Archive for the 'In God’s Pocket' Category

WEDNESDAY THOUGHT 6/15/16 — I BLEW IT

June 15, 2016 on 10:28 am | By | In In God's Pocket | Comments Off on WEDNESDAY THOUGHT 6/15/16 — I BLEW IT
 

Last week, God and I were talking in a twilight dream in the middle of the night. It was a peace-filled time of quiet prayer and silence.  I felt loved and forgiven, very close to God, and there was no anxiety or remorse.

At one point, God asked: “What do you want?” I hesitated, knowing He meant what was my heart’s desire, and I knew He would give me whatever I asked, just as promised, just as He always had.

I thought of literary fame, financial success, a better, bigger home – everything from the pony to the Mercedes Benz.

That’s when I blew it. With clarity and confidence, I said, “Whatever You want for me is fine, Lord.  Whatever you want for me.”

Then I heard God laugh (it’s a wonderful sound), and I had to laugh, too, before I slipped back into a deep sleep.

My point: Maybe, just maybe, I’m learning to put my trust in God rather than in my own woefully flawed hands. Very nice. – jri

Take delight in the Lord,

     and he will give you your heart’s

          desires.

Commit everything you do to the Lord.

     Trust him, and he will help you.

He will make your innocence radiate like

          the dawn,

     and the justice of your cause will

          shine like the noonday sun.”

—  Psalm 37:4-6

 

I do not have everything the world says I should want. I once came close, and that was when I really blew it.  I had reasonable wealth, and I was arrogant and self-righteous.  I had respect from others for my skills, but I had very little love … and the love I had I tended to drive away.  Today, as I have said before, I have exactly enough – no more, no less – and I have all that I need, including the love and patience of a devoted wife, children and grandchildren who love and accept me as I am, friends, challenges to keep me on my toes, and the knowledge that I am safely in God’s hands.  So, I guess I have more than enough.  My life is blessed.  Thank you, Lord.

John Ingrisano

DailyConnections

June 15, 2016

 

WEDNESDAY THOUGHT 6/1/16 — BLESSED

June 1, 2016 on 9:25 am | By | In In God's Pocket | Comments Off on WEDNESDAY THOUGHT 6/1/16 — BLESSED

Pushing my cart through the grocery store, I was feeling surly, beset by a series of nagging, gnat-like annoyances and what-if concerns – none major, but all distracting. My mood was sour, dour, and grumbly.

Then turning onto an aisle, I saw a woman wearing a nice T-shirt. On it was one word, boldly written in glittery, cursive letters: BLESSED. I stopped, stared for a moment, and started to chuckle.  As she passed, I pointed to her shirt and said, “Yeah, me, too.  It took your shirt to make me remember.  Thank you.”  She just smiled, and we both went on our way.  (Who knows, she might have been thinking, “Strangest pickup line I’ve heard.”)  As I finished my shopping, though, I was joyful and mindful of how wondrously blessed my life truly is.

My point:  I love those little God Wink moments, those times when God slaps us upside the head, as they say (sort of like a V-8 moment), and reminds us that He is always with us, and He always cares. All we have to do is be open and aware, focusing on all the beauty and the overflowing cornucopia of God’s blessings rather than on the occasional problem and setback, especially the itsy bitsy minor ones.  – jri

And we know that God causes everything

to work together for the good of those who

love God and are called according to his

purpose for them.”

  • Romans 8:28

Without planning or forethought, I find myself these days perhaps several times a day speaking aloud something like, “Lord, thank you for the gift of this day” or just “Jesus, thank you.” It reminds me that I am blessed, that I am bought and paid for by the ultimate sacrifice of our Lord Jesus.  Bonus:  Several weeks ago, Susan told me that when she is around and hears me say it, perhaps in the next room, she is reminded to give thanks, too.  Try it.  Simply uttering your own simple profession of faith can change your day and others.  So, thank you, Lord, for the gift of this day.  Amen.

John Ingrisano

DailyConnections

June 1, 2016

 

 

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THURSDAY THOUGHT 5/12/16: NO MOPING

May 12, 2016 on 10:46 am | By | In In God's Pocket | Comments Off on THURSDAY THOUGHT 5/12/16: NO MOPING

Rod lived under a cloud. He was a mope. Nothing went right for him, or so he believed.  He always expected the worst and just knew that the toast would always land jelly-side down.  I once asked him if he thought it would be pretty neat to win a million dollars.  His reply:  “I’d probably have to pay taxes on the money.” 

Many people are like that — blind to the good stuff around them, always focusing on the weed at the far end of the garden and not seeing the riot of color from the beautiful flowers surrounding it. They worry and expect the worst.  They  miss the simple “miracle” of warm water coming out of the shower at the twist of the faucet each morning; they forget that the car (and they have a car, maybe two!) starts pretty much all the time; they do not notice that they have a home with a leak-free roof; they take for granted that they probably have at least one person who loves them (you really only need one, that and a good pet); they do not give a thought to the fact that they can get out of bed in the morning and … well, that they have a bed and can get out of it.

Then there are those who are awesomely blessed … and they know it. They may have a lot; they may have very little.  (I think that depends on how you define a lot and a little.)  They may have never been sick a day in their lives; they may have recurring bouts with cancer, and all the staff in the emergency room know them by name.  Regardless, they live joyfully, in a mope-free zone.  Their secret?  They have learned to just trust.  They are men and women of faith who believe (and believe in) the promises of the Lord, and they know that, no matter what comes, those promises are kept.  Always.  So, they do not worry about tomorrow.  Instead, they are joyful for today.

My point: Do not worry.  Do not fret.  Just trust. God has it covered, and He has blessed you mightily – yes, you personally. — jri

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray

about everything. Tell God what you need,

and thank him for all he has done. Then you

will experience God’s peace, which exceeds

anything we can understand.”

  • Philippians 4:6-7a

 

I know that people without faith (and many with it, also) think the above advice sounds like W.C. Fields’ cure for insomnia: “Ah, yes, get lots of sleep.”  All I know is that I am prone to worry and over plan, to work out the details of what will take place six months from now.  However, as I am learning to trust that God is really not pulling my leg, that He is serious, I am also learning to let go, to leave it all in His mighty hands.  The toughest part is when things do not go as I had hoped, when the friend dies, the dog runs off, the relationship fails.  But when I am able to look through those times to the other side, I realize that even things that I would tend to see as tragic are leading to things that are blessed.  That’s grace.  Those are miracles.  So, no moping.  Just trust.  God is in charge, and He knows exactly what He is doing.

 

John Ingrisano

DailyConnections

May 12, 2016

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In God’s Pocket:

Spiritual Ramblings from a Reformed Heathen

By John Ingrisano

Need a gift for Father’s Day? I’ve cut the price in half for both the paperback and the Kindle ebook version.  In God’s Pocket is a devotional – a collection of past ramblings from DailyConnections — for men and women who seek, wrestle with, pray to and complain to God.

