Tag Archives: creation

God Kisses

In a class I attended on journaling we were told we should decide whether our journals would be about real life or spiritual life. The teacher said, “It can’t be both.”  “Wrong!” I said to myself then and now.

Real life is tightly braided with spiritual life. I believe that is how it is created to be. In our people, in creation, in little things that happen and all our very real moments, the Holy is always mixed imperceptibly with the Real.

When we sign up to be spiritual people, we are agreeing to Terms and Conditions that include seeing what cannot be seen, hearing what is not spoken aloud and believing in that for which there is no scientific evidence.  It takes faith to keep looking, listening and believing.

Last Monday, seven days ago, I once again witnessed new life come into this world. Pace Ryan, our second grandson, was born. There is nothing more holy than a little one entering the world. Later I marveled over the whole thing…how did my daughter’s body know how to labor? How did little Pace go from his previous life submerged in amniotic fluid to breathing air? How did his blood supply switch over to run on its own? How did he know to cry and clear his lungs? How did he know how to nurse?

And then this, he came with dimples. Dimples! Dimples no one saw coming. Dimples buried far back in his genetics that no one on either side can recall anyone having. It delighted me to the tips of my toes. Dimples!

I told my daughter I’d heard that dimples were a sign that God had kissed someone. It’s not in the Bible. Don’t go looking for it. But the Bible is full of language and teachings about the signs of God. It teaches us that once we have seen God, we are never the same. Hebrews 11:27 speaks of Abraham persevering because he had seen the one who is invisible.  Jesus said, Blessed are those who believe without seeing me. John 20:29  The Bible teaches us that our world is full of the signs and wonders of God for those who can see such things.

I have no doubt, not even one, that little Pace was kissed by God. I see it with my faith eyes, my heart and my soul.

Our God is a kisser. God kisses us with sunrises, sunsets, loved ones, rainbows, new life, wonders and surprises all of the time. Where have you seen a God kiss lately?

Dr. Cindy Ryan is a pastor, wife, mother of three, Mimosa to Keller and dimpled Pace, a breast cancer survivor and someone who loves a kiss from God.

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Heartache and Light

Seven years ago today I suddenly, unexpectedly lost a friend, a colleague, my boss, the senior pastor of our church. In that one day, many things changed for many of us. For me, it began a seven year journey of challenges that are best described as a series of gut punches.

As today dawned, I remembered. Some things you do not forget. Some hurts stay etched on your soul.

I reached out to those I know who are hurting more and remembering today too. That helped a little.

In my journal, I noted that my feelings surprise me. In seven years,  it seems I would be more healed from that loss. But, today I can feel an actual physical pain in the same broken place in my heart where this grief lives. It feels gently healed but ever-so-tender, like new pink skin is growing there, very thin and delicate. It feels like I should shield it.

I don’t know what to do on a gray and achy day like this except to honor my feelings. To name them. To bathe them in prayer and in God’s Light. To say, “Yes, that happened and it really hurt, really mattered and really changed me.” A mentor once told me that our tears baptize our feelings. Today, my tears are at work in the Holy act of baptizing this loss once again.

God is a God of healing and so much healing has happened in these seven years. I celebrate that. I see it. I live it every day.

The entry in Jesus Calling today, February 19, says, You need to remember who I am in all my Power and Glory.  What a Word this is. Even before this loss, God’s Glory has of course been on display. In the midst of it and in the years since, God has continued to shine.

Creation shows us this all the time: Pure darkness, then the first light of dawn. Heavy, angry storm clouds then a rainbow. Moonlight, starlight on a previously black night. God saying, Yes, you’ve had darkness but remember who I am in all my Power and Glory.

Today, I remember. I remember my friend. I recall the deep loss. I revisit the tender ache of it. And, most of all, I remember who God is.

Dr. Cindy Ryan is a pastor, a wife, a mother of three, friend and colleague of Dr. Ken Diehm, breast cancer survivor, Mimosa to Keller. 

