Sunday, January 20, 2013

To Pass Along Joy...

I just had to pass this on, as discovered at one of my favorite blogs, Pithless Thoughts.    I pass it on with the hope that you, too, will experience delight through these wonderful moments!  

I've seen it three times now and have cried each time... why is that?  Could it be the people giving a gift of excellence?   The happiness written on children's faces?  ...the passersby hurrying toward the music to see what's going on?  Or the fact that there is such beauty in the world and we need to see and appreciate it every day.  

Thank you Beethoven;
God bless those who spread joy!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Loving the One You're With

In my attempt to focus on things that are beautiful and pure and noble rather than my usual ranting against everything twisted and wrong in the world, this post is for all the thirty and forty-somethings out there who have been tested by fire and held your ground.
In the rapid pace of American life and the constant dismantling of the family - even among Christians- there are those of you who have stayed the course, who have cried silent tears and wondered at the meaning of it all.  Wondered sometimes why you have stayed when marital strife and tensions have been overwhelming.  And yet, you have survived some terrible storms.  Are you the stronger for it?  Have you rejoiced for your trials? (James 1:2-4)  Are you merely surviving or are you growing into a spiritual giant and offering comfort to others as Christ has comforted you? (II Corinthians 1)  
Every week it seems I hear of another couple getting a divorce.  My daughter told me recently that she was in a minority in her class because her parents are still married.  And even though its the nonchalant trend, the path well traveled, I’m not convinced for a second that the pain incurred by all family members undergoing divorce is lessened by its popular course.  It’s no wonder to me why Americans use of antidepressants has skyrocketed over the past two decades.  
Unhappy people = take a pill.
For those of you who have been in the trenches and faced the fire, this one is for you.  I hear you.  I embrace you and pray for you.  I believe that YOU are the stuff that makes the Proverbs 31 woman or the man St. Paul speaks of that LOVES his wife in truth.  You are a rare treasure and I want you to be encouraged.  I want you to know that there is value in the trials you’ve faced or continue to face.   I want you to know that I’m one of you and that our enemy continually chides us into contemplating “you deserve better, the grass is greener over there”.  But you probably already know that.  You know better.
You know there is victory in Jesus Christ, victory in unconditional love and victory in being able to share the comfort with others as you yourself have been comforted.  You know that trials produce perseverance, character and hope (Romans 5).  You have scars that led you to a place of closeness with God or at least, I hope you know that.
The older I get the more I realize there is no such thing as a “perfect” marriage, no matter the images of bliss shared on Facebook.  How can a perfect marriage exist when we are imperfect people?  Marriage is the sacred place that God perfects us. We cannot hope to walk on paths of righteousness without gaining a glimmer of the vile stuff within, the selfishness, vanity, pride, etc.. How can we hope to gain virtue without cleaning house first?  And where better to see a true vision of your heart than through your spouse; the one who knows all things about you?
Don’t think for a second that I am writing from some lofty judgmental seat;  I’m not.  I recognize that there are just reasons for divorce.  I understand about abandonment, unfaithfulness and the destructive nature of addictions.  I value human beings and applaud the person who leaves their spouse where there is abuse involved.  
I’m speaking, rather, to the men & women who have dealt with trials in marriage because of sinfulness who have been broken spiritually and blessedly renewed... who have come to a place of repentance and reconciliation....who stood their ground in the face of fiery darts and prayed through many tears and continue to love the one they're with.
To those who are striving toward unconditional love  ~agape love~  the secret wisdom of a joyful marriage designed by God,  it is to YOU my thoughts go today.  Keep going, keep praying, keep sharing the comfort you have been given by God to comfort others.  You are an abundant blessing and a rare gem.

