Tag Archives: faith

20 Seconds of Courage

jumping sunset

Hello there!!!! I have missed you all so much!!!

Okay, first and foremost, I am PSYCHED about something that happened while I’ve been “regrouping”.  One of my blog posts (Come to the Feast) was featured on BlogHer!  You will notice some new Bling on the Blog…over in the right hand corner at the top…see it?   Check out the link!

http://www.blogher.com/snippets/spiritually-hungry-come-feast

I am so excited about this because it means that I’ve written something that has struck a nerve.  This is important not because of me or because of my writing but because of the message in that particular blog post.  The message was acceptance and love.  People responded.

People responded to the message of love and acceptance because we ALL NEED IT SO BADLY.   We CRAVE love and acceptance.

I am re-invigorated!  I want to write more!  I don’t want to write about an empty love and acceptance.  I don’t want to write about love according to me.  I mean, who really cares what I think?  I want to write about and talk about and share the love and acceptance that comes from faith rooted in Jesus Christ.

Have I lost you?

Are some of you done?

I had a friend tell me that if I stopped talking about God so much, more people would read my blog.

This is probably true but what would be the point?  This blog is about God.  It’s about a God that is loving and good and kind and in your corner.  This God is peace and love and understanding.  This is the God you meet and say, “I’ve been looking for you” and He says, “I’ve always been with you”.  This is the “Aha” God and the “Thank God” God.  This is the God that is SO GOOD you cannot wait to tell everyone you know about Him – you can’t wait to share the good news.  Maybe this is a God you know intimately and maybe you’ve never heard of this God.  Either way, I hope you continue to read.

This blog is about faith and joy and hope and love and acceptance and deep down in your soul contentment.  This blog is about truth and emotion and goose-bump moments.  This blog is about letting go of fear and living in divine presence.  It is about being present in the moment.  It is about living a life that matters.  It is about accepting yourself and others and living in harmony and peace.  It is about gratitude.

What is it not about you ask?  It’s not about politics.  It’s not about one point of view being “right”.  It’s not about preaching.  It’s not about judging.  It’s not about exclusion.  It’s not about following rules, being put in a box or labeling each other.  It’s not about hypocrisy.

There is so much negativity surrounding religion today.  Even the word brings up negative emotions.  I had someone tell me they weren’t as “religious” as me and I cringed!  I don’t want to be thought of as “religious”!

What I really want to do is change the conversation.  I want to have the REAL conversation.   I don’t want it to be polite or perfect because our lives are not perfect and we are not always polite. But I don’t want it to be mean spirited and politically charged with name calling and judging.   I want it to be authentic and kind.  We can do that.  We can rise up to a different, more civil, more loving conversation about God and faith and the unknown that we are all struggling to figure out.  I have faith in us.

We all know there is unrest in the world.  There is unrest in the Christian community, there is unrest in America, and most of all, there is unrest in our hearts.

Jesus came and said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.”  (Matthew 11:28)

He did not come and say, “Come to me and I will judge you and condemn you.”  He did not say that.  If a priest or someone in your past has told you that, they were wrong.  Unfortunately, that would not be the first or last time a human being messed up Jesus’s message.

I do not want to mess up Jesus’s message.  I pray about this every day.  I say, “Lord, give me the words that will honor you and that will bring other people peace and more laughter and more joy.”  I am not a preacher or a theologian.  I do not have a doctorate in Divinity.  I study God’s word.  Sometimes on my own and other times in groups.  There are times my soul is soothed by His words and there are times when I am challenged.  When I read His words I pray, “Lord, give me eyes to see and ears to hear.”  This is important because there are times (many times) that I have been blind and deaf.

I saw the movie, “We Bought a Zoo” and I loved the line he says about courage.  He tells his kids, “All you need is 20 seconds of unbelievable courage.”  It’s true.  Think about it.  Courage to say hello, courage to propose, courage to stand up for yourself, courage to sign on the line…all great things begin with 20 seconds of courage.

Sometimes I’m afraid and other times I’m brave.  I feel brave today so I ask you now for 20 seconds… and I ask God for courage and the right words to explain what I’m hoping to create.

I know in my heart and soul there is a God and He loves me.  I know in my heart and soul that God sent His son Jesus to save me.  I know that because I accept Him, I will have everlasting life.  I do not know this because a priest told me.  I do not know this from doctrine or theology or years of catechism.  I know this because Jesus told me.  In my heart, He told me… when I invited Him in.  Unfortunately, until the day I met Him in my heart, I had never met Him in a church.  I had been raised in church, I had heard of Him and learned about Him but I did not know Him.  Since then, I have met Him everywhere.  In fact, He has never left me.   I meet Him on mountaintops and oceans and lakes and sunsets.  I meet Him in yoga.  I know so many of you do too.  I meet Him every day through other people.  He is in all people and all things.   We don’t need choirs and sacraments and years of tradition to know the Truth.  These things can add to the experience of the truth but until you know Jesus personally, all of the beautiful traditions will fall on empty ears and hardened hearts.  This blog is not about a particular church or tradition or religion.  In fact, it’s not about religion at all.

