Anything is Possible!

With Faith, Hope and Perseverance


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Serving at Cursillo: a Spiritual Weekend

 

Trinity Center pond

My weekend was intense, busy, and very social. I knew it would be outside my comfort zone, but I was asked to be on the music team, and I wanted to give back for all the blessings I’ve received. Leaning heavily toward introversion, I’m more comfortable finding my spiritual moments alone in quiet places, but thankfully, I found God in many varied moments during my four days serving at “EC 95” (The 95th Cursillo weekend of the East Carolina Episcopal Diocese.)

Cursill is a three day adventure for 20 pilgrims who are there to learn about Christian leadership and to be loved and served by the team. One of the common experiences shared by pilgrims was a deeper relationship with Jesus and one another. As a team member serving the pilgrims, I felt this deepening, too. Even with the lack of sleep from late nights and early mornings, even with my occasional discomfort from being around  many people who I didn’t know well, I felt the deepening. I felt the love for people who became family.

It helped that our Cursillo weekend was held at Trinity Center, a place close to nature and close to my heart, where they build around the trees.

Tree in deck

Trinity is an Episcopal retreat center nestled on the North Carolina coast between Bogue Sound and the Atlantic Ocean.

Sunset at Sander's Point (2)

ocean from the pavilion

One of my favorite places at Trinity Center, besides the beach….  and the sound….. and the pond….

pond throug trees (3)

Trinity Center pond

…is the tunnel that runs under the main road and leads to the beach.

tunnel sign

tunnel entrance

tunnel with turtle

The tunnel is a great place to sing. Imagine the echo. Or is it called reverb?

On Friday afternoon, as I walked the wooded road to my room during a short break, I stopped to admire the light shining through the leaves ahead.

path of connection with Mom and Dad (2)

It was here that I felt the powerful and undeniable presence of my parents. They “told” me (in feelings more than words) of their joy that I was there serving with my husband, and that they are proud of us both. My parents had a long history of ministry in soup kitchens and working with veterans. This is the first time I’ve felt them both together since my father died in January. The confirmation that they are together still makes my heart sing.

djembe purple background

I finally got me a Djembe!

And I did a lot of singing at Cursillo. As part of the music team, I sang, played my guitar, and got to experiment with the new drum I bought for this occasion.

Cursillo music is mostly folksy with some contemporary praise songs. When somebody requested “Wade In the Water,” we had to hunt for the music because it wasn’t on our song list. But it turned out to be such a big hit, we sang this powerful spiritual three times during the weekend. This article explains that “Harriet Tubman used the song “Wade in the Water” to tell escaping slaves to get off the trail and into the water to make sure the dogs slavecatchers used couldn’t sniff out their trail.” 

The following arrangement, while different than the simple version we sang, gives a feeling close to what I felt during our closing service singing with about 50 people and three guitars as I kept a strong, steady beat on my drum.

In spite of the intensity, I’m thankful to have served at EC 95. But some day,  I want to go to Trinity Center just to relax. I bet I’ll do some singing and wading, too.

Silver beach (2)


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Alive!

“Then the angel spoke to the women. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen.”

Matthew 28:5-6

Song Lyric Sunday

In today’s Song Lyric Sunday post, I’m taking Helen up on her offer to post a song that has nothing to do with her lovely theme, “rain.” But I wouldn’t be surprised it it had rained the night before. Apparently there were a lot of earthquakes between the original Good Friday and Easter Sunday.  I love to imagine Mary Magdalene seeing Jesus again and seeing her excitement portrayed in the video below.

Here are the lyrics for “Alive,” written by Barry and Maurice Gibb

Who but You, could breathe and leave a trail of galaxies and dream of me?
What kind of Love is writing my story till the end with Mercy’s pen? Only You.
What kind of king would choose to wear a crown that bleeds and scars to win my heart?
What kind of Love tells me I’m the reason He can’t stay inside the grave?
You. Is it You? Standing here before my eyes, every part of my heart cries

Alive! Alive! Look what Mercy’s overcome; Death has lost and Love has won Alive! Alive!
Hallelujah, Risen Lord, the only One I fall before I am His because He is alive.

