Images of Mardi Gras swirl in my head.
Debauchery. Excess. Lewdness. Abandon. Sensuality. Revelry. Beads. Licentiousness. Drunkenness. The pursuit of pleasure at all costs.
I’m not sure about you, but I have a super complicated relationship with pleasure.
At times, I overestimate its value and seek it with abandon at any cost to my own demise, still unsatisfied and longing for more, kind of like what will be happening today in New Orleans.
In other moments, I squelch it, deeming it unnecessary, and certainly not “Christian” and even harmful to my wellbeing. I swing from feasting to fasting, just trying to figure it out this complex partnership, never quite landing anywhere.
I need pleasure. You need it. It’s really good for me, especially when it’s in its designed space, as my kind and faithful servant and not my harsh and self-seeking master. It’s a straight-up gift from God to remind me of His goodness.
When I think about it, I’ve been given five senses to experience joy and delight for just this very reason, the immense freedom to enjoy the goodness of God. It’s no wonder the Psalmist says,
“Taste and see that the Lord is good.”
- I taste delectable flavors (potato chips and milk for me…I know…super strange), savoring each sip or bite.
- I hear sounds that excite and both calm my soul and levels unreached in other ways (my favorite is the garage door closing when my budding adult is home after a night being out).
- Through the sense of touch, I know comfort and bliss (warm sunshine on my face after a long winter), and also experience love and intimacy with the people I love (a long hug with my hubby).
- My sight allows me to capture the untarnished beauty of the world (butterflies fluttering in my garden brings me personal joy).
- My sense of smell gives me a completely unique experience of the life around me (lilacs in May and peonies in June for this New Jersey girl), especially and uniquely mine, a true gift in a world of billions of people.
I am reminded I am one-of-a-kind and God does some things just for me! How amazing is that?!?
Today, take a minute to think about what brings you pleasure. You may have just forgotten because of all the overwhelming “duties” on your plate. What is your favorite thing to taste, see, touch, hear and smell?
Hopefully carve out just a few moments on this Mardi Gras to experience even one, savoring it as you do, bringing your senses to life and reminding you that “Yes. God’s creation is good” and He’s gifted it to you to declare to your heart His unending goodness and unfailing love!
From My Heart to Yours
When one of your best friends writes you a poem and your love language is words of affirmation, you post it for the world to see.
Today we celebrate
My sweet friend E
The dearest of friends
Who could ever be
You are willing to go
Where many steer clear
To the heart of those
Far and near
Loving to you
Is connection and grace
At another’s pace
Desiring to connect
With another’s soul
Then sitting there quietly
Soft and yet bold
Wanting to know
What causes others tears,
What brings them joy,
Or heightens their fears
It’s in that place
Esther feels most alive
It’s in that place
We all watch her thrive
She enables others to travel
Where they may have not tried
Because she has gone there herself
Refusing to hide
Leading while being
Right in the tough spots as well
She Touches our heart
Because she’s been there herself
So today I want to lift you up
And acknowledge who you are
The good, the bad, the ugly
Has brought you this far
A beautiful reminder
Where we’ve been,
Is sometimes hard
But if you will embrace life
If you nurture all those parts
You can live life quite bravely
Like my friend Esther’s
I love you!
Penned with love
By Maria Pascale for
Fear keeps me from loving deeply.
Fear of rejection.
Fear of losing myself.
Fear of embarrassment.
Fear of pain.
Fear of not being enough.
Fear of abandonment.
Fear of grief.
Fear of failure.
Fear of being swallowed up.
Fear of loss.
If I love deeply, every last one of those fears might come true. Many of them already have.
But, it’s a risk I am trying very hard to take every single day, no matter how afraid I am, because…
If I love deeply, I will also find ALL of these along the way:
And ultimately, LOVE.
Fear may win a few skirmishes here and there on the battlefield of my heart, but deep LOVE will win the war. That’s a guarantee from LOVE HIMSELF.
People thought we were having an affair as we sat at the community pool and laughed and hugged and engaged in some seemingly very serious conversations, while snacks and towels and “look what I can do’s” piled up from the six children we had between us.
I guess they were kind of right. We did love each other very much. I was closer to you than almost any other man on this beautiful planet.
But they were also very very wrong.
