Archive | October, 2013

Do We Build our Own Dragons Sometimes? Part II (for KDL)

16 Oct

I had a favorite high school teacher who once wrote to me (when I was in college), “Man, Mary, you are even more of a worrier than I am . . .”  I think she and I were covering the 24-hour day by taking shifts worrying about things that could happen!!!

Thing is that, even at 55, after a lifetime of growth and sanctification as a Christian, I can still be a worrier.  And that is even with 55 years in my rearview mirror to remind me of how good God is.

I am a worrier in spite of the fact that the luxury of worrying about potential disasters is very much a first world problem.  The rest of the world is too busy dealing with current disasters to have the time to worry about upcoming disasters that could occur!

I am a worrier in spite of the fact that I have never lost a home to any cause, natural or otherwise.  This is despite living along the East Coast and weathering several hurricanes.

I am a worrier in spite of the fact that I have only been in two traffic accidents, from which I walked away.  My husband has been in two, same deal.

I am a worrier although I have lived much of my life in urban areas and have never been in a mugging or a robbery.  No one I know has been murdered.

I am a worrier although my identity has never been stolen and any viruses we got on our computer network were eradicated with a minimum of cost.

I am a worrier despite the fact that I have only been unemployed for four months of my adult life, right after I retired from the Navy.

I am a worrier despite the fact that I have been in excellent health most of my life and in fact have never even broken a bone.

There is some evidence that the tendency to worry is genetic.  I believe that.  I have had friends go through most of the above circumstances.  Most of those friends have far less of a tendency to worry than I do, even after going through a disaster.

There is a slight correlation between being a worrier and being able to head off disaster by adequately preparing for it.  But, for a worrier, the worry doesn’t stop once the preparations have been made.  We keep a hurricane survival kit in our home every year because that is prudent in our area of the country.  But, once the kit is built, I should cease worrying about hurricanes because there is nothing more I can do to mitigate their effects.  That doesn’t always happen.  I have spent more than one hurricane season worrying about all of the effects a hurricane could have on us!

See where I am going with this?  I build my own dragons sometimes.  And, yes, that is a first world problem to have.  And, yes, it probably does have a genetic component.  And, yes, I probably have staved off a couple of disasters by thinking in advance how I would handle them,  But the rest of life is so beyond our control, and so only in God’s hands, that it is foolish for me to think my worrying has anything to do with outcomes.

When I worry, I make myself a mini-god.  I assign far more control to myself than I could ever realistically possess.  That is where worry crosses over into being sin.  It puts me in God’s place, in so many ways.

And, in the end, the things we worry about are never the actual crises we face.  It is far better to conserve our energy for an actual crisis.  In my life, there have been two:  my breast cancer (which was totally unexpected–I never worried about that) and our son’s autism (also a bolt out of the blue).    

So . . . to recap, I have built and fought many dragons all life long, but the ones that were actual dragons took me completely by surprise.  And, even in my surprise, God gave me the strength to deal with my very real crises from day to day.  

He is a good God like that! 

 

  

 

Do We Build our Own Dragons Sometimes? Part I (for MKL)

15 Oct

I cringe when I remember it now.  

I was sixteen years old.  My whole school day was being ruined by the fact I had broken a nail and its jagged edges were catching on everything.  I didn’t have any repair supplies.  Nor did my best friend at the time.

But . . . as I went on complaining about my nail, my best friend stopped me in my tracks.  She asked me whether I thought my broken nail warranted the attention it was getting, especially in comparison to the fact that she had recently been removed from her home due to sexual abuse and was living with the family of one of our female teachers.  

Ulp!

As I recall it, her very words were, “Please don’t expect me to care so much about your nail.”

Sometimes people say things to us that are lifechanging!

Life is full of conflict and challenges.  No disputing that.

But the wise ones among us can prioritize them and realize when we are only looking at a minor challenge!

It is becoming apparent to me that the wise ones among us also can tell when someone is manufacturing a fictional crisis. Sometimes the person doing that is us!!!  Age does seem to convey some wisdom in this area so we can learn to recognize ourselves in this script!  

What do I mean?

It would be a situation where we very much make a mountain out of a molehill.  Without trying to mix metaphors, I will call that “building a dragon.” 

