Come and Follow Me

Well, I was just starting to get comfortable and calm and wonder if all of the dreams and restlessness were really just a part of going through this journey called life with others around me.  Then, I went to church on Sunday and just as I knelt for communion…the music started.

Will you come and follow me
arr: John L Bell
Tune: Kelvingrove

Will you come and follow me if I but call your name?
Will you go where you don’t know and never be the same?
Will you let my love be shown?
Will you let my name be known?
Will you let my life be grown In you and you in me?

Will you leave yourself behind if I but call your name?
Will you care for cruel and kind and never be the same?
Will you risk the hostile stare should your life attract or scare?
Will you let me answer prayer In you and you in me?

Will you let the blinded see if I but call your name?
Will you set the pris’ner free and never be the same?
Will you kiss the leper clean and do such as this unseen
and admit to what I mean In you and you in me?

Will you love the ‘you’ you hide if I but call your name?
Will you quell the fear inside and never be the same?
Will you use the faith you’ve found to reshape the world around,
through my sight and touch and sound In you and you in me?

Lord, your summons echoes true when you but call my name.
Let me turn and follow you and never be the same.
In your company I’ll go where your love and footsteps show.
Thus I’ll move and live and grow In you and you in me.

I started sobbing at the table where I was about to receive Christ.

Here I am, with my reverent little boy waiting for Christ and I look at him and see Christ.  I see love.  I see forgiveness.  I see hope.  I see joy.  I see a life that may that may never be the same… and in my tears, I smile at this child, this beautiful gift of mine from God and I can not deny.  I can never turn my back and I then open myself to receive.

I don’t even know what I’m saying yes to.  I only know that I am God’s and he is mine.  I will go where he leads me.  I must.  This God, who has never turned away from me, can receive nothing less from me but everything I am and everything I will be.

All of this flowing through me was followed by a passage I read this morning in the book Jesus Calling by Sarah Young.  It reads:

Wait quietly in my presence while My thoughts form silently in the depths of your being.  Do not try to rush this process, because hurry keeps your heart earthbound.  I am the Creator of the entire universe, yet I choose to make My humble home in your heart.  It is there where you know Me most intimately; it is there where I speak to you in holy whispers.  Ask My Spirit to quiet your mind so that you can hear My still small voice within you.  I am speaking to you continually: words of Life…Peace…Love.  Tune your heart to receive these messages of abundant blessing.  Lay your requests before Me, and wait in expectation.

It made me reflect on something else I read this week from the book the Fire and the Clay where George Guiver writes, if being with Christ is a somewhat disconcerting experience, even more disconcerting must be the prospect of Christ being formed in us.

This morning I read a passage from 1 Kings 19:11-13 (NRSV)

He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence.  When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.  Then there came a voice to him that said, “What are you doing, Elijah?”

I find in this passage this truth; It is in the silence that we can hear.  It is often also in the silence that we can just be.  George Guiver also wrote in the Fire and the Clay, If we can not face silence, that means that we can not face ourselves, and something is needing attention.  I find true wisdom in those words and they are a great reminder to me to cultivate those quiet moments and in silence I may be having the most profound conversation.

I’ll end with a passage that I keep coming back to these last few days:

Psalm 5 (NRSV)

Give ear to my words, O Lord;
give heed to my sighing.
Listen to the sound of my cry,
my King and my God,
for to you I pray.
O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice;
in the morning I plead my case to you, and watch.

For you are not a God who delights
in wickedness;
evil will not sojourn with you.
The boastful will not stand before your eyes;
you hate all evildoers.
You destroy those who speak lies;
the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful.

But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love,
will enter your house,
I will bow down toward your holy temple in awe of you.
Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness because of my enemies;
make your way straight before me.

For there is no truth in their mouths;
their hearts are destruction;
their throats are open graves;
they flatter with their tongues.
Make them bear their guilt, O God;
let them fall by their own counsels;
because of their many transgressions cast them out,
for they have rebelled against you.

But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
let them ever sing for joy.
Spread your protection over them, so that those who
love your name may exult in you.
For you bless the righteous, O Lord;
you cover them with favor as a shield.

Valleys

It’s in the valleys I grow

Sometimes life seems hard to bear,
full of sorrow, trouble and woe.
It’s then I have to remember
that it’s in the valleys I grow

If I always stayed on the mountain top
and never experienced pain,
I would never appreciate God’s love
and would be living in vain

I have so much to learn
and my growth is very slow,
sometimes I need the mountain tops
But it’s in the valleys I grow

I do not always understand,
why things happen as they do.
But I am very sure of one thing,
My Lord will see me through

My little valleys are nothing
when I picture Christ on the cross
He went through the valley of death,
His victory was Satan’s loss.

