The Unwelcome Guest


 First rays of the summer sun

 race to illuminate the small

grove. Its inhabitants awake

without complaint.

The grove was abundant in food

peace and safety. The only

other occupant was

an old country church patiently

awaiting its fold.

Blue birds filled the air

with

songs of praise.

A sound so pure and clear,

a melody worthy of the Creator’s ear.

The sun climbed ever higher

casting a shadow upon

 the man turning the key

opening the large doors of

the chapel.

He always arrived an hour

or two before any other filled

a pew.

Time to reflect, time

 to pray, time to ask

for wisdom, patience, and

feet of clay.

“Lord Jesus, lend me

your eyes that I might

see this flock as you do.

Give me your heart to

love all whom you send

my way and a discerning

mind that wisdom would flow, Amen.”

Standing and grasping his Bible

he started toward the sanctuary

as muffled voices and distant

car doors announced the

arrival of the congregation.

The Pastor knew he would

be here and there was nothing

he could do because the

unwelcomed guest

always received an

invitation from me

and from you.

He would sit in the

very front row knowing

every word of scripture

but not letting it show.

He wasn’t there to learn,

fellowship, or become

more like the Savior. No,

none of those things is

what he did savor.

The Pastor sighed deeply

upon stepping to the pulpit

as he recognized their guest

was already working the room.

The people were settled into their

familiar clicks. The poor sat in the far rear

while the affluent took the lead.

 But none sat next to the family

 who lived without running water,

Their respectable senses

were aghast.

Tongue clicks and whispers veiled under breath

spread disdain and disgust in the

presence of such an obvious

disgrace.

Over there perched the family of judges,

who would snicker and point with their eyes

to alert one another that there was laughter to be had

or condemnation to be made of those just entering

the sanctuary.

The Bennet family, fragile as can be,

sat holding one another in their

fear and in their grief. They had lost a son

in Iraq last summer and now their little one

is fighting cancer. Their faith is stretched thin but

they have not given up hope. Our Guest is

trying his best to destroy them but he is failing.

Then you have those who feel it

their duty to reveal your sin, criticize

your worship or prayer life, and condemn

those who are struggling.

 In their reason,

 one is sick, barren, in

financial woe or experiencing

heart ache due to some unconfessed

sin.

 “Get right with God and your

hardship will be delivered.” is the chant

they cry in disapproving condemnation.

Driving divisions among God’s people

is his favorite activity and we are

so willing to play.

Yes, he is here and they invited him

as they do regardless of the warnings.

He knows the Bible better than most

Christians but he does not see its truth.

His hardened heart does not feel

the forgiving love of Christ.

Instead, it angers him and

he takes his fury out upon

the flock.

“They have more than us. She is far prettier or talented

than I. I heard…cheated on his wife. God cannot

love or forgive you since you did that horrible

thing in your past. You are not good enough to succeed. Your

beliefs are childish superstitions. You will fail.”

Lies, his favorite lies, he uses against

the flock.

He has enjoyed great success in

invading the church and scattering the flock.

His minions carry out his orders sewing

discord, jealousy, bigotry, hatred, and

cynicism where ever they go.

Church after church has fallen to his

attacks.

He is becoming angrier

and fiercer as he

sees his time ebbing away.

He tortures any who work

to follow the Savior’s path.

Yes, Satan is the first one in church

and the last one to leave because turning

one Christian to sin bringing him to ruin

will convince 1000 more souls to reject

Jesus because of his sinful people.

Satan loves to use fallen Christians because

it hurts the Father deeply when his children stray.

He will never give up, never stop, and never

show mercy.

Children of God, take warning and

be on guard so you do not

become one of Satan’s favorite tools.

In a world of pain and destruction,

be determined not to add to the

brokenness of Creation.

Instead, build…repair…create

and healing will be had in your church,

home, work place, social group, neighborhood

and maybe, just maybe, it will keep going and

heal our lands.

 

 

“If my people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves and pray then I shall hear from heaven and heal their lands.” God

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Take My Hand


Blinding radiance
brings an arm to shield her sight.
Looking into the
faces crushing about
reveals they see nothing.

Pulsations travel through the soil
moving her being.
A tingling sensation progresses from
her feet, to her knees, to her center.

Blood is afire as it surges through
her veins making the roar
audible to her alone.

Lungs freeze in expansion.
The heart stills as the
energy continues
its upward journey.
There is no pain.
There is no fear.
There is only being.

The eyes once stung by
the radiance now adjust as
the energy fills them
from within.

Her eyes see…everything.
The throngs continue in
their pursuits.
They are shrouded in
darkness, yet appear happy.
Nothing has changed for them.
They are happy.

Exhaling, she realizes she had
been holding her breath.
Form after form becomes
tangible in the light.
The colors are brilliant and
hold a depth she has never
before witnessed.

The air is crisp and dew
droplets cling to the
vegetation growing in lush control.

A small, unfamiliar sound
tickles her ear. Looking about
her eyes find its maker. A small,
red-haired fox. A kit, alone but
unafraid of her approach. It was mewing.
Calling for its mother or siblings, she thought.
Scooping it up, she knew she had
never felt such luxurious softness.

It’s eyes looked at her with interest
but began its mewing again when she
failed to produce the familiar scent its
mother owned alone.

The plants before her parted.
The dame had found her lost kit.
There was no tension between the
three. The mother simply came up
and plucked the kit from the woman’s hand.
Then it disappeared into the foliage.