You see, life has enough mountains to conquer and dragons to slay.  If we are building dragons, we are putting energy into dispatching enemies we don’t actually have.  And, the way God has designed the universe, we will probably actually need that energy we are wasting.  We will need it for a real crisis later. 

An example of building a dragon is that I can do that when talking about driving in our East Coast traffic.  I have actually only had two traffic accidents in 55 years.  I am a very cautious driver (read:  OCD) so that may be part of it.  

But there are minor things here and there that I can choose to escalate to major things.  I can come into the office and make it sound as though I narrowly escaped death on the way to work every single morning.  Because every single morning at least one foolish thing happens near me on the road.  Sometimes I am the one who did it!!!

See what I mean?  By exaggerating or emphasizing different aspects of a story, we can make the story from a mundane account into a whiteknuckle account.  The same story!

And sometimes it is fun to do that, when everyone knows it is an exaggeration.

But my idea is that many times we believe our own exaggerated account, and we influence others around us to believe it.

We then think situations exist in our lives that really do not.

Depending on the situation, we also might think we have enemies when we do not.  

We all write scripts with ourselves at the center of the universe.  Human nature is like that.

But my series on building dragons will be exploring that part of us and challenging us to speak the truth to ourselves and to others . . . 

 

Perspective (there really are at least two views of every event)

15 Oct

“DEAR ABBY: I am almost 30, and when we have family get-togethers several times a year, it seems like they make a point to leave me out of pictures. My mom and sister lost quite a bit of weight recently, and my brothers and cousin are attractive people. It seems like they’re trying to keep the “fat one” out of the photo, and it hurts my feelings.

Recently, a cousin came into town and made copies of two excellent pictures of my mom and sister and posted them online. Again, I was not included. What should I do? I am depressive anyway, and these obvious oversights are upsetting me. — LEFT OUT IN TENNESSEE

DEAR LEFT OUT: Talk with your mother and sister to confirm if what you suspect is happening is true. It’s possible your mother and sister are so proud of their weight loss they want to show it off. (There are ways to pose family members in photographs so their weight isn’t apparent.) As to the visiting cousin, there may be such a marked change in their appearance that he/she thought it was worth posting on the Internet.

A problem with depression is that quietly brooding solves nothing, and it often causes people to overeat. Because your depression is chronic, please consider discussing it with your health care provider because interventions are available.”

Amazing letter, this!

I would never, in a million years, have thought that I should look around when someone is taking my picture to document my weight loss to see who is not in the picture.  

It is easy, from my side of things, to think that this letter writer is just oversensitive.  

But we all feel left out of events sometimes . . . often for the strangest reasons.

Probably there are no answers that fit every person or every situation.

But we can be compassionate with each other, even when the other is unreasonable, or seems to be.

Christlikeness goes a long way toward helping us grow in community!

 

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Are We Pursuing Jesus or Throwing around Hipster Words?

14 Oct

Are We Pursuing Jesus or Throwing around Hipster Words?

I’ll be honest. Many of the people I meet who have supposedly been “freed” from fundamentalism (of the Protestant variety) are at least as judgmental as the people from whom they fled.

I hear a lot of talk about the love of Jesus–how Jesus looks on the heart. But these folks have often gone from being in a church that looks down on those who don’t wear suits to being in a church that looks down on those who don’t wear jeans. Big difference, huh?

Or they talk about grace and define it as grace that God extends to . . . wait for it . . . the people these folks personally like and find deserving of grace. Ummmm, wasn’t the whole point of grace that we don’t deserve it, none of us?

So as long as people are talking about leaving fundamentalism for some supposedly superior concept and then are setting up their churches to be every bit as judgmental as the ones they left, I am not buying the idea that there are any new movements out there that have not already been with us for the past 2000 years.

Sure, people and churches wax and wane in their love of Christ and of others. I think all of them do. And that is precisely the point.

We live and work among fallen people. Good thing, because we ourselves are fallen (that would be me!).

See Romans 7. Any questions?

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Black Parenting Principles!

14 Oct

Black Parenting Principles!

A reminder from a prominent black Baptist pastor, Thabiti Anyabwile, that black parenting in the U.S. doesn’t always look exactly the same as white parenting. And he links to some classic scenes from primetime television.

