Christianity · My Thoughts · Recovery · Spirituality

My Spiritual Father: A Priest and a Friend!

Father dancing with little girl - Spiritual Father

My spiritual father? Does that sound strange? I would say it’s a man who contributes to the growth and nurturing of my spirit, someone who touched my life deeply. As I thought about Father’s Day this week, I knew I’d already written about my dad and other key men in my life. So, I wanted to share about my spiritual father!

I met Fr. Tom Weston, a recovering Jesuit priest, thirty years ago. Here it is Father’s Day 2022 and I want to honor his work in my life. He contributed to my spiritual growth over the last thirty years in a variety of ways. I attended many retreats in Albuquerque after the Mesilla retreat identified below. After hearing him the first time, I have bought eleven recorded cassette tapes then CDs of his teachings. Then, during the coronavirus pandemic, Fr. Tom offered monthly Zoom retreats since April 2020 (or that’s when I started).

My First Experience

In the spring of 1993, I attended my first Serenity Retreat for recovery. A new friend in the program invited me to go with her to Holy Cross Retreat Center in Mesilla, New Mexico, outside of Las Cruces for the weekend. She had raved about Fr. Tom often, and I needed a shot in the arm. I had been dealing with some heavy-duty stuff.

So, we took off at noon—both of us taught our morning classes and away we went. From the first talk on Friday night, I saw Fr. Tom’s amazing talents. He had me laughing one minute and crying the next, then laughing again. He provided a refreshing picture of recovery and Christianity that I needed.

On the drive down, my friend forewarned me Fr. Tom held ten-minute private counseling sessions on Saturday and sign up early because he filled up quickly. She knew the woes I had been going through and felt I needed an extra boost, so I signed up.

When my time came on his packed Saturday schedule, Fr. Tom suggested we walk around the pecan orchard next to the retreat house. I shared my current trauma that had my life topsy-turvy.

Calmly, he said, “I have no experience with your issue, but how about finding a tree here to connect with and something might come up.”

So, I followed his instructions and parked myself under near a tree with my journal. Immediately, memories flooded my mind, and I knew Fr. Tom had known my God and the trees would help me. This became a pivotal point in a deep healing for me.

Fr. Tom Grew to become My Spiritual Father

From then on, I became a follower of Fr. Tom, attending multiple retreats at the Dominican Sisters Retreat House in the South Valley and then off of Coors Boulevard in Albuquerque. Every retreat, I signed up for the one-on-one time with Fr. Tom, keeping him updated with my current life, and I loved the connection we made.

Over the years, listening to his teachings, Fr. Tom expanded my belief in my God from a punishing, judgmental white guy sitting in robes on the clouds to a peaceful, accepting personal God I could talk to and have a personal relationship with. And he did this through a variety of instruments: through an inclusive Mass on Sunday at the retreats and reading part of the Mass in Hebrew to connect me to our Jewish roots, through Rumi’s delightful and resounding poetry, through simple Buddhist reminders to stay present, through Fr. Anthony de Mello’s humor and stories and through Mary Oliver’s nature-focused poetry and especially her blue iris poem about prayer, “Praying.” With each retreat, I looked forward to his literary references peppered throughout the weekend.

Once, while listening to one of Fr. Tom’s recorded retreats, on one of my hundreds of four-hour trips north to Colorado to visit my folks or my southern trip to return home, he shared a very risky prayer. Immediately, I pulled over and jotted it down, shivered at its possibilities and put it away for many years. I felt if I prayed that prayer, the world would turn upside down.

Then he shared it again recently on one of his monthly Zoom retreats, and I embraced its truth and now pray it daily. Here it is:

Father Robert Egan’s Come Holy Spirit (Pentecost) Prayer

  • Come, Holy Spirit! We pray
  • Rattle our cages
  • Break into our locked houses
  • Water our parched land
  • Undo our bends and twistedness
  • Awaken our hearts
  • Help us overflow with kindness and
  • Give us unending joy.
Marked up Bible - Spiritual Father

Fr. Tom gave me the freedom to open my heart up to a larger God than I had ever known before and, with that, I have returned to my Christian faith and my religion of choice with a deeper acceptance and renewal.

In conclusion, your spiritual father may be the father that raised you. Mine wasn’t. My dad had little interest in spiritual matters. My spiritual father came many years later in life, in God’s time, and I am so grateful.

Do you have a spiritual father? Was it your dad? If not, who was he? How did he affect your life?

Fr. Tom’s website: https://www.innerlightproductions.net/fr-tom-weston


~NEW INTERVIEW on Chat & Spin Radio, Friday, June 24 at 1:00 PM. Join us for a lively discussion of my books!

~MY FIRST AUDIOBOOK IS AVAILABLE: Go to Audible to buy my first audiobook, Let Me Tell You a Story. I’m working on Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? but have gotten stalled with shingles.

~Do you listen to podcasts? Here are three podcasts with interviews about my new book & some Flippo stories:

Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo meme

~Have you bought a copy of Flippo’s biography yet? Believe it or not—it’s been two years. Go here for your hardback or paperback: https://www.laradasbooks.com or at Amazon.