Who could speak, and send the demons back from where they came with just one Name?
What other heart would let itself be broken every time till He healed mine?
You. Only You could turn my darkness into dawn; running right into Your arms

Alive! Alive! Look what Mercy’s overcome; Death has lost and Love has won Alive! Alive!
Hallelujah, Risen Lord, the only One I fall before I am His because He is

Emmanuel, the promised King the baby who made angels sing Son of Man who walked with us, healing, breathing in our dust
The author of all history, the answer to all mysteries The Lamb of God who rolled away, the stone in front of every grave

Alive! Alive! Look what Mercy’s overcome;
Death has lost and Love has won Alive! I am His because He is alive. Alive!

(Lyrics from AZLyrics.com)

I hope your Easter is filled with love and blessings!


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The Human Side of Jesus

Jesus_Washing_the_Feet_of_his_Disciples_(Albert_Edelfelt)_-_Nationalmuseum_-_18677.tif.jpg Wikimedia commons

Painting by Albert Edelfelt 1854-1905

Tonight at my church, someone’s going to wash my feet. Then I’ll wash someone else’s feet. In the past, I’ve skipped this ceremony in our “Maundy Thursday” service, mainly because Holy Week is so busy. I figured Wednesday potluck, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday was enough. But singing in the choir, it’s my responsibility to be there. So, I decided to look deeper into this foot washing business.

Jesus washed his disciples feet during the time of Passover when he knew his time on this earth was coming to an end.

Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end.  John 13:1 (NLT)

It is this love that pulls me in to Jesus. Like the humility that comes next.

After supper, Jesus took off his outer robe, tied a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he washed his disciples feet and dried them with the towel. (John 13: 4-5)

The foot washing was a expression of love and servitude. A precursor to the ultimate act of love to come. The disciples were no doubt embarrassed by their leader and teacher performing such a humble and personal service. But Jesus told them that, later, they would understand.

(How often has it taken me years for to understand the significance of events that once baffled me?)

Then Jesus gives them the mandate from which the word Maundy comes in tonight’s service:

And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.                 John 13: 14-15 (NLT)

Jesus is telling his disciples to be of humble service to each other. I believe he intended us to serve one another. But he is willing to be first. He used his humanity to set an example.

There are many other times when Jesus showed his humanity.  One was in the garden of Gethsemane.  He asked the disciples to stay and watch with him. But they fell asleep. Then Jesus prays.

 He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Matthew 26: 39 (NLT)

It sounds to me like Jesus was scared. He knew what was coming and he felt real human fear. Yet, he wanted God’s will to be done, understanding and trusting, that God had a much bigger plan.

This scene from Gethsemane is depicted in the movie, Jesus Christ Superstar. Some people may criticize the movie for not being strictly in line with the Bible, but it opened my heart many years ago at a time when my mind was firmly agnostic. That’s why I did a series on the movie a couple years ago and would like to share the Gethsemane post again.

I know Jesus is much more than human, but for me, his humanity is what made and makes him more accessible.

https://joannaoftheforest.wordpress.com/2015/04/02/gethsemane-facing-fear/


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Love Songs with a Twist

agape-candle

When I was single, one of the things that helped me tolerate and even embrace love songs that came on the radio  was to sing them to God. I know it sounds corny, but it helped. One day, on a solo road trip, that old song came on the radio: “Some Kinda Wonderful.” I was about to change the station, when I got an idea. I substituted the name of Jesus for “my baby.” Later in the song, I sang about my sweet loving savior.
And I’m telling you, it worked. Singing love songs to or about Jesus helped ease my loneliness.

Just try it. When a love song comes on, but you don’t have a romantic interest, or if you have one who’s not good for you, substitute the higher power or ideal love of your choice. Think of someone who’s always got your back.

 

Can I get a witness?

I realized I could do this with any love song. I even sang love songs to my dog who was always there for me. Cause you know what dog spelled backwards is. Dogs are like mirrors reflecting unconditional love. Natalie, at Sacred Touches, agrees.

jesse-howling

 

As I write in Trust the Timing:

“The dogs provided more comfort and less stress than the men I dated after the divorce “

 

 

 

You can sing love songs to any body you want to. Because love is valuable and wonderful . It doesn’t have to be romantic love, though romantic love is pretty darn special. I’m talking about caring for someone else so much that their happiness is just as important as your own. (Love your neighbor as yourself, not more than yourself.)

