The Book of Esther

In what simple way is God calling you to act that would draw you closer to Him? For me it was spending a year to read and study the Bible. .

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These are my own contemplative thoughts. If you disagree with the below that’s ok! .

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Before Christ, in the Old Testament, under the old covenant, only priests were allowed near the altar, and they acted as the mediators between God and man. The book of Esther is symbolic to this as it describes her standing in the inner court in front of the king’s hall. The king sees Queen Esther just outside his inner court, HE FINDS FAVOR IN HER (a statement we read often in scripture when God’s relationship to his people is discussed) and holds out his scepter to her as a sign that it is ok to approach him. She moves towards him and touches the very tip of his scepter, a sign of her obedience and humility. To me her approach is like those hoping to come to God either for the first time or after a long hiatus. We have to approach with humility and an open heart, yet we do not have to be pure, or holy, or of a certain worldly stature. We are allowed to come as we are. Esther, who despite knowing she was doing something against the man-made laws of the day said she would approach the king to save her people the Jews from being slaughtered, “even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.” In this statement she showed her bravery. This kind of bravery is what God wants to see from us, wants us to cut through all the worldly “laws” like our own expectations, guilt, rules, etc., right to Him. And He will find favor in us for this—we will become his special students in that moment, He will take us under His wing and show us wonderful miracles and bless us tremendously, especially show us how to find His kind of joy in this life if we keep our eyes open to Him. .

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#bible #church #devotional #episcopal #catholic #priests #bibleverse #bookstagram #bibliophile #booklovers #bookstagrammer #writer #readersofinstagram #writersofinstagram #booknerd #bookgeek #read #queen #episcopalchurch #catholicchurch #spiritual #religion #christian #god #christ #jesus

Contemplative Vision by Juliet Benner

Contemplative Vision by Juliet Benner is a book about contemplating religious art with prayer in mind and using it to expand our prayer life by gazing at the face of God through it, seeing His face and meditating about the art’s purpose/story, and the artist’s time creating it. The book discusses using art as a purpose to expand our faith and awe. For instance, the artists who create icons of Christ meditate on his face for hours while painting him. Just beautiful! .

Prairie Avenue by Arthur Meeker

Talk about a cozy book for the season! Prairie Avenue by Arthur Meeker is that! Prairie Avenue was a really fancy neighborhood in Chicago in the early 1900’s. This story highlights the world that goes on behind closed doors—really fancy ones—and in rooms—really fancy ones with large stone fireplaces and indoor gardens. Despite what we may see, trouble can brew anywhere and people can be in pain even though their life may look grand on the outside. Arthur Meeker highlights this kind of paradox and I highly recommend it! It’s one of my favorites and it is one of the few books I would read again. .

The book of Jude

🌈 Important message about inclusion…
“In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.” (Jude 1:17-19)

Who is dividing us more or doing more damage to souls out there than the priests and church leaders who have not been baptized with the Holy Spirit (unconditional love and mercy), and instead, teach the literal interpretation of scripture which divides, puts certain people before others, and marks some for heaven and others not so? If I may vent for a minute: The other day I was on the phone with a very vocal newly baptized born again Baptist. He not only told me that prior to getting saved he was going to hell (but now he is not) and that everyone in the lbgtq community is going to hell and all people from other religions are also going to hell. It was hard to listen to this because every ounce of me knew all he said was a lie. But what made it worse was that he had heard that kind of talk preached at his new church. I felt every word of his produced a death in me somewhere. So, let it be very clear: If you think you’re going to hell or live in a similar world this man does, you’re already there, in hell. I personally don’t believe hell exists outside of this world. God is Love and Mercy. God will NOT guilt you, nor does God want anything to do with your guilt. God wants you to notice God in creation and love creation, and God loves you no matter who you are. Your spirit was created in Love because of God’s Love and to Love your spirit will return. Period. Just be Love, because it’s the only Truth we know. I said my piece to that man on the phone with peace and love, and hopefully, someday he will remember my kind words to him and they will ring through the hell in which he is currently living. My prayers go out to him and to all others trapped by lies of hatred and division.

Book of Ezekiel

First, you might wonder what this image is, it is the Holy Face of Jesus, the image that appeared clearly on the veil of Veronica. It is a powerful meditation and relevant to this post because how can one be a good watch person when their senses are destroyed like the senses of Christ were destroyed when he was crucified?

“Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me.” (Ezekiel 3:17)

Ezekiel was a prophet and a “watchman” for the Israelites while they were in Babylon. When I first read through the Bible, I began a study on the word watchman. It appears several times and it fascinated me. What is a watchman? Who is a watchman? Its meaning is not easily articulated. But put simply, in a theological sense, watchmen watch for God and they watch for things contrary to God. They know what God sounds like, looks like, feels like, etc., and they know what God doesn’t look like, sounds like, feels like, etc.—a skill that can be useful when navigating the world. There is a prophet in each of us that knows how to navigate the entities of good and evil and everything in between. We are all called to be that watch-person). Environmentalists, justice seekers, those who practice inclusion, anyone on the frontlines of this pandemic, and I can be a watch-person by speaking out when I am called. And I am open to my ‘post’ changing over time. Next time I may be called to act instead of speak, or I may be called to be silent. No matter what the watch-person is called to do, the most important thing we can do is to be one with God in all we do and send what is contrary to God, God’s love and peace

Chestnut gathering in Michigan!

