Category: Faith

If you have not yet read Donald Miller’s A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, what are you waiting for?  Seriously.  You need to read it.  If you’re thinking about making a change in your life but you’re too chicken to go for it, you need to read it.  If you ever find yourself thinking that your life is kinda…well…boring, then you need to read it.  If you want to be inspired to do something great, you need to read it.  Just read it already, and tell me what you think in the comments below.

Coincidence? I think not.

Well, it’s another night of insomnia.  Chemo today = steroids that keep me awake, even as the actual chemo drugs cause fatigue.  It’s some kind of cruel medical joke, but one that lets me lay in bed and do a lot of thinking, and sometimes writing, before turning in.

I guess you can see that the blog got a new look tonight.  I needed something happier.  I hope you like it.

You know, when I was laying in bed realizing that I wasn’t going to be falling asleep anytime soon, I started thinking about a whole bunch of things.  I thought about how I should write more, and how I really want to get my kids’ scrapbooks started and finish the sewing projects I’ve had sitting untouched on the dining room table for several weeks now.  I thought about how I’d love to redecorate our bedroom – or CLEAN our bedroom, for that matter.  And I wondered for the umpteenth time how to get months-old milk stains off of red painted nursery walls.

After a while of going on like this, I started thinking about less trivial things, like coincidences, blessings, and community.  I’m a big believer in coincidences that aren’t really coincidences.  I think coincidences are a gift from God – his way of bringing certain knowledge or blessings into our lives when we need them the most.  They are small things that may be meaningless to someone else, but when they happen to us, given our time, place, and circumstances, they are big and powerful.  We’ve all had those moments.  Think about the last time you had a coincidence happen in your life.  What connections did it help you make.  Did it affirm something?  Did it give  you peace?  Did it lead you to a new path or person?  Did it help you grow?

Looking back on the last several months, I can remember several coincidences that I won’t get into here, but which have served to give me greater peace, love, and support in the moments I have most needed them.  I can also think of one coincidence in particular where it was clear that my hubby and I were the ones giving support and peace to a complete stranger, and I think I speak for both of us when I say that being on the giving end of the moment didn’t make it any less meaningful for us.  Coincidences can feel truly magical. They are a way of helping us make meaning in our lives – a way of pushing us to question, connect, take risks, wonder, and mature.  But we can’t experience the wonder of coincidence if our hearts aren’t open to the possibility that they happen for a reason.  And we can’t be open to that possibility without also being open to the idea that maybe – just maybe – there is someone bigger than ourselves out there.  Someone who is designing our lives to be interconnected and beautiful.

Leave me a comment to tell me about the last time you remember experiencing coincidence in your life.   How did that experience affect you, if at all?  Am I crazy to believe that coincidences have meaning?  What do you think?

Cancer Prayer

I wrote the following in a private moment on December 26, after the most depressing Christmas of my life. I was too upset to speak the words aloud, so I wrote my prayer instead, tears streaming down my cheeks, after everyone else had gone to bed. Fast forward to this morning: my husband and I are sitting in bed talking about why bad things happen to good people – namely, us. I decide to share this with him. He tells me that it is beautiful and I need to share it with others. I trust his judgment, so here it is (grab a Kleenex):

Saturday, December 26, 2009
Dear Lord, I thank you for the powerful love of family and friends – a gift that comes directly through you. Thank you for showing me how much you love me by showing me how much others love me. Please let me always see and experience that love with new eyes, and may it never grow stale to my soul. Lord, I don’t understand why you’ve given me this gift of cancer, but you do. I don’t know what the road is that I have ahead of me, but you do. Lord, I am so afraid of leaving my family behind on this earth. I’m sure life in heaven with you is wonderful, but I’m not ready to join you yet. I want to hold my son a few thousand more times, and watch my daughter take her first steps. I want to see so much more of both their lives, and let them know just how much they are loved. You know that already, Lord. You already know the desires of my heart, and while sometimes you have different plans for us than we have for ourselves, I cannot believe for one second that you would ask me to leave my loved ones behind. No Lord, I choose to believe that you have given me this gift to help strengthen my soul and others’ faith. I choose to believe that I will come through with a story to share, and that story will help draw others closer to you. I choose to believe that you will use me as an illustration of your love. I don’t feel worthy of such a job, but I know that you have chosen me for a reason and you will arm me with all that I need to be a testament to you. Thank you again for providing me with so many earth angels, who will continually redirect me to your arms. Amen.