To order today, just click on the title above.  Thank you and God bless.

 
 

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MONDAY THOUGHT 5/2/16: THE MYTH OF SELF-SUFFICIENCY

May 2, 2016 on 10:39 am | By | In In God's Pocket | Comments Off on MONDAY THOUGHT 5/2/16: THE MYTH OF SELF-SUFFICIENCY

Many of us learn early that people disappoint and things break. So we turn inward, to ourselves, and we (1) isolate our tender places from others and (2) get really good at something like making money, playing a sport, relying on our own talents and skills as a self-created, self-centered support team.

We become self-sufficient. Or at least we think we do.  That’s a myth. It doesn’t last, if only because we grow older and physically decline (sorry, but it’s true, no matter how hard we train), get cancer, watch the economy shift and our wealth decline, etc.

It just doesn’t work. All our my-way self-reliance does is leave us isolated and alone.  Only one thing does work (sorry, but that’s true, and this from a guy who has stubbornly tried all the other doors):  That is trust in God.  When we finally figure out that handing over our emptiness, our loneliness, our need to scare away the two a.m. demons – when we finally learn to trust God and hand it over to Him, man, that is freeing and reassuring.  That is a truth we can hang our hat on.

My point: When we learn that we can rely on God for peace, joy, happiness, then have learned all we need to know.  This is not a “maybe,” not a “probably,” but a fact. Hand it over to God.  Just trust.  He knows what He is doing.  — jri

The truth is that self-sufficiency is a myth perpetuated

by pride and temporary success. Health and wealth can

disappear instantly, as can life itself. Rejoice in your

insufficiency, knowing that My Power is made perfect in

weakness.

  • Sarah Young

 

          Jesus Calling (April 30)

 

Bonus: Handing over our insufficiency to God actually puts everything on God’s shoulders.  I have been known to pray, tell God that I will wait upon Him and trust, and end my prayer by saying, “Good luck, God.  Sorry about leaving you holding the bag, but you did ask for it.”  And then I would roll and get a good night’s sleep.  The key is to trust that whatever He brings us as His solution is the best one … even if it does not seem quite right at the moment.  Just trust.  He never disappoints if we ride it out to the end.  Amen.

 

John Ingrisano

DailyConnections May 2, 2016

 

 

In God’s Pocket:

Spiritual Ramblings from a Reformed Heathen

By John Ingrisano

For Mother’s Day (and, yes, Father’s Day, too) I’ve cut the price in half for both paperback and the Kindle ebook version. In God’s Pocket is a devotional – a collection of past ramblings from DailyConnections — for men and women who seek, wrestle with, pray to and complain to God.

To order today, just click on the title above.     Thank you and God bless.

 
 

 

 

WEDNEDAY THOUGHT 3/30/16: GOD’S GENTLE, GUIDING HAND

March 30, 2016 on 11:30 am | By | In In God's Pocket | Comments Off on WEDNEDAY THOUGHT 3/30/16: GOD’S GENTLE, GUIDING HAND

God's-perfect-time

Update: I wrote last month that I felt compelled/ urged/ pushed to talk to a very ill family member about his faith.  Like Jonah, I wanted to avoid the issue and run away (and hope I’d get swallowed by a big fish). I confess that I kept putting it off for better than five weeks.  Well, here’s the rest of the story, as they say:  

My brother-in-law, Richard, circa age 53, has cancer. He learned yesterday morning that he has between one week to three months left. He is down to 130 pounds and very weak.  When we learned of this, Susan was in her Tuesday morning church small group.  Also, Susan and Richard’s mother, Peggy, was in another small group.  I was working in my office.    

Here’s the God’s-gentle-hand-part: Immediately upon getting the call from Richard’s wife, the wonderful women in Susan’s group and in Peggy’s group, miles apart, circled the prayer wagons and surrounded them both (more like inundated them) with love, support and prayer for them and for Richard and for Mary, Richard’s wife. Perfect timing.

Me? Without taking the time to think and find convenient excuses, I hopped in the car and drove the half mile to Richard’s house.  And Richard and I talked. No, I didn’t lay hands on him and raise my eyes and voice to heaven.  We just talked.  We agreed the whole situation sucked.  Then I reminded him that God loves him and that there is absolutely nothing he can do about it.  He told me that he and God have had that talk, that it’s all okay, and if he has to die soon, at least “I get to see my dogs, my brother, and Dad.”

That was it. Nothing all that dramatic.  But the absolutely awesome thing was that God’s gentle, guiding hand did it all with perfect timing for Susan, Peg, and me.  And Richard seems accepting of the inevitable.  And we have all been inspired by the love and support of our church family.

I do not have an appropriate quote today. So, I just want to thank everyone who has been praying and caring for Richard, Susan, Peg, and Mary.  Please, please, please continue those prayers.  Also, a special prayer for Marjie Sinclair, who has been gently prodding (more like shoving) me to step up with Richard.  Marjie, you are a wondrous and annoying hair shirt, and I appreciate you.

God bless to all. – jri

 

 John Ingrisano

DailyConnections

March 30, 2016

 

THURSDAY THOUGHT 3/24/16 — I GOT YOU, GOD

March 24, 2016 on 10:06 am | By | In In God's Pocket, Living Joyously | Comments Off on THURSDAY THOUGHT 3/24/16 — I GOT YOU, GOD

Sonny_And_CherOne of my first major disappointments in life took place when both The Beatles and Simon & Garfunkel split up in 1970. My faith in the permanence of life was further challenged when Sonny and Cher divorced in 1975.  By then, my personal philosophy was:  Blessed be he who expects nothing, for he shall not be disappointed.

 I think we’ve all been disappointed in life — from relationships to heroes to jobs to the fact that we all get old and the inevitability of gravity becomes apparent. Only one thing has proven to have staying power: the power and promise of God.

My point:  When we open our hearts and let the Lord in, life makes sense. And, no, it’s not about demanding a pony and then whining because God has something better in mind. It’s about when we learn to truly trust and accept that God is the real deal, honest and perpetually constant and reliable, when we can say, “I got you, God,” that is the day all disappointments end.  Just trust. — JRI   

’For I know the plans I have for you,’ says

the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not

for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’”

  • Jeremiah 29: 11

Back in the 1960s and 1970s, I recall casting about for something to believe in. My faith had faded away from an indifferent church and a God who seemed very, very remote.  And I was never very big on trusting people.  So, like so many others, I focused on being part of something – whether it was pride in attending The Ohio State University or, eventually, being a committed Green Bay Packers fan.  I also put my faith in science and my own rational powers and mental skills.  However, it wasn’t until I was able to believe and believe in Jesus Christ that everything made true sense, that I knew I would not be disappointed.  (I mean, even The Packers let me down from time to time.)  God answered my prayers and my questions, put me in a wondrous, peaceful marriage with Susan, and He reminds me, sometimes daily, that He will do it His way, and it will all be okay if we just trust.  I got God … and God’s got me.