~For me, it’s Christmas all year long! Here’s a variety of Christmas greetings from Flippo & Neeca, featuring his song, “When It’s Christmas Time in Texas”: https://youtu.be/mpJCUGffU3A

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? meme

~What happened to you in 2020-2021 during the coronavirus pandemic? Do you care? Are you on a spiritual path? Do you want to heal from the horrible effects of the pandemic of 2020? Visit my website to find out about my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? and my other five books and three cookbooks: https://laradasbooks.com

Christianity · God · My Thoughts

Mary Magdalene: First Eyewitness!

Mary Magdalene at the empty tomb

So many characters take part in the Easter story. Mary Magdalene has captured my attention this Easter. Happy Easter to all and here are my thoughts:

Mary rose early this Easter morning hundreds of years ago, before anyone else did. It had been a restless night for her—she still had trouble believing that Jesus was dead. She stood at the foot of the cross and witnessed him breath his last. She wept uncontrollably and the other women surrounding her collapsed into each other in their sorrow.

For the last two nights, the disciples and followers had slept together, scattering around the room on mats where they had shared the Last Supper with Jesus, frightened with what they faced in the future. The Sabbath (Saturday) had drug out endlessly. They couldn’t return to the tomb because of the Passover celebration, so they hung out in that hollow room, wondering what they faced.

Dawn breaks for Mary Magdalene

Quietly, as the darkness faded away, she closed the door behind her and headed straight to the tomb where they had buried Jesus. Dawn crept over the horizon—even the birds seemed to be stunned by the recent events.

The disciples had told Mary that Roman soldiers would be guarding the tomb, but she desperately had to be near Jesus. Mary wondered, “What will I do when I got there?” Freely weeping as she went now, Mary had to stifle her sobs during her sleepless night because she didn’t want to keep the others awake. It felt so good to sob deeply out loud! Her heartbreak echoed through the hills. Exhausted and nerves strained, she didn’t care who heard her on this sad morning.

Stone rolled away from the tomb - Mary Magdalene

When she came around the corner and started the incline to the tomb, Mary saw no soldiers—that caught her by surprise. Where were they? The next surprise took her breath away. Someone had moved the stone covering the tomb—massive stone that had taken several to place, rolled away, and she faced a gaping hole it had covered previously.

At that point, Mary went no further. She turned on her heels and ran back to tell Peter and John about her discovery. In her confused state, she thought someone had taken Jesus’ body and told the two faithful disciples that. They quickly latched on their sandals and sprinted to the gravesite. Younger John outran older Peter, and John arrived first. They measured the situation, then returned home in a confused state. What was going on?

To her credit, Mary lingered outside the tomb, weeping about the disappearance of Jesus’ body. Curiosity urged her to look inside the tomb once more—maybe they were wrong, maybe it was an illusion. Maybe Jesus’ body was there. But what she saw again surprised her—it had been a morning of surprises.

Two angels sat where Jesus had been and questioned her about her tears. She answered their questions directly, then a third person appeared behind Mary, who she thought was a gardener. She didn’t look at him but quizzed the angels and him about where they had put Jesus.

It wasn’t until this third person simply said her name, “Mary,” that she turned around, shocked, and recognized his voice. It was the risen Jesus. After a short discourse where Jesus told her what to do, she returned to the disciples. As she ran, her hair tangled with her scarf. Mary’s heart raced. She threw open the door to their lodging and exclaimed, “I have seen the Lord!”

Source: John 20:1-18

What an amazing revelation! In her lingering at the tomb and not rushing off, Mary Magdalene became the first eyewitness to Jesus after the crucifixion. A woman—imagine that!

“In all four Gospels, she is the first to witness Jesus after his resurrection.”

https://departments.kings.edu/womens_history/marymagda.html

I just spent forty days in a Lenten study using Fr. Richard Rohr’s book, Wondrous Encounters, with four other women from all over the world. Daily we communicated on WhatsApp after reading the day’s reading, then we commented and shared our lives. I’m sure these strong, spiritual women (my sister disciples) inspired me to connect so deeply with Mary Magdalene this Easter.

Mary Magdalene’s faithfulness as a follower gave her the privilege of being that person who Jesus first appeared to. I love the fact it was in saying her name that she recognized him. Before that, he appeared and Mary focused on the two angels and her questioning them. She didn’t turn around because she knew these two angels had all the answers she needed. Jesus spoke to her, but in was in saying her name that she recognized him—how powerful our names are when said by a loved one!

Finally, Mary Magdalene, a woman, became the first eyewitness of the risen Lord. She lingered, didn’t rush off in a hurry. I wonder what encounters with Jesus I’ve missed in my life by always being in a hurry—busy, busy, busy.

To many, the Easter story is familiar and maybe has lost its luster. By focusing on one person this year, it made this wonderful story rich and alive for me differently.

Have you ever focused on one character in the Easter story? Peter? John? Jesus? Judas? If so, what was your experience?

It's OK to be a Christian - Happy Easter!

If you missed my post from last week with a New Mexico flair:

~Celebrate spring with 20% off select book bundles at my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft until April 30!

~NEW PODCAST to be released Thursday, March 17, 2022, discussing my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? : Live on Purpose Podcast at https://liveonpurposeradio.com/category/podcast/

~MY FIRST AUDIOBOOK IS AVAILABLE: Go to Audible to buy my first audiobook, Let Me Tell You a Story

~Do you listen to podcasts? Here are three podcasts with interviews about my new book & some Flippo stories:

Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo Easter meme

~Buy a copy of Flippo’s biography on my website: https://www.laradasbooks.com or at Amazon.