Perhaps she was sick,
lying in the hospital with fever?
Maybe she was dead!
Regardless of these thoughts,
she felt nothing but peace.

The mutterings of those
milling about the edge of the light
was indistinct chatter. Although
fascinated by this fact, her attention was
drawn back toward the place she
knelt.

“Take my hand, child.”
A voice so melodic commanded
with gentle strength.
Every cell tingled at its sound.
What a glorious sensation!

She accepted the extended hand
and felt her entire being
radiate with power. It was
as if every good thing her senses
had ever recorded was
being felt all at once.
Waves of glorious sensation
made her want to hold this hand
forevermore.

Once upon her feet, he released her.
Eyes spilling their joy,
she looked upon his face with
intensity.

He heard the questions of her
heart but only offered a smile
of knowing in return.
Once her tears stopped
spilling and her
breathing leveled.
He began.

“This is a veil separating you
from the purity and
love I used to create existence.
Your mortal self will not be
permitted to tarry.” his voice
caressed her senses.

She could only listen as
her entire being was captivated
by the love emanating from
that beautiful voice.

“Daughter, you have been
called to walk between the
light and darkness.” a soft
sadness caressed every word.
“Some of my children are so
lost they have accepted
the darkness as reality.” pain had
entered his voice and the sensation
upon her being was pure agony.

“Are you willing to help them?” he
asked motioning to the shadowed
throngs.”Some are so far away
from the light, they cannot see a pinpoint.
Some have so much pain they
have given up the search.
And still others are diligently
working to destroy.”

The pain in his words brought her
to her knees. The intensity
was searing her essence. He was
not inflicting it upon her,
she was experiencing
a ‘glancing blow’ of
his broken heart.

“Daughter, take my hand”, his words
ended her pain immediately.
His loved poured into her
as he grasped her hand.

“You must go,”
speaking with all authority.
“You are not alone.
I have called many to the path you
have been asked to walk.
Each of them have arrived upon
this path through different vehicles
but all who have been called know well
of hardship and pain.
Just as you, they have survived
the darkness
with help from those, whom
I sent before you.
If you choose this task,
you must keep one foot in each realm.”

Each word he spoke
overwhelmed her due to the
sensations his voice caused and the
weight of their content. As long as
she held onto his hand, she was able to
endure it, but only… just.

She knew her answer and felt herself being
pulled back toward the edge… between.
As her fingertips held desperately to his,
she felt as if she were drowning
gasping for her final breath.
Everything stilled.

“Daughter, have peace. I am always
with you. Never will I leave you.
Others are already in place
to help you with this
most important task.
I love you my sweet,
darling daughter.
I love all of you.”

At once, she felt others pushing
their way past her and the sound of
those selling their wares. Her eyes
focused and just when her mind
had begun to rationalize the experience,
she felt…more.

A beautiful green and yellow butterfly
took flight. She watched its
graceful dance
as the sun shown brilliantly
through it’s veneer wings.
The stark contrast between its
beauty and the misery that abounded
all around was
breathtaking.

“Everything…is different,” She
whispered. A broad smile graced
her countenance as she
took her first step toward
hope.

Spirit Fire


heart

Spirit afire,
love in bloom
whispers
begin to weave
a bond for eternity.

Time treads ahead
caring not for
love.

Love in Lust
or
Lust in Love?
The Spirit Fire
burns
permitting the
womb to grow
twice again.

Time treads forward
caring not for
love.

We look no more
upon the others
countenance
fearing we may
glimpse disappointment
given birth by debt, pain,
hateful words leaving
the Spirit Fire
barely smoldering.

Time treads forward
caring not for
love.

My locks are grey and
yours are thin.
Both hold more
weight than when
we first began.
Children grown
leaving each of
us feeling alone.

Time treads forward
caring not for
love.

How have we gotten here
to this place of
grief and despair?
Why did we allow the
Spirit Fire to die?
We loved deeply
passionately so
why did the fire die?

Time treads forward
caring not for
love.

Looking upon his bride
he sighed deep inside.
Eyes filling to the brim
wiping his wife’s
gently from her cheek.
‘I am not ready to say
goodbye,’ thought he.
I love my bride.

Time treads forward
caring not for
love.

Gazing up into her
husband’s grief-stricken face
she thought she glimpsed a
spark she had thought long
extinguished. Life had beaten
them down and tried to steal
their joy. It had bombarded them
with doubts, fears, and temptations.
She gently wiped his tears
smiling softly.
“I think we lost our anchor
somewhere among
the years. Alas, now
I see the spark
that is the Spirit
Fire,” her voice trembled.

Time treads forward
caring not for
love.

“Yes, beloved, when we
first began this journey
we thought time was endless
but now, here we are and
I realize those years
were but a wisp of smoke.”
He gathered her into his embrace
kissing her soundly and whispering
his love and devotion.
She returned his affection
but only for a moment.
He grasped her all the
tighter as her
Spirit Fire left her.

Time treads forward
caring not for
love.

If you have been
blessed with the
other half of your
Spirit Fire then
LOVE him or her
in Action, Deed, and Word
Every minute of every day.
Each person was created for another.
Two halves of a whole.
If your choices bring you together
then recognize the miracle in
finding him or her.
God will use your choices for
ultimate good but there are
many paths of pain, for
love is hard work and
the price is high but
the rewards are eternal.

Set your anchor to avoid the Drift.