He mentions a couple of crosscultural points I have needed to hear:

-When black parents seem to be harsh with their kids, historically they have looked at such techniques as preparing the kids for a world that will be harsh with them.
-When black kids “bust” on each other in the school hallway, it is not usually a sign that a fight is about to occur. It is a means of communication (side note: I think some hipster whites have learned this technique pretty well, too, judging from some white “putdown contests” I have recently heard).
-When a group of black kids seems to generate more noise out in public than a similarly sized group of white kids, that is just a cultural difference. Glaring at them will only make them think we are prejudiced. They will not suddenly realize that their noise level is inappropriate for the venue they are in, because it is a normal noise level to them. I am not sure how this one can be addressed, say in a restaurant where your group can’t hear each other’s conversation because the kids at the next table are talking at the top of their voices. After so much water over the dam racially, almost anything we will do as whites, including asking to be moved so as not to bother the other group, will probably be seen as prejudiced. We truly need to have that racial conversation in this country . . . at last.

Good post. Burying our heads in the sand over our racial issues doesn’t work anymore (hint: it never did).

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I Love the Beeb!

14 Oct

I Love the Beeb!

For those of us in the U.S. who are fed up with the obstructionist career politicians on both sides of the aisle who have paralyzed our government for the past two weeks and counting . . .

We do remember that the BBC World Service is in English, yes? It is a good alternative news source to the steady 24/7 dose of negativity we are getting from government proceedings here in the good ole U.S. of A.

We have it in our cable television package, but for those who do not, it is available online.

Remember, Britain was once an empire, while the U.S. has tended to be isolationist more often than not over its two centuries of history. I am not saying that like it’s a bad thing. I can be pretty isolationist myself.

But history affects world view and so we see our news sources mostly reporting U.S. news (read: the shutdown) while BBC World keeps cheerily reporting news from every corner of the globe.

For example, I saw a report this morning that gave me greater awareness of the illegal immigration problem in Europe, in the EEC. Sometimes we Americans can forget that illegal immigration on the planet is a much larger problem than merely South and Central Americans (plus Mexicans, who are in North America) sneaking into the U.S.

Wherever there are have nots, you will find them wanting to join the haves.

In fact, Italy is having a summit to address all of the overcrowded boats setting off for Italian shores from North Africa. The closest crossing to Europe from Africa is pretty much Libya to Italy, so Africans from many nations are making their way to Libya to spend their hard-earned money taking a chance that they will make it across to Italy in a boat crammed with people (to maximize profits for the people who are taking them across illegally. They are already breaking immigration laws so why would they not break the laws regarding how many people should safely be on a boat???).

So, when Italy intercepts the boats and turns them back, you have people going back to Libya who are not Libyans. And who are out of money. Desperation breeds some pretty risky plans and so the problem is getting worse, not better.

Meanwhile, boats are sinking, with hundreds of people drowning at a time.

Not good. And the Italians don’t know what to do about it. They want to do the humane thing. And, of course, when they rescue people from a sinking boat, those people do come to Italy, at least temporarily.

Fact is, Italy’s immigration can be overwhelmed, but just as the people who are coming are from all over Africa, so they will settle all over Europe. Since European documentation works anywhere now, if they get permission to stay, they can move to another country legally.

And, if they remain illegally and elude the Italian authorities, they can cross any inner European borders they wish without being checked.

Very interesting discussion and one that is relevant to the church.

The part of the world that became majority Christian also is the part that tended, over the centuries, to produce the most wealth. That is a paradox. Jesus said His Kingdom was not of this world, but the principles He taught us do help us to live pretty effectively on this planet.

And wealth, in and of itself, is not a bad thing.

How do we use it to help others and, most of all, to advance His Kingdom?

I love the BBC most for keeping my attention on the world, rather than just on my own part of it!!!

“I Am not a Human Garbage Disposal . . .”

13 Oct

Have you ever said those words?

As the mother of a special needs child, I admit I have.  He has often felt he needed to vent the negativity he feels (both because of his disability and the things he cannot do, but also as an aspect of it–one of the symptoms of OCD seems to be a constant 24/7 bath in negativity).  

