Pondering today on “unfolding”.
By nature, I am a tidy and organized person. I love creativity and order. So, of course, everything in my house is folded neatly and put away. Everything has a place and should be kept in its place. The problem is, I tried that same method in my understanding of spiritual things…and it didn’t work. Let me explain.
I grew up in the south, in a very popular denomination of the Christian Church. We had Sunday “School”, Vacation Bible “School”, Ministry “School”. We were very good at teaching and my personality thrived in that environment. I wanted to know all the answers, tuck them away neatly and pull them out when they were needed. I’m not bragging but I was very proficient at being the “go to” girl on spiritual matters.
But here’s the thing….spiritual matters are not neat and tidy. There are not clear and concise answers to all the questions. Just look at the THOUSANDS, yes thousands, of denominations within the Christian Church alone.
I collect old quilts. My Nana was a Master Quilter. Some of my quilts are out on display, some are on beds, some are folded and tucked away. All are neat and in order. Every now and then, I get a quilt out from its place and I look at it. I “unfold” it, section by section. Examining the use of color, shapes, stitching. I see the tattered and torn pieces, the areas worn thin by years of use. Sometimes I can get too focused on the little details. As I “unfold” more of the quilt, a pattern begins to emerge, I begin to see the bigger picture. I begin to understand how all the seemingly unrelated pieces come together to create something very intentional and beautiful.
So it is with my spiritual life. For many years I spent my time examining every little detail. I analyzed every color and shape. I knew the details of what type of stitch was used and how many stitches there were. I could answer every question you had on that area of the quilt. But the spiritual isn’t contained in one square of the quilt. It must be “unfolded” and looked at from a different perspective. The “unfolding” will inevitably lead to a new and greater understanding of the quilt. Things that may have looked one way through a small filter, will look far differently when “unfolded” and put in perspective of the full picture.
So today, try “unfolding” another square. Try looking from a different angle. Try stepping back and taking in the grand design.
You may discover new things. Your understanding may shift.
Instead of Christianity being about a “Decision”, it may be about “DISCOVERY”.
You may look and see that rather than being about “Requirements”, it may be about “REVELATION”.
You may see that instead of being about “Choosing”, it may be about being “CHOSEN”.
And you may step back and look at the beautiful, orderly creation and realize that instead of it being about what you “Do and Believe”, it’s all about what has already been “DONE”.
Quilts can be beautiful works of art, filled with precise measurements and straight stitches BUT a quilt has one primary purpose….to cover you in warmth. And so it is with your Spiritual Life. You can attend a Church, read your Bible, serve others, debate theology, pray long and hard but your Spiritual Life has one primary purpose…to cover you in the LOVE of God.
Happy Sunday my friends! Here’s to “unfolding” and snuggling up under the Love of the creator.
Pondering today on the guilt of freedom.
When I say “freedom”, I want to clarify that I’m not talking in the patriotic, USA sense of the word. I’m talking about the freedom that comes from knowing who you are and being fully accepted and loved exactly as you are.
I’ve written much about my journey from a “rules and religion” based captive to a “grace and love” based child. I’ve shared how I was on a continual treadmill of works, striving, performing, hiding and shame. No matter how hard I tried to serve God, be a good mom, be a perfect wife, a doting daughter, a selfless friend, etc. etc. etc…I always fell short. Fell short of the ideal that I strived to attain. A vicious cycle of striving, failure, shame, and trying harder. This was especially true in my “relationship”, if that’s what you want to call it, with God. Oh, I could quote those scriptures, lead that prayer, teach those Bible Studies. I could name it and claim it with the best of them. I grew up in the church…I knew the lingo. I was part of the “in” crowd that was chosen to save and enlighten the world.
But I was not free.
The last 5 years of my journey have been a process of chains breaking, blind eyes opening and clinched fists unfolding to open hands. They have left me with major cracks in my foundation and crumbling walls and ceilings. And that’s a good thing!!!
I’ve shared much of this journey in my previous Ponderings. So now what?
Now…I am. I breathe. I rest. I float. I glide. I trust. I know. I love. I accept. I’m free.
But every now and then…I hear a familiar voice, the voice of guilt. The voice whispers lies such as, “you are lukewarm”, “you aren’t doing enough”, “you are lazy”, “you are selfish”, “you don’t care”, “you’ve backslider” and the worst, “it’s your fault”. You see, because true freedom was absent from my understanding for so much of my life, sometimes freedom doesn’t feel normal. Sometimes I actually miss the striving and the religion because I felt “needed” , “respected” and “included”. I “fit in” with all the other humans who were striving on the same performance treadmill.
BUT, when I hear that familiar lying voice, the voice of God within me rises up and speaks truth. His unconditional love and complete acceptance is like a blood transfusion flowing to every part of my being. And a tender voice says to me, “Wendy, freedom may not feel natural yet but it will. You have always been free in me but you just didn’t know it. You were misguided by people who thought they knew me but had no true understanding themselves. They were doing the best they could but it wasn’t me. Now you know what my voice really sounds like. Now you know what my love really feels like. Now you know how it was always meant to be. Don’t go back my love. Don’t return to the prison. Your freedom may take some time to get used to but I promise…you will. It’s what you were created for my love. Now, return to rest and just be.”