We went chestnut gathering!! Swipe for photos 👉. We have so many chestnuts I had to get this recipe book. It’s filled with recipes AND folklore about this wonderful nut! Last week I made a chestnut bisque—so yummy, and before that I added a bunch to homemade chili—Yummy! We also bought some American chestnuts which are extremely rare. I wrote an article all about chestnuts that will be published soon for more information regarding Michigan’s efforts to sustain and protect this tree. I’ll keep you posted!!

chestnuts #chestnut #trees #nut #bookstagram #booksbooksbooks #library #appalachianmountains #history #extinction #folk #folklore #roastedchestnuts #bookphotography #bibliophile #bookshelf #reading #readersofinstagram #writers #writersofinstagram

Listening Hearts: Discerning Call in Community

I help my son with his math a lot these days, sometimes I feel like it’s my job while they are remote. It works out because I’m also confused so it boosts his confidence and he gets to teach me a lot of the time. But in between problems I whittle. I’m almost done with St. Margaret of Scotland who looks more like the princess from Mario Brothers and the other is the Blessed Mother, who is not finished yet. I’m trying to figure out a way to do them that would look more folk art than a cartoonish depiction, so I’ve been studying museum folk art pieces. Totally irrelevant to the book featured here that I will read soon as it was a recommendation from a priest who is my spiritual mentor while I’m taking this discernment course. Anyone out there ever read it? What did you think?

The book of Lamentations

I have no authority to teach you. These are my own contemplative thoughts, you may disagree and that’s OK!

“I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness, and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail… They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait (quietly) for him.”
(Lamentations 3:19-24)

The title of this book was originally translated from Hebrew to the words “Alas!” or “How?” Lamentations is a sort of epic poem of which
Jeremiah was probably the author. Throughout the book, the prophet is lamenting over the destruction of Jerusalem. We all have things that
bear weight in our hearts, the crumbling of our comforts and securities perhaps? Here Jeremiah describes the horrific events in Jerusalem; then with hope and faith in the Lord’s mercy, he prays for
the people and describes the Lord’s mighty hand of Love which delivers perpetual hope to the faithful of this Hope. Jeremiah reminds us that we must remember our afflictions and the distractions that kept us wandering away from God’s path for us. To continually grow and mature in Spirit we must remember, like Christ, we too have born our own crosses, and these crosses were not in vain. Their purpose was to teach and redirect. When Jesus was nailed to the cross he looked up to heaven and lamented ‘why?” to God. “Why has thou forsaken me?” Which are the same words David speaks in psalm 22. In doing this he was lifting his troubles to God giving God credit, not only for future generations to see the Truth in that day, but to show the witnesses that He had not lost His faith even when it was God who allowed Him to suffer the way He did. The verse of Lamentations continues saying, “Who can speak and have it happen if the Lord has not decreed it?”

The Life of Saint Dominic

St. Dominic is the saint who, according to Catholic writings, was given the vision of the rosary by the Blessed Mother. I’m reading this to delve more into the history of the rosary, but also out of pure interest. I have been studying prayer lately for the class I’m in, centering prayer in particular, which is similar in meditation to that of the rosary. Centering prayer however is a prayer of quiet and the rosary, according to tradition, should be said aloud, though I believe many rules about religion were made to be broken and so I say much of it in whispers or silence. I have heard this book by Drane is hard to read for some because the language is a little old fashion, but I read stuff like that all the time so it might be OK. If anyone knows of a better version of his life let me know. 😄

Paul’s letter to Titus

“But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved
us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his
mercy.” -Titus 3:5

Paul’s letter to Titus, who was leading ministry efforts for the
island of Crete, is an essential letter for leaders of the church even
today. Paul’s words in the verse above here are important for us too,
as he reminds us that we are to love even those who hurt us. As we’ve
heard it before, it’s easy to love agreeable people who love us back
and show their love to us, but it can be hard to love those who hurt
us and don’t want us in their lives, but if your heart is open to the
Holy Spirit it will be easy to love these difficult people. Be open to
the Spirit and let her talk to you about True love and mercy, because
it’s the only language she knows. Any other language speaking to the
heart that doesn’t revolve around love and mercy is not coming from
the Holy Spirit and comes from some other, dare I say, unholy place.
Be well in heart, all of you!

Peace for Artsakh!

Preparing and serving food feels so much like a prayer. Please help stop the attacks in Artsakh. If you can, please text PASSAGE to 52886 to send a prepared letter to your state rep. It’s so easy and takes only three seconds.

Even though most of this food is Jerusalem-inspired, I couldn’t help thinking about my Armenian friend who is very upset about the violence in #artsakh so I made and dedicated this food to my friend and the Armenian people suffering tonight. *Armenian string cheese is represented and I ordered an Armenian cookbook today to do this right with my whole family. #artsakhstrong