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Ash Wednesday February, 22 (2:22)

Lamentations 2:22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end;

Mark: And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.”

Luke: and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

John: After this Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside, and he spent some time there with them and baptized.

Acts: Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you from your own people a prophet like me. You must listen to whatever he tells you.

Romans: the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction,

1 Corinthians: whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all belong to you,

Galatians: But the scripture has imprisoned all things under the power of sin, so that what was promised through faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

Colossians: Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything, not only while being watched and in order to please them, but wholeheartedly, fearing the Lord.

1 Peter: who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him.

1 John: and we receive from him whatever we ask, because we obey his commandments and do what pleases him.

Revelation: Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.”

Luke: and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

Four years ago, on Ash Wednesday, I felt my inner voice guide me to go through the Bible and collate the chapter and verses to correspond to each month and day into a spreadsheet. Therefore, today, February 22, contains the words from the New Testament's second chapter, verse twenty-two. Each day, I will put the verses that correspond to the day at the top, then one of my photos, and below the photo, a reflection from one of the verses that call to me.

I'm still unclear as to what I should do with the spreadsheet, and maybe I'll compile it all together and call it the Out-of-Context Daily Bible. Last year, I decided to blog during Lent, like so many others, though I can assure you, no one is doing it this way.

Today marks the beginning of Lent, that beautiful time of year for reflection and humbling of oneself as we wait for the Lord to reveal Himself to us through these forty days. Luke's message about Jesus' baptism, "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased," seems like an excellent start to Ash Wednesday and Lent.

This is the perfect time to look at our faith and beliefs. All we need is faith the size of a mustard seed, right? I took a leap of faith this week. After five years, I decided to shut down my shop. It was a beautiful shop, where I manufactured my Divine Inspired Spice and other spice blends, chocolate (finally got the chocolate just right), gluten-free granola, and an award-winning Mexican Hot Chocolate Mix. I shared my story and much of myself. It was gaining momentum and notoriety, yet it still wasn't profitable.

At the beginning of this year (just weeks ago), my goal was to grow the wholesale sales side of the business, to make it profitable and perhaps sell it next year, but at Mass on Sunday, I felt that inner guidance instruct me to offer my space to someone my ego didn't want me to surrender the space to. As a wise friend mentioned on the preceding Saturday, "Faith has to come first."

I called the gal after Mass and told her my idea. She looked at the space on Monday, and the outcome is unknown. I know the decision to close my store feels like the right thing to do, and it feels as if a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. Customers and stores are saddened by the news, but I will keep the recipes and perhaps open in another space and time.

Faith has to come first. I will spend quite a bit of this Lent dissolving my business and opening myself up to what is next. I feel a bit like Simon and Andrew, James and John when Jesus instructed them to "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men."

Did Jesus know where God would lead him at his baptism? I don't think so. I believe Jesus had impressions, just like some of the rest of us. Jesus had unconditional faith in God and shouldn't we?

There is no doubt that God has something for me, but to move forward, I have to lighten my load. I must cut the ties that bind me, sell many of my belongings, and follow where God leads me.

The unknown can be scary and challenging, and sometimes it is exhilarating. We have one life and one chance to make the best of it. I don't want to live stressed. I don't want to live burdened by debt. I don't think that's why we were put on this earth, to keep working/busy to make as much money as we can. I believe God loves us too much for that to happen, and that we were put here to make a difference, big or small.

My hope is for the next forty days to share my thoughts, struggles, dreams, and joys, in hopes that maybe one iota makes a difference in your life or the way you think about things. I know that just sharing these feelings on "paper" brings me much peace and satisfaction.

God bless and buen camino!

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