My hope for each of us, wherever we are on the journey, is that we will know what it is to be truly free. To be fully accepted. To be passionately loved. To just be.
Happy Sunday and Happy Father’s Day to my hubby, my dad and my oldest son on his first Father’s Day. And Happy Father’s Day to my “Daddy”, the one who knit me together, made me exactly like He wanted and breathed His very life into my being. The One who created me in His likeness and filled me with His spirit. My forever friend. My soul mate. 😘
Good morning friends! I caught a nasty cold on vacation last week and I’m suffering from a NyQuil hangover. Not quite up for writing this morning but I thought it would be the perfect time to share a quote that I ran across recently. I don’t know the author but I love the truth it contains for each of us. So, here is an invitation to ponder. Enjoy!
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Happy Sunday my friends! Happy pondering! Don’t be afraid to shine!✨
Pondering today on transition. It’s only natural that I would have transition on the brain since the youngest of my five children graduated from high school yesterday. My husband and I are about to transition to “empty nesters”. The human story is full of these transitions. We transition from childhood to adulthood, student to employee, single to married, child to parent. In some cases we even transition back again. Each transition requires learning, growing, compromising and a flexibility to bend and stretch.
This pondering led me to look at some of the big transitions in my own life. To take an honest look at how I adjusted to those transitions. Some I did with ease but most were a battle.
My pondering has been especially reflective of my transition from “religious zealot” to “passionately loved”. At one time, I even thought those two were the same.
Religion is a man made system. This system is fed entirely from “The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil”. It is a system that is fueled by law. With my limited knowledge, I see that the major religions of the world have 3 common foundations.
1. SEPARATION. Divinity from Humanity. Humanity from Humanity.
2. JUDGEMENT. Right and Wrong. Good and Bad. Blessing and Punishment.
3. WALLS. Us and Them. Believers and Non-Believers. Chosen and Damned. Found and Lost. Accepted and Rejected. Loved and Hated. Included and Excluded.
The heart of religion is law and judgement, and the god of religion is far away and hard to please. This god requires constant attention, sacrifice and fear. This god only loves a few. I WAS a “religious zealot”. I WAS full or judgment and arrogance. I WAS eating from the tree that leads to death.
But then…TRANSITION occurred.
Today, I AM “passionately loved”. Love is the opposite of religion.
Love is a God made system. This system is fed entirely by “The Tree of Life”. It is a system fueled by grace. Its foundation is diametrically opposed to that of religion.
1. ONENESS. Divinity with Humanity. Humanity with Humanity.
2. GRACE. For every person. For every background. For every culture. For every ignorance. For every mistake. For every misunderstanding. For every unknown. At every step of the human journey.
3. ACCEPTANCE. Of ALL His creation.
The heart of love is God. A God that requires nothing but gives everything. A God that loves all of His creation, especially humanity that He created in His image. A God who removes all fear and replaces it with love. I AM “passionately loved”. I AM free from judgement, of myself and others. I AM eating from the tree that gives life.
Transition. Will you fight it? Hanging on to the past for dear life? Or will you welcome the new with open arms? Surrendering to the possibility that transition can be beautiful.
Happy Sunday my friends! Love well ❤️
Pondering today on a quote by the 9th century Celtic teacher, John Scotus Eriugena. “Grace is NOT opposed to what is deepest in us BUT to what is false in us”.
I love this because it reminds us that, at our core, the deepest part of us, we are created in God’s image and likeness. That we are created BY Him and FOR Him. The grace of God doesn’t come to “change” you but to remind you of truth, to remove all the lies you believe about God and you, to RESTORE what has been taken from you.
I’m about to kill some sacred cows here, especially my own. You are not a “wretch” as the song, Amazing Grace, proclaims but instead, you are a “masterpiece”, formed and sculpted by an Artist Father. It’s time to see yourself as He does and let grace expose and destroy all that is false. You are loved, accepted and His…today, just as you are, no changes or requirements necessary.
When you get a glimpse of His perfect love for you, restoration will flow and overtake all the lies. Go dive in the waters of grace and come up out of the waters with a clear vision of the masterpiece that you are!
Happy Sunday my friends! Love well…especially yourself. ❤️️
Pondering today on praying “to” God or praying “with” God.
There is much confusion about prayer and for many, especially those in the church community, prayer can become a “work”, a “task”, an “event”. After being the prayer leader of a major world wide ministry, teaching on prayer and praying with hundreds of people at alters, bible studies and grocery stores…I still have so many questions about prayer. Now, I know, that Jesus taught us how to pray The Lord’s Prayer but my guess is that most people just recite the words and have never delved deeply into the original language, the historical and cultural backgrounds of the Jews he was talking to or the inaccuracies that the translation process included. All of that “knowledge” is not at the heart of this pondering.
