Archive | March 2013

Anger

Hurt
Heart crushed
Harmed unjustly
Anger is flaming
Aware
Cautioned
Forewarned
Anger is peaking
Outraged
Electrified
Shock
Anger is climbing
Careful
Pray
Calm
Anger is simmering
Reduce
Grip
Breathe
Anger without sinning
Right
Aware
Think
Anger is ebbing
Useful
Motivating
Helpful
Anger is righteous.

Advertisements

The Night I Resigned on God

The first taste I had of mission work was through a program with our Baptist Campus Ministries (then called Baptist Student Union) for S.P.O.T.S. (Special Projects Other Than Summer). Then every first week of winter break a team of 8 to 12 college students and our campus minister and college “sponsor” traveled from our campus in Alabama to a church in Savannah, Georgia. The church operated a mission in the row of townhouses behind the church building itself. The students camped out in one. The others were all reserved for various activities of the mission. For a week we were the entertainment, Bible study and small group leaders, cleaning crew, handy men and women. If the mission was involved in it so were we. Those trips were some of the best memories I have and provided growth opportunities for me spiritually I can’t ever forget. I was privileged to go for three years.

The last trip I was able to go on was tougher than the other two. Usually the teams seemed to find instant ways to bond together and get the work done. We had fun, no doubt, but we worked hard and often showed up to Bible studies or small groups looking like we’d just gotten off our knees scrubbing baseboard edges with old toothbrushes because we had! This year though as a team we were not pulling together. We agreed on very little, the teamwork was poor, the attitudes were prickly and it seemed things went from bad to worse every day.

To begin with the townhouse we shared was an old and narrow, three-level building with a living room, dining room, kitchen, fire escape/backdoor, two rooms upstairs with mattresses or cots and one bathroom. The bathroom was not only small but the bathing situation was always the subject of much despair, joking and groans.

A gender mixed group of ten college students sharing one bathroom whose shower was a two-foot section of a rubber hose in an iron clawed foot bathtub connected to a small hot water heater and lousy water pressure was a recipe for moodiness. There were many methods applied by a multitude of minds for a multitude of years but the only one that came close to working for me was to squat in the tub and HURRY. The bathroom this week seemed to be a constant battleground.

Work started at 8:00 in the mornings and being college students we didn’t make a point to get to bed early of course. This meant either you bathed in the evenings before bed or shifted through a schedule in the morning. Oh how badly this went! Those who signed up for night showers would change their minds throwing the morning schedule off. The ones who choose their morning shower time slot couldn’t adjust their routine to accommodate the less than ideal shower/tub issue or couldn’t pull themselves out of bed on time so between these and those needing to brush their teeth everyone seemed to be in a bad mood from clamoring for the bathroom first thing in the morning. And then there was the one whose habit it was to bathe often during the day.

We were there for a week and were supposed to allow the regular mission leadership a breather from their regular duties. Instead of jumping in and agreeing to cover what needed to be done there were always someone who would refuse to do something and attitudes flared.

“No I don’t lead Bible studies.”

“No I don’t give testimonies.”

“No I don’t act.”

“No I don’t read out loud.”

“No I don’t talk to older women, younger women, young mothers, that group type of men, move boxes, want to be inside, or want to work outside.”

“No I don’t see the point in that.”

“No, no, no, I, I, I….”

On and on and on, all week long; there was one knotty problem after another and by the last night I was more than ready to go home. A first, because normally I wanted to stay a while longer. It always felt before that the needs were far greater than our week of work could help accomplish. This week though I felt like we’d created more needs than helped meet. I felt like a failure.

The traditional last night activity was that as a group we’d sit around the folding table used as a dining table for the week and record ourselves sharing on topics such as what we’d loved most about our week at the mission, what we’d learned and what it had meant to us. The tape would then be given to the mission director and the church pastor. Surely this would break through the walls between us and we’d learn what we’d expected of this week, what we’d gained and those moments we had felt God was able to move through us to meet the needs of the people we came to serve. I was so wrong and looking back I don’t know why it was such a surprise.

