Friday, December 31, 2010

Distict Paths

            What does it take to be holy?  Or spiritually pure?  Can we become holy while walking on this Earth?  We will never obtain the state of holiness or spiritual purity while we live this life.  Never.  For centuries, God waited for men and women to reach this state of being.  We failed through sin every time.  Over two thousand years ago, God sent Earth His son.  God knew we couldn’t even become pure enough to enter Heaven without some drastic help.  This is the reason Jesus died on the cross, for our sins.  Until we die, we will not become holy because we sin.
            This seems pretty bleak.  We will not become holy; yet, I have entitled this blog “A Journey to Holiness.”  Each day we make choices that lead us down distinct paths.  Keeping this simple, there are three ways to travel.  There are the obvious choices that lead us to destruction and hell.  I truly believe the majority of people I know don’t fit into this journey, but I know others are out there traveling away from holiness.
            I am fortunate to know a few people on the clear path to holiness.  Last year I met one of my sons’ wrestling coaches.  The introduction was quick in passing.  However, something struck me about this young man.  The genuine smile and warm handshake demonstrated a peace that flowed from him.  Seeing him as a wrestling coach just didn’t seem to fit.  Earlier this month, he introduced himself to me as the minister who had been invited to lead the celebration in opening and closing prayer.  This fit.  He is a man walking the journey to holiness with the light radiating through him.
            The middle path holds the most people.  We work day in and day out trying to make the right choices, slipping and sliding along the way.  Some of us attend church; others just can’t seem to make it to services but believe in God.  Still others aren’t sure what to believe.  I want to leave this path and jump up to the other path.  I want the light of Christ to shine brightly in me.
            To accomplish this, I need to pray and love more.  I need to continuously thank God for my many blessings.  I need to sin less.  Each night when I turn off my lamp, I will evaluate my day starting with thanksgiving (I am thankful the stomach flu has left my home) and ending with an examination of my conscious with both seeing the sin (I harshly judged a young man) and purity (for the first time, I prayed while doing dishes).
            Which path are you traveling on?  How can journey closer to holiness?  Blessings to you all.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Quote of the Week

Friendships begun in this world will be taken up again, never to be broken off. Saint Francis de Sales
                I thought this is an appropriate quote for this week.  I have been very blessed to not lose many friends to death at this point in my life.  When I think of being met at the gates of heaven, I think of my grandparents, my aunt, and my sister-in-law.  Today I am warmed with the thought of Billie waiting for me as well. 
Blessings to you all.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Sprinkles

                The final days leading up to Christmas kept throwing trials in my path.  On Tuesday, I twisted my ankle falling on my left side onto the sidewalk.  With scrapes, bruises, and soreness, I continued with my preparations for the holiday.  Wednesday night, I caught the stomach flu my husband had the week prior.  Preparations came to a screeching halt.  Thursday I received the text I had been dreading for weeks.  My dear friend lost her battle of nine years to cancer.  Friday, Christmas Eve arrived.  I still didn’t feel great, my knee still hurt, and my friend was still making her journey to heaven.  Christmas, a friend said she hoped things started getting better.  I puzzled over that statement.  How can life get better?  Life is wonderful and beautiful filled with a rainbow of sprinkles.
                A couple of years ago, a group of women celebrated life by taking a trip to Hawaii.  I was blessed to tag along with them.  Billie had been battling cancer going into chemotherapy every year.  She always wanted to see Hawaii, so we went.  Now, Billie is an amazing lady.  She didn’t just fight the cancer.  She continued to live.  She continued to have faith.  I was amazed by her happiness even when I could tell her energy level was crashing.  She never complained and she always had a smile on her face.  I complained when I got a blister!
                We did a lot of amazing activities on our trip.  With each activity, Billie would talk about the color of sprinkles to represent the fun we were having.  I only remember one of the colors, green.  We snorkeled at Hanauma Bay.  I wanted so badly to swim with a sea turtle.  She called us over and there was the turtle.  He was gorgeous.  With this activity, green sprinkles were added to our imaginary cake.  We had sprinkles for the pineapple plantation, the tubing adventure, the hike to a waterfall, and the list goes on and on.  Billie, even when faced with a life threatening illness, faced life by adding sprinkles.  How can I not follow suit?
                This Christmas season green and red sprinkles fill my kitchen, dining room, and art room with all the decorations.  I have all the blue and white sprinkles of my snowmen collection in the living room.  At church, gold sprinkles adorned the Christmas tree which spread to the greetings of “Merry Christmas” and “Peace be with you.”  Again, even with aches, bruises and other trills in my life, how can life get any better?
                For the ten years I knew Billie, nine of those years she fought for life.  We went dog sledding, to the theater numerous times, and to many dinners.  She always displayed her holiness with a positive attitude and a smile on her face.  I learned much from my friend.  I pray I emulate all that she taught me.  Yesterday the church overflowed with people celebrating her life.  The minister and two friends talked about the love she spread.  She never judged others.  I always felt happy and safe in her presence.  I knew she always loved me for who I am not who she wanted me to be to make her happy.  It is a rare gift to have a friend like this.  Yesterday was a day of silver sprinkles for the tears we shed in mourning her loss and for the tears of our happy memories.  We love you dear friend.
                Now, what are the sprinkles in your day?  I will have black and white sprinkles because I have piano lessons today.  Blessings to you all.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Beginnings