Love=Noticing

It’s Valentines Week, the time of year when we become Love focused for a bit. Some people feel sad during this time if romance isn’t in the picture. That’s unfortunate and it seems far more productive to focus on just upping our love game in general.

Lately I’ve been writing and speaking about the art of noticing.  I’ve declared that in my new life part of my job description now is be a noticer.

I started with creation. I noted that the sun rises and sets daily and maybe I should just watch and notice that more.

Then I realized all of creation is filled with beautiful and stunning things worth noting. I read somewhere that when we pause notice any part of creation it is as if we are worshipping God.

In a devotional reading this week, Oswald Chambers wrote The prophet Isaiah made people look up at the heavens in order to use their imagination properly. If we are children of God, we have a tremendous treasure in nature and will realize that it is holy and sacred. We will see God reaching out to us in every wind that blows, every sunrise and sunset, every cloud in the sky, every flower that blooms, and every leaf that fades. My Utmost for His Highest

Spiritual people are called to see with imagination what cannot quite be seen.  What if nature is infused with God’s unseen presence and signs? What if our job was simply to notice?

I imagine the call to notice extends to other living creatures as well. When my dog wants a pet she rolls onto her back, hoping I’ll notice. People crave being noticed and seen. Jesus was particularly good at seeing people.

Maya Angelou once said, Your eyes should light up when your child enters the room. I wonder what would happen if our eyes lit up when anyone entered the room?

I see you sunrise, sky, flower and tree.  I see you daughter, son, spouse and grandchild. I see you, dog needing a pet and hungry family struggling to make ends meet.

I see you person sitting alone or clenching your teeth in the grocery store line.  I see you person with hands and plate full.

Love doesn’t have to be overwhelming. It begins with noticing.

Dr. Cindy Ryan is a pastor, wife, mother of three, Mimosa to Keller, breast cancer survivor and noticer.

Drops of Grace

To be spiritually alive is to be awake. Scripture is full of reminders to wake up, watch, notice and be thankful. It’s easy to notice when wrong things are happening. It’s easy to see stress unfolding as well as injustice, anger, doubt and hardship. Cultivating an awareness of grace seems more difficult, kind of like a subtle art.

It helps if you can move more slowly or have time to reflect. It helps if you put down your phone for a while…something I find hard to do. I think it helps if you write down your grace moments.

Todd Agnew wrote the song “Grace Like Rain” which has the line, “Hallelujah, grace like rain falls down on me.” Can you picture tiny drops of grace falling in your life?

I started making note of a few of mine.

This weekend, I had a chance to talk to our 19-year-old son, face to face, in person, for a while, a rare thing since he’s been away at college. In the middle of one of my sentences he took my hand and kissed it. I’m not even making that up. A drop of grace.

Our middle son emails me articles he thinks I would like. Recently, one he sent was so on target that it quoted one of my favorite theologians right in the middle of it. He didn’t know my favorite theologian but he does know me. A drop of grace.

Our daughter nominated me in the sweetest way for a breast cancer survivor award coming up. Her words were like drops of grace

A couple of weeks ago our 1-year-old grandson’s nanny got sick. I quickly packed and headed 5 hours to their house to help that week. When I arrived, my grandson looked to see who was coming in. He toddled, then ran to me, arms straight up in that universal “hold me” gesture. When I picked him up he gave me a big boy hug with arms tight and head on my shoulder. Grace.

In writing a presentation for an upcoming event, I struggled for days with the ending. I prayed for God to help me see what to say. The next day, it came to me, so surprising and right that I laughed out loud. Drops of grace.

In addition to that, there are golden red leaves, cooler temperatures, pumpkins and nature’s grace all around us now.

Being alive spiritually means you see what might be unseen to others. You notice. You give thanks.

I wonder what kind of delicious grace is raining down on you right now?

Healing

After six weeks of not driving and wearing a boot on my broken right ankle, the doctor gave me good news. He said, “I can see on the x-ray that your ankle is healing. Your body is creating new bone.”  He released me to remove the boot to drive and told me only two more weeks in the boot for walking.