~Here’s a variety of Christmas greetings from Flippo & Neeca, featuring his song, “When It’s Christmas Time in Texas”: https://youtu.be/mpJCUGffU3A

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? Easter meme

~Are you on a spiritual path? Do you want to heal from the horrible effects of the pandemic of 2020? Visit my website to find out about my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? and my other five books and three cookbooks: https://laradasbooks.com

Christianity · God · My Thoughts · Politics

Epiphany 2021: Light & Darkness Collide

Epiphany: Light and Dark Collide
Light and Darkness Collide

On Epiphany 2021, January 6th became a day in USA history. Light and darkness collided with not many even aware of that fact. Most years this ecclesiastical day goes unnoticed except for those who celebrate it. I will never forget this year.

So, what is Epiphany to me, as an Episcopalian? “. . . the church celebrates the Feast of the Epiphany, which marks the end of the 12 days of Christmas each year on January 6. Epiphany is a Greek word meaning “manifestation” or “appearing.” At the Feast of the Epiphany we celebrate Jesus being made manifest or appearing as Christ.”

https://episcopalchurch.org/files/bi010613half.pdf

The Episcopal church says: Epiphany is “. . . the manifestation of Christ to the peoples of the earth. The day was called “The Feast of Lights.”

https://episcopalchurch.org/library/glossary/epiphany

Epiphany: The three wise men

“On the Feast of the Epiphany, the Wise Men, or Magi, arrive bearing gifts and present the Christ child with gold (recognizing him as king), frankincense (recognizing him as a priest) and myrrh (an anointing oil for burial).”

https://www.newsday.com/long-island/asking-clergy-what-does-the-epiphany-celebrate-1.25264739

Normally, I have mixed feelings with the arrival of Epiphany because it marks the end of Christmas, and I love the Christmas season and everything about it. I do love Epiphany, though, because of its focus: Jesus, the light of the world. I wait to take down my Christmas decorations until then. In its own way, Epiphany is a celebratory time.

This year, I dreaded this day for weeks ahead of time because I knew it coincided with the certification of the results of the election by Congress, and I knew protesters planned an event in Washington.

When the day came, initially I forgot it was January 6. I did my normal routine: my Quiet Time reading and writing in the morning, rousing Cribbage games with Lin, my husband, during breakfast and normal stuff. At 11:00 am, I had a Zoom meeting with my marketing agent and ten other authors.

After finishing that peaceful, supportive meeting, I headed downstairs. Lin came in the door, returning from a trip to Walmart. He had listened to a news station on Sirius, and said, “Turn on the TV. They’re storming the Capitol.”

I did; we ate lunch trying to digest the horrific activity before our eyes. Our Capitol had been breached by the protesters, no terrorists. I sat glued to the TV for the rest of the afternoon and early evening. Image after image exploded on the screen of these lawless invaders looting the Capitol. Darkness raised its ugly head.

As I watched, I cried! I posted my despair on Facebook and received massive support and one dissenter. What a dark day in our history! I realized that day stood as a turning point in my life for acceptance of the lies perpetuated over the last two months about the election and the results. It had been brewing for four years, so I set boundaries on Facebook with supporters of this sedition.

As the afternoon dimmed into night, I remembered Fr. Dan Tuton, the priest at my Episcopal church, had scheduled a Zoom Epiphany Service and I planned to attend. Should I? What new development would I miss? My hours’ long vigil had worn me out. I needed to refocus on God and love and light.

Earlier in the afternoon, I had shared with Lin I planned to attend this service, and he joined me. I want to thank Fr. Dan Tuton and Hope in the Desert Episcopal Church for a peaceful reflective Epiphany service in the midst of such a turbulent day. He read Matthew 2:1-12, recounting the Magi’s visit to the Messiah. Then he read Henry Van Dyke’s, The Story of the Other Wise Man.

How I did need that time bathed in the glory of Epiphany. God works in mysterious ways for sure. Right before we took an intermission at the mid-point in Van Dyke’s story, a dear friend messaged me with a personal prayer request, so I shared it with the group, and we prayed right then. I knew they would because my church is a healing community. Whew! My God in the middle of chaos!

The images from that infamous day whirl around in my mind still. Because I’m a historian and record keeper, I downloaded several images of the looters, the terrorists, the destruction, thinking I would use them in this blog, but no! I do not want to give them any more notoriety. Instead I want to provide a respite from the chaos.

Let’s focus on the light, the Christ Child who lights up my life. Fr. Dan helped me refocus that sad day to a commemoration of three wise men (or more or less. No one knows for sure) who traveled a long distance to confirm the birth of the Messiah as described in Matthew who witnessed the beginning of His life.

Then in Van Dyke’s story, The Story of the Other Wise Man, he revealed another possible wise man, Artaban, who touched my heart with his willingness to give his gifts intended for the Messiah to those in need. In doing that, he missed the Magi’s finding of the Christ Child but had a serendipitous meeting with Jesus later.

So, this sad day ended on a positive note, with a celebration of the Magi honoring the Christ child and the giving spirit of Artaban. I felt God’s light and love emanating from this Scripture, this tale and this service.