John Ingrisano

DailyConnections

March 24, 2016

THURSDAY THOUGHT 1/7/16 SHHHHH!

January 7, 2016 on 10:57 am | By | In In God's Pocket | Comments Off on THURSDAY THOUGHT 1/7/16 SHHHHH!

Silence is not my forte. Those who know me know that I am a talker. Ask for my opinion, and I’ll share it.  Don’t ask for my opinion, and I’ll share it.  And when it comes to talking to God, I’ll pray, I’ll sing, I’ll shout, often beginning with a big-winded, “Oh, Lord!” and go from there.

 

But once in a while, a deep silence comes over me, a deep, peaceful stillness in which the only sound is my centered breath. Those are the times when I am not so much praying to God as simply sitting quietly in His presence, in His great tranquility.  It is the best prayer, a wordless prayer, and I suspect it is the closest I will ever come to heaven this side of my mortality.

 

My point:  We do not always have to talk to God, to fill the silence with our words, or even our thoughts. We can just be with Him in the knowledge that we are wholly loved, wholly understood, wholly protected, wholly whole.  Be still.   – jri

 

Be still and know that I am God!”

                   ~ Psalm 48: 10a

 

Susan and I pray and read scripture together every morning. Sometimes, we lapse into a momentary silence.  When that happens, I think we need to just let it go where it wants to lead us.

 

John Ingrisano

DailyConnections

4279 Hunter Road

Gainesville, GA 30506

January 7, 2016

 

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By JR Ingrisano

 

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THURSDAY THOUGHT 12/17/15: MIRACLES

December 17, 2015 on 11:20 am | By | In Faith & Forgiveness, In God's Pocket | Comments Off on THURSDAY THOUGHT 12/17/15: MIRACLES

I often forget to say thanks for the miracles that crowd my life. Maybe that’s because my life is filled with miracles: the gradual improving of Susan’s stomach condition; the restoration of a once-broken relationship with one daughter and the creation of a stable, against-all-odds joyous life for another; the loss of everything I had once desired, replaced by everything and more of what has brought me peace and joy … blessings I could never have thought to desire, let alone ask for.  And much, much more.

 

Why do I tend to not say thanks for the miracles in my life? I think it is because they come in such subtle ways.  You see, at least for me, the miracles don’t generally arrive in big thunderclaps.  Instead, they sneak up on me; I just wake up one day and a long and pesky problem is solved, a prayer is answered.  I almost don’t notice it.

 

Today, no point, just a suggestion:  Every morning, before we start our morning prayers, Susan and I each and separately write down in a book the one thing we are most grateful for that day.  Sometimes it may be something big like a restored relationship or a spiritual or physical healing.  Other days, it may be something subtle like the beautiful sunrise or, as I was traveling last week, “for a set of seats in the Denver airport without armrests,” so I could stretch out and get some sleep.  What this does is remind us to be grateful each day for something … for everything.  As a result, we find ourselves aware of the multitude of miracles that surround us each day.    – jri

 

The earnest prayer of a righteous person

has great power and produces wonderful

results.”

                  ~ James 5:16b

 

What does the above quote from James have to do with miracles? Sure, once in a while, God just drops a miracle on someone.  However, I have found that the miracles in my life come as the result of asking.  They come from prayer.  I don’t know about being a “righteous person”; I’m more flawed than a fresh paint job in a tornado.  But I ask.  I pray.  And I keep praying.  And so far I’d have to say I’m batting about .999.  (The restoration of the broken relationship between my son and me is still in the works, but it will come.  And any prayers you could send in that direction would be wondrously appreciated, too.)  God answers prayers — in His sweet time and in His sweet way – but He answers them… ALWAYS.  Just trust.  Just keep on praying.

 

John Ingrisano

DailyConnections

4279 Hunter Road

Gainesville, GA 30506

December 17, 2015

TUESDAY THOUGHT 12/1/15: THE STUBBORN HEART

December 1, 2015 on 10:51 am | By | In Faith & Forgiveness, In God's Pocket | Comments Off on TUESDAY THOUGHT 12/1/15: THE STUBBORN HEART

If you have ever owned a goat (and from personal experience, I must recommend against it), you know that if you want the beast to go from point A to point B, it will go anywhere but point B, even if point B is where good food and a clean and dry stall await.  It is the nature of goats; they are determinedly stubborn creatures.

 

I know people who are similar.  God offers them a life of peace and joy, of happiness beyond comprehension … and they know it.  However, it would require doing things God’s way.  Their response:  No way.  If they were to put their attitude to music, it would sound like the Sammy Davis, Jr., song, “I Gotta Be Me” or Frank Sinatra’s “My Way.”  So, they live their lives their way – stubbornly, defiantly, and ultimately miserably.  Plus, they usually make everyone around them miserable, too.

 

My point:  Don’t be a goat.   Don’t let a senseless and stubborn heart keep you from a life of joy and peace.  At the very least, just try doing it God’s way.  Today is December 1.  Give it this month.  Read the Word of God.  Pray.  Most of all, just stop trying to tell God what to do and try listening … if only just for one month.  And pay attention to what begins to take place in your heart.  I guarantee that you will see and feel a difference.  It’s a good life, the life God has chosen for you and for all of us.   – jri

 

What sorrow awaits those who argue

          with their Creator.

    Does a clay pot argue with its maker?

Does the clay dispute with the one who

          shapes it, saying,

     ‘Stop, you’re doing it wrong!’

Does the pot exclaim,

     ‘How clumsy can you be?’”

                  ~ Isaiah 45:9

 

I was once like the goat – defiant for the sake of defiance, stubborn for the sake of stubbornness.  I would see the way, the path of true joy and peace, clearly ahead, and I would turn my head and trot down the other road.  Even when I got everything I set out to acquire or achieve, it never worked out.  The pleasure and satisfaction were short lived … always.  Then one day I said, “Okay, God, I’ll try it your way.”  I started out accepting God’s will, feeling at first like a man going to the gallows.  However, my heart slowly softened and opened.  I went from begrudgingly accepting God’s will to willingly embracing His will, to actively seeking His will.  These days?  Well, I want nothing more than to do God’s will.  I guess you could say I’m all in.  Oh, and not only is my life filled with peace and joy, but those around me are a lot less miserable, too.  Amen.

