very well. I think it is about God and eternity and everlasting and islands in time and so forth. It sounds good to me but I can’t explain it.

For the next few days and as I wrap this up, I want to consider and wonder about my bins and what I put in each one of them and what happens to what I put in the two buckets and how I get stuff in one or the other bucket and what happens to me now or forever depending on how I fill my buckets. You get the idea. Maybe.

I probably can’t do this right on my own…

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triste ambulant – day 7

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“This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” John 11:4

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It weighs a little more than half a pound and can fit nicely into a small box. It will make you laugh mostly. But sometimes you will cry, too, because of it. It will take you special places, give you new ideas, pick you up, and make you feel better.

It listens when it needs to listen and talks when it needs to talk. It can exhibit all kinds of amazing emotions. It can protect and defend – with a vengeance. It can nurture and strengthen with understanding and patience.

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It can bring peace. It can heal in amazing ways. Without too much effort on its part, it can always figure out where it is needed the most at any time. It often never gives up. It can love unconditionally. It has an unlimited supply of hope. Mine came loaded with faith that things would always work out like they should work out.

For it’s tiny size, it is amazingly strong – it can pick up things hundreds of times bigger and heavier than it is. It can hum a melody or sing a song – it is very good at making music. It can draw pretty pictures, write meaningful letters, and magically communicate strange but life-giving messages of devotion.

It’s a tough little thing. The one I had didn’t break until after almost 2 billion repetitions. Sometimes it can get out of kilter a little bit but – with some mending – it will be just fine and keep on working like it had never been broken. There are no warranties on it but that’s alright – it is such a special little gift that a warranty can’t replace it if it ever does quit working.

Interesting thing about it – it can give its whole self to you. It can be one of the most unselfish things that you will ever have. For being so small, it can give more of itself than is even imaginable. And it can keep on giving – on and on and on. Sometimes it almost seems like its sole reason for existing is for you. Often, it doesn’t even think about itself – even when in danger or broken.

These things are worth their weight in gold. But more. No, they are value-less because they are so special. They are something that can’t be compared with money or diamonds or platinum or anything – they are worth so much more.

Do you want such a gift? I’m sure you do. I had one for awhile – it’s gone now, though. But I have no regrets. It was the best gift a person could have ever expected to have in a lifetime. Mine was very special – for over thirty years. A tiny little thing that ended up being bigger than anything I could have ever imagined. This little gift kept working and giving and thriving right up until it couldn’t do it any longer.

And while I wish I had my gift back sometimes, I actually now wish and hope more that you can find and have such a special gift. I really do – there is absolutely nothing like it at all.

The gift of a heart.

Merry Christmas.

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triste ambulant – day 8

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“This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” John 11:4

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It’s Christmas Eve.  

This can be a special and magical and spiritual time of year – if we want it to be.  There is, of course, the madness and silliness of the season but there still can be the wonder and mystery of what is out there and what is in us.  I know there is evil and violence all around us – there will be even during this otherwise very Western and commercial holiday.  But even so, I am able – I hope you can, too – to find some peace and rest and comfort during the next few days.

Of course, our family developed and accidentally created many holiday traditions over the years.  Frankly, this year I am trying to not think about those too much.  It is hard, I guess – still pretty raw.  But regardless, I do like this time of year – the music, sounds, friends, family, tastes.  I guess this is all bigger than any one person or one thing.

And I suppose that is what I am leaning on for the next few days – this all is and will be bigger than me and my hurts and losses.  This time of year can transcend what has happened to me this past year.  I still see the little ones laughing and running.  I still see the snow falling.  I still hear the songs and smell the smells.  I still can sense wonder and grace and calmness.

I have been reading recently about what are called ‘Blue Christmas’ services or “Longest Night’ services that are often presented by churches this time of year.  These services are sensitive to those who are grieving and are experiencing loss and pain.  I like this idea.  

From an organization who has helped me the past few months, Stephen Ministries, a brief description of a ‘Longest Night’ service that was held several evenings ago in Delaware:

Held on the longest night of the year, just before Christmas, this service is open to anyone in the congregation or in the community who has suffered a loss. The candlelight and the beautiful stained glass of the music center set the tone for a quiet, meditative service.

“When they arrive, they are closed, into themselves, carrying their pain,” said Dawn Gent, Stephen Leader and Stephen Minister. “Most come alone. Everyone walks in there in the bubble—the pain bubble—and finds a space separate from other people. They don’t know how upset they are going to get so they want to make sure they have some space.”

“We read a litany that begins ‘This is the season of love and joy and family’; the response is ‘but not for us,’” Dawn said.

During the service a bell rings for each member of the congregation who has died that year. At the close of the service, each person is invited to come to the table at the front of the room, light a candle, and speak the name of the person he or she has lost.