How can we refocus now? How can we identify the goodness of our country and its people? I would be interested in your thoughts!

Epiphany: Happy 2021 & Larada

~Visit my blog post from last week:

Just Another Square Dance Caller

~HAVE YOU ORDERED A PERSONALLY AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY?   AVAILABLE NOW! Go to the homepage on my website & pay for it there: https://www.laradasbooks.com

~Here’s Christmas greetings from Flippo & Neeca, featuring his song, “When Its Christmas Time in Texas”: https://youtu.be/mpJCUGffU3A

ALL FOUR E-BOOK FORMATS OF FLIPPO’S BIOGRAPHY AVAILABLE NOW:

~Visit my web site for all the information you need about me & my books:  https://www.laradasbooks.com

~ BEGINNING OF THE YEAR SALE: Visit my Etsy Shop for 25% off individual paperback titles & bundles. Good until JANUARY 15, 2021. https://www.etsy.com/shop/LaradasReadingLoft

~VISIT A FRIEND’S BLOG: Cooking in a One-Butt Kitchen | Eating Well in Small Spaces: https://cookinginaonebuttkitchen.com/

Christianity · Dancing · God · Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts · poetry · Sexual Abuse · Words Matter · Writing

Honestly, Do You Know Me?

Honestly, do we know anyone, really? I know I hide part of myself from the world, afraid to expose too much of my true self, concerned about safety. Will I get burned, again? Can I be that honest? I’ve struggled with this for years.

One of my favorite books published in 1975 was Why Am I Afraid to Tell You Who I Am? by John Powell. “Why am I afraid to tell you who I really am boils down to — if I told you who I really am and you didn’t like it — it’s all I’ve got.”

That explanation resonated with me forty-five years ago and still does today. Over the years, I’ve tried to be honest but have failed often. I avoided confrontation and making waves, but is that being honest? I’ve bit my tongue and walked away from a potential argument.

So, I offer you a glance inside me with these two poems: a country carefree child and an adult sizing up me and my life today.

The Slam of a Screen Door

July 16, 2020

Slam
            A screen door
                        Not today’s version
                                    But a relic from the 50s and 60s.
 
It bounced a couple times
            When shut
                        No latch to hold it
                                    Tight
                        Mosquitoes, flies and other
                                    Bothersome pests
                                                Escaped inside
 
Sharp, resonating!
Not as protective
            As the 21st century version!
 
But the slam
            The sound
                        The bang
                                    Echoes through
                                                 My childhood!
 
Running outdoors
            Giggling
                        Afire with life
                                    My brother chasing me
                                                With a water gun
 
Summer’s sound
            Of freedom
 
Slam!
            Close with a bang!

Mom’s repeated shout,
            “Don’t the slam the door!”
            Never heeded!
We didn’t do it in anger
            Only in haste
                        In urgency
                                    To get outside
                                    To start the adventure
 
Slam
            Too active
                        And driven
                                    To catch it!
 
Focused
            On other priorities
                        Other possibilities     
                                    Outside
 
A hike to Brown Springs
            To discovery
A bicycle ride
            To freedom
A secluded time in our treehouse
            To dream
 
Slam
            Close noisily
A new day
            A new adventure
A door opened to the world
            And
                        Possibility!
 
Let’s Go!

honestly hidden
You May Think You Know Me, But. . .

August 9, 2020

 
As I pondered a topic
            Old yet new
I marveled at the thought
            Daily Honesty!
 
Honesty
            Truthfulness
            Sincerity
            Frankness
            Freedom from deceit or fraud
 
To be honest
            Is to be vulnerable
                        To risk exposure
                                    To lay bare my insides to you.
Are you safe?
            Can I trust you?
 
At this moment,
            I feel compelled
                        To do so.
 
I’m country
            You know
I grew up embarrassed
            And ashamed!
Not sophisticated
            Like the ladies on TV
            Like the ladies in town.
 
I’m religious
            A Christian to the core
                        But unorthodox!
I’ve dabbled in
            Native American
                        Savored the peaceful sweat lodge ceremony
            Buddhist beliefs
                        Became a silent observer
                                    Valuing the art of listening
            Jewish wisdom
                        Honored the roots of Christianity

I’ve divorced three times.
            One heartbroken
                        But necessary for my sanity
            One victorious
                        Because I stood up
            One heartbroken
                        But a major turning point
 
I’m a political person
            Independent for years
                        Raised Republican
                                    But moved out
                                                Caused by disillusionment
                                                            With both parties.
 
I hate arguing politics
            Remember many hurtful conversations
                        With my dad
                                    We didn’t change each other
                                                In the process
Just bitter memories!
 
Saying that,
            I’m a liberal!
That’s not a dirty word
                        Dictionary says, “tolerant, unprejudiced, unbigoted, broad-minded, open-minded, enlightened; permissive, free, free and easy, easygoing.”
                        I can live with those!
I yearn for equality
                        For all!
 
I’m a talker
            Love sharing my thoughts
            Love heart-to-heart conversations
                        On spiritual real topics,
                                    Not head stuff.
I hate gossip,
            Yet I get sucked in!
 
I love people
            All colors
                        Shapes
                                    And sizes!
            Young and old
So much to learn!
 