 

John Ingrisano

DailyConnections

4279 Hunter Road Gainesville, GA 30506

December 1, 2015

FRIDAY THOUGHT 10/9/15: THE BEST HARVEST

October 9, 2015 on 9:43 am | By | In In God's Pocket | Comments Off on FRIDAY THOUGHT 10/9/15: THE BEST HARVEST

It’s nearly mid-October, and, even down here in sweet Georgia, the gardens are pretty well done for the year. Between Susan’s efforts and those of our generous neighbors, we have eaten fresh chard, squash, hot and sweet peppers, and more this year, restocked the rosemary and basil jars, and put up enough tomatoes for several gallons of pasta sauce. It’s hard to imagine this cornucopia of produce came from tiny seeds and little seedlings.

Then there is the other garden we get to plant and do our best to nurture. The gentle reminder comes from one of my favorite Bible quotes. Rather than attempt to explain it myself, I invite you to read the following verse from the book of Hosea about the best kind of harvest. It is beautiful. – jri

I said, ‘Plant the good seeds of

         righteousness,

     and you will harvest a crop of love.

Plow up the hard ground of your hearts,

     for now is the time to seek the LORD,

that he may come

     and shower righteous upon you.’

                  ~ Hosea 10:12

Susan loves the garden. She loves preparing it, planting it, watching over it, protecting it from (and sharing it with) marauding rabbits and ground hogs. I sometimes watch her working in it – tying up plants, weeding, checking for rot and other problems. She works methodically, with focus and confidence, and peace. In our own lives, we do our best to plant those seeds of righteousness and till the ground of our hearts. And, ah, every day we harvest a bumper crop of blessings, with grace and joy and friendship showered upon us. Life is a blessings. Amen.

 

John Ingrisano

DailyConnections

4279 Hunter Road

Gainesville, GA 30506

October 9, 2015

 

THURSDAY THOUGHT 9/17/15: YOU LEAD, WE’LL FOLLOW

September 17, 2015 on 9:46 am | By | In In God's Pocket | Comments Off on THURSDAY THOUGHT 9/17/15: YOU LEAD, WE’LL FOLLOW

In the past, I could have been the poster child for those “stiff-necked people” God referred to in Exodus 32:9 (“’I have seen these people,’ the LORD said to Moses, ‘and they are a stiff-necked people.’”) Self-reliant to a flaw, I bowed down to no man, woman, or beast. Even when I began to notice this God by my side, I made it clear that He was welcome to come along for the ride, but I was going my way on my terms. If He wanted to help, that was fine, too. Otherwise, He could just keep out of the way. I had things to do.

Eventually, one day, (I don’t remember exactly how it came about, but I think it had much to do with being tired of living with/ignoring that something-missing feeling, that hole in my soul), I bowed my head, dropped to my knees and said, “Lord, I’m tired. If you lead, I’ll follow.” Bam! Burdens lifted! Soul healed! Humbled, yes, but joyful and fulfilled to the point of being giddy. Wow!

My point:  God has a better way. His path is one of pure joy and peace. (And, yes, there are adventures and excitement, and seeming setbacks waiting, too, so things are never dull.) The Lord’s way is not enslaving, but awesomely freeing. Oh, and He will never lead us astray … ever. Just trust. – jri

Your own ears will hear him.

     Right behind you a voice will say,

‘This is the way you should go,’

     whether to the right or to the left.”

—  Isaiah 30:21

Every morning, Susan and I sit at the kitchen counter and pray together and read the Word of God. We begin by thanking the Lord for our blessings, and often we recall where we have been in our lives (alone, in emotional pain, hunted and haunted by the struggles of the past) and express our gratitude for where we are today: loved, accepted, at peace, surrounded by loving friends and family members, free of anxiety and worry. Then, each morning we commit ourselves anew, freely offering ourselves to follow where He wants to lead us: “Lord, not our way, but yours.” Nice.

John Ingrisano

DailyConnections

September 17, 2015

 

THURSDAY THOUGHT: MYOB

July 16, 2015 on 9:15 am | By | In In God's Pocket | Comments Off on THURSDAY THOUGHT: MYOB

Stop fretting.  I know people who are angry and worried sick about what everyone else is doing. They are offended about same-sex marriage; they are upset over Muslim erosion of our culture; they lose sleep over immoral or amoral politicians. On and on it goes. And they are miserable.

 As followers of Christ, they seem to forget that there is absolutely nothing to worry about. You see, it’s not our business. We are not in charge of fixing the world … saving it, maybe, but not fixing it. That’s in God’s hands. Let it go and be joyful.

My point: God has a plan.  Just let it unfold. Just trust. Be at peace.   – jri

 

“And this is the plan: At the right time

he will bring everything together under

the authority of Christ – everything in

heaven and on earth.

                        – St. Paul (Ephesians 1:10)

 

I’ve searched the Bible for instructions on telling people what to do and how best to boss them around. I came up empty. I did find plenty of references to loving others; to leaving judgment up to God; to pulling the plank from my own eye before attempting to pluck a splinter from someone else’s eye; and to go ahead and cast the first stone at a sinner, but only if I am sin-free myself.

So, it seems to me that Jesus taught us about what WE should do, how WE should behave. He had very little to say (in fact, I think He was silent) on the subject of attempting to whip others into shape. So, just love one another, and that includes loving men and women of different sexual and religious practices and even – oh, my God – politicians and people of other political beliefs. God really does know what he is doing. Trust Him. He’s got it covered. He’ll sort it all out in His own sweet time. Relax. Enjoy. Just trust.

 

John Ingrisano

DailyConnections July 16, 2015

TUESDAY THOUGHT: OVERCOMING THE SADNESS

June 30, 2015 on 10:00 am | By | In Faith & Forgiveness, In God's Pocket | Comments Off on TUESDAY THOUGHT: OVERCOMING THE SADNESS

We tend to be a sad, frenetic species.  This is especially true in America.  Even though we are a society overflowing with abundance, prosperity and opportunity, so you’d think we’d be downright joyful, many of us are wretched.  We seek ever-stranger sexual thrills, mutilate our flesh with “body art” and piercings, gorge and starve ourselves, mentally and sometimes physically change our gender, drink, smoke, and drug ourselves into oblivion to escape … to escape what?

Want out?  Then walk into a church … and by that I mean a Spirit-filled church, a church where the people know they are unconditionally accepted and welcomed, as they are, by a God whose love is unshakeable.  And, yes, they are unconditionally accepted and welcomed even if they are sexually oriented differently from others or show up with tattoos, just as they are unconditionally accepted and welcomed if they have committed adultery, harmed others, sinned so badly they believe they can never be forgiven.  They can, and they are.        

My point:  God loves us.  He loves all of us, without exception.  When we learn that, when we believe that, when we understand that we can trust God totally and in all circumstances, then we will put aside the angst, the anger, the pain, the sadness.    – jri

“God loves you, and there is absolutely

nothing you can do about it.

