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Archive for the ‘family traditions’ Category

G-d

Having it been my birthday this past week, I just received a card from my grandparents.  The same grandma (my only living grandma) who sent the text of panic last week.

In it I found, “G-d.”

Hmm… “Oh ya, part of Jewish custom is to hold God’s name with such high regards as to not write his name. How beautiful it is that I am able to read such kind words praising the work of G-d who leads me and blesses me, from a woman who believes he is worthy of such respect and honor.”

It hit me and moved me, and I hope for you too, that we go about our day a bit differently representing God who is completely worthy.

Praise be to your name, YHVH, forever and ever we lift your name.

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Five and a half years ago, I received a letter from my father’s mother claiming that my baptism was the ultimate act of disrespect towards my father.

From seventeen to twenty, I had no contact with that side of my family, until April of my freshman year I was asked to be the maid-of-honor of my aunt’s wedding.  A ceremony which incorporated Jewish and Scientology practices.  That day opened the door, my grandparents stopped me to say, “We really appreciate your being here.  This means a lot.”

My last year of undergrad, I called my grandmother and spoke of Jesus.   We discussed the anticipated Messiach and Jesus the Messiah.  A beautiful dialogue grew our respect and compassion for one another.  Truly, she had been forgiven in my heart as God already forgave her years ago.

Fast forward to the-day-after-Thanksgiving, where my family gathered to celebrate my grandmother’s birthday which she so happened to give birth to my father, a double birthday.  What a gift it must have been to give birth on your birthday!

My grandfather rose to toast his wife, “To my magical wife…may this not be our last,” as tears began to overflow, my aunt chimed in, “Glenn would you like to add anything?” “No, lets just eat.” See, this celebration may truly be our last.  My mother’s parents both passed away years ago, and now my father’s are struggling to hold on each day.  With several surgeries on his resume, my grandfather continues to battle cancer, and now my grandmother’s heart is just too large.

A medical issue: an enlarged heart.  But truly, it is what makes her “magical,” as her heart is dear and full of compassion and kindness.

The night included several conversations about spirituality, cooking, traveling, and desire.  But it also, served as another chance for God’s plan to be made known to my family.  My aunt, “Your dad tells me you want to have a retreat for troubled youth.”  My uncle, “You are a saint.”  My grandmother, “Thank you.”  They asked about the people I hope to minister to, they listened as I talked about anointing the individuals who attend, so that they leave with acknowledgement of their God-given purpose.  They asked what I say to keep someone from taking their lives.  They praised the patience it takes to work with kids with special needs.  I do not know how to tell my story without praising God.  I do not know how to pitch my retreat center without highlighting it as God’s ministry and intention for my life.  I do not know how to speak with a barren woman without speaking of God’s intent to provide care for all the orphans.

God was made known, as Jesus was the support, my Friend in conversation and my strength that kept me pushing on, despite the aching body.  No sickness can nor ever will keep me from glorifying God as King and writer of my life.  Praise be to Him.

I thank Him for answering my prayer and for allowing me to be the witness! May it continue as long as I have breath in my lungs.  For truly, we do not need eyes to see nor lips to speak, God can and will be known through whatever we have to offer Him!

 

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December 6, 2013

Last night I heard a sermon by Jeff Moores at North Coast Church’s “The Jordan” college ministry.  Jeff’s sermon, entitled “Home Is” was the invitation to define home by the people not the building structure.

I find that God invites me to randomly join the college students during their time of worship not to approach the community, but to spend quality time in an environment, surrounded by His followers’ praises.

During the musical worship, before knowing the sermon topic, God utilized the love language of all women in me.  My ears were open and my heart melted for the realizations that flowed.  It was during this time that I realized, it was nearly a year ago that I told God, “I am ready, if you are willing” to gift me with my life companion, my spouse. I fully believe God grew me fonder of approaching that next chapter and am still passionate about awaiting (less passively) His intended relationship for me.

However, last night, something new progressed.  My life’s work, in Christ, is to serve the broken families, to invite the possible future good Samaritans of the world to find peace within the chaos and to seek an everlasting love.  My life’s work is the FAMILY.

Before the sermon began, I, for the first time, confessed, “Father, the one thing I know the least about is how to incorporate my blood family into my future family… my father and mother removed You to make compromise in the relationship. I will not compromise You for anyone!”

