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The Lighter Walk

Beginning with Peace

We get to chose how we live our lives. As peace-givers or hate-makers. Do we strive to bring “Shalom” in our interactions with others? Or are we ready to battle for our own opinions- no matter the hurt they may cause?

The Bible Project defines the “Hebrew word for peace is shalom, and it describes a deep sense of well-being that comes through the presence of completion, reconciliation, and justice.” Three ways in which we can bring a sense of completeness to our relationship, rather than cracks and brokenness. Sometimes it means we must take steps to restore the brokenness.

Peace then requires us to set aside ourselves and to listen to others. It involves a willingness to bridge the divide and create a new wholeness in the relationship. And that is hard…on our own. Jesus came to teach and bring restoration to a broken world. He came first to restore our relationship with God the father, and he left the Holy Spirit to guide us in the restoration of other broken relationships.

I realize I can’t be a peace-maker if I am not feeding my heart and soul with the good words of my faith. I can’t begin to step into a broken world without praying and coming into agreement with the Lord that Shalom matters. I can’t do it without inviting the Holy Spirit to speak to me. I have to be willing to invest in my spiritual growth if I ever want to get to a place of wholeness for myself and in relationships with others.

Categories
Living Loving Serving

The Sad Reality of Homelessness

I sat tonight listening and praying for several hours as my community discussed the issue of homelessness and moving toward residential living. It is a complicated and heartbreaking story- one that touches us all. There was a clear desire to bring hope to the hopeless and to love the lost.

I listened, I prayed, and then I wept; I cried all the way home. I remembered my own story of homelessness and food insecurity. I remembered my husband whose addictions led him to live in the woods. I remembered my friends who sat helplessly watching family members and friends living that life with only a hint of hope remaining. And I cried some more.

Categories
Transformation Stories

A Hope I Can Trust

Hope is such an encouraging word. We say it all the time: I hope you feel better, I hope you get the job, I hope it all works out. Dictionary.com defines it as: “to look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence.” We keep hoping “to feel that something desired may happen.” We don’t know that it will, but it could happen and in saying “I hope,” we mean that we will wait together for whatever is to come, anticipating the best outcome.

However, there is a different kind of hope we discover this time of year – a deeper spiritual hope. This is an extended level of trust, often based on past spiritual experiences or shared stories. It is a hope placed in the person of Jesus Christ. It is a prayer we offer to God, believing in our own spirit, that God will manage the details as we walk with him.

Categories
Transformation Stories

A Thankful Changed Heart

I wanted to sleep in this Thanksgiving morn, and yet I was called out of bed to take in the sunrise over the apartments where I live. You see I was laying in bed moaning to myself about not having a bigger space to invite people into. I was regretting the mistakes that caused me to give up two incredible homes.

From my balcony. New every day!

As I walked to the kitchen to switch on the coffee pot, I turned and looked out the window to yet another magical sunrise. As a friend used to say: “God hit me with a clue by four” and I remembered how blessed I am to have let all those other houses go. Those places were traps for me financially and, I dare say, spiritually too. It was all about the image I cast about my success and about my ability to fit into a higher economic status. “About me” is the key term here.

California Dreaming!

Eight years ago, I packed up everything and took a trip away. I didn’t know that stopping for a month and taking in the natural beauty of California would be a pivotal moment in my life. Everything changed when I came home. A smaller place to live—with a view! A new church with new relationships and healing. A new life that wasn’t focused on my image but on the image of Jesus.

Food pantry donation drive at church.

Moving the focus from my wants to image-building and the message to have more, meant I could be open to see the needs of others around me. I stepped into prayer ministry. I became a spiritual director to help and encourage other women see God’s plan for them. God led me to little children and parents and a team of incredible care-givers. Unexpectedly, he led me to help create an outreach ministry for those in need of food and care. And now, I hear a call to do more. In HIS name and for HIM. Not me…

Seeds of growth.

All along the way, God was guiding my steps. Even though I was stubborn and stuck to my ways, he was patient in letting me get to where he wants me. This Thanksgiving, I am grateful for the life journey of bumps and bruises because it has taken me to this new place of peace, of carrying others burdens, of waiting on the Lord to nudge me to the next thing.