You see, you were not my “lover,” as the gossipy types might have whispered about in the parking lot with soggy kids in towels yelling, “can we please go home now?”
You were my brother and one of my very best friends.
You still are.
Today is your 60th birthday. I’ve known you for 53 years, 11 months and 10 days, since the day I was born.
You were forced to be my brother, just because of sheer genetic willpower, but you chose every single day to be my friend. I can’t thank you enough.
You taught me how to ride a bike when I was just five and you were a big giant 10-year-old.
You were the one I went to crying when I wet my pants in class at boarding school. You told me it was going to be okay.
You were happy when I was your “little annoying sister” in the school play. You even helped me memorize my lines.
YOU DID NOT HAVE TO DO ANY OF THAT.
You told me I was super smart and could be anything I wanted and not-so-secretly told me I should go to medical school when I was older.
You wrote me a long letter from college when I was a young teenage girl encouraging me that I was valuable and to cling to Jesus during those tumultuous years after you had learned some hard lessons during yours.
You included me in your wedding as a junior bridesmaid, making me feel like a grown-up and highly important.
YOU DID NOT HAVE TO DO ANY OF THAT.
You had me and some boyfriend of mine over for dinner, inviting us to share your heart and your home once you were living on your own.
You became my actual pastor once I graduated from college and you had 200+ young career singles in your care. You taught me how to love God (even though you spit when you talked and I was sitting in the front row receiving all that lovely spray).
You co-signed a loan for my “new used” car after getting the call that I had totaled my other one.
YOU DID NOT HAVE TO DO ANY OF THAT.
You performed my wedding and I’ll never forget the charge to us about the “fire covenant” we were making with each other.
You became my neighbor in a little sleepy town and we shared birthday parties and trick-or-treating, community pool jaunts (as you already read) and Christmas afternoons.
You wound up being the “watcher of my high schoolers” so that my hubs and I could have short getaways that probably saved our marriage.
YOU DID NOT HAVE TO DO ANY OF THAT.
The bottom line is this. You were always there for me, in ways big and small, seeing me through the good and the bad and lots of the ugly.
I thought that was my favorite thing about you, but I was wrong.
When some really tough stuff came into your world, you did the most incredible thing of all. You allowed us to reverse roles just a little bit and made it okay for me to care for you the way you had taken care of me for so many many years.
Because of your humility and your bravery, I finally saw you, the amazing, kind, strong, faith-filled, vulnerable, tenacious, loving man that you are. It only made me love you more.
You, my friend and confidant, my cheerleader and my brother, are one of the best people I have ever known or will know.
The only thing that could be better than knowing you ALL of my life is if I had known you ALL of yours.
KEEP ‘EM COMING!!!
THIS HUSBAND OF MINE…
A man who with impeccable integrity.
A man who wants to be liked by all.
A man who gives his all until the end.
A man who wants peace (sometimes at all costs).
A man who keeps getting help.
A man who struggles to stay engaged.
A man who is kind.
A man who wrestles with anxiety.
A man who keeps fighting for healing.
A man who is broken in many ways.
THIS WIFE OF HIS…
A woman who loves fiercely.
A woman whose self-worth is often based on her performance.
A woman who wants others to have undeniable hope.
A woman who judges harshly (at times).
A woman who keeps getting help.
A woman who struggles with maintaining good boundaries.
A woman who is generous.
A woman who wrestles with anxiety.
A woman who keeps fighting for healing.
A woman who is broken in many ways.
THIS MARRIAGE OF OURS…
Two who love when it’s especially hard.
Two who hurt the other (even on purpose).
Two who muster up grace and forgiveness.
Two who judge and criticize little things even when we’ve vowed not to.
Two who voice our deepest fears to the other’s listening heart.
Two who keep trying to change the other.
Two who make space for the beautiful and the messy.
Two who share an unshakable faith in the Lover of their souls.
Two who keep fighting for healing.
Two who are broken in many ways.
WE ARE NOT BROKEN ALONE. THAT WOULD BE OUR UNDOING.
WE ARE BROKEN TOGETHER.
Each of our souls need blessing, someone willing something very good for you and asking God to grant it. Here is mine for you today!
May you awaken refreshed with peace and hope for the new day.