It’s about Love.  It’s about love that brings you to your knees.  It’s about a radical love that transforms you.  It’s about love that never dies.  This love makes your life better NOW.  This love makes you a better person, it helps you forgive and it helps you say you are sorry.  This love brings you to acceptance and peace.  This love gives you the courage to let go of your tight grip and release control.  This love gives you courage to leap.  This love screams in your ear, “YOU CAN DO IT” and whispers in your heart, “You are never alone”.  This love finds you in the darkness and digs deep to comfort a soul in pain.  This love takes away the bottle and turns down the pills.  This love is enough.  This love shows you the light and steals the power from the secrets.  This love protects.  This love helps you see others.  This love helps you see yourself.  This love shows you how beautiful you are.

This love helps you recognize need and gives you the ability to respond.  This love teaches compassion and empathy.  This love is for everyone, everywhere.

This love shares hope and forges friendships and fosters loyalty and makes you want to be a better friend, parent and spouse.  This love creates more love.  It gives you the ability to do superhuman things because this love is so BIG and STRONG.  This love invites you in.

I invite you too.  Come as you are.  I’ll be here as I am…flawed, seeking, wondering, doubting, laughing, crying, hoping, praying…proud, unsure, confident, fearful, jealous, content…I’m bringing all of me.

I’m not perfect but I’m loved.  And so are you.  Let’s share the love.

©2012 Sue Bidstrup, Great Big Yes™ All Rights Reserved

Shaking My Can on the Corner

I know, it doesn’t sound pretty.

What I mean is that I was “shaking a can” for ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) on the corner this morning.  It was amazing.

I saw a lot of volunteers standing in the rain to help!

I witnessed generosity in spades.

There were lots of people saying, “God Bless!” which of course, I loved and immediately responded with “GOD BLESS YOU TOO”.  I think that’s one of the nicest things you can say to someone.  We all need to be blessed.

I saw kids reaching out their hands from the back seat with coins to share.

I met people who shared their stories of loved ones lost to this terrible disease.

There was a woman who came back around in her car after she went home to get more money.

I saw a priest who stopped to contribute and told me a story about a fellow priest who suffered from ALS.

There were Mercedes and beat up cars and Cadillacs and delivery trucks and motorcycles and teenagers learning to drive.  There were people with dogs and families together and babies in back.  There were older couples.  There were people dressed up and people who were sweaty coming straight from a work out.  There were women who just finished running a race for breast cancer.

A hospice nurse stopped to tell me to check out her bumper sticker which said “Stamp out  ALS”.  Her eyes were so kind and I got the feeling she knew this disease intimately.  I thanked her for what she does every day…hospice nurses are angels.

It choked me up.

I got a glimpse today.  I got a glimpse of goodness.  Actually, I feel like I got a gallon of goodness.  What a blessing.

This disease is bad.  Do what you can to help. Give. Pray. Smile at people who are on the corner shaking their can.  Even if you don’t give money, look  up and make eye contact, wave and acknowledge.  There are people in pain.  There is suffering.

But in the midst of suffering, there is grace.

We are in this together.  Thank God.

To all the moms out there – HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY.  Thank you for your love and your healing and your smiles and your warm cozy hugs.  Thank you for dancing in the kitchen and picking us up at 3 am.  Thank you for your prayers.  Thank you for believing in us.  Thank you for advocating for us.  Thank you for running out to Walgreen’s late at night because we forgot we needed posterboard.  Thank you for your wisdom.  Thank you for your understanding.  Thank you for holding our hair back when we puke and for wiping our tears.  Thank you for changing our diapers and feeding us and feeding us and feeding us.  Thank you for listening. Thank you for sweeping and cleaning and shoveling and planting and decorating.  Thank you for sharing your faith and your knowledge and your hope and your dreams.  Thank you for your courage.

This is big.  Because when you got into this thing called motherhood, maybe you didn’t know what it was.  Nobody told you because nobody could.  It’s different for all of us.  It’s joy and it’s laughter and it’s pain and it’s worry and it’s fear.  Deep down fear.  Fear of failure and fear of our babies not being safe.  But it’s faith too.  It’s faith in something bigger and something better and something really real.  It’s faith in LOVE.  It’s faith that when we share our love, we create something beautiful.  We share, then our kids share and then the world shares and we are all so much brighter.

Thank you to all the moms.  Mine, yours, you, me, everyone.  Here’s a poem I received when I was awaiting the arrival of my first baby.  Oh man…it kills me.