I am thankful that he has changed my heart. I am thankful for praying friends who have walked with me through awful times. I am thankful for the hope of a new sunrise and a new adventure.

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Living Loving Serving

The Gift of my Church Community

This has been the summer I fully embraced the community of my church family. The one where I attend services and the one that has connected me with some life-long friends and acquaintances. It has been a summer of gathering together socially and spiritually. Mostly, it has been the best time I have had in years and I am beyond grateful.

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Living Loving Serving Transformation Stories

Respecting the Change

Change is hard. Change brings unfamiliarity. Change can be external to us while processed internally. Change can bring up feelings we never knew we had. Change can send us into a dark place or it can open the door to new opportunities. Change can make us angry or it can bring a sense of relief. Yes, change can be hard.

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Living Loving Serving Transformation Stories

Hate, Fear, and Faith

Please forgive me if my language is clumsy or inadequate. I am a work in progress and happily take your suggestions on how to improve.

I grew up in a military environment that was pretty well integrated. My best friends as a kid were African American and Jewish. I learned the best parts of their heritage and was shielded from the bias against them. As a teen, two of my best friends were of Asian descent. I never saw any hate directed toward them, or if there was any, they didn’t tell me. I dated people from many backgrounds and races, yet my parents made it clear that these were unacceptable long-term relationships. I was raised in the Roman Catholic faith and because my dad’s best friends were Jewish, we learned to respect their faith. In spite of all that, there were still derogatory terms used by adults around me: the N-word, the f-g word, the S-word (you get the gist) that was perfectly acceptable to them. There was an undertone that as alike as we were, we were still superior in some way because we were white and Catholic/Christian.

These are concepts that are hard for me to reconcile today. How could I grow up with such welcomed diversity and acceptance and yet still a sense that I was “better than” because of my skin color or faith? How could I have been so blind to the prejudice and hate my friends likely experienced on a regular basis? I have had to search my heart and soul to ask when I have, even in some small way, passed on that negative heritage to my daughter. How have I taken the subtle superiority of my parent’s generation and filtered relationships- personal and professional- through that negative lens?

As someone who believes we are ALL created in the image of God, we are all loved by him and we all have value and worth in his eyes; how do I reconcile those derogatory tapes in my past against the backdrop that my own family today includes Asians, African-Americans, LGBTQ+ people whom I dearly love? How do I do a better job of loving and caring for people who are not like me?

I start with asking forgiveness for my naivety and ignorance. I ask the Lord to break the chains to any past behaviors and thought patterns. I start the conversation with friends and family and seek to learn more about walking in their shoes. And I walk more closely with them.

I have to be responsible for taking off my blinders and my disbelief that prejudice and hate exist. I need be more deliberate in standing for my friends and family- asking them how best to do that. It isn’t about what I think they need and want- it is about asking them what I can do and standing with them. That’s how we break our own bias and preconceived notions. I will seek to be more informed and more engaged and more respectful of others.

Lord, forgive me when I have closed my eyes to the inequality toward your people. Forgive me for my own pride and superior attitude. Lord, open my eyes and ears and use me as an instrument of your change. Father, guide our nation to be welcoming and change our hearts to see each other as valuable, regardless of color, culture, religion, or life-style. Start with me father.

Photo: Getty images

Categories
The Lighter Walk Transformation Stories

Making God the Main Thing

My life today is nothing compared to what it was even five years ago, let alone 30 years ago when I began my Christian journey. God planted a seed of change; however, it took almost 20 years to stop living according to my rules and listen to his desires for me.

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Living Loving Serving Transformation Stories

When Change Means Asking Hard Questions

I am one of those people who isn’t afraid to ask the tough question. I love to get people thinking about opposing viewpoints or scenarios. When these are thoughtful civil discussions, we can begin to see that the alternative perspective has merit. We can begin to incorporate those perspectives into our own and realize a change in ourselves.

Categories
Living Loving Serving

Pride Mom

I am a parent, who like you has dreams that my child will find love and happiness in life. I may also be a parent like you whose child or grandchild is part of the LGBTQ community. My love for her and my joy for her hasn’t changed. I have taken this to the Lord for many days and nights and I am trusting that He is with her, as he has been all her life.