Time treads forward
caring not
for love.

Walking upon Rice Paper


Walk upon the Rice
Goosebumps signaled her
skins reaction to the
cool evening breeze.

Far she had traveled to seek
understanding and wisdom
knowing the cost of which
would be hardship and pain.
Finally, she could see the pinnacle.

Moonbeams danced upon the
massive frame of the pagoda
sitting atop the next ridge.
Its beauty and solitude
was brightly awash in
a crystal blue light of the
heavenly star.

The frost laden night made
visual each exhale.
The ice crystals danced
in front of her beckoning
her to quicken her pace.

Ancient doors, cloaked in frost,
reflected the moonlight in
an awesome radiance.
Each door creaked
in protest as they
swung open to
permit her
entry.

Candlelight flickered strongly
casting a ballet of
fanciful shadows upon
the walls just beyond the light
that bore them.

The room was empty except
for her own person. It was
spacious but void of decoration
or comforts.
A path, running thru
the center of the space,
appeared to be
a delicate, long sheet
of rice paper.

Burned into a wooden beam above
the path these words instructed,
“Walk the path.
Leave no mark.”

Knowing the paper to be
fragile gave her pause before
venturing forward.
Her first step tore the paper
causing pain to travel through her.
Fear made the second step more
difficult to take but she took it.

Reaching the end of the path, of
thirty-three steps, she collapsed.
Pain and heartache had brutalized
her body and spirit.

Looking back upon the path
she wept at seeing the tears
all along the path. Before her
eyes, the paper was mended
by an unseen hand.

A soft voice instructed,
“Again, but leave no mark.”

The very thought of taking that
path again filled her with trepidation.
She thought to herself that she
just could not take that walk again but
obeyed the commandment without
understanding why she was
being told to do this.

After a hundred and twenty
attempts, each
ending the same as the first,
She plead for mercy and guidance.
“I cannot walk that path again.
There is no way I can walk it without
leaving a mark behind. Please, I do not
understand why this is necessary. I
cannot do this. How is this teaching
me wisdom?” She begged.

“Once more. Walk the path but
leave no mark.” the voice
commanded.

After sobbing a bit, she gathered
her strength then girded herself
with faith and determination.
“Father, please help me. I cannot
do this on my own.” she whispered.

Taking her first step, there was no pain.
The paper did not tear. Each step was
taken with more joy and confidence
until reaching the end of the path.
Looking back, she saw the unblemished
paper she had just traveled. Not only
was the paper devoid of tears but it did not
even have the slightest impression
from any of her thirty-three steps.
Now, she was more baffled than ever.

“I do not understand. What
does this mean?” she asked the
unseen voice.

He began his discourse, “Every step
you take affects my world and the people
with whom you come into contact. It is impossible
for you to walk through this world without leaving a
mark. Walking alone, in your own knowledge, these
marks are painful to you and those you touch. When
you walk with me and my will; it is then that I work
through your every step to bring my light, love, and
healing to my creation. You cannot do this alone. It
is only possible when I carry my children. My wisdom,
mercy and love will flow through you if you humble
yourself to become my vessel. Shed your ideas of
self importance, presumptions of knowing my
will and just follow my voice. I will lead you
to my light. Others will see me
shinning through you and
hunger after the peace I offer. Follow
me and I will ensure that each step
you take will be filled with purpose.”

As the massive doors swung
closed behind her she thought,
“My thoughts are not your thoughts,
My ways are not your ways.”

Now she knew that she needed
to listen for her Father’s voice and
obey him in order to make each step
of her life bring forth fruit. We cannot
do it alone and we cannot see the
entire picture or outcome. That means
it is very important to finish whatever task
the Father sends without knowing the reason.

Alas, relief swept over her as she understood.
We are vessels that the Father works through.
We need only trust him and
listen to his still, small voice.

Little Sparrow


by
Tina Blackledge

Little sparrow,
tell me how
you can
sing so
happily.

My Father
cares
for
every
need.

Your father!
Indeed?
Why you and
not me?

Simple,
I believe.

Well, not me!
No, not me!
Are you blind?
Can’t you see
the misery?

Blind I am not.
Certainly, I
see all
the insanity
in humanity.

Yet, merrily
you sing from
early morning
till dusk. There
is no reason or trust!

Ah, reason
you say?
What profit
have you
found in
reason
up to
this
day?

Surely, you
have lost
your little
bird mind!
We have medicine
allowing us to
live longer.
We have technology
that makes our
lives easier.
Why, we even
have places
we live in
space!

Impressive, without doubt!
Then all humanity is happy
and free?

Not… Exactly.
Wait just a darn
minute! You know
full well why
humans struggle
and die.

Yes, I do.
Can you
see what
is truly
true?

Of course I
can, your Father
did us in! He
set us up for
failure then
left us in
sin!

Ha! Fool
that you are
it is little
wonder
why your kind
cannot see
very far!

Oh really?
Do tell, little
sparrow, why
you are so much
better off than me.

I was created
on day five
to serve as blessing
and to fill the skies.
Every corner of creation
have we taken flight
noticing an ever
growing blight.
Rightly said, Sin
did you all in
but that is not
where it all ends.

You are a silly bird,
falling for these
childish stories.
How does a single
one abate your
worries?

Oh man, cannot
you see, there is not
one shred of worry in me!
My Father’s eye is always
upon me and I trust him
with the life he has
given me.

