Monday, April 17, 2017

Now What

I hope your Holy Week and Easter Day was as special as mine. So many emotions, so many insights, so many opportunities of deep, personal faith sharing, so many memories.... all inspired by the events of the passion, death and transition to new life by one Man, ferociously full of love and sacrifice, an example of the power of God. My granddaughter and I just held each other yesterday evening as she cried "I don't want to leave, I just want to stay here" and I echoed her sentiment.

I've done this before, you've done this before. I know I'm changed because of it, but for how long? So where do we go from here? Can you imagine the power of the instant they found that empty tomb and encountered the risen Christ, so powerful that it reverberates through the 2000 plus years?

Our Churches where packed with people some may only come once or twice a year, maybe once in a lifetime. How do we live the power of Easter? No matter who we are or what we've done we're called to more, but we hesitate, we doubt, we fear. We wait for the right time but as we wait time is slipping away like the memories of yesterday. We walk a fine line trying to be a "good" person but we can't quite take that step of faith, instead we hide from our God given calling. We run to our responsibilities and concerns and problems and responsibilities and we use them to shelter us from that deep calling.

Go back to that cross from four days ago. It's empty. It's as empty as all those excuses that we use to answer the call to go deeper. Step into that tomb from yesterday morning and call out to Him and hear His voice in your echo, just listen, just be open. That's your calling... be open, empty like the tomb, surrender. He will lead you one step at a time. But you have to take that first step. What are you waiting for? When are you waiting for? What About Now? by The Kry.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

New Life

Love begets new life. Whether it's married love, sacrificial love, enduring love... Love begets life, sustains it and enriches it. Love ends in new life. And do way say He is risen, He is risen indeed!! Happy Easter!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Love

I'll keep this short. You won't find this in any books or the Catechism. This comes from some place deep, something that I just know as I go deeper and deeper into this Mystery.

I hear more and more thoughts, ideas and questions regarding how God could ask His only Son to die on the cross for our sins. Jesus says it over and over that He must do the Fathers will. So how could it be God's will that Jesus die such a brutal, ugly, horrible death and how does this save us?

Some won't like this but this is my challenge to you during this Holy Week and I'm absolutely ferocious in my stance with this. What was God's will for Jesus when you boil it all down? Love... show them love and through Your love they will be saved. Jesus has absolute free will. Set the mystery of the Trinity aside for a minute. God's will for Jesus was to show us love, in the most effective, complete and infinite way that Jesus saw fit. God not dictate how, or that Jesus suffer the crucifixion to do that. This was the choice of Jesus. God is not a micro-manger, Jesus has ultimate freewill. His will was the Fathers and the Fathers His, they were in perfect agreement. Jesus deemed that this was the best, most perfect way to do it. At that point in time, in that culture, with all the considerations of Covenant and what that relationship demands, Jesus deemed that this was the most perfect way to accomplish the will of the Father for humanity, namely to show us love and save us from our sins. If He were to do that today it would look differently, my guess is that it would not be the cross.

So this week remember, God did not condemn His Son to the die on the cross, This is all on Jesus. He chose this, to show us love through His life of healing and compassion and miracles and surrendering to the horrors of the Cross on our behalf. The only way to undo all the horrible ways we sin was to show us all the amazing, mysterious ways to love. This is hard for us to fathom. Sin has distorted us so much that we can't comprehend, understand or embrace Ordinary Love by U2.


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

FEROCIOUS!!

So as I stood with the others outside the chain link gate that separated us from the armed troops we planned and plotted how we could get through this barrier and get to the food and water that our families needed so desperately. It was only flesh and steel that stood between the sustenance and our loved ones and we were determined to overcome, no matter the cost. I've learned that every battle, absolutely every single battle starts in the mind, so I watched and observed and I picked out my targets. Two were leaders, two were new and inexperienced and one was compassionate, a medic, she was an easy spot, you're only pulled into that field if you feel for people. So I worked on getting into their minds. With the 2 leaders I went to the gate and stood nose to nose, locked onto their gaze and just stared into their eyes, unflinching. After a couple of minutes of our stare down I'd shake my head and walk away. Others were yelling at the troops, hurling insults, begging and pleading for help, food and water.  The new ones and the medic, I befriended them. We talked about their families, their background, shared stories. In short I gained their trust. Meanwhile I plotted with a couple others to storm the gate. There was an electrician going through to work on some electrical problems inside the compound. When they opened the gate we'd storm it. I had one person who had a long steel bar and we decided I'd hold the gate while he drove the bar through the fence jamming it open. All the others would rush the troops and we'd follow once the gate was secure.