My question is this…Do we pray TO God or WITH God? I would say that for about 45 of my 50 years in this body, I prayed TO God. In my minds eye, my imagination, I envisioned God in a physical place called heaven, while I was in a physical place called earth. My hope in prayer was that He would hear me and answer me. Sometimes I determined that He heard and answered because I would see proof. At other times, I determined that He did not hear me, or care, because I would not see proof. This led to a “Prayer Performance Treadmill”. If I pray consistently, diligently, correctly….God will listen and work on my behalf. And similarly, if I don’t pray consistently, diligently and correctly…He will not answer.
This week has been a roller coaster. I’ll spare you the details but our home is on the market and this week has held quite the spectrum of emotions from excitement to frustration to hope to anger and on I could go. All that to say…I see prayer differently now. This difference has been a long time coming and a process of many questions with an unfolding of answers. I realized this week that my prayer life had substantially shifted. I shifted from praying TO God to praying WITH God. The deep abiding presence of GOD IN ME has been so comforting and so powerful. The shift from asking something from this far off, “separated from” deity had become a “know in my knower”, woven into every fiber of my being, deeply intimate communion.. And it wasn’t just lip service. I knew that as I experienced and processed all the week had delivered to me, that WE were experiencing and processing it together. I didn’t have to have a magic formula to get God to help or intervene because He had been a participant the whole time. He knew what I was feeling, what I was thinking, what I was concerned about and He cared. I guess what I’m trying to communicate is that prayer looks so different to me now. It’s not a thing I do but an awareness of what is. It is that deep knowing that no matter what comes my way….God is with me.
My friends, if prayer has become just one more thing to do, an obligation, a duty of a good Christian, a way to make sure that God intervenes on your behalf….maybe a shift is needed in your understanding. Prayer is oneness, intimacy, awareness and most of all…it is rest. It’s a knowing that you don’t have to say a word because He is woven into every part of your mind, body and soul. It is an understanding that He is with you and there is no separation. It is a trust in His unfailingly love that will cover you like a warm blanket in all the storms of this life. It is true and lasting rest.
So go into this day, this week, this life with this awareness…God is ALWAYS with you, God is ALWAYS hearing you and God is always loving you. Happy Sunday my friends! Love well!
Pondering today on “MORE”.
On Friday, I made the four hour drive, by myself, from my house in Georgia to Nashville. For the first part of the journey I listened to some country music and podcasts. At some point along the way, I sensed the spirit of God invite me into quiet. While the Spirit often speaks through songs and other people, I sensed that this particular moment was an “us” moment, a time that He had set aside for the two of us.
After some silence, I began to pour out my heart. “Daddy, you have opened my eyes and my heart to so much new revelation the last 5 years. It’s been a journey that at times I have been thrilled to be on and at times, I have been hesitant to take the next step. It’s as if you have pulled the rug out from under me yet I stand on firmer ground. So many things that I thought to be true of You, You simply blew away like dust on a dresser. Daddy, I’m so thankful, BUT……..I sometimes feel like I’m being used as target practice for those who don’t agree with what You have shown me. Friends, family members and yes, Instagram followers have their arrows ready to launch as soon as my theology doesn’t line up with theirs. Are they right? Am I? Daddy, please just TELL ME MORE ABOUT JESUS. I know He was the exact representation of YOU and I can trust what He said and what He did.”
Then, I waited. I don’t know how long I waited but not long. The Spirit began to show me the “MORE”. It took me through story after story of Jesus and through each one, I saw the “MORE”. For example, the woman caught in the act of adultery. Yes, he sent all of her accusers away and saved her life but there was MORE! He himself, God in flesh, assured her that HE did not condemn her either! Before the cross, before blood was shed, God did not condemn. Mind blown, drop the mic kind of moment. Jesus, the Divine, entered into humanity to say, “condemnation is not who God is, but acceptance and compassion is!”
Another example. The parable of the workers in the field. Some worked all day and some came along late in the day but all got the same pay. Understandably, as humans, we think this is not fair. We have a system of checks and balances, fair and unfair, right and wrong, good and bad and when that balance is off, we try to fix it. The parable shows that at the end of the day, with God, all people are entitled to the same blessing. But the MORE is that God is not keeping score. God is not comparing you to others. God is not keeping a record. God doesn’t fall into the human trap of keeping things fair or balanced. God is generous with all people! God pours out grace upon grace upon grace. Some only need a few buckets full and some need waterfalls of it but the supply never runs out and he’s not keeping tabs on how much He gave you! Just when you think you’ve used up all you deserve, MORE pours out! The flow never stops. Jesus entered into humanity to say “God doesn’t need to keep records of wrongs, He is an endless supply of love and grace.”
I could go on and on with stories of the “MORE” the Spirit opened my eyes to but I’ll save them for another day.
I will say this though, the “MORE” is in EVERY story Jesus told and EVERY story told about Him! You read the scriptures account and you see He is good and then you look deeper and see that He is even “gooder” than you thought!
Isn’t that how it should be with God? A journey always towards “MORE”. Just when you think you have a grasp on His goodness, He reveals MORE! Just when you think you understand His grace, He pours out MORE! Just when you think you can describe His love, there is MORE than words can contain!
My friends, when He invites you into quiet….go! There is MORE He wants to show you. Happy Sunday beloved.