BABY ASKS GOD, “THEY TELL ME YOU ARE SENDING ME TO EARTH TOMMORROW,  BUT HOW AM I GOING TO LIVE THERE BEING SO SMALL AND HELPLESS?”
GOD SAID, “YOUR ANGEL WILL BE WAITING FOR YOU AND WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU.”
THE CHILD FURTHER INQUIRED, “BUT TELL ME, HERE IN HEAVEN I DON’T HAVE TO DO ANYTHING BUT SING AND SMILE TO BE HAPPY.”
GOD SAID, “YOUR ANGEL WILL SING FOR YOU AND WILL ALSO SMILE FOR YOU.” AND YOU WILL FEEL YOUR ANGEL’S LOVE AND BE VERY HAPPY.”
AGAIN THE CHILD ASKED, “AND HOW AM I GOING TO BE ABLE TO UNDERSTAND WHEN PEOPLE TALK TO ME IF I DON’T KNOW THE LANGUAGE?”
GOD SAID, “YOUR ANGEL WILL TELL YOU THE MOST BEAUTIFUL AND SWEET WORDS YOU WILL EVER HEAR, AND WITH MUCH PATIENCE AND CARE, YOUR ANGEL WILL TEACH YOU HOW TO SPEAK.”
“AND WHAT AM I GOING TO DO WHEN I WANT TO TALK TO YOU?”
GOD SAID, “YOUR ANGEL WILL PLACE YOUR HANDS TOGETHER AND TEACH YOU HOW TO PRAY.”
“WHO WILL PROTECT ME?”
GOD SAID, “YOUR ANGEL WILL PROTECT YOU EVEN IF IT MEANS RISKING HER LIFE.”
“BUT I WILL ALWAYS BE SAD BECAUSE I WILL NOT SEE YOU ANYMORE.”
GOD SAID, “YOUR ANGEL WILL ALWAYS TALK TO YOU ABOUT ME AND WILL TEACH YOU THE WAY TO COME BACK TO ME, EVEN THOUGH I WILL ALWAYS BE NEXT TO YOU.”
 AT THAT MOMENT THERE WAS MUCH PEACE IN HEAVEN, BUT VOICES FROM EARTH COULD BE HEARD AND THE CHILD HURRIEDLY ASKED, “GOD, IF I AM TO LEAVE NOW, PLEASE TELL ME MY ANGELS NAME.”
 GOD SAID, YOU WILL SIMPLY CALL HER, “MOM.”

Angels indeed.   Enjoy your day Moms!

©2012 Sue Bidstrup, Great Big Yes™ All Rights Reserved

The Gift

My mom has always told me, “Faith is a gift”.

I remember her saying this when I was young and then thinking, “Why do some people get the gift and other people don’t?” It didn’t seem fair.

As I’ve gotten older I have begun to see what she means.  Faith is a gift.

St. Paul writes, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God; it is not from works so one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

God’s grace is a gift.  Everyone gets the gift… but not everyone accepts it.

Accept the gift.

It’s not for some of us.  It’s for all of us.  God doesn’t give His gift to certain groups only.  He doesn’t favor the wealthy or the learned. He doesn’t give His gift only to the Baptists or the Catholics.  He doesn’t give grace only to white people or people who live in the United States.  He doesn’t discriminate.  We do but He doesn’t.

This is good news.  God’s grace does not depend on what I look like or how much money I have or if I sit in the front pew of church.  I don’t have to light candles or say the Rosary or give thousands of dollars to the church.   It doesn’t depend on me.  Thank God.  (Literally.)  Because I would really mess it up.  He doesn’t keep a tally sheet and then hand over grace to the “good” people.

Can you imagine if you actually had to earn your way into heaven?  Please.  There is no way to earn it and we don’t have to.  We just have to believe.

I think we tend to make things more difficult than they are.  Of course, there is more to living a life in Christ than just believing in Him.  But that is the first step.  I think we look for transformation first and then we say we’ll believe in God’s promises as in, “I’ll believe it when I see it”.  We stand back and say “prove it”, “show me”, “give me a sign” but we aren’t ready.  We have to say “yes” first and then the transformation starts happening.  If you want it, it’s there for the taking.  You just have to accept the gift.

If you haven’t yet accepted God’s gift of grace, take another look.

Imagine this… it’s Easter morning and you are really looking forward to the Peeps and the Reese’s Easter eggs and piles of jelly means and peanut m&m’s.  You see the basket and you realize that in addition to all the yummy stuff you can’t wait to eat, there is another gift.  It’s the gift of God’s grace.

The basket is filled with all of the things God’s grace brings to us including love, peace, joy, hope, mercy, forgiveness, redemption, new life.  Our baskets are overflowing!

You stop, you hesitate, you think, “Wait a minute, nothing is free, what do I have to do to get all of this?”

You question, you worry, you think…”Why me?” You wonder, “What’s the catch?”

There is no catch.  God loves you and wants to free you from your fears and worries.  He wants to give you a solid foundation to build your life.  He wants you.  You as you are now…not the “you” that is twenty pounds lighter or a million dollars richer, not the “you” that learns to cook or keeps a perfectly clean house or volunteers more often.  He’s not looking for the “you” that you show the world.  He’s looking for the real you.  He wants all your flaws, all your fears, all your sins, all your doubts.  He is that strong and that loving.

He is offering you a gift.  All you have to do is accept it.

 

©2012 Sue Bidstrup, Great Big Yes™ All Rights Reserved
photo from: http://www.livingdevotionally.com.