                        – Church banner

                           Seattle, Washington

Susan and I are blessed to be part of The Highlands United Methodist Church in Gainesville, Georgia, a church filled with loving, accepting men and women, and joyous children.  Even though I tend to forget how great God is, my heart swells with that wondrous love of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit when I am among these other clay-footed believers inside the walls of that modest building.  Thank you, Lord, for bringing us home to this place.

 

John Ingrisano

DailyConnections

June 30, 2015

TUESDAY THOUGHT 6/9/15: PIFFING

June 9, 2015 on 10:46 am | By | In In God's Pocket | Comments Off on TUESDAY THOUGHT 6/9/15: PIFFING

PAYING IT FORWARD

During a financially devastating time in my life (a business failing and a divorce pending), I had to/was ready to sell my big house on Lake Michigan (aka my monument to me).  The deal was going slowly, and I had about a hundred bucks to my name.

The realtor, a gruff fellow named Tony Jeanquart, was handling the deal.  He knew I was in a world of hurt.  One day, out of the blue, he came by my house and handed me a check for $2,000.  I looked at him, and he shrugged.  “It’s a loan.  It’s a gift.  It’s whatever you need it to be.”  And he walked away and never mentioned it again.  That money got me through the next month until the house was sold.  The money was a Godsend.  More than that, though, was the out-of-the-blue gift from a man I knew slightly then, a gesture that made me feel a little less alone.  (And as my life changed, I sent him a check for $100 every month for the next 20 months.)

Tony is one of the many, many people who have “paid it forward,” who have been there for me during times of need – from my brother, to our church family, to my two wondrous daughters and step-daughter, to several special cousins, and many, many, many more.  I couldn’t name you all.  But I am grateful to you all.

God has blessed Susan and me with love and incredible peace in recent years, along with the wondrous gift of enough.  We lack for nothing.  So, as Jesus Christ paid it forward when He died for our sins, I in my small way pay those blessings forward and ask the Lord to bless you with peace and mercy and joy this day and all your days.  Amen.   – jri

 

For God so loved the world that

he gave his one and only Son,

that whoever believes in him

shall not perish but have eternal

life.” 

                       – John 3:16

 

John Ingrisano

DailyConnections

June 9, 2015

 

THURSDAY THOUGHT 4/30/15 LOVE LOVE LOVE

April 30, 2015 on 10:24 am | By | In Faith & Forgiveness, In God's Pocket | Comments Off on THURSDAY THOUGHT 4/30/15 LOVE LOVE LOVE

JUDGE NOT; LOVE A LOT

The finger pointing has started regarding the Baltimore riots.  Who is to blame?  Somebody has to be fired or prosecuted or at least publicly humiliated.  [My favorite in these situations is when members of one faction demand an apology, and if they get it, they say (A) it isn’t enough or (B) it isn’t sincere.]  It’s the same in Washington.  Closer to home, it’s also the same in our own lives.

We seem to have a need to judge others.  As a species, we pick at, gossip about, find fault with, and tear down others.  Or we just sit in smug silence, reveling in our own superiority.  We tend to demand perfection from others, although we are completely willing to overlook our own flaws.  Most of all, we seem to feel we have to judge, to form an opinion about everything, to weigh in and vote yea or nay on every person or issue, even when we know little or nothing about the facts.  Whew!  Downright exhausting.

My point:  Stop judging.  As followers of Christ, we are commanded to love one another, not judge one another.  Not only is it what Christ told us to do, but it is so much easier.  So, here’s your homework (and mine, too):  Today, when you meet people at work, in the grocery store, or driving on the road, don’t judge.  Just love.  Even if they do something that seems outrageous, just nod and say to yourself, “Lord, bless this person.”  That’s called love.    – jri

“Most important of all, continue to

show deep love for each other for

love covers a multitude of sins.

                        – St. Peter (1 Peter 4:8)

As for the rioters or the police or the politicians in Baltimore and elsewhere this week, just remember that the Lord told us to love our enemies.  I know, that can be a tough one, but keep in mind that even that person we judge to be hideous, well, he or she is a child of God, and is loved by God just as much as we are.  So, just let it go.  Just love each one.  Just try.

 

John Ingrisano

DailyConnections

(770) 314-2649

April 30, 2015

 

WEDNESDAY/THURSDAY 3/18-19/15

March 18, 2015 on 7:55 pm | By | In Faith & Forgiveness, In God's Pocket, Living Joyously | Comments Off on WEDNESDAY/THURSDAY 3/18-19/15

WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME?

One of the cornerstones of marketing is:  WIIFM?  That’s how businesses sell products to consumers.  This will save/make ME money; make MY teeth brighter or my butt firmer; get ME the girl/boy; give ME power and prestige; make ME the envy of my friends (and enemies; yes, definitely, my enemies); make ME live longer, love longer, look better; or just make ME feel better about myself.  ME!  ME!  ME!

Well, then, this Jesus the Christ comes along and gets it all backwardsHe was supposed to be a thundering, roaring emperor of the world on a white stallion (not a donkey!) who commanded unbeatable armies, wreaked revenge on all our enemies, made the naysayers and doubters tremble and repent.  Go, God! 

But, no, He shows up in some Fourth World outpost of the Roman Empire, talks about forgiveness of one’s enemies (like that’s gonna work, right?), kneels down and washes His followers’ feet (like that’s gonna get you respect and power, JC), and doesn’t do a thing to straighten out the Roman soldiers and local yahoos who spit on Him, beat Him, and nail Him to a tree like He’s some uppity black boy in Louisiana in the 1920s in need of a good lynching.  

My point:  What if He got it right?  Love your neighbor?  Love your enemies?  Seriously.  Give your life for people who are too self-absorbed chasing after the WIIFM things of this world to even notice, let alone say thank you.   Maybe that is how you conquer and save the world.  Maybe?  I think so.  – jri

But God chose the foolish things

of the world to shame the wise;

God chose the weak things of the

world to shame the strong.

                  ~ 1 Corinthians 1:27

 Years ago I was a devoted, dedicated follower of Ayn Rand, who believed that our first, last, and only loyalty should be to ourselves.  I was wrong … and, no, smart alecks, don’t ever expect to hear that from me again.  Today, as the sign says outside The Highlands United Methodist Church in Gainesville, Georgia, “Love God, serve people.”  I now know I wasn’t put on this earth to amass wealth and power, but to serve those who struggle –spiritually, financially, emotionally.  And as a result, I’ve never been wealthier.  What a strange God we follow.  — jri 

 

John Ingrisano

DailyConnections
4279 Hunter Road
Gainesville, GA 30506
March 18-19, 2015

 

WEDNESDAY THOUGHT 2/18/15

February 18, 2015 on 5:29 pm | By | In In God's Pocket, Living Joyously | Comments Off on WEDNESDAY THOUGHT 2/18/15

IT’S NOT THAT I NEED GOD

Ever meet the smirkers who look at you like you’re a pathetic dolt and say something like, “Well, good for you if it gives you comfort to believe in a god to get by”?  (Sounds like Karl Marx’s brilliant comment:  “Religion is the opiate of the people.”)