So the gate opened. Across from me was one young soldier I'd been talking with. You could see the panic as my comrades rushed the troops through the open gate. He lunged for the gate to slam it shut and his face turned to utter confusion and disbelief when I grabbed the gate and ripped it from his hands. He looked at me with a look of shock and betrayal. There were people running everywhere, screaming, shouting, wrestling, fighting and as my partner wedged the gate open I started through. In front of me was the squad leader I'd been staring down for the last 30 minutes. He was wrestling with 2 of my comrades and had a knee on one and was a holding down another with his hand and knee. As I ran through the gate there was a look of fear on his face and before I knew it he had me by the throat and had thrown back and pulled his .45 cal pistol, all the while still subduing the two he'd wrested to the ground. Before I tell you what happened next I want to tell you this is a true story. It happened 2 years ago in a nearby town.

The look on his face as he pulled his gun is still etched in my mind. It was a look of fear, desperation and determination as if to say that he knew it was over if I got past him. I found it interesting that he chose to pull his gun on me. No one else had pulled their weapons. As the gun came out of his holster I turned to the contractor behind me for direction, as his instructions were that once there were hands on we were to stop resisting. It was a training exercise. The trainer called an immediate halt. We were working with our National Guard and they were being trained and evaluated on working with American civilians in emergency situations under extreme duress. The pistol was a training weapon and was supposed to be empty. My squad leader was flawless, he never missed a beat. He was able maintain the 2 men he had subdued, throw me back far enough and pull his weapon for a shot if needed. I shook his hand, told him that he did great and I thanked him for his service.

I've learned that in this life we need to be ferocious. We need to know who we are, what our purpose is, believe in it 100% and execute. There is no room for being timid, or doubtful, or second guessing. This doesn't just happen though. It takes a lot of work, soul work, honest introspection and prayer. It takes real life experience, hands on battles, and hands on healing. We're put here with a mission. Act as if everything depends on you and pray as if everything depends on God and you're on your way, or rather The Way.

Last night I had the blessing of Reconciliation with another person who is ferocious. I experienced the Sacrament in a new way with a priest who is so well centered and grounded in who he is, who Jesus is and what his role is in this world that he was able to minister in this Sacrament in a way that there was none of himself in the fray, he only acted as a pipeline to bring me to the truth of my sins, the reality of Gods unconditional love and His forgiveness.

Our world is full of pain, confusion, evil, and hurt. It's also full of mystery, endless blessings, love, compassion and opportunity. When we take the time to get in touch with all this, the good and the bad, and find our role in the midst of it all, we become ferocious. When you find your identity in Christ, you come to know your gifts, your flaws, your needs and your abundance. When you are solid in who you are you just act, you don't think. You act for the good of the other. You are ferocious. It's the reason that military members, firefighters, EMT's and police run towards trouble and not away. They're there to serve and protect, not themselves, but others. It's in their fiber, they're ferocious. It's the reason Jesus surrendered to the cross. They nailed His hands down, arms wide open to absorb every kind of unbelievably inhumane sin and torture unto death, embracing and subduing every single evil on earth and dragging it straight down to the very pits of hell forever and rising again for all eternity. The ultimate Ferocious One, the King of Kings, the Lion of Judah and not a tame Lion.

As we enter the Holy Week in which we remember and celebrate all that He is and did, take some time in prayer to stand at the foot of the cross. Look at what He's doing. What is He calling you to do. Lay your prayers there with Him. Mine as always... to follow in His footsteps, to be good but never ever safe, to be ferocious, to be Courageous by Casting Crowns.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Broken

So it just got real for me again today.