Whether it’s brotherly love, sisterly love, parental love, platonic love, romantic love, self love, dog love or AGAPE God love, love is good.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Love,

JoAnne/JoAnna

 


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We Still Have Power

heart-in-darkness

 

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again:

When we lose electricity,

we still have power.

When I saw this prompt, “power” from Erica at https://2020hines-sight.com/, I immediately thought of this song, and since it’s been in my head since then, I’m sharing it here. These guys have a good sound.

And then there’s this little girl with a lot of power:

just-jot-january

Thanks to Dan Antion for standing in for Linda who hosts Just Jot it January at

https://lindaghill.com/2017/01/09/jusjojan-daily-prompt-jan-9th17

The rules for Just Jot It January are as follows:

1. It’s never too late to join in! Here, we run on the honour system; the “jot it” part of JusJoJan means that anything you jot down, anywhere (it doesn’t have to be a post, it can even be a grocery list) counts as a “Jot.” If it makes it to your blog that day, great! If it waits a week to get from a sticky note to your screen, no problem!

2. The prompts will be posted every day at 2am my time (GMT -5). You don’t have to follow the prompt word, but this will be where you leave your link for others to see. Make sure you link your post to the correct day’s prompt. There will be a post like this every day except Wednesday, when the prompt is simply my One-Liner Wednesday, and Saturday, when you’ll find the prompt on my usual Friday Reminder post for Stream of Consciousness Saturday (SoCS).

3. As long as your blog is on WordPress, you’ll be able to link via pingback. To execute a pingback, just copy the URL from the daily prompt post, and paste it anywhere in your post. Check to make sure your link shows up where you want it to, and go back occasionally to see other bloggers’ entries – the more you visit others, the more they’ll visit you! If you’re participating from another blogging host, just drop a link into the comment section. Note: The newest pingbacks and comments will be at the top.

4. Tag your post JusJoJan and/or #JusJoJan.

5. Write anything! Any length will do! It can even be a photo or a drawing – you’re going to title it, right? There’s your jot!

6. The prompts are here both to remind you and to inspire you to write. However, you don’t have to use the prompt word of the day. You can link any kind of jot back here. Even your shopping list. Note: If it’s 18+ content, please say so in a comment with your link.

7. If you’d like to, use the JusJoJan badge (above) in your post so that others can find your post more easily.

8. Have fun!

If you’d like to look ahead to see the upcoming prompt words, click this link: https://lindaghill.com/2016/12/31/just-jot-it-january-2017-rules/ You can always write your post ahead of time and schedule it to come out on the appropriate day.


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A Gift You Can’t Buy in the Store, Part 3: Pure, Unconditional Love

 

nativity-scene-1807602_1280

“Do you know how much I love you?” said God.

Baby Jesus offers love

With open arms,

Pure and unconditional.

Let go of your fear!

All these gifts I give to you.

Go forward in this love.

I found these words written on a piece of notebook paper in an old pile of papers. It was a dream I had last year, ready to be re-born.

But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary. You have found favor with God.

Luke 1:30


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Gethsemane: Facing Fear

The rock opera, Jesus Christ Superstar, planted it’s seeds in fertile ground toward the end of my agnostic years. I loved the story and the music so much, I bought the album and learned most of the songs by heart. So here, I’m re-posting my favorite from last year’s series.

Anything is Possible!

This post is part of my week long series revisiting the movie Jesus Christ Superstar. Thanks for joining the journey!

Ted Neely’s powerful performance as Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, gets me at the core of my being, every time.

Seeing the human fear and the weariness Jesus feels in this scene inspires me and even comforts me. He died for us in spite of his fear. His powerful connection with his loving Father gave him courage, but it was far from easy for him. Otherwise, He would not have asked for a reprieve.

This scene reminds me that each of us can deepen our connection with God, to give us courage to face our own trials, large and small.

We can ask God questions: Do you really want me to do this?

We can ask for help: Okay, God. Show me how. Help me feel your presence…

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