You are a puny little
bird, you have no power,
you have no wealth, no
security, and no assurance.
How can you believe this
travesty?

If only you could see how
the world appears to me. Then
maybe, just maybe you could
believe.
In my flights, here and there,
I cannot help but hear the
cries of terror, pain, and anguish
spreading everywhere.
A plague inching its way
into every home.
The Father made the
ultimate sacrifice to
ensure each of his
children had an
opportunity to
return home.
You rejected him,
scorned, scoffed, slandered,
reviled, repackaged, and recreated
a modern palatable Creator, who
cannot offend any.

By your account
humanity has failed
and there is no hope
left in such a wicked world.

The Father is patient,
forgiving, and loving
beyond all measure
so there is always
reason to hope.

What could I possibly
do, for I am nothing, even
less than you?

No, this is not true.
I have not told you
all there is to know.
The plague of misery
spreads quite easily
but
there has always been
something extraordinary.
During humanity’s darkest,
most vile moments.
It cannot be seen by
human sight.
No, not from the ground
or a plane in flight.
However, birds have
perfect sight.
In the deepest, darkest nights
where the screams accelerate the blight…
something new grows bright.

What was it? Have we developed a
new weapon?

No…at least not in the
way you imagine. We thought
they were rivers at first but then
came to realize it was hope, kindness and
love being offered to humans during the
very worst times of their lives. It looked as if
a complex network of veins and
capillaries spread everywhere. Nothing
was untouched by this glorious light. It
was coming from believers in Christ
following God’s plan for his or her life.
The Holy Spirit revealed
in acts of love, courage, and compassion
offering salve to those trapped in an evil pit.
There is always hope to defeat shadows. Each human
created is given a task to help those
around you in desperate need, yet often this task
is clouded by greed.

If each one of you

could submit and obey to all the

Father has to say then your

spirit will grow adding

to this wondrous light show.

Matthew 10:29-31

Jeremiah 29: 11-14


Jeremiah 29: 11-14

11 For I know the plans I have for you, ” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, “declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.

When we go through times of difficulty and pain then our faith is strained because we cannot understand how a loving God, Father, and Savior could allow his beloved children to suffer such horrific events in their lives. Were we created to suffer? NO. We were created to commune with God in the Garden of Eden offering our love and praises to our Creator. But that is not how things turned out and the choice made in that garden has affected all of creation as it all fell with man.

I struggled a long time with scripture because of two distinct reasons. First, people who claimed to know what God was saying in his Holy book were interpreting it through their own biases leaving the message empty and at times painful. Second, well meaning folks threw snippets of scripture at me in an attempt to lift me up but they instead felt like insincere platitudes or cruel reprimands. I felt so alone and so distant from God that I turned my rage toward him.

There was a point along my walk of faith that I told God:
“If you are not going to help us, then just stay out of our lives. I do not need you screwing with my life so I will do what you refuse to do. I will fix YOUR mistakes!”
Obviously, each of these words was saturated with pain, confusion and a feeling of utter abandonment. I used the anger and hatred to plow forward determined my life would not be a repeat of my Mothers’, who was disabled and raised three daughters in poverty. I was going to become a doctor and have power to control things and help the people God refused to help. That did not work exactly as I had planned. I then decided that I was going to teach, not as much power but still equipped with what I thought would be a life-changing movement that would bring me and my mother out of poverty, finally. That did not work out as I had planned. Next, I decided to become a therapist and travel around the nation as respected speaker to educate the masses about child abuse and sexual predation. However, I was beginning to realize this plan, too, was doomed to failure. By this time I was being practical knowing my health would not hold up as long as the “normal” young woman so I decided to plan my career track in a way that would allow me a lucrative career where I could help many people without the need to be physically active. I would achieve financial stability and finally be able to secure my mother’s and my future well being. Well, my plans failed here as well. Oh, I earned the education and degrees but I had run out of time to bring MY plans to conclusion. My health began to fail me by exponential leaps and I saw my future disintegrate before my eyes. By this time my faith had grown and I had learned many things allowing me to understand that God had never been my enemy…he was and would always be my champion.

Today, after decades of suffering and an understanding that my future holds more suffering along with further restrictions on my mobility and independence, I am in full acceptance of GOD’s plan for my life and not my own. God had used each and every one of my choices to reveal another part of who he really was and what he needed from me. He has an everlasting patience and boundless love that will accompany us upon our journeys whether we want him there or not. He is there waiting for us to understand how much we need him. I was not a very patient person but I have learned patience. I was not one who trusted God completely but now I give myself, my life, my soul to him with full abandon because I know beyond any doubt that his plans for my life are to prosper me and not to harm me. Without going into all the gory details of my struggles I will provide a picture depicting a “before” and “after” image of living within my plans and now living within God’s plans for my life. Some may see it as very negative but I do not. In the first image, I thought I was doing what God wanted me to do and in the second, I know beyond all doubt this is where God needs me to be right now and that is okay because I care little of what the world sees as success. It only matters to me what God sees when he gazes upon his daughter…love.

2014 10 06_0444

Jpeg

Jpeg

In the first image I was happy but did not know joy or peace. In the second image I know joy, peace, love, acceptance, faith, perseverance, forgiveness, and all my waking efforts are to do the will of the Holy spirit who resides within me. Yes, prolonged, chronic illness has ravaged my body but not my faith as God holds me in his everlasting embrace and that is true and utter happiness.