Lent is always, always tough for me. The lessons I need to learn are played out for me in 3D, living color, in my life, in my loved ones, in my experiences. I cringe every year because anymore I don't know what to expect and I try to brace myself.

This Lent I've realized the depth of my brokenness. I'm tired of the struggle. Tired of the same old behaviors. Tired of the same bad choices, Tired of the same old haters and all the new ones that pile on. I'm tired in my prayer. I'm tired of getting pulled in all directions by people that mean well and want to promote and thank me but I'd rather just finish out my days in a state of invisibility doing what I need to do and never being seen.  God seems absent and unreachable. I know all the steps, I've drilled on them and drilled them into others. I know I need to pull the rip cord and I know when and how but I'm not sure why. All I'm left with is this burning desire to serve. So I have to ask why. If this is what we're about and who we're to become and we lose our sense of His presence in the process then why? It's not that I don't know He's here but He's in hiding. I can't see or feel Him anymore. Is this what the Resurrection and Ascension was like "now you see Me... now you don't"?

And then life goes on, reality slaps with stage 4. I know the drill... no one gets out alive. I see it daily, I've lived it and I know what's coming. A sister, an aunt, a wife, a mother, so many things to so many people. So many dreams undreamt and unrealized. I think the worst part of death is letting go not of the life that was or is but the life that will be... but not for you. So now what? Only hope. It's out of my hands. It's in God's, it's always been in God's and somehow in the midst of it all, despite the chaos, the flaws, the gift broken, He loves unconditionally and bridges death to life. I think of Mary, hunched over by the cross, broken, wondering, doubting. She knew He was different, things have to go differently, this isn't happening, is it? Despite the hope, she has to endure the reality now and with her I have to acknowledge that My Heart is Broken by Evanescence.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

It Just Got Real

Last week we had a large scale "wind event" in our state. Some areas were hit worse than others, but winds averaged between 60 and 70 mph for 12 plus hours. Our area was not as bad as some others but there were large scale blackouts, some 850 thousand houses and business, and some damage from fallen trees and power lines.

It was windy in our area but we really didn't have that much of an impact so when I suddenly got an alert text that I'd been activated with the Defense Force by the Governor with our State Emergency Operation Center I was a little surprised. At first my thoughts turned to the worst but then I realized that this was related to the wind storm. So life changed in that instant, it just got real. I had to kick into deployment mode and prepare for immediate response and hit pause on the rest of my life for an indefinite period of time. But while the rest of my life, or at least my part in the rest of my life hit pause, that actual part of my life didn't hit pause. My day job still went on. There were projects that needed to be finished, not just paperwork but projects that dozens of other people depended on for their livelihood and for some their food. It was then that I realized how intertwined my life is with so many others. Their lives can't pause because mine does. I had to employ contingencies already in place to make sure that their lives didn't pause because mine did. My life was going to become intertwined with many others who needed my attention on a more immediate level to help them get to shelter with heat and food and urgent medical attention.

Even though I train, and train, and train, and train for these types of situations you can only do so much to prepare yourself and those around you for certain situations. It's funny how when it finally gets real you know the steps to take but the feeling is quite a bit different than when you train for it. When it gets real, it gets really real. This caused me to think about all the other times in life that we plan for but then all of a sudden.... it just got real! So here's to all those who are looking down the barrel of reality, who suddenly wake up to find it just got real, and to those situations that shake our perceived reality and thrust us into a new dimension.

When it just got real because....
 - you lost your job
 - you or a loved one are diagnosed with a terminal illness
 - your loved one is taken from you in a tragic accident
 - you find out a trusted family member has a secret life
 - you find yourself in the midst of a life crisis
 - your trapped in an abusive relationship
 - you find you've wandered into an addiction and realize you have no control
 - life continues to pummel you with all of the above

In all these situations and especially in your situation which I didn't mention above it's important to remember that you're not alone. I've found that in all of lifes crummy situations the best way out is through. So many times I see people just panic and stop trying, worrying they're going to make it worse. Just because it just got real doesn't mean it's bad. These are the times that are life changing. This is Lent. To walk to Jerusalem knowing what's waiting and hoping you make it through to the other side. That's when it just got real, and when in that instant when you think He's abandoned you you take one more step and your Home. When it gets real it changes things and sometimes we can't go back, all we can do is remember those Moments by Emerson Drive.