No, it’s not about needing a god.  It’s about whether one exists.  But here’s the funny part:  You cannot read a book or study science to discover God.  He’s not out there somewhere.  He’s inside us and all around us, waiting for us not to open a book, but to open our hearts and to discover something so awesome that there is no mistaking the veracity of it.  Truth. 

My pointYes, there is a God (and He’s a big capital G God).  Oh, and, yes, we need Him, but we do not wish/need Him into existence.  He is.  If you haven’t found Him yet, keep looking.  It’s well worth the search.  Just ask anyone who has found Him.  – jri

I see that the Lord is always with me.

     I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.

No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice.

     My body rests in safety.” 

                  ~ King David (Psalm 16:8-11)

During my atheist/agnostic days, there were times when my soul was so bruised that I was desperate for a god.  However, I never gave in and invented one based on my need.  I’m sure that, in the words of Voltaire, “If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him.”  That, however, is NOT why I believe in God.  I believe in God because He is.  I know Him and do not need to prove His existence.  Better idea:  If you don’t believe in God, you prove to me He does not exist.

John Ingrisano

DailyConnections
4279 Hunter Road
Gainesville, GA 30506
February 18, 2015

 

TUESDAY THOUGHT 1/27/15

January 27, 2015 on 11:05 am | By | In In God's Pocket, Living Joyously | Comments Off on TUESDAY THOUGHT 1/27/15

AWED BY GOD’S HANDIWORK

It was going to be a long night.  Rascal, our new pup, had a bad case of intestinal upset (aka “da ska-verts,” as my Norwegian-American friends would say back in Wisconsin).  Four times that night, I rose from my bed to get Rascal outside.  I was tired and feeling anything but joyful.  Though a bit chilly, the night was still and clear, not that I noticed at first.

And then I looked up.  Caught by awe, I stood there with my mouth open!  The silent, black sky was peppered with millions of stars, from horizon to horizon.  Without even thinking, I mumbled a brief prayer:  “Thank you, Lord.”  My heart filled with a vast stillness and overflowed with gratitude for the majesty of what I was witnessing – not just the night sky, but God’s awesome handiwork in having created it.

My point:  God’s beauty surrounds us.  Even on the darkest of nights (in this case, because it was the darkest of nights), we are blessed by His wondrous majesty.  All we have to do is open our hearts and our eyes, and we will experience it when we least expect it.  – jri

The heavens proclaim the glory of God.

     The skies display his craftsmanship.

Day after day they continue to speak;

     night after night they make him known.

They speak without a sound or word;

     their voice is never heard.

Yet their message has gone throughout

          the earth,

     and their words to all the world.”

~ Psalm 19:1-4

I used to love the big, loud, showy, bodacious miracles.  These days, more and more, I have grown to stand in awe, appreciation, and wonder at the little ones.  Several days ago, Susan brought home a hyacinth bulb, wrapped in its green leaves, its roots in a glass vase.  Over several days, buds began to grow up out of the center.  (Imagine that, the buds came from nothing but some water and sunlight.)  Then yesterday everything burst open in silent beauty, as dozens of pink, six-petaled flowers appeared on the stem, while the area around the flower was filled with a rich yet delicate aroma.  “…yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are” (Luke 12:27).  Awesome.

 

John Ingrisano

DailyConnections

4279 Hunter Road

Gainesville, GA 30506

January 27, 2015

MONDAY THOUGHT 11/3/14

November 3, 2014 on 10:47 am | By | In In God's Pocket | Comments Off on MONDAY THOUGHT 11/3/14

A GLIMPSE INTO GOD’S AWESOME WAYS

It was a Labor Day weekend, normally a very busy time for Terry and Marie at their drop-dead gorgeous, Southern style bed & breakfast, Magnolia Oaks Inn, in the Georgia foothills outside Gainesville.  The problem:  The inn was empty; zero bookings.  Marie kept checking the website and phone, and even called around to see how other lodgings were doing.  All the others were booked full.  Not Magnolia Oaks.  Empty.

Then the phone rang.  There had been a car accident.  (I believe it was Marie’s aged parents; forgive me if I get this detail wrong.)  They were able to shut the inn and race to Alabama.  Her father was going to be all right.  However, they arrived just in time to gather around her mother’s hospital bed, pray for her, sing Amazing Grace, and bid her farewell back to the Lord’s arms an hour later.  Had the inn had guests, Terry and Marie would not have been able to get there in time.

The point: Some events may not seem like blessings, but that is only because we are not given insight into God’s ways. Terry and Marie were frustrated because their inn was going to lose money that weekend.  And then they received a glimpse into the Lord’s immense, unfathomable plan and how He cleared their schedule so they could be present at her mother’s deathbed.  So, I guess the true point is that God is watching over us and His plans are not our concern.  Everything has a purpose in God’s wondrous plan for us.  Just trust. God knows what He is doing … ALWAYS.   — jri

“Look, God is greater than we can understand.
His years cannot be counted.”
  • Job (Job 36:26)

    

Susan and I are learning that it is not necessary for us to understand or approve God’s plans. It’s like that saying (I forget who said it):  We do not believe because we see miracles; we see miracles because we believe.  God watches over us and all people.  That is the only understanding we need.  God bless.

John Ingrisano
4279 Hunter Road
Gainesville, GA 30506
www.dailyconnections.net
November 3, 2014

WEDNESDAY THOUGHT 10/29/14

October 29, 2014 on 8:24 am | By | In In God's Pocket | Comments Off on WEDNESDAY THOUGHT 10/29/14

GOD’S QUIET PRESENCE

As always, noisy me would have missed it. Last week, Susan and Rocky and I were enjoying a fall-day walk on a park trail. The sunshine was bright and warm, and not a breath of wind stirred the yellowing leaves on the trees.  As always, I was chattering away, imparting words of brilliance, when Susan paused and touched my arm.  I followed her gaze and, together, for several moments, we watched as three leaves slowly jumped and twirled a foot off the ground beside us.

Brilliant me thought nothing of it until Susan pointed out, “There’s no wind.” As we watched the dancing leaves, Susan and I became gently, comfortably aware of God’s peace-filled presence close at hand, as if the Lord were walking with us, beside us.