This night no one would talk. The general consensus was that the request of answers to the questions was “personal and private” and no one wished to share. Not with the group, not with the mission director and not with the pastor. It turned into a gripe session and more than a few “blame” darts were thrown. Senseless complaints. Endless complaints. I left the room in tears.

Later I slipped down to the living room ready to have a “little talk with Jesus”. I was resentful. I was having a pity party. I was angry at the group members. I was angry at myself for failing. I was angry at God for everything.

I poured it all out, I scribbled in my prayer journal and reminded the Almighty of verse after verse to prove my points. When I had spent my bitterness, resentment and anger out to God I sat and I waited.

I waited for God to bring instant judgment. I waited for words of comfort and understanding. I waited in the silence for Him to tell me I was right and He was wrong.

The minutes ticked by and the silence grew louder. Still I waited. I waited until I fell asleep.

Bone chilling temperature penetrated my slumber and I woke instantly realizing I had fallen asleep waiting on God to answer me. He hadn’t. Didn’t God understand? Why would He act like this? Proving how much like the spoiled child I was acting like I truly was I grabbed my Bible, prayer journal and marched upstairs. As I crawled onto the cot I had one last parting shot I fired off at God. This, I was sure, would get His attention!

“I quit! That’s right. I resign! I won’t do this anymore. I just quit! I resign! Do You hear that Lord? I resign! No more mission work for me! No more drama team, no more praise team, no more anything!”

Thankfully God was slow to anger and merciful in His actions. When the week was over and I was home and really listening to God I wanted to crawl under a rock I was so ashamed of my behavior that night. I realized many truths about that week of mission work, about myself and about teamwork.

I could, and I tried, to justify my reactions to others actions and attitudes that week but the only person I was responsible for was myself and the One I was accountable to was God. Truth is, no matter where, why, when, what or how long God calls us to a specific mission field “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”* My job was to get out of the way and let God do through me and through everyone else too that week. There was no room for pettiness, irritability, resentment, bitterness or egos.

My expectations and God’s were polar opposites that week. I lost sight of whose needs came first, His or mine. God’s agenda was far more important than mine. His were for needs to be met at the mission, in the lives of those we came in contact with that week and in the lives of every one of His children on that mission trip. My need had been to know, to see results, to see evidence of our good deeds instantly so I could feel we’d made a difference for the kingdom that week. But I wanted that in the ways I’d seen and experienced the previous two years and on a longer two month mission trip the summer before. I thought I knew what mission work looked like because I’d been blessed to be a part of trips that were amazing in visible, tangible ways. In ways that spirits connected and you just knew you’d done what God wanted done. I didn’t know how to deal with a mission trip that looked “bad”.

Looking back I see that while I still don’t know all that was accomplished that week in anyone’s life, even my own, much was done. If nothing else this now forty-nine year old, then twenty-three year old remembers the night she learned God is not a job one can resign from and that regardless of what I think needs to be accomplished God doesn’t need me to get what He needs accomplished done. I also learned that flexibility means I am more open to my personal mantra “Mistakes are just creative opportunities!”

It was easy for me to get discouraged that week and I did. Life is like that every day. But just as there was no provision for me to resign on God then there isn’t one for me to do so now. Once we’ve asked God to be the Lord of our lives, made that covenant with Him it isn’t something we can walk away from. Now we may think we can and often do but we can’t. It may not even “catch up to us” while we live here on this earth but the day is coming when we all account for those times we’ve “resigned” on God. I don’t know if anyone else has ever done it quite as dramatically as I did but I do know I am not alone in the attitude or action. Most of all, I know I answer for my actions regardless of what others do or don’t do, think or don’t think, agree with or disagree with – all of that is not important. My walk with God is my walk with God.