“The first year I attended the service was the year my mother had died,” Dawn said. “That first year I couldn’t get up there; I could not walk to the table and light the candle. But the next year I was seated next to a woman who was clearly as grieving and hesitant as I was. I turned to her and said, ‘Last year I couldn’t do it, but I think together we could walk up there.’ And we did.

“The most moving moment, and the hardest part for me, was speaking the name out loud,” Dawn said. “When I was able to say the name, it gave me a sense of closure.”

The service concludes with a small reception. “It gives everyone an opportunity for sharing, for caring, for moments of quiet to watch the flickering flames,” Dawn said. “It is beautiful.

“People look transformed. They have been able to express something that has been locked up inside. They’ve had a chance to say good-bye. They feel a lift of their burden.”

I know this isn’t for everyone.  And it isn’t meant to be, of course.  But it is where I am right now so I find interest in activities like this.  Yes, I did look for a ‘Blue Christmas’ service locally but was unable to find one.  That is ok – nothing lost.  But I completely understand the motivation behind what some good people are trying to do for those who hurt – and I appreciate it.

So, it is Christmas Eve and I hope you can spend some quality time with friends and family.  I hope for you a special evening – even in the hubbub of life that spins uncontrollably around us.  Enjoy and appreciate your blessings.  And for you, a colorful blue reminder of the season…

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God is good and God is big and – if we believe – he will never abandon us.

I believe.

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triste ambulant – day 9

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“This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” John 11:4

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Ady recently shared this with me. It is something he talked with his church about in Constanta a few weeks ago. We discussed this topic together for probably an hour or so when we talked yesterday.

Anyway, this is important – and it is about how God makes people tick and how God likes people to get along with each other and deal with hard situations. What is key to me here is that this way of sorting out our fall-outs prevents victimization, fatalism, depression, and rationalization – all absolutely debilitating conditions.

1. Admit that it hurts. And that it might make me angry, too. And that it makes me worry, fret, despondent, and fume. It hurts bad – it is hurting so bad that it makes me someone that I know I should not be and that I don’t want to be. Hurt left unattended can kill – physically, mentally, and spiritually. Not dealing with hurt is the end. But recognizing hurt for what it is – dangerous and consuming – and then wanting to do something about the hurt is a positive action that is extremely empowering – I’m no longer a slave to someone else.

2. Give up my rights. Give up my claims. All of them – with no conditions. I will harbor no grudges or expectations of anyone. It is over. There aren’t any lingering lists, unpaid IOUs, or open threats that will come back and be thrown out on the table at some future date or in some future circumstance. There is not any debt left to be paid or collected – it is a clean slate. It’s like it never happened or existed.

3. Look for some good in the offending person. This is an intense exercise and effort to reset my perspective and attitude. This is all about walking in their shoes, turning the other cheek, hiking the extra mile, refocusing, re-prioritizing. This step takes a huge amount of energy and it takes commitment and selflessness. In a broken world, we all need to recognize that there is always something at the root – at the core and center – for anything and everything that happens. Being sensitive to a cause may not make something right, but it gives me perspective. And instead of using an offense as a crutch, I can learn and try to not let it happen again. I also will learn to be sympathetic and empathetic. And besides, the other person may be hurting. Maybe they need some love and care and attention.

4. Desire good things for the other person. My hope and prayer for the other person should not be vengeance and pain, but for healing and blessings. Instead of wanting more hurt in the world, I should desire that there be more care and tolerance. And this starts with me and my feelings toward the one who hurt me or who I hurt.

5. Renew the relationship. An open and obvious effort should be made with the one who hurt me to make amends. Engagement and words. Conversation and exchange. This may be the hardest step of all – the other steps can be done in my own heart and mind. This step, however, is about confronting my antagonist and attempting to make things right. It may not all end up being like it was before, but clearing this hurdle can leave the wound clean and open and ready for healing instead of the wound remaining full of pus, gangrene, and infection. Any effort toward renewal probably will require some boundaries and baby-steps, but that’s ok. It’s a start.

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The thing here is that if I am consumed with anger and hurt that I think has been brought on by someone else, then I will have less energy and space and time to be consumed by and with God and his eternity. I won’t be investing my time in being able to see the beauty and magnificence of God’s creation – instead, I will be spending and investing my time in seeing the darkness and underbelly of Satan’s world. Is this really where I want to be spending my time – anger, hate, vengeance, hurt, gossip, brokenness, filth, anxiety, angst, shame, retribution, greed, selfishness?

Of course not, but to free ourselves from evil we must reconcile our personal relationships in a way that enables us to be wrapped in God’s mysterious and eternal goodness.

My time with Ady every week is encouraging, edifying, sometimes challenging, and always special. Thanks, Ady, for your thoughts and care.

Let’s pursue what is good – together.

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