Yet I am here to say that most of us cannot function for long as human garbage disposals.

God did not create us to do that.  We break down.  And then you have a special needs child with a broken down, non-functional parent/support system.  Not good. 

It seems unfair and counterintuitive, but we need to tell people “no” when we have had enough of their negativity for a while.  We need to tell them “no” for our own sake and for theirs.  

They may feel they have nowhere else to go to talk.  So be it.  

Maybe they will learn to be less negative in future discussion.  It would be nice to hear the parts where life is good, too.  I know those parts exist.

But if not, even if they end up muddling through, the best they can, without our listening ears, we still need to remove our ears from their stream of negativity when we can no longer bear it.  Or long before that. 

You see, no one has the right to claim another person as his human garbage disposal.  

If someone is asking that from you, whether your child, your spouse, or a friend, say “no.” They are asking you to play a role in their life that only God can successfully play.  

I understand you are responsible to keep minor children safe.  But you do not have to listen to their garbage.  

And, with adults, you may freely walk away for a while.

Don’t end the relationship, just end the human garbage disposal role.  God does not require that of you.   

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The Fast Food Generation

13 Oct

The Fast Food Generation

My generation can almost forget that chain restaurants have not always been in existence.

I mean, the first McDonalds came about when I was only a few years old. And there the chains began . . .

Unless, of course, you count the Howard Johnsons and Holiday Inn restaurants that came about in order to feed travelers staying at the new chains of motor lodges which came about as people all began to buy family cars in order to explore our country’s new interstate system in the 1960’s!

Fun times! But all of them recent, since my birth in 1958.

We like to say that our current epidemic of obesity in the U.S. can be traced to the migration of people to the cities and to office jobs in the last century. That, before that, the majority of people worked on family farms and used just as many calories as they consumed, without ever needing to work out in their leisure time. Some of that is, of course, true.

But I believe some of the blame for the obesity epidemic can be laid on our tendency to love eating out at chain restaurants that never existed prior to 1960. Especially fast food chains.

Think about it. We are a culture of chain restaurants. We are also a culture of eating at chain restaurants, no matter who you are.

Even the poor in our society eat out. It is expected. Cash flow incorporates it, at all levels.

I am only thinking about this because some friends are pursuing missions work in third world countries. Even in many of them, there has been a tendency to Americanization/Europeanization which has produced chains of restaurants.

There are some remote places, say in some African countries, where that is not so, but most capital cities, in African countries and elsewhere, provide some chain restaurant options nowadays.

The foods are tasty but often at the expense of health, with sugar and salt serving to flavor things, rather than the more expensive herbs and spices we can cook with at home.

And we lap them up!

I myself love to eat out, as does my Daddy. It was a favorite bonding experience as I was growing up and the list of chain restaurants in existence started to expand. There were not too many until I was in high school . . .

This is not a complaint piece, and it really does not suggest any course of action other than awareness.

We act as though there have always been chain restaurants as an option. We forget that a generation before us, everyone ate at home, even if their mothers were terrible cooks.

Nowadays, no one is known as a terrible cook. If she is, she just buys prepared foods or eats out a lot. No one need ever find out . . .

The world has changed a lot in 50 years.

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Being Punished By God . . .

12 Oct

Being Punished By God . . .

Got your attention under false pretenses, didn’t I?

The picture is of me with my breast cancer survivor’s locket, presented to me by a friend during Breast Cancer Awareness month (October) to celebrate my five years as a survivor.

So . . . raise your hand if you think God ever gives people breast cancer as a punishment for their sins?

Okay, if your hand is in the air, explain yourself theologically.

If every single one of my sins, past, present, and future went on Christ when He died on the cross, how does God later decide to punish me, as a believer in Christ, clothed in the garments of His righteousness, by giving me a disease?

Short answer: He doesn’t.

He also doesn’t punish the sins of a spouse or a child by giving the wife/mother breast cancer. Just want to make that clear.

And, in relation to non-believers, since they are facing an eternity in Hell, He doesn’t punish them with cancer either. Especially if it gets their attention and turns them to thoughts of eternal things. Sometimes they receive Christ as Saviour as a result of their experience of cancer.

