Lent 2023: Making Space for Authentic Faith

n Jewish culture, “It’s an act of reverence to ask questions of the story. The Jews are confident that the story is strong enough to be tried and tested….Around the table, a Jewish child has ‘That’s a good question!’ drummed into his or her soul, not ‘You don’t ask that question’…Questions are a sacred as answers.” (Dr. Leonard Sweet)

If you’ve read a single word I’ve written in the past eight years you know how close this truth is to my heart!

I think we do a disservice to ourselves and others when we reduce the complexities of Scripture to something like Aesop’s Fables. Real people lived real lives and had real questions. The Almighty God is big enough to handle them.

Read the rest here: Lenten Reflections: Making Space for Authentic Faith

Lent 2023: Making Space for REAL Light

Today’s fast is artificial light.

Without reading ahead I kind of stepped on today’s reflection. Chole describes John’s prison questions this way: “the distance between what John thought Jesus would do and what Jesus actually did was straining John’s certainty of who Jesus was.”

Oh, my! How well I can identify with this feeling!

I’ve told anyone who will listen that when Dominic was killed I dragged a lifetime of what I thought I knew and understood about God into the light of child loss. It absolutely strained my certainty of who Jesus is.

And my questions made some folks uncomfortable just as John’s question makes some Bible teachers uncomfortable.

Read the rest here: Lenten Reflections: Making Space For REAL Light

Lent 2023: Refusing to Collect Praise

Today’s fast is “collecting praise”.

He must become greater; I must become less.John 3:30

Most of us are familiar with John the Baptist’s words uttered when Jesus approached him to be baptized. Sometimes we fail to connect that confident assurance to the frightened plea he sent by way of his own disciples while in Herod’s prison.

I don’t doubt John’s sincerity when he uttered those words. But I know circumstances can make walking faithfully in the light of truth harder than one might imagine.

Life has made me very aware of the difference between a one time proclamation and ongoing affirmation of that assertion.

Read the rest here: Lenten Reflections: Refusing to Collect Praise

Lent 2023: Letting Go of Regret to Make Space for Growth

That means learning to let go of past mistakes, missed opportunities, woulda/coulda/shoulda.

Because the truth is no one lives backwards.

It’s helpful to reflect on how past actions might have influenced present conditions but it is crippling to hold those thoughts and feelings so close that there’s no room for new ones.

Read the rest here: Lenten Reflections : Letting Go of Regret to Make Space For Growth

Lent 2023: Letting Go To Make Space for Love

Letting go to make space for love is the only true fast.

I have observed Lent off and on for decades.

It’s an opportunity to set aside time and dedicate effort to thinking deeply about the current state of my spiritual life as well as refocus my heart’s affections on my Shepherd Savior King.

Faith, in general, is less about the sacrifice of stuff and more about the surrender of our souls. Lent, in kind, is less about well-mannered denials and more about thinning our lives in order to thicken our communion with God.

Alicia Britt Chole

Today’s fast: LENT AS PROJECT

Read the rest here: Lenten Reflections: Letting Go To Make Space For Love

Lent 2023: Lent as Invitation, Not Obligation

Although I have observed Lent off and on for many, many years, it’s different for me now in a profound way.

Some of you know but may have forgotten that Dominic was killed the Saturday before Palm Sunday and buried the Monday after Resurrection Sunday, 2014.

Each year since then I’ve felt like I had to endure two sets of “anniversaries” because his death date and burial date are not only days of the month but also marked by moveable church celebrations.

It has been very, very hard.

Read the rest here: I Must Decrease-Making Room For Jesus. Lent As Invitation, Not Obligation.

What a Contrast! Mardi Gras and Ash Wednesday

I think I will post this link as long as I maintain the blog because I will always be a voice for those whose lives look more like Ash Wednesday than Mardi Gras.

I will continue to speak out for space in our congregations and fellowships that acknowledge life is often hard, often unfair and often more like a broken hallelujah than a high note.

I am not a member of the Church of the Perpetually Cheerful. 

I am a member of the Broken Body of Christ, limping through this world, holding on to hope with both hands.

Read the rest here: Mardi Gras and Ash Wednesday: A Study in Contrasts

Compassion: Understanding “Acceptance”

In all fairness, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross had no idea her research would be taken out of context and plastered across professional literature and media outlets as a definitive explanation for the grief experience.

But she didn’t mind the notoriety.

And ever since, counselors, pastors, laypersons and the general public have come to expect folks to politely follow the five (sometimes described as six) stages of grief up and out of brokenness like a ladder to success.

It doesn’t work that way.

❤ Melanie

Sometimes those that walk alongside the bereaved are biding time, waiting for that “final” stage of grief: Acceptance.

And some therapists, counselors and armchair psychiatrists are certain that if the grieving mother can simply accept the death of her child, she can move on–that she can get back to a more “normal” life.

But this notion is as ridiculous as imagining that welcoming a new baby into a household doesn’t change everything.

And new parents have months to prepare.

Read the rest here: Loving well: Understanding “Acceptance”

Compassion: Helpful Tips For Interacting with Bereaved Families

I firmly believe that our friends and extended family want to reach out, want to help, want to walk alongside as we grieve the death of our child

 I am also convinced that many of them don’t because they don’t know how.  

It may seem unfair that in addition to experiencing our loss, we also have to educate others on how to help us as we experience it, but that’s just how it is.

The alternative is to feel frustrated and abandoned or worse.  

Read the rest here: Child Loss: Helpful Tips for Interacting With Bereaved Families

Compassion: Understanding the Grieving Heart

In the last post I shared the difference between mourning and grief. While the outward ceremonies have long passed, the inward struggle to embrace and understand the pain and sorrow of losing my son continues.

If you love someone who has lost a child, perhaps these thoughts might help you understand a bit of their pain and how completely it changes the way bereaved parents encounter the world.

Please be patient. Please don’t try to “fix” us. Please be present and compassionate. And if you don’t know what to say, feel free to say nothing-a hug, a smile, an understanding look-they mean so very much.

❤ Melanie

A bereaved parent’s grief doesn’t fit an easy-to-understand narrative. And it flies in the face of the American “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” mentality.

You can’t beat it–it’s not a football game-there is no winning team.

You can’t lose it–it’s not the extra 10 pounds you’ve been carrying since last Christmas.

You can’t get over it–it’s not a teenage love affair that will pale in comparison when the real thing comes along.

You can only survive it.  You can heal from it, but it will take a lifetime and require very special care.

Read the rest here: Loving Well: Understanding the Grieving Heart

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