My heart has been broken!
            I’ve faced despair
                        Depression
                        Suicidal thoughts
                        Alcoholism
                        Promiscuity
                        Incest
                                    Yet survived.
Recovery gave me my life back!
 
I was an English major
            I have book shelves lined with
                        Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets
                        Hemingway’s short stories
                        T. S. Eliot’s poetry
                        Hillerman’s southwest novels
 
I’m a poet
            At heart
                        Words inspire me to life
                        Words create images
                        Poetry gathers words
                                    And creates life.
 
I’m a writer
            The voice of the plains
                                    Of my heart
                                                And
                                                            Marshall Flippo.
 
I’m a dancer
            When the music starts
                        It sets me free!
                                    The movement
                                    The rhythm
                                    The connection to the universe!
 
I’m a computer geek!
            The magic of technology
                        Captivates me
                                    And I want to create!
 
I’m fragile
            Sensitive
I’m strong
            Resilient
 
I’m the baby of five.
            My daddy’s little girl
            My mom’s “baby girl!”
Adored by my parents!
 
I’ve feared obesity
            My whole life
I watched my mom struggle
            And her mom
                        And many of the women
                                    On that side of the family
 
I make friends
            I keep friends!
 
I’m a paradox
            So, my honesty jumps
                        From here to
                                    There.
I’m an expansive spirit
            Today a soul on fire
                        A God-driven energy
                                    And
                                                A sleeping cat
                                                            All rolled up into one!
 
That’s me!
Photo by Ivy Son from Pexels

Honestly, a dichotomy I am, but I know I have to be honest. I will engage with you; I won’t argue. I will share the depth of my spirit; I won’t hold back, and hopefully you will get a glimpse of Larada.

Tell me what “Daily Honesty” means to you! I’d love to hear your thoughts about honesty.


~HAVE YOU ORDERED A PERSONALLY AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY?   AVAILABLE NOW! Go to the homepage on my website and pay for it there: https://www.laradasbooks.com

ALL FOUR E-BOOK FORMATS OF FLIPPO’S BIOGRAPHY AVAILABLE NOW.

~Visit my web site for all the information you need about me and my books:  https://www.laradasbooks.com

Christianity · Coronavirus · My Thoughts · poetry

Poetic View: I Wrestled with God, Faith & the Coronavirus

As March 2020 ended, I pondered God and faith issues in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and sheltering in place. I seldom ventured out—only for groceries and prescriptions, but I ventured inward. As always, poetry helped me wrestle with deep emotions about this controversial time and face some spiritual reservations.

Wrestling with God

Do you question God and his presence in this world? I do because we talk regularly, and we have that kind of relationship. I don’t need to blame God about the pandemic because my God is good, but I challenged Him—where are you? What about faith and fear? Can I have both at the same time?

Through my poetic view, I labored over God’s absence and my struggle with faith and fear.

God's Angel looking over the world
Where is My God?
 
March 30, 2020
 
I see the coronavirus cases
                        Increase
            Where is my God?
 
Who will protect me?
            You?
                        People have died
                                   Are dying
                                               Will die
 
Screams of despair
            Reverberate across
                        The world
 
Mass mournings in the loss
            Of a son
                        A daughter
                                    A mother
                                                A father
 
Left to die alone
            No one familiar to hold a hand
                                                Wipe a tear
                                                            Whisper, “I love you!”
 
God, in your infinite mercy,
            Where are you?
 
"Each one of them is Jesus in disguise."
            Disguised like Mother Teresa shared as
                        A doctor
                        A nurse
                        A LPN
                        A caring neighbor
                        A stranger’s smile in the grocery store
                        A phone call or text message to check-in
                                     With loved ones
 
I believe you’re in
            The midst of this
Oh, lover of souls!
 
I believe your heart
            Breaks
                        As you watch
                                    The loss
                                                The horror
 
Have you rallied the angels?
                        The archangels?
                                    The guardian angels?
 
Have you thrown your power
            Into the wind
                        To bring a new day?
 
You hold me gently to your bosom
            Scared
                        Frightened
Yet knowing full well
You have the power
                        You are the power!
 
You are in control!

As you can see from this poem and last week’s, I believe God is in control of this mess, my mess, any mess that comes along. I wind my way through the caverns of questioning always to arrive at the same place!

As this pandemic has struck, many spiritual people wonder about their personal faith. Often, I hear people say either faith or fear, but I came up with a different answer.

God: Faith and Fear Not Faith or Fear
March 31, 2020
 
It’s not either or.
            I’m human—
                        Fear lurks
                                    Faith falters
 
But
            I can open my hands
                        Have faith in one
                                    And fear in the other
 
I can raise them up
            To my God!
 
I can release
            Both
                        To do what needs done.
 
Fear reminds me
            I’m vulnerable
Faith reminds me
            God is in control.
I need both.
 
Fear chokes my throat
            Strangling life out of me
Faith hugs me to close
            Saturating my heart with love
God extends his hand.
I need both.
 
Fear drives me to despair
Faith draws me to the Comforter.
Yes, I need both
            In balance.
 
Too much fear
            Paralyzes me
Too much fear
            Focuses me
                        On the problem
 
Then my faith comes
            And refocuses me
                        On the solution.
 