When minor bad things happen use them to practice patience and to reveal to yourself whether you go to God for answers first or whether you rely on your own understanding, which is never enough. We cannot see the whole picture so our understanding of the now is severely restricted. God sees and knows all so we must put our total trust in his hands. When major, horrible, bitter things try to destroy us then we must cling to God even tighter than before. These horrible things whether they are minor or major are not from God but are borne of Satan. He is the target of our ire, for he is using all the power afforded to him in an effort to bring us down. He wants to rip our souls from our bodies and cast them to hell and sing victorious songs that he was able to destroy a follower of Christ.
God could stop it, all of it, in the blink of an eye but it is his unfathomable mercy and love that keeps him from stretching out his hand and beginning the rapture, the second coming, the return of our Savior. Most Christians see this as a glorious event, and it will be for believers but no horror, no fear, no depth of pain and suffering will ever compare to what is coming in the final days. God wants as many of his children to turn to him before that event occurs because he does not want to lose any of his children, whom he dearly loves. If you are a Christian then you know how the story ends and it is a wondrous, glorious, awe filled conclusion to the relationship between God and Mankind. However, many will perish, be judged, and cast into the eternal lake of fire. Each of us was created for a specific purpose. Each and every one of us was given specific gifts that were meant to equip us to survive Satan’s torments.

If we try to follow our own plans then we may find worldly success, if you are willing to compromise your beliefs and sacrifice a commandment here and there. The world will reward you but you are not fulfilling your purpose. If you are a follower of Christ then you will keep getting up each time Satan and his minions knock you down. It will not be easy nor pleasant but just as God told Paul, “My grace is sufficient for thee, for my power is revealed in your weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12: 7-10). Not everyone will be called to great suffering, for God has not equipped all of his children with the ability to endure prolonged suffering. Not all of his followers will be broken. No some will be very successful and well known. Not all of his followers will taste the bitterness that humanity and the fall has to offer. However, all will be held accountable for their walk upon this Earth. No one will escape the suffering this world has to offer and not everyone will turn to God for help. They will try it on their own and some may even appear as if they are succeeding in this world. Yet, whether or not they recognize the existence of God, He is there and there will be a reckoning.

We are not going to understand or like everything we are going to encounter upon our path to Glory but it is critical that we do not stop. Get up, keep moving one step at a time because the more suffering you endure the greater the work and purpose the Lord is placing before you. The more attacks you survive and thrive beyond then the stronger warrior you become for the Almighty. While he does not cause the pain, heartache, and suffering he will use it to fashion you, mold you, teach you, and create within you a clean heart that will shine so brightly all will know you are a son or daughter of the almighty King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Amen.

Here I am Lord…Send Me


by
Tina Blackledge
2-28-15

Isaiah 6:8
Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?”
I said, “Here I am. Send me.”