Either way, the cancer itself is not a punishment. Eternity in hell will be a far worse punishment, if that person does not turn to Christ. God doesn’t need to exact punishment on that person in this world. He has forever to do that.

God does punish sin. Either in the person of Christ, when we receive Him as our Sinbearer, or in the person of us ourselves, if we choose to take our chances in eternity, all alone without Christ.

Justice demands punishment for sin. We need to know that. But God has provided the remedy for sin in Christ–we need to know that, too.

That is the critical issue of life.

Worrying about God giving us cancer for sin is just going down a blind alley theologically.

Please, if you or a familymember has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer, any other cancer, or any other deadly disease, don’t waste time wondering who is being punished. Christ was punished as our Sinbearer. Flee to Him and let Him comfort you!!!!!

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No One Wants to be on the Outside Looking In . . .

12 Oct

No One Wants to be on the Outside Looking In . . .

I am convinced that the normal human heart has two impulses: 1) a quest for adventure and excitement and 2) a quest to belong and to be loved.

Many of us can describe times we felt like we were on the outside looking in and . . . those stories are usually poignant and full of sadness.

All human beings want to belong . . .

That said, we all have different comfort levels for how much togetherness we wish to have with others. As long as we can find a level of companionship that matches the desires of our hearts, we are good.

I remember watching the television show Roseanne, back in the day, and thinking how wonderful it must be to have a next door neighbor who is such a good friend that she just walks into your house several times a day . . .

But, in truth, I am not quite there in my need for togetherness. I have often said that, even if my best friend lived next door, I would probably see her no more than once a week. I truly believe that.

I have, on occasion in this Navy town, had a good friend who lived near enough to my house to walk back and forth between homes. In those cases, we saw each other . . . about once a week. But they were good days. I do miss that, as every friend I have is now at least a short drive away.

I do love it when I see friends who live near extended family and end up at each other’s homes several times a week. I tend to miss my own parents and siblings when I see families like this, yet we have managed to find our own level of togetherness with visits involving 16 hour drives across two or three states!

Nowadays, I tend to socialize at my church and Bible study, and at group activities organized by friends there. I do the more intense one-on-one activities about once a month these days. Life has gotten hectic and has made one-on-one time precious!

And it’s all good. Life has been full so far and seems like it will remain so.

It changes, and so do we.

A question for my readers: What is your current level of companionship with friends outside of your family? Do you find yourself wanting more companionship than you have? Do you ever find yourself, as an adult, still feeling like you are on the outside looking in?

Maybe we can discuss this here.

Another question is for those of us who have lived away from our hometown for a very long time. How many of us who have set up the kitchen (central room) in our own home find that it is nothing like the one in our parents’ home?

I admit, that is true of me. My sister’s kitchen is just like my mom’s. Mine, not so much.

When we moved into this, our first home, it was a Navy move. We did not have close friends here at the time. I never learned till years later that most people repaint before they move in and that many recarpet, too. We didn’t paint for years and have only ever replaced the carpet in one room. Yet we survived . . .

I have gotten some of my kitchen arranging/decorating ideas from friends here, often from Pampered Chef/Tupperware parties I have attended.

Most of all, I have gotten my recent upgrading and decorating ideas for the kitchen from Southern Living and Martha Stewart Living. There is a place for the input of publications, especially in this Pinterest era!!!

Sometimes I wonder if I should wish to have a kitchen that more resembles those of my mom and sister. But usually I think we will be just fine . . .

God is good!

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Returning to the Scene of the Crime . . .

12 Oct

Returning to the Scene of the Crime . . .

I went to the drugstore across the street from our subdivision this morning. It was probably only the sixth time I have gone in there since I started my 120 pound weight loss almost two years ago.

I had something very specific to look for today. Otherwise, I have taken to doing most of my shopping elsewhere, chiefly on the base where I work.

The drugstore was far too convenient for me when I was heavy. It has so many high calorie, high fat foods and so few healthy alternatives. It was very normal for me to stop in there to buy one thing and to end up buying 2-3 “treats” to go with my original item. I think I took any excuse I could get to go in there . . .

Needless to say, I mostly avoid it now as the scene of the crime. I mean, it doesn’t tempt me the way it once did, but there is just very little to entice me to go in there these days.