I want more faith
            Less fear
                        But I need both!
                                    A balance
                                                To stabilize me
                                                            To force me
                                                                        To look outside
                                                                                    
Myself to Him
           Who waits for me!
 
Faith is power
            So is fear
I yearn to be faith-powered!
God: Man and woman on two horses

I present a dichotomy in this poem—faith and fear, side-by-side and needed. What do you think?


Cover of Flippo's biography

~DO YOU WANT AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY?   It’s available NOW! Go to my website and pay for it there: https://www.laradasbooks.com

~WAITING FOR A KINDLE OR NOOK E-BOOK VERSION OF THE E-BOOK OF FLIPPO’S BIOGRAPHY? Hopefully, they will be available in three days! Sorry for the delay!

~ RELEASE PARTY of Flippo’s biography streamed on Facebook Live — TBA! Be ready! Door Prizes, the inside story, Flippo song bytes & interview clips and more!

~Visit my web site for all the information you need about me and my books:  https://www.laradasbooks.com

~Whitey & Gladys Puerling, playful friends of Flippo’s, created a Fan Club. I thought it would be fun to recreate this group. Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Read interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

Christianity · Coronavirus · God · My Thoughts · poetry · Recovery

Poetic View: Who Is in Control of this Mess?

I continue with a poetic view of my feelings and the coronavirus pandemic. I wrote two poems where I dealt with the question of control and prayer. As I faced these thoughts on March 28, I faced the reality of surrender which always takes me to “Let Go.” My recovery program has taught me the power of letting go of results and turning to a Power Great than myself that has everything under control. Then the next day I wondering about all my praying frenzy—who was I praying for in reality?

Let Go
Let Go—Surrender

March 27, 2020

Step three 
(Make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand Him.)      
            encourages me
            To view this world
                        And its trials
                                    Then let go!
Let go of
            Control
            Manipulation
            Power
            Authority
            Wisdom
            Rules
            Everything
As I let go,
            My hands open up
                        Palms face up to the sky
                                    Ready to receive
As I let go,
            Tension leaves my throat
                                    My stomach
                                    My chest
As I let go,
            I give God room 
                        to moving around
                                    in my life
                        Safety
                                    A container to work in
                                                A place to bless
Often, I scrunch my eyes shut
            Hold my breath
                        Clench on tight to
                                    False security
And try to control
            Only an illusion!

This closed-off space offers
No place to receive
                        No openness
                                    No receptivity!
If I let go
            And let God
                        Power is in the right hands!
                        I’m at ease!
                        God is in the control
                                    My fight is over!
A topsy-turvy world
of Today
Coronavirus pandemic explodes

The third step remains
            The same today
                        As always
                                    And God is in control!
Let Go!

My control issues fan out into all parts of my life, so I had to look at one of my personal private times—my prayers—and wonder deeply.

For Whom Am I Praying?

March 28, 2020

Stripped bare today, I wonder
            For whom am I praying
                        REALLY?
When I utter
            My prayers to my God
                        Stand naked
                                    Before him
Where is my heart really?
Does empathy reign?
            Does compassion cover
                        Me like a mantle,
                                    Rich green velvet shawl
                                                Draped over my shoulders
                                                and the world?
            Do my words
                        Include you
                                    Your needs
                                                The world's?
Or does selfishness rule?
            Does each sentence
                        Begin with I
                                    Dotted with me
                                                Sprinkled with my and mine?
I focus where?
            Inward
                        Outward
                                    Me?
                                               You?
As I turn these thoughts
            Over
                        In my mind,
                                    I know the truth!
Interdependence
            Not me, not you
                        But we!
Not mine, not yours
            But ours!

Deeply I feel that!
            Our world needs this
                        Whole-hearted unity
                        A healing alliance
                        Life-flowing love
The imaginary wall of
            Indifference melts
                        In golden droplets
                                    On the ground
Green Irish clover pops up
            Verdant and life-giving
Dutch tulips spring into action
            With lips reaching for the sky
A multi-colored, multi-cultural garden procreates
            From those drops
                        Those tears
New life forms
            And a new world begins!

All because I prayed for us!
            You prayed for us!
            The world opened its heart
                        To our kinship
                                    Instead of our differences!

These hard times offer possibilities, spiritual opportunities to see everything differently. Pause with me and pray for our wounded world and its people! I would love to hear how you are praying during this turbulent time!


~DO YOU WANT AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY?   It’s available NOW! Go to my website and pay for it there: https://www.laradasbooks.com

~ RELEASE PARTY of Flippo’s biography streamed on Facebook Live — TBA! Be ready! Door Prizes, the inside story, Flippo song bytes & interview clips and more!

~Visit my web site for all the information you need about me and my books: https://www.laradasbooks.com

~Whitey & Gladys Puerling, playful friends of Flippo’s, created a Fan Club. I thought it would be fun to recreate this group. Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Read interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

Christianity · My Thoughts

What is Holy Week?

Holy Week may have no significance to you. I’m an Episcopalian, rooted deeply in the Anglican tradition, and we celebrate Holy Week, starting today, Palm Sunday. I’d like to share my thoughts with you about the events of Holy Week and the participants who stand out.

