Thursday, December 19, 2013

Rescued Faith...

I grew up hearing how Jesus was my protector
all I had to do was invoke his name
nothing could stand against it.

I remember lying in bed at night
terrified of dark things 
 my head under the covers
whispering "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus"
over and over until I finally fell asleep. 

I grew up hearing how Jesus wanted to bless me with everything good and wonderful
how Jesus would give me a life of victory
a life full of joy, love, peace and my heart's desire.

This was taught over and over again by my mother and my church
Dramatic stories of God saving people in a crisis, because they cried out the Name above all names. 
The life of Victory!

And my life was good.

As an adult, I had my heart's desire
Five children
A loving husband
A warm house
Our bills were paid

But I would read the book of Job in the Bible

How could God do that to Job?
Why would He?
A righteous man who loved God?

Job lost EVERYTHING...
even his children.

And yet, at the end of the book,
Job says to his friends

"Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him;..." 

I just couldn't wrap my brain around those words.

 One day, after wrestling with this concept for months, 
I decided I could say what Job said
I felt settled.

I would relinquish my life, my children, my husband to God...

"Even if you slay me, God, I will hope in you, no matter what."


That was August 2004
by that October my four year old son was diagnosed with cancer
and my life, my family's life changed forever.

Fast forward nine years...

And my faith has been shaky
not lost
 tentative maybe
God felt a bit untrustworthy
to me.

My son survived  
cancer free for eight years now
but I've seen many children die
torturous deaths.

Lesly, Jackson, Luke, Gage, Danny, Jeremiah, Spencer...

And there's been no rhyme or reason
As far as I can see...
 even children who loved Jesus died.

Invoking His name didn't change their disease
neither did all the prayers.

How could I praise Him for MY son
when other sons/daughters hadn't survived?

God is scary

The Universe Maker

Recently, I read a blog
 "Reluctant Xtian", wrote about belief and trust.

He suggested:  
Trusting God is bigger than believing in God.

When we don't all agree on what we believe about God, we argue and fight
and beliefs in God change.

He wrote:
"And as someone who has been there in the deep hole of not making sense of whats up or down because not everything that you've been taught to believe lines up with reality, it's really important, when you find yourself barely breathing, to pray to God...even if you don't believe.
Doing so you're embodying something more powerful than belief.
You're trusting.
And trusting can change things."

So when I saw my hiking buddy fall 30 feet down a 75 degree ice chute last week, I yelled out "Jesus!"
just like the little girl I once was.

Miraculously, a vine maple caught his foot
stopped his fall,
but he hung dangerously upside down over the ice chute.

And when my other hiking buddy,
who was trying to rescue the friend hanging from the tree,
crashing 200 feet down the ice chute,
a look of total terror on his face,
 I called 911.
He lay silent and still at the bottom.

 Another hiker and I ran back to the freeway to flag down the rescuers
while the others stayed with the fallen friends.

As I waited for help to arrive, I called my husband
and at that very moment he was walking into our church.

The Timing!

Staff were immediately notified by email,
many prayers were released.

The rescuers were amazing
four hours later my friends were headed to the hospital
no broken bones
just bruises, lacerations, sore muscles
a miracle.

And for whatever reason
my friends didn't die that day.


God knows

because belief in God is really only what we THINK God is
in our own puny minds
what we THINK God should be...

But TRUSTING God is letting God be God
It's being vulnerable and
to Him
No matter what...

Rescued Faith

Monday, December 9, 2013

A Mother's Gift- A Month in Italy- Part 14

Tuscana Romance
North of Siena

Our little red fiat...

We rented this stone barn apartment (lower floor) nestled in an olive grove in the countryside.  
The owner lives on the top floor.

We ate our breakfasts and lunches on the piazza.

At dusk the Narnia lanterns began to glow.

The air smelled of sage, the view was divine.

Monteriggioni, a beautiful castle only five minutes from our apartment.

We bought this chef's hat for Josh from this sweet lady who ran a shop in the castle.

The view from the Monteriggioni castle walls.

Each day we took a trip to outlying medieval cities and towns.

Seems Siena and Monteriggioni were often warring with Florence.

Siena Cathedral

By September we had missed the height of the fields of sunflowers , but they were ever depicted in the wares of the city shops. 

 Gelato in Siena's main plaza.

Florence- Firenze 

Filling my water bottle at a fountain in Florence plaza.

Don took an illegal picture of the real David inside the Uffizi Gallery. 