Song with Lyrics

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7LoMboxzm0U

As I was growing up, this became one of my favorite hymns to sing in church. Experience, understanding, hardship and struggle brought a deeper meaning to the lyrics and emotions attached. Even though I have sung this song many times during worship over the years it still manages to bring a tear to my eye. Of course, as I matured the meaning of the words held increasing gravity. Accepting that the Lord creates each of us with a very specific role in this creation and that he, himself, took the time to “knit me together in my mother’s womb” began a search for that role.
As a child, I could not wait to grow up and become an adult. I hated being a child and I would never go back to those days even if it were possible. Consequently, I was greatly relieved when I finally reached adulthood even though it came with its own challenges it was a different level of hell and I had a marginal say and choice in the path I should take. My faith walk has not always been steadfast and I confess to struggling deeply with my relationship with God throughout my early adulthood. I always believed God was there but there were times I did not feel that he was there for me or that he even cared. There are so many erroneous messages with cultural and societal norms attached to them that faith has become mechanical and regimented. This has been the case since the early church was formed. There have always been those attached to ceremony, routine, and legalistic interpretation of the Scriptures ignoring that a personal relationship with Christ was and is necessary. Each of us must search for our savior and discover what we were put on this Earth to accomplish.
This sounds as if it would be an easy task if we identify our skill set, passion, and talents then the result should be fairly simple, right? Well, it would be nice if it worked that way but once again, human kind, get in the way. Whether it be that the person gets in their own way by making selfishly poor life choices or the society one grows up in refuses to allow that person a level of human respect and equality of opportunity. The social norms and mores of each society are different as is the value system. Of course, each society puts it’s “brand” out there (it’s ideal of how life should be lived) but has institutionalized division within society. Some societies publicly advertise that there exist “natural” and strict divisions within their society enforced by legal/religious codes. In the United States, we did this with most obvious disgrace when we subjugated African-Americans but that is far from the only example. The longest running lie in America is that of the attainability of the “American Dream”. Now there are many faults in this ideology with the most obvious being its materialistic foundation. However, I do not want this post to turn into a political debate because my intent is to discuss something far more important. Something every single human being hungers for throughout their life. Each of us needs to have a purpose. We all need our individual lives to have meaning in some way.
As we grow, mature, learn, and experience life our assessment of success and fulfillment changes over time. If it doesn’t then we surely have missed our purpose because we were far too busy chasing after self-fulfillment, self-pleasure, buying into what the world was screaming and celebrating as success. One thing is certain; if you are pleasing the world then you are doing something wrong. Regardless of whether you “buy into religion” or not, you make choices every day that either help or harm the world or at least your little corner of it. In the U.S. we have a large societal problem, okay many large societal problems, but one that has become cancerous is the belief of entitlement just because one is born. This problem has become wide-spread being fed by massive inequities, corrupt authority figures, and evil growing deep roots within ALL religions.
The hymn, “Here I am Lord, send me” is the forerunner to what we Christians call the ‘Great Commission’ given by Christ himself to go out and share his love with everyone. The song was based from the Book of Isaiah chapter 6 beginning with verse 8. The summation, although I strongly encourage you to investigate it yourself and not take my word for it, reveals a discussion between God and a man named Isaiah. God is asking Isaiah who he should send to teach others about him and his love. Now, understand this is a parent asking his child a question to which he already knows the answer. This is a famous technique used by many parents to try to help their child discern where the truth or value of the truth really lies. God knew that he would send Isaiah and that Isaiah would eagerly accept this task but he still posed it to Isaiah as a question, for Isaiah still had a choice here. This interaction has created a limitation in some people’s minds as to the fulfillment or importance of the task/calling/career/job/vocation for which God has created them. Most folks read this story and believe that serving God or fulfilling your life’s purpose means that a geographic relocation is necessary. Some fail to realize that his or her purpose may have nothing to do with ‘going out into the world’; instead, it may mean that God will ask you to take a detour on your own life path and it may be a one that is not very desirable. It may be downright terrifying. In fact, most of the time it is interpreted as a punishment from God or a direct result of a specific sin committed. We do not see it as calling. We do not interpret it as a request from God to our hearts to travel a path that is filled with danger, pain, and/or suffering. The situation is exacerbated by those around us who reinforce those negative interpretations. Now, understand, I am not saying that humans do not create their own problems at times and then suffer the consequences because that would be ludicrous. Anytime we make a decision based solely on selfish indulgence then there will consequences for which we and maybe others must pay. There is a natural system of consequences to our decisions whether they are good or bad. Every single choice you make has a fallout to it and again it could be positive or negative. It will have a ripple effect throughout humanity and all of creation. This idea is represented in all cultures in one form or another. In China, Confucius presented this concept as ‘Chain reasoning’ and it is just as applicable today as it was so long ago.
When you, as a Christian, ask the Lord to show you what he needs you to do, what purpose your life is to fulfill because you are eager to get started and make a difference then you must open your heart to any and all possibilities. God may ask us to step off the path we thought we were supposed to take, and in fact, that may have been our primary path but now he is asking us to take a bit of detour that may change our direction while maintaining the destination.
Consider for a moment the possibility that the things we consider to be bad/terrible/life altering events in our lives may indeed lead us to a road that we do not want to traverse. A few examples to consider, a period of financial ruin, serious illness, homelessness, hunger, persecution, a career bombing out, entering a drug/alcohol rehab program clearly illustrate there are paths where we, ourselves, began the journey through our own selfish desires. Other examples may be the direct or indirect result of a selfish decisions made by another that has had a trickle down effect causing you suffering. It is not that God has caused this suffering but he will use what mankind meant to hurt you to bring you where he needs you to be. There may be someone else along that path that may not make it if you do not travel down that path because you might be the only person to offer him/her a glimpse of the hope and love God has to offer them.
You may not have a choice to suffer or not but there are thousands of choices you make along that journey that will define it. Truthfully, it may be the last leg of your journey before you are called home but that fact does not absolve you from your duty. Understand, I am not saying that you have to have a stupid, silly smile on your face as if you have just suddenly lost your wits while enduring hellish suffering or torment but the manner in which you travel the path, the way you communicate your faith, the attitude you present throughout the hardship and suffering are all examples of how you live your faith or fail to live your faith. All of us were created for a purpose and the path we are asked to traverse is not a single road that leads from point A to point B; instead, it is a path filled with detours, off ramps, and on ramps, massive periods of construction and points of massive disaster. If it were to be drawn out it would look like a multilevel super highway structure with thousands of possible entry and exit points but all roads would lead to the same destination. The choices we make along the way will define the journey. Our actions and inactions will have consequences. Our words will either draw people toward the love of Christ or they will push them away. So when you are looking for purpose and meaning to your life, when you ask God to “send you” understand the fact that it may not mean packing a bag and jumping on an airplane. Sometimes it is jumping on a hospital bed to shine for a person who is lost in the dark. To help a person hold on when the last thread to which they are clinging is fraying. Sometimes struggles, hardships, or suffering has nothing to do with you directly (only that it is your body, mind, soul, or heart doing the suffering) only that you had to traverse this path in order to be there for someone who is lost. You will be truly amazed what God can do through us when we get out of his way and accept the journey one step at a time. An added bonus that is a direct result of hardships, suffering, struggles and pain is the massive opportunity to gain a wealth of wisdom, compassion, love, faith and understanding.