To God be the glory for all things †

Monday, January 14, 2013

Jesus and the Shroud of Turin: A Review and Personal Thoughts

Format:  DVD, 52 minutes
Produced by:  Questar, 1999

This short 52 minute documentary was part of my homeschooling lesson last week for our teenage son.  I was captivated within the first five minutes.  In fact, I enjoyed this documentary so much, I watched it again the following evening.
Admittedly, I knew very little about the shroud, which is believed to be the burial linen of Jesus Christ, until viewing this film.  I knew it was controversial, knew that it held a place of high esteem among christians around the world and that’s about it.  I didn’t realize it was the most studied artifact in human history. 

What I like most about this documentary is the fact that the viewer is given historical background about the Shroud of Turin as well as providing arguments for and against its authenticity.  For the faithful, it may well advance a faith affirming miracle and for the skeptics, it may provide food for thought and fascinating scientific analysis.  
For example, who knew pollen remains intact for thousands of years?  Or that centuries-old blood stains could provide modern scientists an exact type?  Who would have guessed that the invention of the camera would forever change the way pilgrims and doubters viewed the shroud?
Jesus and the Shroud of Turin presents a well documented view into the shroud's ancient and modern history, both religious and scientific.  It also addresses the more recent find (1988) of carbon dating which stated that the shroud originates in the Middle Ages.   I think viewers of  various beliefs will come away from this program moved and inspired in some way.
Personally, I believe the Shroud of Turin to be a remarkable artifact and probably the authentic burial linen of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Although I don’t necessarily view science in opposition to faith, its somewhat disconcerting to me the way in which western culture seeks knowledge.  Generally speaking of course, western man must dissect a thing in order to understand it;  understanding is achieved through reason and science, a systematic approach.   This, contrasted against an older Eastern philosophy, interlaced with history (including oral) and the experience of the item in question.  It’s the difference in comprehending a tree by the shade or protection it provides vs. cutting it down to examine the rings within.  
After watching this film, for example, my initial thoughts were captivated by the idea of the pollen study and the intricate image of the man on the cloth which allows even a casual viewer to identify teeth and the bones of the hand and wrist.  But the more lingering thoughts went to the history of the cloth(s), the verses that spoke about them in St. John (chapter 20) and the faithful who risked their lives to keep these articles of faith safe during the Crusades, Moorish invasions and natural disasters.  To the people who claimed to have been healed by touching the cloth and its place in Constantinople in the 12th century.
Cloths.  Yes there were two articles of linen found in the Tomb of Christ, as written about in St. John.  The smaller cloth came to be known as the Sudarium and is housed at a cathedral in Spain.  The relationship between the Sudarium and the Shroud of Turin is discussed in this film as it, too, has been subjected to scientific examination and has a well documented history.
It is a blessing to know these articles of faith have been preserved for centuries and are presently being cared for by the faithful, who have graciously allowed pilgrims to venerate them as well as skeptics, the study of them.

Glory to God for all things †

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Miraculous Child: A Book Review

The Miraculous Child: a Christmas Folktale from Old Russia 
A Book Review

Retold by Alvin Alexsi Currier
Illustrated by Nadezda Glazunova
Published by Conciliar Press
21 Pages, Softcover

We added this book to our shelves in 2010 at Christmastime and since then, it has become a family favorite.  The lively cadence of the story is as fun as the story of love, sacrifice and hospitality is memorable.   It’s an old tale that has passed through many generations, perhaps being told in various ways;  what a delight to read this version by Alvin Alexsi Currier.

The illustrations on each page, by Nadezda Glazunova, are whimsical, full of color and expression.  Her work complements the story at every turn and is sure to delight young children.

The Miraculous Child offers a heartwarming tale certain to be told throughout many more generations. It's probably intended for children ages 5-8 years, but the story encompasses lessons for children of all ages.  We have a teenager and a few adults who love this book at our house. 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Chocolate Wrapped in Icons

Christ is Born!  Glorify Him!

On this 9th day of Christmas, I wanted to share something
I've not ever seen before:  a commercial candy
wrapped in an image from the Orthodox faith.

A friend at church gave me this chocolate bar... she said it was found at our local Hallmark Store.  Imagine that?!

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