“From early times Christians have observed the week before Easter as a time of special devotion. As the pilgrim Egeria recorded in the late fourth century, Jerusalem contained many sacred places that were sites for devotion and liturgy. Numerous pilgrims to the holy city followed the path of Jesus in his last days. They formed processions, worshipped where Christ suffered and died, and venerated relics. From this beginning evolved the rites we observe today on Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. These services provide a liturgical experience of the last days of Jesus’ earthly life, as well as the time and events leading up to his resurrection.”https://www.episcopalchurch.org/library/glossary/holy-week

In my tradition, we separate out these events from the Easter celebration. Some of Christianity focuses only on Easter and the Resurrection. I like our way of honoring all the events beforehand that set the stage for Easter.

Palm Sunday commemorates Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, not in full Royal regalia but on the back of a donkey colt. His entry defied what the world thought the King of the Jews would do!

Maundy Thursday, we give the willing the opportunity to have their feet washed, again taking Jesus’ actions to heart of “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”  (John 13:64) The act of feet washing is an act of love and service.

            “The Thursday in Holy Week. It is part of the Triduum, or three holy days before Easter. It comes from the Latin mandatum novum, “new commandment,” from Jn 13:34. The ceremony of washing feet was also referred to as “the Maundy.” Maundy Thursday celebrations also commemorate the institution of the eucharist by Jesus “on the night he was betrayed.

Following this, the altar is stripped and all decorative furnishings are removed from the church.”

https://www.episcopalchurch.org/library/glossary/maundy-thursday

Good Friday we provide a quiet solemn time at the church from noon until 3:00 PM doing the Stations of the Cross with ample time for reflection.

            “The Friday before Easter Day, on which the church commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus. It is a day of fasting and special acts of discipline and self-denial.”

https://www.episcopalchurch.org/library/glossary/good-friday

Holy Saturday we have the Easter Vigil Candlelight Service celebrating the resurrection of Christ.

Easter Day is truly a day of celebration—He is risen, He is risen indeed!

So, what’s all the fuss? As I slow down this week and linger at these points along the way, I enrich my Easter experience with the details leading up to the most important day in all Christendom—Easter.

What fascinates me most in the midst of the events are the actual people who participated willingly or unwittingly:

  • Of course, Jesus is center stage. His behavior throughout the week varies. On Palm Sunday, Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on the back of a donkey colt when many thought the King of the Jews would have a magnificent entrance letting all know of his power and authority. Instead, God wanted a man among men, not an authority figure similar to the Roman dictator and all his fanfare.
  • Jesus needed alone time before the insanity of the week took over, so he drew away in the garden at the Mount of Olives in the dark of the night to pray and anguish over what He faced.
  • The Twelve disciples joined Jesus, but they couldn’t stay awake and support him in prayer. They knew that something was coming and they feared the possibilities. Grief gripped their hearts in the dark of the night, and they drifted off to sleep out of emotional exhaustion.
  • Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus with a kiss. He had been one of Jesus’ closest associates but was willing to sell him out for money. When did he stop loving Jesus?
  • Peter denied being a follower of Jesus three times, just as Jesus had predicted. The cock crowed, and at that moment, the eye contact between Jesus and Peter at his third betrayal must have been electric. Why did Peter change so quickly? In Jesus’ stare, Peter realized later a deep forgiveness.
  • Pilate and Herod, world leaders at the time, became mere puppets in the drama that unfolded: Jesus accused; Jesus’ silence enraged them; Jesus’ fate determined by an angry mob, not two world leaders who should have stopped it. Did they realize the position they put themselves in?
  • The angry mob shouted “Crucify him, crucify him!” Pilate succumbed to their angry words forcing him to sacrifice Jesus instead Barabbas. Did one person start the chant then it grew out of control?
  • Barabbas, a convicted criminal, guilty of insurrection and murder, released from facing this cruel death, and Jesus took his place, innocent of any crime and not guilty. The mob won. Did Barabbas suffer from survivor guilt?
  • Simon of Cyrene, an innocent countryman, forced to carry the cross behind Jesus. What did he think as he watched the wounded Jesus stagger and fall? Did he agree with the decision to crucify Jesus and not Barabbas?
  • Chief Priests hurled insults at Jesus, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God his chosen one!” How could these Godly men watch this horrific torture of another human being and not weep?
  • Two criminals crucified on each side of Jesus. One accused Jesus, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” The other one identified Jesus’ innocence. Jesus promised the repentant one, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.”
  • The centurion witnessed Jesus’ death, “Certainly this man was innocent.” Did he sob at what he saw?
  • Women followers stood at a distance in shock, not knowing what to do. We know there were three or four women, but we’re not sure who they were except for Mary, the mother of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Were they able to sleep Friday and Saturday night as they grieved over the death of their Jesus?
  • Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the council and a good man who did not agree with what happened asked Pilate for the body of Jesus, and he laid Jesus in a tomb. Did he think that Jesus would burst forth from this tomb?

 

            It took this whole cast of characters plus many others to put into action the events that happened during Holy Week. Some names we know; some unnamed, but yet they participated in a succession of actions that changed the course of history for all times.

            At church today, we sang a song, “Above All.” The last line of the chorus states: “You took the fall, and thought of me, above all.”

            At that moment on the cross when the suffering of Jesus seemed insurmountable, He thought of me, He thought of you, above all! That’s why he suffered and died—because he thought of you and me!

            Do you celebrate Holy Week? If so, how?