Then, he was funny. “No racquet ball, tennis or water skiing for you, though.” Since I’ve pretty much never done any of those three sports, I took that news quite well.

And then, I just felt proud. My body is creating new bone! How about that? I’ve been thanking God that bones and bodies and hearts can heal. Scientists don’t even quite know how it is that our bodies can heal or what exactly creates the just right condition for re-growth and new cell life in us.

In these past weeks, as I’ve poured over our new grandson, I can’t stop marveling at how the truth of scripture has come to life right before my eyes. Psalm 139:13-14,  For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Once there was nothing, and now there is baby Keller: his hands, his tiny fingers, his itty bitty finger nails, his sweet head and that kissable spot at the back of his neck. He is beautifully and wonderfully made, every inch of him. He arrived on this earth knowing how to cry, then nurse. His body somehow pre-programmed to grow and his personality all set to unfold. He is a miracle.

And imagine, if he ever falls and gets hurt or breaks his ankle, his body has been made somehow, to heal too. Or if someone breaks his heart some day or if life is hard on him, he has it within him to heal. He is fearfully and wonderfully made. We all are.

I had never broken anything except a toe before breaking my ankle. I’ve been surprised at how much it has hurt these past weeks. Without ever seeing the x-ray, I know exactly where the break is from the pain. I’ve felt the new bone growing. Healing hurts.  I guess that is true of all aspects of healing. You have to hurt to heal.

As a pastor and Christian, I have long celebrated and marveled at how we are made. I long ago surrendered to the mystery of life, healing and death, knowing I would never understand it all. Anne Lamott wrote, I didn’t need to understand the hypostatic unity of the Trinity; I just needed to turn my life over to whoever came up with redwood trees.  Plan B: Further Thoughts of Faith

I’m with her. I do not understand all mystery but I’m going to stick with the One who knit us together in our mother’s womb, so fearfully and wonderfully made. I’m betting my whole life on the One who heals broken bones and broken hearts.    

Pumpkin Joy

For the second year in a row, our church has sponsored a Pumpkin Patch to raise money for our church’s teenagers to go on summer mission trips.  Having a Pumpkin Patch is quite an endeavor, requiring a massive amount of volunteers to staff it daily for all of October. It takes a village.

We have a teenager who loves the summer mission trips, so we’ve been trying to do our part this fall by working multiple shifts at the Pumpkin Patch.  What I’ve re-discovered about myself is that I just love pumpkins.  How can a piece of produce actually produce joy?  I’m not sure.  It is one of those mysteries of life, I guess.  I love the color of pumpkins-the orange ones, the white ones, the multi-colored ones all delight me.  I love the size and shape of pumpkins.  I love the stems, the bigger, the better.  I love huge massive pumpkins and those little bitty tiny ones with the cool curved stems.

Every time I work at the Pumpkin Patch, I buy more pumpkins.  They are on my back porch, my front porch and now, on the mantel, nine of those adorable-sized curved stem pumpkins.  Every time I see my pumpkins, I feel a little surge of joy.

I think I feel such pumpkin joy because a pumpkin is just a sure sign of fall; of nature’s bounty and of God’s wildly varied, colorful, imaginative creation.  Pumpkins are just one of the countless ways God shows off.

In many ways our world is a scary place right now with Ebola, Isis and a few other threats.  People around me, including me, have experienced tough things and are a little bruised and battered.  Somehow, in the mystery of how God works, a little pumpkin joy makes up for that.  God is good, all the time.

Re-Entry

So, we arrived home last night.  My husband had to work first thing this morning.  I luckily, have a cushion day in which do buy groceries, do laundry and such.  I also took some time to answer a few emails, get a few things on the calendar for this week and next week.

My boys both left for other activities today so finally, back to silence.  What I learned from my silent time:

I really do need it.

It is really refreshing.

I like having long spans of time with nothing I have to do.

I really enjoy God’s handiwork out there.

Silence and solitude ought not to be a once every decade or so thing…it ought to be something I figure out a way to weave into the daily fabric of things. 

I have much to be grateful for…much.