Adam and Eve

Here’s something I don’t understand about the creation story – why are there two versions of it? In the first one, God creates the light, the dark, the water, the sky, the plants, the animals, and then humans. In the first account of creation, when God decides to make humans, we read this:
“God spoke: ‘Let us make human beings in our image, make them reflecting our nature so they can be responsible for the fish in the sea, the birds in the air, the cattle, and yes, Earth itself, and every animal that moves on the face of the Earth. God created human beings; he created them godlike, reflecting God’s nature.”

In the second one, God creates Adam out of the dirt, then decides Adam needs a helper. God proceeds to create all the other animals and have Adam name them. None of them are suitable as Adam’s companion, so God finally creates Eve from Adam’s rib. I get how poetic that part really is, when you think about it. God gives Adam a job to do and makes him spend a long time alone doing this particular job, so that when Eve finally appears in his life, Adam can truly appreciate the beautiful gift of her companionship. After spending so much time in solitude trying to think of names for all the animals, I can imagine that he would have felt a lot of love and gratitude to have another person in his life. That’s a beautiful message when you really think about it.

But really, to me, that is one of the only parts of the second creation story that makes any sense, unless we think about it in a new and different way. If humans were created in the image of God and made responsible for all other life forms, how was it that a lower life-form – a serpent – was so easily able to trick Eve into eating the fruit? If she really was made in God’s image, wouldn’t she be able to see right through his deception? Because humans were supposedly made in the image of God, I have trouble understanding and accepting the concept of original sin as we know it. I think maybe the serpent’s role is not really the point of the story. And maybe we Christians have been basing our belief system on a misunderstanding of what sin really is.

Eckhart Tolle says that the word “sin” is derived from a Greek word having to do with archery, meaning “to miss the mark.” Defining sin as “missing the point” of life rather than “disobeying God’s commands” makes a whole lot of sense to me. And I think that maybe the mark we were supposed to hit was learning to love and appreciate the beauty in our relationships with other people. I think of how many ways I fall short of that goal in my own life. I know I’m not the only one. We all fall short; we all fail to love as well as we could. It has been this way since time began, since Adam and Eve. Even after all his time spent alone it didn’t take long for Adam to stop appreciating Eve and start blaming her instead for the outcomes of his own poor choices. I think that maybe the real original sin was not Eve’s decision to eat the fruit & share it with her husband, but Adam’s reaction to God’s line of questioning. Adam says to God, “The woman you gave me as a companion, she gave me fruit from the tree and yes, I ate it.” He blames not only Eve for giving him the fruit, but God, for giving him Eve as a companion in the first place. This is a man with only two relationships in his life, and he goes and makes a stupid comment that is damaging to both of them.  Adam created the first in a long line of dysfunctional relationships.  Maybe he, not Eve, was the one who missed the point.

It’s interesting to me that Jesus spent 33 years walking the earth, creating relationships with the unloved and teaching people how to remove the dysfunction from our relationships with one another, yet so many Christians focus their attention on Jesus’ death instead of his life.  Jesus died to free us from original sin.  If original sin was simply disobedience, and Christ’s death is really the key, why was it necessary for Jesus to live so long and teach so much about love?  He could have died an infant and accomplished the same goal.    But if our original sin was one of relational dysfunction, rather than disobedience, then Christ’s life and death both make a lot more sense to me.

I have been keeping up with my resolution to read the Bible in it’s entirety. In case anyone wants to keep up with me, the version I’m using is called The Daily Message: Through the Bible in One Year, by Eugene Peterson. For anyone who doesn’t know, The Message is a translation that presents the stories of the Bible in modern-day language. It presents a fresh perspective on some rather old and sometimes tedious material.