May your heart receive the gifts that have been prepared by God’s hand, especially designed for you.
May your time be expanded so that you are never rushed and you maintain a steady, hopeful spirit.
May God’s words of encouragement be loud and life-giving.
May God give you wisdom as you work and may you reap an abundance of good fruit from your labor.
May your day be filled with laughter and joy, cooperation and kindness from others, especially those you live with.
May your relationships blossom and bring much-needed hope and love to you.
May your body flourish in the secret places so that you can live your day to the full.
May you only hear words of comfort, understanding and encouragement from others.
May any and all critical and unkind mouths be shut and your heart be carefully guarded if they are not.
May you know when to work and when to rest, when to speak and when to be quiet, when to give and when to take.
May the enemies of fear, shame and guilt be banished from every fiber of your being so that healing and wholeness can overflow for you and from you.
May your mind turn to peace, joy, contentment and thanksgiving as the day ends for the gifts that were so freely given to you by God Himself.
May your thoughts turn to what went right during the day and may your heart be cheered.
May all discouragement be banished and may you turn to Christ, who has sustained and provided for you.
May your dreams bring you joy, recreation, laughter, hope, love, peace, kindness, encouragement, restfulness and even creativity.
May your sleep grant you the full and daily restoration that your body, mind, heart and soul so desperately need.
May you be able to see, feel and receive the love and grace that God has for you in abundance.
From my heart to yours,
As the year ends…..and the New Year begins.
…reflections on Kahil Gibran’s “On Children” 31 December 2010 at 20:52 @ Copyright 2010 by my friend and fellow mom, Mary Cypher
I’ve always thought that Janus, the Roman god with two faces was an appropriate metaphor for this time of year. It is good to look back and then forward at the same time, to take stock, to adjust expectations, establish objectives. This can be a time of celebration, of sadness, a taste of the bittersweet. It is so for me.
My Facebook status early last month was “My youngest greeted me with the words ‘This is your last day with a 6 year old!'” It struck me that I’ve been a mother for 30 years and I am at the end of a season in my life.
I smiled as she spun and danced celebrating growing older, as only the very young do. Quickly, a lump formed in my throat as I grasped that she really was quite big! My baby was no longer so little.
In an age in which most people have 2.5 children, I chose to have a dozen. I had tots and teens for a long time, and truly reveled in the experience; the delight of their discoveries, the pleasure of their innocence and guilelessness.
It has been my unadulterated joy to give my children love AND to share my love of knowledge, of language, literature, history, art, music, & nature with them. Because, thank God, they too developed similar passions, we have had wonderful conversations and I am awed by the depth of character and the understanding that they have.
Now, I am forced to acknowledge that part of my life is over. Having shoved that realization to the back of my mind, even though it was still there percolating, Kahil Gibran’s poem,”On Children” came back into my thoughts during a quiet moment.
I smiled wistfully as I remembered how, as a 17 year old, I read these words with such a wash of relief:
“Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.”
I remember feeling justified in pulling away from my immigrant parents and seeking my own identity, indeed, my own nationality. These words particularly resonated within my 17 year old Self:
“You may give them your love but not your thoughts, For they have their own thoughts. You may house their bodies but not their souls, For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.”
” Yes!” I thought then.
How little I knew at that time that I would need the traditions, the values (if not the identity) of the heritage for which I had little use. Little did I realize how sad it must have made my parents.
It’s a painful part of parenting, releasing the son or daughter that your heart still calls “my child”. As a mother whose children range in age from 7 to 30 now, I think how true the words from Gibran’s poem really are.
Their souls DO dwell in the house of tomorrow. As much as I love them, they stretch their wings, reaching for the sky, seeking to go forward, upward — to a place I cannot go.
Half of my offspring are young adults now, and I have come nearly full circle as I truly begin to understand the last stanza of Gibran’s poem:
“You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth. The Archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far. Let your bending in the Archer’s hand be for gladness; For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.”
The sheer pleasure of having very little ones in my home is now a thing of yesterday. A wonderful, special season, that I will always remember, but which belongs to yesterday. I look at my youngest, who looks so much like me, and think,
“I must still be a stable bow for her and the rest who are still in the nest, that they may grow to be men and women who also will freely bend to the Archer’s Will.”