During this holiday season, when families follow the ole’ traditions of their previous generations, laughing around Christmas trees and singing praises of joy as a family, I find myself in the dark.

Last night, God affirmed me that He intentionally brings His followers into the darkness of the world, so that His Light shines brightly as the source of all Life.

My confession remained.  I am passionately seeking the best means to have, nurture, and counsel families living obediently to God’s great Truths.  And yet, I do not know how to have a home for the holidays.

I knew that I grew up without knowledge of god(s) due to my parent’s opposing religious backgrounds.  My parents sacrificed yearning for an everlasting love in order to quietly unite as a couple in marriage.  However, all my Christian life I felt dismissed for truly living a life of spirituality.

My worry last night was genuinely my greatest weakness, the one thing I believe my spouse will bring best into the marriage.  For I have no idea how to celebrate Jesus’ birthday with my future kids, honoring the season for the blessing it is scripturely without excluding my brothers and parents.

I do not desire for my children to admire materialism as I have in my childhood.

As a child, my father put blue and white Christmas lights up, celebrating the colors of Hanukkah while following Christmas tradition, but nothing more was ever done in celebration of the birth of Jesus nor the miracle of burning oil.

I don’t have family traditions. I have fond memories at my grandparent’s house, but cannot share them directly with my future family.  I began to become saddened by the imbalance of my spiritual giftings, mission, and understanding of a home.

Just one day later, God shattered my newly recognized fears.

Tonight, my father told my brothers and I that we had received Hanukkah checks from his mother.  We were to call her and thank you for the gift.  These bi-yearly (Hanukkah and birthday) calls have always been an awkward experience.  However, tonight God ensured me that He is present.  My grandmother spoke, “We are so proud of you.. you are out there saving the world.”  She meant it truly.  I out of a dismay replied, “Nah…just one life at a time.”  My work is rescuing the physical and emotional lives of individuals struggling to move on.  Her words were quite literal, and yet, it took me a while to find the truth in her concern.  For the second time, I heard a distant relative uplift and applaud the progression of my life rather than rant about their disinterest in such work.

I have yet to give up on the Almighty God in terms of bringing salvation to my family, but this, this was entirely more than I had ever anticipated.

I run from my parents.  While understanding, “honor thy father and mother,” I live a life on the cusp, bordering between respecting their authority and rejecting  their direction apart from God’s Path.

I have not felt their support, and once again, the blamed source of all my family’s pain is used as God’s means to remind me: there is good.

He even has me delighted by the thought of visiting my Jewish grandparent’s home, randomly and independently, for the first time since my rebirth 6 years ago.

He truly moves mountains…and the view, breath-taking.

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November 14, 2013

Today, sitting relaxed with my legs uncrossed, my head perfectly straight, and chin down, my entire being was captivated by the conversation stemming from this hair appointment.

Sam is 29, Christian and adores her sister.  During the holiday season, she shared, her and her sister visit four homes– their mother’s, their father’s, their stepfather’s, and now Sam’s boyfriend’s parents homes.  Although her mother and mother’s current boyfriend get along with both previous husbands, the celebrations remain separate.  Time off from work, the Christmas holiday is spent driving from one home to another, meeting everyone’s expectations–it is hard work for Sam and her sister.

Having a spiritually alive stylist is so refreshing while in the chair.

As we continued speaking back and forth, I stated, “Well I shouldn’t say this until I do more research, but I’m gonna say it anyways, I believe the difference between the cultures I have experienced abroad and America is that Love is defined partially by forgiveness in the other communities…When there is an argument here, a couple may call it quits, but in the Latin and Greek homes I encountered nothing was SOO important to ruin a family over” (paraphrased poorly).

Do we allow family tensions to distract us from the celebration of the birth of Christ? If we do, is it cultural or innate as human beings?

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January 16, 2013

Isn’t God funny?

On my way home from grocery shopping with my roommate–she just expressed her whole days events, unleashed.  In the midst of her speaking, I began to worship alongside others listening to “By your side” playing on the radio.  Once I started to giggle, she asked, “What are you laughing at…me?” and all I could think was, God you are good to me.

After dropping her off at home the Lord took me back to the place I met Peaches (Kristen) months ago.  Peaches is her street name–her being a pregnant homeless 20 year old living on the corner of Blake and 19th in Denver, CO.  However, her son was to be due in December, and doctors did not give her past November. As she had developed stage 4 cancer by that time.