My point:  Yes, it could simply have been weird thermals rising from the ground; maybe it was God joining us on our walk.  That is NOT my point.  Rather, that gentle dancing and whirling of the leaves, moving as if by a life of their own, caused us to give pause and reminded us that God was with us, is with us, always.  All we have to do is open our eyes and see.  — jri

“And as Elijah stood there, the LORD passed
by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain.
It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were
torn loose, but the LORD was not in the wind.
After the wind there was an earthquake, but
the LORD was not in the earthquake. And
after the earthquake, there was a fire, but the
LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire,
there was the sound of a gentle whisper.”
                      —  1 Kings: 11-12

As Susan and I are learning to open our eyes to God’s presence, more and more we see it in all things: a beautiful sunset, a silly bug, a blooming flower, a chance encounter with a person who leaves us inspired, or just our ability to relax quietly together in the evening in gratitude. This “vision” is perhaps one of the greatest gifts God has given us in a life filled with His blessings.

John Ingrisano
4279 Hunter Road
Gainesville, GA 30506
www.dailyconnections.net
October 29, 2014

TUESDAY THOUGHT 9/30/14

September 30, 2014 on 8:51 am | By | In In God's Pocket | Comments Off on TUESDAY THOUGHT 9/30/14

ON THE EDGE OF THE RED SEA

The image of Moses at the Red Sea has been in my mind recently: There is Moses looking out over a good-sized body of water. The entire nation of Israel is standing behind him, counting on him, nervous about what they’ve gotten themselves into.  Behind them is the Egyptian army, armored men and chariots bearing down fast, determined to either kill or capture every last one of them.

The pressure is on.  The situation is dire; no, it’s more like hopeless.  And then, with a wave of his arm, in God’s name, the entire sea splits in half.  The Jews escape; the Egyptians, every last one of them, drown when they try to follow.  Ridiculous.  Unbelievable.  Impossible.  Oh, but that’s what happened.  The Book of Exodus covers it in great detail.

My point:  God is in the miracle business.  Big ones, little ones, that’s what He does.  He takes the impossible and makes it possible.  The miracles in our lives are not always as dramatic as the parting the Red Sea, but they are miracles nonetheless.  We are surrounded by them, thousands of them, every day.  When it comes to the really big ones – when we need healing, recovery from incomprehensible losses, relief from pain and suffering in any number of ways – just trust.  Just ask.  God may not give us the miracle exactly as we requested, but He will give us a miracle … often better than the one we had requested.  And then just say thank you.  Your Red Sea will part.  — jri

“Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.

The Egyptians pursued them, and all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and horsemen followed them into the sea.  During the last watch of the night the Lord looked down from the pillar of fire and cloud at the Egyptian army and threw it into confusion.  He jammed the wheels of their chariots so that they had difficulty driving. And the Egyptians said, ‘Let’s get away from the Israelites! The Lord is fighting for them against Egypt.’

“”Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Stretch out your hand over the sea so that the waters may flow back over the Egyptians and their chariots and horsemen.’ Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at daybreak the sea went back to its place. The Egyptians were fleeing toward it, and the Lord swept them into the sea.  The water flowed back and covered the chariots and horsemen—the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed the Israelites into the sea. Not one of them survived.

“But the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.  That day the Lord saved Israel from the hands of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the shore.”

— Exodus 14:21-30

 

Susan and I live in awe of the miracles God performs. From the huge and bold ones (such as how we joyfully came together against all odds after 40 + years apart … and remain joyfully so) to the slightest whispers of encouragement (the unexpected insight into a friends’ needs or a Bible verse or sermon with perfect timing, as if selected just for us, to answer a question or quell a fear), God’s miracles surround us.  Susan and I talked about how she had been alone and lonely much of her life, but how now she lives surrounded by people she deeply loves and who deeply love her – a quiet, powerful miracle that God slipped in while she was busy doing other things.  Open your eyes to see and enjoy the wondrous miracles God has delivered to your life.

 

John Ingrisano

4279 Hunter Road

Gainesville, GA 30506

www.dailyconnections.net

September 30, 2014

SUNDAY THOUGHT 9/14/14

September 14, 2014 on 8:51 am | By | In Faith & Forgiveness, In God's Pocket | Comments Off on SUNDAY THOUGHT 9/14/14

FLAT TIRES & OTHER BLESSINGS

When I went out to the car last Friday afternoon to run errands, I was stopped dead in my tracks by a flat tire…not just low, but flat. My first reaction was to snarl and curse my luckless fate. Still feeling forsaken, I decided it would be easier to just change it myself, even though my last flat-changing event had taken place in 2001.  Actually, once I located and cranked down the spare, the whole process went relatively easily.

I was about three lug nuts in when the full beauty of this blessing dawned on me. You see, Susan was gone, off to visit her daughter, which was what she almost always did on Fridays. However, she almost always drove the red car, the one with the flat.  Instead, this day I had suggested she take the black one, which I almost never did.  If we had both followed our “almost always” routine, she would have ended up on the side of the highway half way to Atlanta.  So, by the time I finished changing the tire, I was giggling and remembering how God always – not almost always, but ALWAYS – watches over us.

My point: Susan and I are learning – not always, but almost always – to recognize the God winks in our life, those little reminders that life is not just mostly good, but it is ALL good. Sure, I had to change the tire; God never said life would be an easy-as-pie cake walk.  (Sorry, but I like that baked goods mixed metaphor.)  As we learn to trust, we also see how much reason we have to trust.  Life is good, even the flat tire parts … ALWAYS — jri

“Blessed is the man who trusts in
the LORD, and whose hope is in the
LORD.”                
                   — Jeremiah 17:7

 

Susan and I have gotten into the practice of looking for our blessings, and we are in awe as we discover just how many we have. Each morning, before starting our prayers, we each write down in a notebook that one thing for which we are most grateful.  Many mornings we have difficulty deciding which one of the many to record.  God’s blessings are all around us. Each day is filled with God’s majesty and the splendor of His creation.  It is just a matter of taking the time to look.  Enjoy the wondrous, blessings of this day.

John Ingrisano
4279 Hunter Road
Gainesville, GA 30506
www.dailyconnections.net
September 14, 2014

MONDAY THOUGHT 8/18/14

August 18, 2014 on 12:05 pm | By | In In God's Pocket | Comments Off on MONDAY THOUGHT 8/18/14

WRAPPED IN GOD’S FEATHERS

There is only one thing more vulnerable than a hatchling baby bird.  A pair of birds set up their nest this spring in a small plant on our back deck.  At knee level, the nest, I thought, was a poor location.  But the birds quickly adapted to our comings and goings, and we would occasionally peek in to see one sitting on the nest, protecting its young.  They did their job well.  One day, silly feathers sticking out every which way, the babies took a few practice turns around the yard and then left to explore the world on their own.

What is more vulnerable than a hatchling?  Us.  That is because, it seems to me, we never outgrow the need for the safety of the nest.  We fly and soar and crash again and again during our lives.  And there are times when we are afraid, or just worn down and worn out.  (Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s calls the feeling the “screaming reds.”)  Life is tough, and there is no way we can get through it on our own.  The good news, at least for us believers:  If we ask, God covers us with His wings and protects us from the terrors of the world.       