______________________________________________

Check out my NEW and IMPROVED web site at https://www.laradasbooks.com

MOTHER’S DAY SPECIAL: 25% off of A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memois — digital & paper copies. Visit my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft, to purchase my books.

Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Interesting posts about Flippo’s life.https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

Do you want to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography? Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways! https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

 

 

 

Christianity · Christmas · My Thoughts

Our Names Didn’t Matter; Our Mission Did! An Epiphany Story

“I’m not Jewish, and I’m not going!” I was shocked as the three of us were left seated looking at each other. To me, this has been the biggest event since I joined this auspicious group of seers or astrologers. We love the stars and study them in this group.

The others filed out in silence, sneering at our idea of seeking out this new King of the Jews and his birth. “Why?” they repeated throughout the meeting. Men of wisdom had studied Judaism and its prophecies, and identified this bright star in the East as a cosmic event. The three of us agreed on its significance and wanted to do a road trip!

That star in the East had haunted me the last few days, luring me in that direction, but we had to talk to the group and see what the consensus was, so I curbed my rash desire to just flee East with no plan nor explanation.

“Well, I guess it’s just us three going then.” Initially, I thought a sizeable group of us would go, but the dissenting majority walked out, leaving the three of us in shock.

We didn’t let their apathy affect our anticipation. We prepared to travel to Jerusalem to talk to Herod, a Roman appointed King of Judea. For sure, he would know what all this meant.

We gathered our travel gear and lined up our camels for the long trek. We talked to our families, warning them that we had no idea when we would return, because the rumor was that a powerful King was born somewhere in the East, and we needed to represent our country there with gifts and the appropriate protocol.

What kind of gifts should we bring? After much discussion about what was suitable for a King of this calibre, we decided on three priceless gifts: gold, frankincense and myrrh.

The plan was to leave in the morning, but the bright star in the East kept urging me on. Nervous and anxious, I didn’t sleep much that night, rose early and stood ready to go by my camel when the other two arrived.

We talked little on the trip and kept our eyes glued on the star. It hovered over a specific place, and we knew our mission was ordained.

Arriving in Jerusalem, my heart beat increased. We were close. Our talk with Herod confused me though. Our observation about the birth of a King shocked him, but why should it? He was a Roman appointed King of Judea and knew nothing of the Jewish prophecy. His counsels scurried around and gathered the information we needed. Our wise counsel did not have the specific prophecy–they did.

They told us that it had been predicted that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem in Judea–I knew little about the Jewish religion and wondered why Herod hadn’t noticed the bright star and put two and two together like we did.

We didn’t linger there because the three of us felt an urgency to see this King we had traveled so far to find. The nine kilometer trip from Jerusalem to Bethlehem took us two hours, but our pace increased as we neared our destination.

The brilliantly lit star hung over a house of meager means. My camel’s rumbling growl seemed to anticipate something. The other two camels joined in. We dismounted, dusted our cloaks off, and grabbed the gifts we brought.

Joseph met us at the door like he was expecting us. He ushered us into his home. All of a sudden, I felt divine a presence as I saw a young Jewish mother cuddling her new born baby son in her arms. An aura of love surrounded the duo as if the star above had anointed them.

I fell to my knees as I saw His face–I knew deeply that this child held power like I had never experienced. I looked to see where my two friends were and witnessed a miracle. Both had fallen to their knees, too, faces aglow with wonder and mystery.

Solemnly, we presented our three gifts at the feet of Mary. Joseph talked quietly to us, asking where we had come from. He seemed in awed of us, foreigners to his land.

Meekly, I stepped closer and ventured to touch his cheek–sweet and precious. I looked into his open eyes and saw the face of God and knew I’d never be the same. His attraction drew my friends to his side and they, too, wanted to touch him. In her serene manner, Mary nodded her head. They touched his cheek, too, and I saw a visible change in their faces as they witnessed him.

None of us wanted to leave, but I felt we had stayed long enough to be polite–any longer could be considered disrespectful. When we left, we camped near Bethlehem, thinking we’d retrace our steps back to Jerusalem because Herod had requested we report back to him about our find.

We sat around the camp fire, warming ourselves, mulling over our full day. The world had just changed, and we knew we had played a part in it. Finally, the fire burned down, and we snuggled into our bed rolls.

The last thing I remember before falling to sleep is the glow of the embers and the glow in my heart.

During the night, I saw a warning in my dreams–don’t go back to Herod. He’s dangerous and means harm to this new King, so we traveled home by a different route.

We could not get home quick enough. We convened our group and reported our findings. The mild reception concerned me, but I knew that my job on earth was set–God had come to earth through this baby, the King of the Jews, and he had opened the door to the Gentile world through our simple obedience.

You will never hear my name mentioned–it doesn’t matter. What matters is that my two friends and I traveled the distance, witnessed the birth of the Christ child and spread the news to our world!

My religion of choice is the Episcopal church, and we observe the twelve days of Christmas, ending at the Feast of the Epiphany, January 6. In our observation, we celebrate the coming of the Wise Men to the Christ Child on this day. We believe that the Wise Men’s visit to the Christ Child opened access to the Gentile world and everyone.

What are you thoughts?

Check out my books at my web site: https://www.laradasbooks.com

Visit my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft, for discounts