I was only able to visit her twice–the second time I brought nectarines that she claimed as peaches, since after all she was named after her love of the fruit.

All in all, that night changed my life…

It has been 4 or 5 months since I last saw Kristen.  Although I do have her phone number she has not responded to calls or texts for 3 or so months. Yet, her voice message remains, her phone has not be disconnected.

Tonight. I recognize my place at an adoption agency, updating files of foster parents and children, being read into the court system and insecurities of foster parents when the paternal grandparents later decide to claim their child back. It is awful what people put their children through out of selfishness and insecurities.

But here I am with a heart to nurture married couples, so that they are able to exude in God’s unfailing love that pours over and fills the hearts and lives of their troubled children.  Here I am loving the unlovable, those I cannot name or even imagine a face for.

Yes God knows our names when we are in our mother’s womb, therefore, Kristen’s son may he be in God’s home or here on earth, he is known! God, the mightiest of all fathers has guardianship over his heart–and ours alike.

My prayer tonight began a willingness to provide a hopeful stable home for her son, but as communication with God progressed I became saddened by the thought of leaving her children in separate homes.  I would be no greater for taking in one child than I would be leaving them all in incapable hands.

But then, God chimes in.

A foster home alike earth is a temporary home. Only God’s invitation is everlasting.

As I was led away from my habitual drive home, I looked to my left and was struck by the silhouettes of two men under a white steeple.  We walk hand-in-hand when entering the Kingdom of God.

That is an everlasting Home, and genuine Family’s welcoming.

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December 24, 2012

One year ago, I was told of new family traditions…

       In the time I spent in Italy and Switzerland for Thanksgiving and Christmas, my broken chaotic family began embracing rituals I had only dreamt of for many years.  It seemed as if every Thanksgiving from then on out would be spent around a bonfire on the beach with our childhood neighbors.  Every Christmas Eve, my entire family and theirs would connect for late conversation after attending a Christmas Eve service at their church. It became the one day a year my father and brothers were found within church walls.  These were my anticipations for this holiday season…

When it finally became time to set off for California this season, the Lord made sure of one thing: it is His Story that counts this season. Both churches (my Denver and Oceanside churches) spoke of Simeon in the Christmas story (Luke 2:30-38).

This year, I find myself desiring to know the Italian kids I spent last year with.  They are in a time of great maturation and are developing independence from parents with a dash of group think from peers.  As the season approached, I made the commitment to obey and serve my parents and brothers as they so ask, in order to best represent the work of Christ here on earth.  It became clear that my family is the basic part of my broken testimony and I cannot share such words with them so in order for the Lord to be seen through me in their eyes, He would work through actions.

Presents came and went. Cooking and cleaning continued on for too long. Awkward silence and prolonged discussions of finances and material possessions filled the crevasses of awakened attention spans.

It came time for Christmas Eve, and our uncle and great aunt stayed until late evening; the neighbors were no longer expecting our company.  My brothers headed their separate ways, and my mother disappointed in another failed family event.  Due to a quickened tiredness, my parents and I decided to attend the 8pm service at our neighbor’s church, but it was not my own.

The account of Christmas is the essence of Christianity, it is the birth of Christ that unites God’s children.  Now, more than ever, I desire to spend the season in His grace surrounded by praise, not consumerism.  I learned this evening that the only tradition that has remained over my Christian years in the US is a candlelight ceremony at North Coast.  Although the venue changed, the musicians rotate years, and the message is never identical to a previous sermon; the feeling remains genuine.  Christmas Eve is a time for the Body of Christ to come and praise Emmanuel, Mary, Joseph, and God for coming, fleeing, trusting, fighting, learning, and serving in response to the troubles of historical times. North Coast embraces the Christmas story: Jesus is the Light of the world, the spark that keeps us from utter darkness.

This evening, my father did not collect a candle.  He respects that he rejects Jesus as Savior, and in silence he denied the Light to be shared with or by him.

My prayer remains for his heart to know Jesus, to feel God’s presence within himself.  And for my mother, that she too earns for a relationship with an unfailing love found in God.

I have a tradition! It is recognizing God’s Light here, among the darkness.  Christmas is a time of celebration, of gratitude, and of submission to God’s presence.  In the midst of salvation, there is nothing that is of value apart of God Himself.  Nothing is deserving of my attention, other than that of which is in the Lord, Christ Jesus.

 

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