And when I went there before, I was known as “Joey’s mom.” Joey, my special needs son, was kind of adopted by most of the staff over there as “their” kiddo. Joey is away at college now.

So it was that today I went up to ask a question of a staff member who had talked to me regularly two years ago and saw that half-light of recognition come on in her eyes. She was struggling. “I am supposed to know you somehow, but how???” It had been a long time. And Joey wasn’t there.

And then I looked overhead at the mirror that lines the ceiling, wall to wall, at the back of the store. I have always loved that mirror, even when I was heavy. It is a flattering mirror. I never felt ugly in it, even as a woman fitting the medical definition of obese.

But today–what a contrast. Whereas before it had shown a plump woman laboring a bit to get to the back of the store, today it showed a tall, thin woman moving in one fluid motion to the back of the store. My hair was different. My glasses were different.

No wonder! The store employee truly had not recognized “Joey’s mom” from before. I went back, after I checked out, to update her on Joey. I figured she would put two and two together when I did . . .

Couldn’t find her. Maybe next time!!!

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It is Not Good to Legislate from a Place of Woundedness!

8 Oct

It is Not Good to Legislate from a Place of Woundedness!

I read a blog post once in which a young man was interviewed. He was a child molester who went after pre-pubescent boys. And he told of how he had been molested as a pre-pubescent boy. He didn’t think what he was doing to the other boys was particularly harmful but . . . even if it was, he didn’t care. His empathy mechanism had died in childhood, when someone first molested him.

There is a gasp of indignation when something like this happens. We mourn the loss of innocence of the young child whose empathy was stripped away. Yet we realize we can’t just turn him loose on an unsuspecting world to lash out against others for the rest of his days.

In many ways, we all can lose our empathy mechanism, in whole or in part.

There are many who have spoken of feeling like their childhood was “on the outside looking in” at the families they presumed were happy when theirs was not. That is sad. Perhaps we have all felt a bit of that at times, but some children grow up feeling it constantly.

Problem is, their empathy mechanism can shut off from that, too. Particularly if their feeling of being an outsider transforms into a desire to take revenge on those they felt had things better than they did. They may, in time, feel as though they are divinely appointed avengers to make sure that those who got so much in childhood don’t carry right on being privileged their whole life through.

If they get into a position of power, they may very well try to make rules that are not good rules . . . because those rules come from that wounded place inside, that child who was thwarted so much that his empathy mechanism shut down.

I have been feeling that that is happening this week, as I have watched the executive branch of our government lash out again and again, against many things that are normal and wholesome in our land.

World War II veterans traveling across the nation to visit their memorial on the National Mall.

Senior citizens from the U.S. and many other countries traveling to the Grand Canyon on a bus.

People trying to vacation at an inn on the Blue Ridge Parkway after making reservations months ago.

People trying to have a meal at a historic restaurant in nearby Yorktown, Virginia but finding that the restaurant is leased in a building belonging to the National Park Service.

And now, dead servicemembers coming back from Afghanistan with no funds being given to their families to fly out to Dover Air Force Base to meet the remains of their loved one. If the loved one is still alive and in a hospital in Germany, no funds to fly the family over there to spend time with the injured servicemember, even if he might be critically injured and end up dying . . .

What, in the name of all that is holy and good, are we doing? This stuff could be fixed with a memo from the President, who heads up the executive branch. I am not going to say that he is the one so lacking in empathy as to make all of these cruel choices, but I will say that he could put a stop to them with a stroke of his pen.

Is he possibly grandstanding, using these people as human shields to try to force the side opposing him to grant him, quickly, the concessions he desires? Only God knows his heart, but I will say that he has not come across as warm and empathetic to any of the above groups this week. And his executive branch, particularly the National Park Service, which works for the Department of the Interior, has run amuck.

If you don’t have a dad who served in World War II, can you still empathize with the veterans of that war? Of course.

If you don’t have elderly parents heading for the Grand Canyon, can you still empathize with the seniors whose bus was turned away from that national park this week? Of course. You can empathize even if you were raised in a family so poor that it never took vacations. Or a broken family that had no concept of vacations . . .