                From the beginning of time, God has called His people to be holy.  From the moment we are born, we are given freewill to strive towards holiness.  I have always loved Jesus and strived to be more like him, but always find myself lacking and often confused.  I would ask myself if He would handle the situation the way I did.  When the saying, “what would Jesus do?” hit the stores, it irritated me.  I had been asking this question for years.  I didn’t need it reminding me I still didn’t have the answer.   As all good fathers do, God gives us tools to help us along our journey. 
The Bible is the biggest tool we have been gifted, so I began my search there by looking up the word holy.  I used Bible Resources.org and found 564 listings.  With the word holiness, I found 20 verses.  I started looking up the passages in my personal Bible and the translation didn’t have the same words.  I also noticed many of the readings talk about the Holy Spirit, the Holy One, and the holy mountain not necessarily guiding me to be holy.  Obviously, I need to not just quickly fine passages, but I need to read.  The journey to holiness in knowledge will not be quick.
                The world has been blessed by a multitude of people of all faiths leading holy lives giving us good examples of their journey to holiness.  The Bible tells us beautiful stories of God directly interacting with His people.  The Catholic Church has their stories of people in history who have been granted the title of Saint.  Books line the shelves of local stores showing us the amazing lives of people who make a difference in the world of medicine, politics, faith, and charity.  All of us in the United States are given a free education to learn to read these stories and most communities have a local library to freely find the stories. 
                Daily we are surrounded by our fellow travelers of life.  Many times, I carry on my day not thinking of their holiness; yet, I am sure many of these people are making the same journey towards holiness.  Simply driving, I see kind drivers waving a car into a busy lane of traffic letting them go first.  Is this an example of holiness?  I believe it is.  I believe it is in all of our acts that come from love and kindness and not just the large ones, which make up our journey to holiness.  We need to train our hearts to see this holiness in each other to inspire us along the journey.  Yes, we notice the drivers that cut us off and other acts of unkindness, but that will lead us to anger not holiness.  See the good in others.
                Many times our current culture is criticized by its lack of moral value and holiness.  Yes, there are many areas that are lacking in integrity, but I challenge the world to look for the good in our culture.  Believe me, it is there.  Walk into a religious bookstore, and you will be bombarded by a culture rich in the journey to holiness.  Watch a television show and look for the good in the characters portrayed.  It is there.  I watched an old episode of “Without A Trace” the other day.  These stories can be very dark and dismal showing the worst of our culture.  However, the main characters risk their lives daily to find people, to save people.  They work to help the families bring closure to the disappearance of their loved ones and they work to make the world a safer place by capturing the people who partake in the evils of our world.
                Now, here I do struggle.  How can I say there is holiness in the example of television?  The word holy simply means sacred or spiritually pure in my little Webster’s pocket dictionary.  On dictionary.com, they give multiple definitions: dedicated or devoted to the service of God, the church, or religion: a holy man and saintly; godly; pious; devout: a holy life and having a spiritually pure quality: a holy love.  Reading this does not apply to these characters because I don’t know if their work is dedicated to the service of God.  However, I am sure there are FBI agents out in the field today as I write this or on the day you read this who is dedicating their lives as agents in the glory of God.  Yet if all of us average lay people look at these strict definitions will we ever by inspired to holiness?  I believe not.  We will continue to see only clergy and the greats as being holy when we are all called to holiness in our everyday lives.  Instead, these things can inspire us to do things for the good of all and when we do it for God we are striving to be holy.
                Along all journeys there are mishaps.  I am reminded of taking my boys to an NFL game.  The trip went wonderfully until we arrived at our vehicle on the day we needed to drive back from the airport.  Snow piled high on top of the pickup and the temperature dipped low on the thermometer.  When my husband jumped in to start it up, the battery died.  We stumbled on this journey.  Our path to holiness is no different.  Clergy and saints stumble.  We are human and will never perfectly travel the journey to holiness, but it is what we do when we stumble that will continue our walk.  This week I have been stumbling when I start down the road to any given destination.  I am angered by the way people are driving.  I find myself angry and I will admit cursing at my fellow travelers.  This is far from a pious attitude and not at all holy.  I have two choices here.  I could grumble of their stupidity and continue to be angry.  Or, I could see my lack of patience and pray.  I can pray for them to be safe and I can pray for my irritation to be lifted.
                These are the areas I will explore in my journey to holiness.  I would love to hear your thoughts along the way.  Blessing to you all.