New Year with Grandpa in Japan…

– Where traditions create an atmosphere of;

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The Zero Tradition

So it’s been Christmas. I think that’s a part of a song lyric actually. Never mind.

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I love Christmas. My parents instilled in me a love for the traditions and the holiday and as a child: The presents!!
Once I got older, I remember their annoyance as to why I was so keen on keeping all the Christmas traditions every year… They wanted to change things. I disliked change. A lot!
Don’t mess with my Christmas mister!

But life happens… all the time. Can’t really stop it even though it sucks and cuts deeply at times.

My mom died suddenly. Then Christmas had to change.
Then I got married and Christmas really had to change.
Celebrating Christmas in Japan without the goodies I was accustomed to from Denmark. They simply couldn’t be bought… So I made the best of it.

Then I met Jesus and had the most wonderful Christmas of my life: The one where traditions mattered absolutely ZERO.
By then though, my husband had gotten a taste of my traditional Christmas and so did my daughter… all those lovely presents!

Then my dad died. I blogged a lot about the journey toward the end of his life. Goodness – that was hard!

This was my third Christmas without my dad in my life. The first year I handled really well. Keeping up appearances. “It was the best thing for him to let go of life” etc. I did good.
The second year was not that “easy”, but I thought I made it through alright. It felt harder and I thought I’d make up for it by putting more presents underneath the tree. Maybe it would help. Boy, was I wrong!

SONY DSCTHIS YEAR.
Oh dear. Total emotional breakdown in the middle of cooking Christmas dinner. I had to run out of the home… So I took out the trash. Well, in more than one way. All through December I had heard my dad’s voice in my head so often it nearly made me deaf. The pain of remembering! I wanted to scream and run away. His voice might have brought comfort, if I wasn’t so keen on running away from it.

In the parking lot area of where we live, I let the tears run… Nobody and everybody could see me. The mail guy came on his little motorcycle with letters and postcard. He looked at me with such compassion but couldn’t do anything.
I had to get myself together… and made Christmas happen.

The one thing I want to get back to, is to celebrate the Christmas where tradition matters ZERO. They’re good to have, granted. But the main thing isn’t that. It’s JESUS!

And New Year is rapidly coming my way. New Year used to be champagne at midnight. That was life pre-marriage, pre-grey hair, pre-I-need-my-sleep-at-night, pre-wrinkles… You get the idea!

In Japan, New Year is January 1st and spending the day with family. We drink a special sake, so thick with sugar it screeches in the ear canals. The Buddhist bow before their ancestors in front of the family alter… I usually need the bathroom during that time or I shrink and blend into the background. Never knew I had “chameleon traits”…

Then we eat. The food is great – “Osechi” they call it. Well, some of it is tasty… Ahem. Some of these traditional Japanese dishes aren’t my favorites! It used to be the big cooking spree for the Japanese housewives, but these days the New Year dishes (can!)  come ready made and packed from the supermarkets in Japanese, Chinese or Western styles… yeah.


The best food though is the “Ozoni” soup! Yuzu flavored soup with mochi. Yum!

Then we watch (those who can keep their eyes open) the annual “Ekiden” – relay run from Hakone to Tokyo. The TV is utterly boring but the atmosphere is good.

To the whole Blogosphere: I wish you and your loved ones a Happy New Year 2018. May this be the year of love, joy and laughter – even through the tears. Because tradition matters ZERO ; And Jesus matters all! 

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Leave me in the mess – please!

Because only in the mess, will I be able to truly see the Lord’s hand at work.

Actually, please don’t leave me in the mess, because it’s the last place I want to be in!

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I don’t know about you, but I often find myself in circumstances and messes where this dilemma exists.
I love seeing how God works in my life. I really really really love it.
At the same time, I thoroughly dislike being in those situations.

Then, of course, an average person, preacher, pastor, sermon etc proclaims that if I didn’t sin, I wouldn’t be stuck in bad situations. While this may be true… I’m pretty sure Jesus found Himself in a few “bad situations” during His 3 years of ministry and He for sure did not sin!
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So… May I just conclude, that even if I were entirely sinless (yeah, that’s not gonna happen!), the devil would just come at me with all the more force and all the more temptations and all the more… catch my drift? And eventually he would either win over my poor selfish soul or kill me in the process, so to speak. Either would work for him because seriously; the devil would truly slay your newborn baby if he could! The guy has no clue how to spell “mercy”, let alone show it.

Sure… God always provides a way out: Yes indeed the Lord does!tumblr_static_tumblr_static_8l0munbqf6skwc0gsck400s8w_640.gif

But that will inevitably mean you have to get stuck in messes sometimes…!?! So while we do have the power to not sin, we will. The way out of it goes along “the narrow road”, but there are some HUGE gates along that narrow road!
Just saying…

 

So please don’t leave me in the mess… LORD!
Because only in the darkness can we all truly see the light. Amen.

Different in-difference

It’s not that people don’t care. They do.
It’s not that people don’t want to be involved. They do.
It’s just that people don’t want to help someone who doesn’t want the help. Or be disrespectful or an inconvenience – or perhaps even the other end of the scale; If others are already helping then why would I (need to) pitch in! Chat_Bubble_Huh.jpg

So instead of acting upon what can clearly be seen, like a friend or church member being ill, people regress into an indifferent state of mind; Telling themselves “She said she was fine. I must respect that, so I’ll leave her to her own devices, shrug my shoulders and tell myself “that’s what she wants”… Despite it being visibly crystal clear that the sick friend was not fine at all.