“Whom shall I send?” asks the Lord. “Send me Lord.” I answer

A Flutter Beyond Time


A small flutter in the corner of your vision you turn to peer at the large willow standing sentry just beyond your window. This aged warrior is your favorite tree in the entire yard, for its root trunk is twisted and bent but it still reached ever upwards to a magnificent height. The webbing of bare branches eases your search for the movement.
Ah, just as you thought, a smile grows upon your countenance. The sparrow has returned busying itself preparing a sturdy home. Fragments of the past year are hurled upwards and outwards in rapid succession. His mate lands on the edge and tucks some fresh material into the framework.
Captivated by this mystical dance of remodeling you move from the pulsating blue-white light, which had held your attention most of the day. Weary eyes watch the pair flitter and flutter in a hurried choreography as green buds emerge and expand until the pair is nearly hidden from view. The caress of the wind billows out the full branches giving you long glimpses of their efforts.
You to continue your vigil not questioning whether time is passing through you or whether it is you who is passing through time.
The female sits upon three eggs. The very next gust of wind reveals three healthy fledglings on the verge of taking their first leap of faith. Large rain drops splatter with determination upon the window as you watch the fierceness of the storm whipping the willow branches into a frenzy obscuring your view of the family. This summer has been full of storms but this one, this night certainly will mark your memory. A blinding flash punctuated by a deafening crack ruthlessly severes a large branch. Flames, desperate for life, lick aggressively at the limb but the deluge smothers their efforts.
How could the sparrows have survived this onslaught? You heart pounds in your ears as you wipe away your frantic breath prints from the pane. The carnage strikes horror in your soul as you scan the debris . Night surrenders to day with strong sun rays making your flesh uncomfortable.
There, a fledgling on the ground, both parents are hopping and dancing encouraging their child to use its wings and get off the ground. You release the breath you were not aware you were holding. It was not created to dwell upon the ground, it should not be there, no…it’s life was meant to be lived in the air. White knuckles grasp tightly to the tweed curtains adorning the pattern of panes serving as your vantage point. Silently, you chant your encouragements to the tiny creature. Flapping its wings reveals a twisted mangled wing. Your heart hits your stomach knowing what the parents do not. A pair of interested eyes studies the situation before pouncing to claim its prize. The parents swoop sharply at the head of the creature but it is too late.
Your eyes travel back to the nest as the oval leaves change from a healthy green to a vibrant yellow. A shower of bright yellow flakes are carried from the branches as if the sun were a piñata and had burst open. The nest is empty, the sparrows on their way south. Ice crystals form at the edge of each pane beginning an elegant journey toward the center until a dense filter obscures the form of the willow until it becomes a shadow of what it once was.
Turning, you catch your reflection seeing your mother’s face staring back. Grey tresses have become your glory and deep lines map the struggles you have endured. You reclaim your seat and are drawn back into the blue-white pulsating light. You find a formal document instead of the term paper you had been working on this morning. The cursor blinks at the end of the phrase, “…of sound mind and body hereto bequeath…”.

Choosing Death…Mercy or Madness?


          Most of you reading this will automatically assume that I am suicidal and in need of an immediate intervention. Rest assured, that is not the case; instead, I throw a topic out there that is spoken of only in whispers and largely condemned throughout the races, cultures, lands and history. As you know, if you have been following my blog from the start, I have lived with rheumatoid arthritis since the tender age of five. I will not try to recap everything that this disease entails because it would be terribly redundant. It can be summed up with pain, loss of mobility, and many secondary ailments. There is no cure, all treatments are toxic, and the endgame is the same, dying in terrible twisted agony. And… Alone. Friends and loved ones will hang on as long as they can in their support, care, and love of you. But in the end, death will tarry causing enormous suffering on every level imaginable. Yet, this end is much easier to bear than it is to witness. Hence, friends and loved ones cannot bear to look upon your twisted frame or endure your cries. There is no condemnation in this statement, it is only a reality.

           Lifers, people who have had a debilitating disease from birth to death, know well the end they face and spend their lives coping for that eventuality. Yet, those who are “short-termers” (people who develop a debilitating disease at 40 or above) cannot possibly fathom the end facing them. Truth be told, the short-termers are utilizing all their resources just to make it through the day so they are not capable of handling the idea of a horrific end. Likewise, the family and friends of ‘short-termers’ also have extreme difficulty dealing with their loved one’s ailment. Many will scatter and flee from this unknown terror leaving the ‘short-termer’ utterly alone. Chronic illnesses are not immediate death sentences; rather they are decrees of lifetime torture. I write this to honor the struggles of a couple of friends, who have been having a particularly active period with their respective ailments. I understand the pervasive ache in the hearts and minds of these friends for humanity is so limited in its understanding that it is easier to discard or abandon that which frightens us.

             As a lifer, I have learned to live with my ailments and the attitudes of others toward me. At first, you try to hide it, be normal, do not let on that anything is different, for when they know, when then see, they run or worse, stay and persecute you. It has taken me a lifetime of watching my own mother deteriorate, worsen, then die a horrifically painful death as my own ailments progressed to see the utter lunacy of it all. I used to be driven mad by the whys of it all and human wisdom falls so far short that it was more a slap in the face than a comfort. Upon my journey, I clung to the knowledge that Christ loves me and that I was not being punished for some unknown sin. My suffering and the suffering of all has purpose even if we cannot see it in the moment. No one, no, not a single person can understand these words unless you have trudged through the bowels of hell, itself.

            The turmoil within a person who must live with this daily torture can become so severe that he or she will begin entertaining the idea of ending their pain permanently. Pain, as a descriptor is a hopelessly inadequate term for the multilevel, pervasive emotional, mental, physiological, and spiritual pain a person with chronic disease suffers. We spend too much time getting people to just see us, just to validate that we are worthy of drawing breath and that there is just as much purpose, if not more, for our lives as there is for theirs.