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Value of a Single Life

I'm back..... crazy insane month. Anyhow....

So last summer I'm laying on the bed at our trailer which is parked on the south side of a huge 22 mile long lake with the scanner on while I'm reading a book when all of a sudden a mayday call comes across the scanner.

"Mayday, Mayday, Coast Guard in -----, my husband is in the water and we can't find him." So I grab the scanner and put it on manual mode and sit up on the bed. The Coast Guard station comes back and calls the vessel calling Mayday. The lady comes back and says "my husband is in the water on the " south end of my lake "and we can't find him. Our boat broke free and we swam for the boat, we made it but he didn't and we can't find him." So immediately I ran to my jump bag, grab my radio, tune to the coast guard emergency frequency that the call came in on and start calling her as I run across the road to a friend who has a boat in the water. She doesn't hear me, I can't get her, We don't know where to find her and the lake is huge. After 20 minutes of trying to reach her and try to figure out where we can go to search her out, we're clueless. Eerily a fog bank rolls in on a strong cold north wind. This was the wind that broke the boat free from it's anchor on a sand bar while the family was swimming. A call comes in from another lake miles away with the same scenario. Unfortunately all I can do is go back to the trailer and listen as things play out. The husband on the lake miles away is found and taken to the hospital. The husband on my lake, not so good. The search transitions to a recovery.

Last weekend I spent the entire weekend with instructors from the National Park Service at the Grand Canyon in Arizona training on Search and Rescue Incident Management. Our group of 30 some law enforcement and first responders was broken into 5 groups. I was appointed Incident Command for our group and we're inserted into an exercise scenario searching for a 10 year old autistic boy who wandered away from his vacationing family while they were attending to an minor emergency. First thing we do is setup a containment area, do a hasty search of the trails and roads and prepare to segment up the area trying to calculate his direction of travel, speed of travel and personality traits that might draw him in one area over another. Consulting a resource book called Lost Person Behavior we narrow down the 10 mile search area to 2 miles and come up with a plan. We arrange to have resources that are available to us in the group activated and tally our options. We've got dog teams, responders, air support, media, the public, etc. Keep in mind this process takes hours as we wade through paperwork required to plan, document, and organize volunteers, resources and manage media and information outlets. In between all this our 10 hour class day comes to a close and we go home to rest up for class the next day. I did not sleep that night. Instead I spent a couple hours going over the data for the lost person behavior, second guessing our priorities of search areas, do we send in dogs in this area, is 2 teams enough to cover the 1/2 mile area, what if the data is wrong in this case and he heads away from the lake and is drawn to the farms and animals in the opposite direction. Why am I sleeping when we should be out looking. By morning I returned to class bright and early with the determination I need to walk away from SAR. This is just an exercise and if this is getting to me how will I handle real life failures. All my SAR's to date have ended early and happy. I've had friends who's results have not been as fortunate. The instructors have found peace in their efforts and the reality that they may not find them all, but they do it for the one that they do find.
My family knows that when I get the call for a SAR, I go... NOW. That lost person is someones father, mother, son, daughter, loved one and that someone could very well be me and that lost loved one could be mine.

My point is this. We've just started Lent. The whole point of Lent is to reflect on the value of a single life... your life. Everything that Jesus endured He endured for you, and he'd do it all again even if there was no one else except you. Maybe we should look at the parable of the lost sheep as a SAR scenario. The passion, death, and Resurrection are the steps He had to take to bring us home to Himself and all our loved ones who've realized their dream and are with Him for eternity. It is unbelievable the efforts, money, resources and manpower that goes into finding one lost person, even to the point of death on a cross. Oh, and about our exercise.... our boy was found in a barn at the very intersection where we placed our containment team. As for me, SAR will continue to be one of my passions, I'm to much like my Friend. I can't just turn away. I'll bear my share of the sorrow with those missions that don't end in rescue if it means I can help one person avoid the question How Am I Supposed to Live Without You by Michael Bolton.