Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

We’ve been using pussy willows on the altar this Lent. At first, the cut branches look dead, yet, as time goes by in their vase of water, the catkins begin to grow. Then the catkins fall off; and leaves come in, and roots grow longer. New Life, where it had seemed there was only death.

They didn’t all grow at the same rate; some branches are much farther along in their growth than others.

We are like those branches in the vase. As people of God, our spiritual lives grow at different paces, at different times. Yet, all of us are deeply loved by Jesus who knows each one of us by name, who was willing to die on a cross for us, to bring us to new life.


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The sight stopped me in my tracks.

It was an amazing sight in the early morning as sunlight flooded the church.

The colors from the stained glass window were splashed on the wall just under the cross, and onto the altar.

A sense of peace among the chaos of the world. Thank you, Lord, for this unexpected gift of grace.

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

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Nature’s Gardeners

The early Spring garden was coming to life: the crocuses were opening their pedals to the sunshine, the stems of the daffodils getting taller. Evidence was plain that the squirrels had been busy over the Fall and Winter months. In the Fall, I had planted the bulbs in a neat line, alternating clumps of daffodil bulbs and crocus bulbs. The busy squirrels dug many of them up, moved them around, to the result of crocus on one side and daffodils to another.  I laughed quietly to myself – they had done a nice job of creating bursts of color in a way I would not have thought of!

God’s busy gardeners, caring for Creation.

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With a pang of guilt I looked at the drooping plant by the windows in the study. Its leaves hung limply, slightly curling inward. I had forgotten to water it that morning.

I filled the watering can, and gave the parched plant a deep drink. Within a couple of hours, it had revived, its broad leaves raised and open to catch the sunlight coming through the windows.

Watching the plant perk up reminded me of the conversation Jesus had with the Samaritan Woman at the well.

Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” John 4:13-14

A gentle reminder to me, when I’m spiritually feeling like that drooping plant, that there is One who can satisfy the deep thirst in me. Jesus, offering us Living Water, to fill us with his grace and Spirit.

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Making breakfast one morning, I thought I heard the toaster oven “Bing”. I opened the door, and discovered the bread wasn’t cooked at all. Thinking I hadn’t actually turned the timer on, I mindfully turned it to the light toast setting and heard the clicking of the timer. Satisfied I would have toast in two minutes, I went about preparing the oatmeal. At the “Bing!” I again opened the toaster oven door. Again the bread wasn’t toasted.

This was a bit frustrating because this was a brand new toaster oven. Second time using it. It couldn’t have broken so easily.

I did the usual troubleshooting. Checked all the knob settings. Checked power…

It was then I discovered the plug lying on the counter. Apparently, the timer was mechanical; the heating element needed power to make the toast.

I plugged in the toaster oven, turned the timer knob again, and soon enjoyed toast with breakfast.

At times, our relationship with God can be like that unplugged toaster oven. We make noise, as the timer did, but without the connection to the power of God we don’t have the true closeness to Jesus; we don’t get the results God would want us to have.

Connect to God: Be still. Pray. Talk with Jesus as a friend. Let God’s Peace and the power of God’s Spirit fill you.

Be still, and know that I am God! Psalm 46:10

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The difference in the sides of the hospital room was remarkable.

A friend was in the hospital for a few days. A couple of us went up to visit in the late afternoon of the first day of her stay. There were already a few other people visiting her in the room, which quickly filled with laughter.  She had the bed by the door. The table along the wall, next to the bed, had a couple of bouquets of flowers on it.

My friend had a roommate, whose bed was by the window. I was later to learn her name was Lisa, and she was in our age group. Lisa didn’t have any visitors, no flowers on her table, the TV wasn’t on.  She was real quiet, reading a book. She had a certain peace about her.

The next day, I went back to visit my friend in the early afternoon. I was the only visitor in the room. By this time, my friend’s table was full of flowers, and a teddy bear held a Get Well Soon Balloon. My friend excitedly shared who the gifts were from.

Lisa’s side of the room was still bare; no flowers.

My friend whispered Lisa did not have any visitors during her stay.

Lisa felt more comfortable with only one visitor in the room. She put down her book and joined us in prayer. In conversation, I learned the well-worn book was her bible, covered in a paper bag to try to keep the cover on. It had been repeated repaired with tape. Lisa shared only a little of her life: she lived in an unnamed town, in a small rented room, didn’t have much, was between jobs. She was evasive when the topic of family came up. Yet she kept telling us how blessed she was, and how thankful to God she was for all He did for her. She hugged her bible.

The third day I visited, more flowers had arrived for my friend: they were on the table, on the food tray table, the chair, and had taken over some of the counter space by the sink.

There was a bouquet of flowers on Lisa’s table, too. I excitedly asked her who they were from. She replied they were from the nurse; the flowers were delivered to the hospital for someone who had been discharged already. So the nurse gave them to Lisa.?

Lisa was sitting on her bed, dressed in a simple sweatshirt and sweat pants. She was being released that day.

She picked up the bouquet of flowers, and gave them to my friend.

“But I have so many, and you won’t have any!” my friend replied.

“You seem to really like flowers,“ Lisa replied. “Enjoy them.”

“I have everything I need”, Lisa told us. “I have my faith in Jesus, and I trust in Him to guide me when I leave here“

Lisa  had an amazing sense of God’s peace. Her words have stayed with me, and I realize that Lisa, who we thought was poor, was richer than any of us in that room.

Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 (more…)

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“Please stand for 26 seconds of Silent Meditation” the Principal’s request sounded over the PA system at 9:30am on Friday, December 21.