Can you empathize with strangers trying to stay in a Blue Ridge Parkway inn or trying to eat in a Yorktown restaurant? Of course. And you can sympathize with the businesses operating the inn and the restaurant, private businesses that now have employees who need to pay bills and are not working . . .

Most of all, you can empathize with the parents and spouses of the slain military members, even if you have never personally had a familymember in the military. Your heart can ache, knowing how much it would hurt to have to go claim the remains of your own child or spouse . . .

In all of these situations, we can have empathy and should have empathy. If our empathy mechanism is broken, that is not normal. We should not expect everyone to join us in a “who cares” vengeful attitude toward these very normal families trying to take a trip, especially a trip that ends with claiming the remains of a loved one.

I don’t know where the orders to disrupt normal American families as vengefully as possible have been originating during this shutdown, but I know who can stop them with the stroke of a pen.

As I have heard more than one person say this week: “Mr. President, tear down those barriers!”

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What We Can Learn From a Lesbian Visitor to our Church . . .

6 Oct

What We Can Learn From a Lesbian Visitor to our Church . . .

I had an interesting discussion with a friend a couple of weeks ago.

You see, our Pastor had said just about the same thing that this post says. God doesn’t differentiate levels of sin. One sin will keep us out of heaven. That is why we need Jesus. That is why Jesus is such good news for us.

But my friend walked out when my Pastor said that Romans 1 is not just about the sin of homosexuality. He was not prepared to hear that the other sins in that chapter are just as odious to God.

He told me he thought Pastor was “minimizing” the sin of homosexuality, by implying it is not all that serious.

I said I thought the opposite–that when we pick on homosexuality as our favorite sin to hate, we are minimizing our own favorite sins and implying that they are not all that serious.

My friend and I did not see eye to eye that day. There is lots of ground to cover here before we understand that we all stand condemned before God, but for His mercy in Christ!!!

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How Many Times Do We Convey to our Children that God Will Love Them More if They Behave Better?

2 Oct

How Many Times Do We Convey to our Children that God Will Love Them More if They Behave Better?

Short post that packs a wallop.

I know for a fact that I conveyed to my son conditional acceptance by God based on his good behavior because he constantly fears he will lose his salvation for misbehaving, even as a young adult.

And I taught an accurate gospel with my lips . . .

So what did I convey with my own behavior, with my life?

Ulp!

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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month!

1 Oct

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month!

And October is the month that many of us celebrate surviving breast cancer. I am now officially a five and a half year survivor, having been diagnosed in early April of 2008.

So many fears back then! So many victories now!

I remember lying awake the night before my surgery (a lumpectomy, so not even as painful or extensive a surgery as those many of my friends have endured) and thinking that I would never feel happy, or whole, or painfree again. Yet I still slept pretty well that night because I still knew God had hold of my situation.

And how marvelously He has brought it all back around.

He allowed me to survive. He didn’t have to do that. He would have still been a good God if He didn’t choose for me to have that ending.

He allowed me to get a good Navy contractor job the following year, after I retired from the Navy reserves.

He allowed for me to not only lose the forty pounds I gained during and after chemotherapy, but He allowed me to lose 70 more so that my health is actually much better now than it was in the years right before I got cancer.

He allowed me to start this blog, a true labour of love and a lifetime dream. I could never have imagined when I dreamt of being a writer as a child that someday I could put my thoughts out, worldwide, with a few clicks of a keyboard!

He allowed us to find Shepherds College, a wonderful special needs school, where our beloved son is now getting his education in horticulture.

And He allowed Noel and me to rediscover why we married each other almost 25 years ago.

Our trip back from Wisconsin was a dream! We spent three nights more in Racine after we left our son on his campus nearby, visiting Chicago by train during the day. We then drove to Philadelphia and spent three days there.

See our Liberty Bell shot, with me in (almost) breast cancer pink?

I thank God for giving me a godly, loving husband who shares my interest in art and history. The last three cities we have explored (Milwaukee last year, now Chicago and Philly), we have started with the art museum and worked our way outward. It is how we used to explore Europe, back in the day!

Oh, we have such fun!

Thank You, Lord, for letting me be a survivor! Lord, You are so good!

Congratulations to all survivors everywhere, especially Marci, Kathy, Barbie, Jodi and Jody, and Brenda (both of you)!

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