A replica of David outside the Academia 

We searched ALL OVER Florence for this Gelato shop, Vivolis!
Don had eaten here MANY years ago when he had toured Europe with Westmont College.

A classic- the Ponte Vecchio 

Walking across the Ponte Vecchio!

We saw many churches in many cities and towns.
I can't begin to post all my photos, but my favorite day was when we drove to Cortona. 
On the way we stopped at this local winery.

Don was in heaven.  
We tasted and chatted with the sweet young gal who hosted us.
We bought 2 bottles to take home for our Christmas meal.
Our tradition is to make homemade pasta on Christmas Eve Day, then make delicious sauces and enjoy on Christmas Day. 

Cortona, a medieval village on a hill.

We were excited to visit the place Joy had spent a fews months going to art school and working.

From anywhere in the town, the view was spectacular looking down on the fertile valley below.

We were able to find Daniele, a friend of Joy's who ran the Enoteca.  
Joy worked for he and his family.
They included her family dinners and celebrations. 

They served us a delicious meal with wine from the winery we had just visited!
Then we went in search of the monastery where the art school was located.

And we found it!

Along with the infamous Gino, the groundskeeper.
He gave us an illegal tour of the school.  
We walked right to the room Joy had lived in 3 years ago. 

Exploring more of Cortona, we found this church and as we entered, we heard monks chanting just behind the wall to the right.  I studied the skull and skeleton fresco paintings on the walls.  The chanting was beautiful.  I had never seen or heard anything like it before.

One of our days in Tuscana, our last Saturday, we stayed in, reading, eating, napping.  The owner picked figs from her trees and  brought them to us.

Sadly, our trip came to an end.
  But we squeezed in one last medieval town on our drive to the airport, San Gimignano.

We flew home on separate flights.  
I arrived home refreshed, my soul renewed, my heart singing and my confidence soaring...

Ciao Belle! 

Thank you, mom. 

A Mother's Gift- A Month in Italy- Part 13

Venezia with my husband!

Early in the morning, Andrea and I took a taxi back to the Venice airport.
I was excited knowing I was going to meet my husband in the cafe there.
We had only texted each other for the last 13 days.
I had told him where to meet me.

And there he was!

We took the bus to Plaza Roma, then took a water bus into Venezia.
From there with luggage in tow, we followed the directions to the flat, where we rented a room for two night.
The flat was deep in the back alleys, but near Plaza San Marco.
We walked right to it!

Then we walked and explored the city for two days!

What an amazing city!

Lot's of tourists coming in on ships.

The smell is a mixture of water, fish and garbage, but not overpowering.

It's easy to get lost.

The architecture is an architects dream!

Art is everywhere...

and so are boats.

The shops are fun and unique.
Opera is big.

Lovers have declared their love for each other and sealed it with a lock on the bridges.

There's so much going on everywhere you look.
 It was great riding the water buses all over the city.

I could have taken hundreds of pictures of just doors.

On the second day we purchased tickets to the la Biennale  (The Biannual)

A world art show which happens every two years.

Some exhibitions were FREE and set up around the city.
This young artist broke my heart as I looked the eyes of her self portraits and read her bio.

The art was spectacular!

This was an enormous panel of cloth depicting the apocalypse
Artur Zmijewski, 1966, Warsaw, Poland.

I really liked this artist:
Anna Zemankova from the Czech Republic

She married a military man, raised four children, endured WWII and the communist party only to begin suffering from depression in the 1950's when she hit menopause.

Her oldest son, an artist, gave her paints and brushes hoping to help her.
She immediately loved drawing and painting.
She would wake up at 4 am and begin feverishly painting as if in a trance.

"I'm growing flowers here that are not grown anywhere else."

Even the cafe was a work of art.

The American Pavilion: Sarah Sze, Triple Point
Click on this link to watch a video of her showing and explaining her work

Each of the pieces in the British Pavilion were political statements.
This piece was commenting on one of the princes who allegedly shot and killed an endangered bird species.

At the end we drank British tea.

A french artist filled a open space with stools!

 We walked to this cafe each morning for our cappuccino and pastry.
It was nice eating with the locals and not tourists.

Just across the plaza was an ancient catholic church.
We enjoyed watching the locals enter in their Sunday best, Sunday morning.

After two days, we rode the water buses back to Plaza Roma, caught the bus back to the airport and picked up our little red fiat for the next part of our adventure!