My point:  We are never alone unless we stubbornly, egoistically choose to be so.  (That’s a message I personally was long and slow to learn.)  That is one of the great themes of the Bible – that God is always with us, always, and ready to help those who ask.  So, the next time you are in way over your head, ask God for His help.  Let Him wrap his powerful wings around you.  And when you are ready to emerge and face the world again, pick a few stray feathers out of your mouth, say, “Thank you, Lord,” and take a few practice laps around your life, knowing that God is there, always, to protect you and catch you if you fall.  – jri

“He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
    he is my God, and I trust him.
For he will rescue you from every trap
     and protect you from deadly disease.
He will cover you with his feathers.
    He will shelter you with his wings.
   His faithful promises are your armor
         and protection.”              
                                       — Psalm 91: 3-4

     

Now, I admit that the idea of God having feathers and wings seems a bit strange, and I do struggle with that concept.  But imagine mighty Michael the Archangel, always depicted as the winged warrior.  All I do know for sure is that there are nights – those 2:15 a.m. stirrings when the screaming reds strike – when I love surrendering to the warmth of God’s feathered wings wrapped around me.  Very comforting in a less than comforting world.  God bless.

 

John Ingrisano
4279 Hunter Road
Gainesville, GA 30506
www.dailyconnections.net
August 18, 2014

WEDNESDAY THOUGHT 5/21/14

May 21, 2014 on 11:12 am | By | In Faith & Forgiveness, In God's Pocket | Comments Off on WEDNESDAY THOUGHT 5/21/14

FAMILY

Today is my brother’s birthday.  Lou turns 67.  We sometimes talk three times a week; sometimes maybe once a month.  We try to do a vacation together every year or so and now it is nice to have Susan as part of the mix, though her common phrase has already become, “Now, boys, someone’s gonna get hurt if you keep that up.”  (“Yeah, but he hit me first!”)  And this in our 60s.

As I am fond of saying, and Lou never contradicts this fact, “Yes, he is the older, but I am smarter, more mature, and better looking.”

Oh, and did I mention he’s my best friend and favorite brother (albeit my only one)?  Last year, when I had open heart surgery, Susan called and, unbeckoned, he flew from Maine to Georgia that day.  (Of course, he did drink up all my wine when he got here.)  Actually, that wasn’t that unusual, really … the coming part, not the wine part.  My two daughters did the same: Nicky flew in from Seattle, Angie from Wisconsin.  (I’m convinced that is why I was up and out of the hospital in three days … partially because I was surrounded by love, partially to save what was left of my wine cellar.)

What we have going for us is the pull of family.  I describe it in one word:  Blood!  My brother and I weren’t close until we were in our 30s.  (Sometimes blood takes aging to mature.)  Even then, we spent an entire year sometime later when I wouldn’t speak to him.  (This runs in our family.  My son is snubbing me for 18 months and counting.  He’ll come around someday, in his and God’s sweet time.  In the meantime, prayers, please.)

Blood is why Susan and I can go to Florida to see cousins we hadn’t laid eyes on in decades, and there was no get-acquainted time.  Instant comfort. No friend can replace blood.  (Chrissy, you are blood, thank you.)  No friend will be there like blood when the real chips are down. Blood is why I love to hear from my Cousin Karen (“love ya like salt!”) in West Virginia; or Mike in Maine, for whom I cried with thankful joy last week to hear that he and his children are reconciled; or Cousin Tom in Kansas, who lives a joyous life surrounded by children and grandchildren; and, yes, all those who I have forgotten to mention.

My points:  1) Happy birthday, Bro.  I am grateful and thankful for you; 2)  The same for all my other blood, even the ones I would love to hit with a stick from time to time.  It’s all family.  Ain’t nothin’ better!  — jri  

 

Susan and I are further blessed, wondrously blessed with a living, loving, dynamic faith community through our church.  We don’t just show up, shut up, and sit down on Sundays.  Yes, we worship God, but we also get to see our friends, everyday men and women who are followers of Christ the best they can.

I am in awe at how these men and women step up in loving kindness.  For example, when Susan’s brother became ill with an aneurism, he was never alone in his hospital room.  Never.  And when I was recovering from my surgery last year, I would open my eyes and see sometimes one, sometimes several men and women sitting and praying.  That’s a great feeling that, live or die, I was not alone.  Thank you all.  And Happy Birthday, Brother.  Love you all.

John Ingrisano
4279 Hunter Road
Gainesville, GA 30506
www.dailyconnections.net
May 21, 2014

WEDNESDAY THOUGHT 4/30/14

April 30, 2014 on 11:17 am | By | In In God's Pocket | Comments Off on WEDNESDAY THOUGHT 4/30/14

SURVIVING PAIN

Constant pain – spiritual or physical – can destroy our outlook, rob us of our joy.  It sure doesn’t feel fair, especially for those of us who believe in a loving, merciful God and try to follow God’s Way.  I also know that it is difficult (impossible?) to come up with a heartfelt “Thank you, Jesus!” when our heads are splitting and ready to explode or our spirits are dwelling in a cold, windowless room.

However, as I have expressed before, I have come to believe – to know beyond knowing – that (1) God is always there, (2) He is always good, and (3) He knows what He is doing, even when we do not understand.  I also know that all pain comes to an end in God’s own time.  Now, I realize that I take all of this on faith, but I guess that is the point.  I believe not because God does magic tricks and performs miracles; I see those miracles (no, they are not magic tricks) because I believe. Yes, even when life seems to truly suck, I believe.

My point:  Just trust!  Nobody gets through this life trouble-free.  Nobody.  (How very boring it would be if we did.) The Lord gives and the Lord takes away.  We have days of abundant blessings and days of deep sorrow and loss.  That is – for reasons we cannot fathom – the way God has made this life.  Are they tests of faith and challenges?  I do not know.  But I do know that even in the midst of my toughest, most painful times, I’ve found joy and peace when I am able to just trust.   — jri  

“I am worn out from sobbing.
     All night I flood my bed from weeping,
     drenching it with my tears.
My vision is blurred by grief;
     my eyes are worn out because of all my enemies.
Go away, all you who do evil,
     for the lord has heard my weeping.
The Lord has heard my plea;
     the Lord will answer my prayer.”                  
                 — Psalm 6:6-9

I admit that pain puzzles me.  Is it punishment?  A test?  A way of strengthening us, like the tempering of steel?  I think that’s one of those things that – if God ever lets me into heaven, and God only knows why He would – I have to ask Him about.  Until then, I guess it’s just a matter of trust and faith.  Oh, yeah, trust and faith.  Now I remember.

John Ingrisano
4279 Hunter Road
Gainesville, GA 30506
www.dailyconnections.net
April 30, 2014
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