No, of course not all churches are like this!!…But sadly, many are!
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I truly believe that sometimes we need to love God enough to break the rules.
Now, before you slap my face… I mean the man-made rules, the courtesy rules, the “I don’t want to be a burden to anyone” rules…
Don’t you know?
Haven’t you heard? 
– We make Yahweh smile by loving Him – and putting a smile on the faces of our family in the unity of His body – in our faith. 
Jesus loves us – and enough to give away of… so pass it on, shall we? 

Illness and bad circumstances are no strangers to anyone I think… but I have seen several things lately that has thrown me off. One or two which I would actually have been willing to share but I would be breaking God’s rule of “don’t gossip” so I won’t.

What I do want to say about it is this:
When the people around you, friends and church family, do not take notice of your failing health or the expression in your eyes or if someone does take notice but do not ring the alarm bells to have help put into action, something is very wrong.
People take on the mindset of indifference.
I have a beef with that!
Love without action is wasted.
Prayers are great… but oftentimes within His body, more is needed.
When you can SEE that someone needs help – would you do more than pray for the person if you have the ability to help? 
In reality:
– Does a friend cross the line if they help you, without asking permission first?
– Is it inconvenient to have a meal hung on your doorknob?
– Is it a bother if someone would say “I’ll come by Saturday and mow your lawn!”?
I know we all have full plates; Our own family of course, a long to-do list, church responsibilities or we just can’t seem to get our act together… really? Are we all so caught up in ourselves that we can’t postpone or strike something from the list and go help someone? HELPING-HANDS-care.jpg
I’m not saying you as an individual should go all out and into the extreme to help others… well, actually that would be nice… but churches can make sign up sheets and you can write your name committing to help with gardening, bringing a meal or doing laundry…

If you really are indifferent, then you are lukewarm
and… well, Jesus was pretty clear about what He thinks of that!
But I’d like to think that most believers are not indifferent in the heart…
but the evidence of otherwise just seems to elude me.

If there is a struggle between the willingness to act vs a fear of being disobedient, then perhaps we can remember Ruth when she obeyed Naomi and went to lay at the feet of Boaz… but what did Ruth actually do?

She didn’t wait for him to tell her what to do, as Naomi had asked her to. No, she spoke up… and essentially asked Boaz for marriage.
She disobeyed Naomi, I believe, but I also believe that she obeyed God – “under Who’s wings she had come to take refuge”.
I think Ruth knew that her stumbling into Boaz’ field was no coincidence, for if you trust the Lord, then there are no coincidences… We need to LOVE those whom the Lord places in our path.
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This post was sparked by my dear friend Joel and he brought up Ecclesiastes 7:16-18, because it talks about the extremes… I personally prefer to look up several translations before settling on one that, to me, will make most sense. In this case, I’d like to read the passage in The Message translation:

Ecclesiastes 7:16-18 MSG

So don’t knock yourself out being good, and don’t go overboard being wise. Believe me, you won’t get anything out of it. But don’t press your luck by being bad, either. And don’t be reckless. Why die needlessly? It’s best to stay in touch with both sides of an issue. A person who fears God deals responsibly with all of reality, not just a piece of it.

The first part talks about pride I believe: Doing everything right all the time – appearing to be perfect and actually, I think that drives more people away than drawing anyone closer.
But don’t act in bad ways continually. If you break the rules all the time, you’ll get in trouble and people get tired of a troublemaker.
I love that last part that states:
See both sides of the coin and deal responsibly with reality;
With what we can SEE.
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We can obey a lot of good rules, but sometimes, we need to see the reality, step out in faith and act on what we can see – so we can help those within the body who are in need.  Even if it means breaking a man made rule.
And no, I’m not a Catholic despite two photos of Catholics are on this post, but it serves to illustrate “LOVE in action”.

Can you spell “excruciating heartache”?

Not out loud, but I’m happy my computer has automatic spelling correction!
Last night I had a talk with my husband about faith, religion and having faith. I didn’t push for that conversation at all, it just sort of happened. And I’m sad and happy it did.
What He said was that He believed in God. Huah… wait a moment – hang on… you believe in Jesus? I asked with eyes tearing up. But – what he told me next, in a shortened version, made my heart crumble:
“I believe in God and I believe Jesus lived. But I can’t believe in a virgin birth or the resurrection. It can’t happen. 
It’s just a story. I like Christianity because it’s the only religion where thankfulness for everything is mentioned.” 
When I touched the subject of eternity, he rejected it completely with a “I do not care. I don’t think anything happens 
when we die. You and our daughter are my heaven”. 
As I’m sure you can imagine… this is not easy for me to deal with, I can only pray and leave it in the Lord’s hands.
Could it possibly be that my hubby’s name should not be among those in the book of the living..?
Can you spell excruciating heartache?
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What happens next? I will keep on praying for him. I will never give up on that, but my heart is screaming to know what happens next… is this it? Has he really fully rejected the Lord? What will it take for my husband to surrender to Jesus?
This morning around 4 am I woke up and lit candles, took my Bible and my devotional book and sat down to seek Jesus in the darkness. From the outpouring of God’s heart, He is not willing that anyone should perish and He will not give up. I myself rejected Him several times before coming to Him in all humbleness. We had a teary coffee morning, Jesus and I. But as the light began to shine as the sun began to rise, so was my heart put back together. For my husband is sanctified through my faith and I can’t say if he will or will not find faith.
Praise and Glory to the Lord of my heart.
Oh Lord… to you be the Glory!