Students and teachers stood up in their classrooms; the clerical staff quietly rose from their desks. Support staff en route in the hallways on an errand, stopped in the hallway.  Building maintenance workers put down the wrench they were using to address a plumbing issue. The kitchen staff took their hands from the day’s meal preparation, and turned off the radio.

For 26 seconds, we stood, 1200 of us at a local Junior High School, to honor the memory of the children and staff who were slain the week before at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The deaths of these Holy Innocents did not make sense to anyone. Deaths of children, and our colleagues, were difficult to deal with. Hard questions were asked: Where was God when this happened? Where is He now?

During these 26 seconds, the entire building was quiet. 1200 people in Silent Meditation. The Quiet Voice of God can be heard: I was there with them. I am with their families. I am here now and I will always be with you.

A sense of peace… He is with us always.

Receive, we pray, into the arms of your mercy all innocent victims; and by your great might frustrate the designs of evil tyrants and establish your rule of justice, love and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord…Amen. From the Collect for the Holy Innocents, Book of Common Prayer

© Diane L. Neuls DeBlasio 2012

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“You’re kidding me!” I said to the Postal Clerk when he told me how much the Halloween Care Package was going to cost to send to my daughter the grad student in New Mexico. The price was $8 more than last year’s package to upstate New York where she had done her undergrad work.

“The price is based on weight and distance” the guy patiently explained. “If you use a Medium Flat Rate box, you’ll save $5”. He pointed to the display of boxes in the back of the Post Office.

“Can’t you just give me that rate with the box I already packed?” I asked. He said no, that the box had to have the proper label on it to get the lower price. Mulling my options, I took back my package, went to the display and pulled out a Flat Rate box.

Standing at the counter in the back, I put together the Medium Flat Rate box, then went to open up the one I came in with to move the contents over. That one was simply labeled  ‘Mailing Box’ and was also medium-sized.  Just before I opened it, I gave the sizes of the two boxes a closer look. “It can’t be this easy” I thought to myself as I gently pushed the expensive-to-send carton inside the Flat Rate Box. With a little coaxing, the care package, still inside the original carton, fit inside the Flat Rate box. I sealed the edges and returned to the line.

I brought the now heavier double carton to the counter,  where the guy rang up the fee, $5 less than before. All because of a label.

You can’t make this stuff up.

Reflecting on the label scenario later on, I realized I’m guilty of relying on labels at times when I meet or interact with someone. I’ll judge that person, consciously or unconsciously, based on a label I or society gave them. Yet Jesus didn’t care about labels. He saw the face of God in each and every person he came across, befriending all, instructing everyone to do the same. Not easy at times for me to do, but something I’m working on with His help.

Take care that you do not despise one of these little ones; for, I tell you, in heaven their angels continually see the face of my Father in heaven. Matthew 18:10

I smile as I think about my daughter opening the Care Package only to find another box inside… a bonus Halloween Trick and sure to generate conversation!

© Diane L. Neuls DeBlasio 2011

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But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. Luke 5:16    

Crunch, crunch, crunch. My sneakers sounded a cheerful rhythm as I walked west along the water’s edge on the ocean beach in the early evening. During the day it had been cool and rainy; the sun had finally come out after suppertime. It was still cool, yet the welcomed sun warmed my face.

I was following Jesus’ example of going to a quiet place to pray. I needed to regroup, refocus after a rather hectic day.

Seeing God in the Ordinary was a theme that kept popping up in sermons I was hearing, devotions I was reading. Where would I see Him at the beach? As I walked, I emptied my mind. I let God fill it as He wished.

The steady roar of the ocean and the crashing of the waves on the sandy beach were a constant companion as I walked. My sneakers left their marks on the hard sand, just out of reach of the breaking waves. The tide was low and still going out.

The area ahead of me shared stories of the past few hours in the footprints left behind. I found myself praying for the anonymous people who had left the impressions in the sand.

A pair of large sneaker prints with tiny zigzagging dog prints next to them had me smiling as I visualized a hyper little dog being walked on a leash by its patient master.

A family had been by. The footprints left by the kids showed a game of tag had been played with the water. I fondly remembered the games my own children had played with the ocean when they were younger.

Seagulls and plovers had left their footprints, too, as they fed from the gifts of the sea. Ahead of me, I watched as four plovers created fresh prints as they chased the receding waves, their beaks drilling into the sand. When the next wave came upon the shore, the birds scurried up, turned, and chased the wave back out to the ocean, drilling again.

Further up the beach was evidence of a sand castle, the moat dug with a couple of large clam shells left next to it. I looked closer and saw from the footprints that it was adults who created the castle. I smiled at their youthful joy on the ocean front.

A pile of rocks had been tossed ashore by the pattern of the current. The stones, in a variety of colors, were smooth from being tossed in the surf for so many years. 

Clam, oyster, and scallop shells, all colors, shapes, sizes, decorated the beach. Evidence left behind showed that the occupant of a clamshell had been dinner for a hungry seagull.

The tide started to turn and I headed back, retracing my steps, walking higher up the beach as the waves crashed further up the shore with the incoming tide. In only minutes, the prints I had left when traveling the opposite direction were gone, erased by the tide.

I had gratefully become aware of the Lord’s presence in many unexpected places at the beach: the life-giving ocean, the power of the tide, the wildlife, the warmth of the sun. The footprints told many stories of His love and grace toward us. God is in the Ordinary at the beach.

© Diane L. Neuls DeBlasio 2011

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