Forgive me Lord, for complaining
when I’m feeling so very low.
Just give me a gentle reminder
that it’s in the valleys I grow.

continue to strengthen me, Lord.
and use my life each day
to share your love with others
and help them find their way.

Thank you for valleys, Lord
for this one thing I know
the mountain tops are glorious
But it’s in the valleys I grow.

By:Jane Eggleston

I’ve been thinking a lot about valleys.  After all, it is lent.  I am reminded of last years lent as we were going through our fertility treatments and I was asked to sing the Exultet at our Easter Vigil service (as we had no deacon).  I will refer to a post from last year, And the Journey rolls on…  I feel as though I am coming full circle.  Somehow God always makes his presence known in reminders such as these.  So, this Lent we walk through another valley…I grow, my son grows, my husband grows…we grow together.  But boy…do I see the light Easter right around the corner.  The light of Christ.  Thanks be to God.  Rejoice heavenly hosts and choirs of angels, for the victory of our Mighty King.  Darkness has been vanquished (from the Exultet). 

How loved am I?  So, so, so loved.  I can not express the overflowing love I feel for the little one I spend all of my days with..that God has an even greater love for me, for my family just overwhelms and brings me such great joy and security.  It seems Lent is my time to grow, to hang on to the holy, to feel the holy.  I feel it every time I hold my precious little miracle.  Thank you, God.

Jonathan78

P.S. I’m 3 pounds!!!

From Palms to the Cross

 

Palm Sunday at CHN

Palm Sunday at CHN

Holy week is now upon us.  This is one of my favorite times of the church, when we are asked to share in Christ’s love, joy, and sorrow.  Jesus comes to us humbly on a donkey.  You’ll see above and below, that CHN (my parish) starts it’s service outdoors with shouts of Hosanna! noise makers and the waving of Palms.

Palm4

Palm15

It’s a service that begins with joy and transitions right into the Passion story as the shouts change from Hosanna! to Crucify Him!  We had a guest preacher, The Reverend Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows from the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago, who gave us a lovely homily.  Thank You.

Jesus comes to us on a donkey.  A humble animal, a working animal.  No one would call it magnificent or striking.  It’s a donkey.  An animal that carries heavy loads or gives rides to children, certainly not an animal any king would ride.  What do we learn here?  What to we see here?  Is it significant?  I think so.  Jesus is preparing to do his final work, the work he was sent here on earth to do.  To carry our very heavy loads.  Paraphrased, to carry our very heavy burdens.  This final work, so we can be free of them, our burdens, our heavy loads and we can experience joy and be filled with the light of Christ at Easter.

Yesterday was Maundy Thursday or Holy Thursday.  One might say our sermon had the title, Stinky Feet.  Another reminder of Christ’s becoming a servant for us, that he brings himself to the ground to wash our feet.  I’ll be honest and say, I don’t usually partake in the washing of feet.  I’m usually singing in the choir as people receive this beautiful gift.  But as many of you know who have read this blog, it has been a challenging Lent for many at my parish.  The love and the humble service from my sisters and brothers at CHN has so moved me, so humbled me, that I felt I must take part.  I had to take the time with tear filled eyes, to take part, because I am a part of this community filled with so much hope, love, and compassion…and always the strength to overcome.  Strength that comes to us from knowing, that God is with us and God will take care of us.  God is showing us lessons of faith, experienced through the tangible, our life’s realities.  What a gift to know and experience this kind of Love.

MThurs2

Thinking of you T.J., with Love and Peace

As my dear friend prepares for her open heart surgery today, and fear and worry can’t be helped, I wanted to honor her and ask for your prayers that God will be with the surgeons and my faithful friend during this time.

Matthew 18: 19-20

Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.  For where two or three come together in my name, there I am with them.

 

If you’re not familiar with Baylor University’s Christian Reflection, a series in faith and ethics, I highly recommend it.  T. J. introduced it to me when we served on the Christian Formation Committee together at CHN.  They publish a new series each month to reflect on.  These can be done in any order.  This month, for obvious reasons, I pulled out the series on Lent.  I want to share a song written by Eric Howell, a pastor from Day Spring Baptist Church in Waco, TX.

Come Near Today   ~  By: Eric Howell

The holy son of God descends

to human pain and need.

O Lord, to my assistance come.

Come quickly, Lord, to help me.