            When I express my desire for paradise then I am quickly labeled “suicidal”. Make no mistake; I hunger to be in paradise to feel one moment in my existence in which pain does not occupy. Anyone who is in chronic pain for a lifetime and says they do not look forward to the moment of release is either a masochist or a liar. Nevertheless, that does not make us suicidal, crazy, depressed, or faithless. Do I get depressed? Profoundly depressed on the spiritual level! Do I struggle with my faith, yes, but it is the struggle that brings understanding. I would love for the pain to be gone forever, but I feel extremely blessed because I am not attached to this world. I do not hold value in the things most people do because I know they are meaningless. Possessions mean nothing, fame means nothing, and fortune means the least because none of these things will release you. None of these things will bring happiness or understanding. They can only mask the pain and suffering of any who are in such pursuits. No Earthly thing will ever be able to fill the void left when a person turns from his or her Creator. Make no mistake, whether or not you believe in a divine creator matters little in the end because by that point, you have already wasted your existence by self-serving pursuits. If you have not attempted to decrease the suffering of others by any measure while you drew breath on this planet then your life meant nothing. You took up space and resources that could have been better utilized. Suffering exists only because of a broken creation. If you have done nothing to try to fix your little corner of creation then you are the problem. We all suffer, regardless of status, wealth, or power but the difference between Short-timers, lifers, and everyone else? We see it, we understand it we know the end game because our walk upon this earth is finite, our suffering is limited to no more than 120 years. It is a mere blip on the screen of humanity. We know it can be endured, survived, and even thrive in spite of it.

          It is ‘everyone else’ with their mottos of, “don’t ever give up! Keep fighting the good fight! Or “these disabled people are all a draw on our resources, let them all die and rid ourselves of the burden.” that must be endured. The first motto may not seem so bad unless it is you doing the suffering. Our friends and loved ones don’t want to lose us so they demand we fight but they cannot provide any reason to continue the battle except for telling us that God controls life and death and not we ourselves. This is certainly accurate, but they do not provide any strategies of how to endure the suffering only that it must be endured. These statements are at least borne of love so we may resent hearing them but we can understand why they are uttered. The second set, ‘let them all die’, makes rational sense if you place value on a human being for only what you can get out of them and if you abide by strict parameters of what is of value that can obtained. The point is neither group has any business telling the one doing the suffering how they should or should not live. Humanity cannot fathom the creator’s plan; therefore, how can anyone individual hold the absolute truth? Just because someone prints it and packages it and you buy it doesn’t mean its the best or accurate way to live life. The only purpose for a human being is to make another human being better at being human. If we all did this, blind to all differences, then our creation would heal and suffering would stop. Yet, that seems impossible, and it truly is for mankind, because we cannot agree on anything small let alone the big questions.

             If you are looking for answers, start the search within yourself, for that is where the problem begins. All of us are created for a very specific reason but none of us are forced to fulfill it. We are given the choice and the longer we take the more broken creation becomes, it can only end one way, in great suffering. We lifers already know this, we see it, and we feel it. We know the beauty, awe, and wonder of this glorious creation but we see the scars humanity continues to inflict upon one another, upon the land, upon the air, and even in space.

If you are healthy or if you are suffering, if you were given another day on this planet, then use it for the betterment of all instead of the advancement of yourself, for there is only one end for all in this corporal form. Make the journey worth it, make each of your steps count because even us “lifers” understand that only when our purpose has been fulfilled will God call us home; therefore, that must mean we have a job to do until we are released from these broken bodies. So…let us do it with great vigor towards a different ending, one of healing and not ultimate suffering.

Choosing death, mercy or madness? Of course, it would be merciful but that does not mean it is the way it is meant to be unless your purpose has been fulfilled and who are we to decide when the job is accomplished? There haven’t been many notable cases where God kicked in an ‘early retirement clause’ for humanity. Stay the course, keep fighting not because I cannot bear to lose you but for the sole reason that all of humanity needs you to fulfill your role, whether they ever recognize it or not.

REACH


Reach
by
Tina Blackledge
06-23-2014

Firm and binding
a cocoon of protection.

Delicate with a fragile strength
slumbering unaware

Tiny tremors caress
her awake

Appearing all around,
a network of spider web cracks
filter life light

tentatively she reaches toward
the sparkling wonder.

Warmth, tingling,
energizing!

Her barrier, her protector
revealed a prison.

Up, she reaches
suffocation is imminent.
Push harder, faster
through the obstacle
up, up, ah.

Deeply inhale
let it go.

Wondrous.
hue

A stirring, a heaviness
within.
Building, multiplying
growing.

Layer upon layer
each within a hidden
code.

Stronger, taller,
wiser.

Amid weeds,
she stands tall
a beacon of hope
among the hate and
chaos.

Beauty within bleak despair.
calling to her brothers
and sisters.

Soft and delicate
strong and fierce

Cool morning dew
washes her sensuous
curves

millions of tiny prisms reflecting
the Sun’s kiss upon her tender flesh.

Softly, tenderly
his warmth pulls back her garment of
green.

Caressing…slowly
deep kisses coaxing
each petal to reveal its
center.

layer upon layer bend
to his expertise
She is glory.

Existence pauses
basking in her beauty

Silky pink layers
piled atop the other
trimmed with the deepest of
red.

Her fragrance is
the spark of life
hanging heavily in the
air.

Her purpose
fulfilled.

She will light the way
allowing her spirit
to taste
eternity.

Brothers, Sisters
awake.
Join me, traverse
your fear, conquer
your pain, stand
tall.

To fall, one must
let go.

Only then will our
protective prisons
dissolve into ruin.