With love assured, your healing word,

the Spirit’s flame, your holy name.

Redeeming grace in this place –

come near today to help me.

Who is this man, the Great I Am,

who loves so fierce and free?

My Lord! You lived our suffering.

Come quickly, Lord, to be near me.

 

Refrain

The holy Son of God walks on

to darkened Calvary.

To bear his cross is now our path.

Come quickly, Lord, to lead me.

Refrain

Now may our prayer be joined with his

through life’s uncertainty.

O Lord, to my assistance come.

Come quickly, Lord, to save me.

 

Refrain

This was in my reflection this morning.  It comforts me to know that God finds a way to give words of comfort, hope, and peace.  A gentle reminder to come to him in our time of need.  May God, the healer, guide the hands of the surgeons this day and be with T.J.  Give her peace and calm as she awaits her surgery later today.  Be with P.G., that she feel the love and presence of God’s spirit, while she awaits word from the surgical team.  Be with C.J. Lord, as she tries to make it through classes.  Give her a clear mind and assurance that all will be well.

Psalm 147:3

He heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds.

 

and the Journey rolls on…

Well, my injections are well underway in preparation for the FET (frozen embryo transfer).

I wasn’t able to make the Ash Wednesday service at CHN (Church of the Holy Nativity), my home parish, so Rich and I decided to go to the 2pm Mass at Holy Name CathedralThe Frances Xavier Warde School along with their own Monsignor Dan Mayall, lead the mass.  I felt like I was exactly where I was meant to be.  The gathering hymn was Lord of all Hopefulness.  Singing, I felt like I was brining all of my own hopes and dreams to the altar.

As the Right Reverend Jeffrey D. Lee said in his Ash Wednesday devotion, “This is a day about the pilgrim way we all walk together toward the waters of new life awaiting for us at Easter.  I feel as though at every turn, God is reminding me that new life is awaiting us at Easter.

To make it even more interesting, I was asked just this week, to sing the Exultet (an Easter proclamation) at The Great Vigil of Easter at CHN.  Normally, this would be done by the deacon, but since we do not have one at this time, I’ve been asked and given this great honor.  I can’t think of a better time to meditate on these words and learn this piece.

I leave you with my devotions today, focusing on scripture meaningful to me in times of difficulty.

2 Corinthians 1:3-7 (NIV)

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.  For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.  If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.  And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so you also share in our comfort.

Philippians 4:4-7 (NIV)

Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all.  The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

A Lenton Journey

fertility-goddess
A Lenten Journey
I had an epiphany yesterday as I received my schedule for our FET (Frozen Embryo Transfer).
Maybe I should back up and start at the beginning…
We got married May 7, 2011 and haven’t prevented conception since then.  In August 2013, we finally decided maybe we should get a full work-up and see if there’s a medical reason we’re not getting pregnant.  After said work-up, things seemed to be ok.  What we were left with is unexplained female infertility.
After four failed IUIs (Intrauterine Insemination), we decided to proceed with IVF (invitro fertilization).  After all, we all only have so many resources, we don’t want to use them all on something that doesn’t appear to be working.  Let me tell you, IVF is pretty intense.  Despite that, we’ve been handling it quite well.  Unfortunately, towards the end of my stimulation process, my hormone levels shot up much too high for a fresh embryo transfer.  Instead, we had to do a “freeze all” and wait for symptoms to subside and my body to calm down to a more normal state.
I am learning patience.
Yesterday though, and even more so this morning, what I feel is love, peace, and God’s presence with me.
Lets get back to that schedule.  As I was plugging all of the different treatments and medications required for this therapy into my calendar (and there are many…that’s the only way to sort it all out), I realized my injections begin March 6th, the day after Ash Wednesday, the start of LENT.  I paused, but continued plugging away until I noticed something else…though the Embryo Transfer will be on April 7th, treatment continues until the pregnancy test on April 18th, Good Friday.
I’ll admit, my first thought was, Oh no…is this a sign of death, gloom, and sadness?  Is this not going to work?
Then I felt an answer in my heart.  It said:  NO.  It is for you to remember I walk with you.  Christ died to give you LIFE.  Yes, LIFE.  God, your father, traveled with his precious son, and he is traveling with you.  He is always there, always aware, but sometimes can’t be seen in the darkness or make his presence known.  Darkness is required so that we may see light and life and look forward to the celebration of Easter.
Coincidence?  I don’t think so.  Two week wait?  Ha, who cares about the two week wait when I’m taking a Lenten journey with my God, with Jesus, that will lead me to Easter.  This is my Lent.