“Therefore, my dear friends; as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” (Philippians 2:12-13 NIV)

-Faye

*Luke 9:62 NIV

3D, IMAX, Reality

My family and I watched a 3D movie yesterday.  Aside from Disney World, it was my first time seeing one in a regular theater.  The colors were extraordinary and it was almost like you were actually in the movie.  So real that I even reached out once to brush dandelion seeds away from my sight.  I didn’t enjoy the special 3D movie so much I would make it an even irregular movie option choice. 

Maybe five years ago I watched an IMAX movie and decided that experience was way more than I found enjoyable.  It was just “more” than my senses could handle. 

Life, for me, is intense enough, I don’t enjoy entertainment that overloads my senses.  I guess there is a point for me when I don’t want to “be” part of the movie.  I want to witness it as an observer, not a participant.  A good book is escape for me, a 3D movie just isn’t.

The 3D experience does make me think about my spiritual experiences though.  Here, on this earth what and how I experience the presence of God is limited by my humanity.  Even the occasions when I have known God to be with me physically I have not seen His face.

God tells us in Paul’s writings that we see things “…but a poor reflection as in a mirror, then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12 NIV) Heaven, to be COMPLETELY in His presence cannot be accomplished in our earthly bound bodies.  Here we get a foretaste of absolute fellowship with our Creator. There are no special glasses or equipment required and yet we are able to have a personal, intimate, heart to heart, spirit to spirit RIGHT here relationship with God. Oh but one day…

Ahh…but one day the reality of God and Heaven will be an involvement of our total being.  Better than 3D.  Better than IMAX.  Better than any experience of God on earth by our bodies unable to withstand His presence.  We will be with Him.

What a joy THAT will be!

Faye

Slumped Ears

The theraeus lists the following words as some synonyms for slumped: drooping, wilting, flabby and floppy. Granted “slumped ears” isn’t a term heard every day and honestly I’d never heard it at all until I misheard something my daughter said. (She said slim beard, I heard slumped ears!) Be that as it is, the term gave several people some laughter and me an idea. Do we listen to God with slumped ears?

Jesus is recorded saying in Matthew 13:3b-9, 13b-23 “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty more times what was sown. He who has ears, let him hear.” When Jesus disciples asked him why he spoke to the people in parables Jesus replied, “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah*: ‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’ But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous men long to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it. Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away. The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful. But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” (*Isaiah 6:9-10)

While the terminology “slumped ears” isn’t found in the Bible, I draw the parallel between ears that are slumped spiritually as this: ones along the rocky paths where God’s word is snatched away before their droopy spiritual condition can hear, ones where God’s word is barely received because of their slumped spiritual condition so the word doesn’t sink all the way in and root into the heart and mind, and the slumped spiritual ears that are on humanity whose hearts and minds are ensnared in the worldly views of success, right and wrong and are quickly overpowered. Ears that are not slumped but perked up and listening, open, allow God’s word to enter, be heard and root deeply into hearts and minds so their hearers lives are changed are then able to be used by God to share His word to other ears, other hearers.

How many of us fit into each category? Are our slumped spiritual ears bouncing the word of God off as seeds on a rocky path? Are they hearing on the edges but so slumped the word can’t reach our hearts deeply enough to produce a harvestable crop? Are our slumped ears bent over and flapping in the wind unable to survive among the noises of the world? Or are our ears open? Cleaned out. Attentive to the message of our Heavenly Father?

Faye

Oops! Jar

A few weeks ago my husband and I discussed some new family guidelines for our three member family. We were trying to find a way that would help all of us remember things to do to help us function sweeter together as a team. We came up with the Oops! Jar. After a family meeting where everyone got to have a say in the guidelines, reasons behind and solutions we implemented our plan.

Whenever one of us forgets to do something, like put dirty clothes in the laundry baskets or wipe the toothpaste off of the sink then we have to put a quarter into the Oops! Jar. Then when we go on a vacation we will use the funds to help pay for something we all want to do.

Since this is still “new” to us I won’t tell you how it’s working, although I will say we need a lot more quarters than usual around the house these days!

If I had an Oops! Jar for myself on this blog I would have quite a tidy sum of quarters jangling around inside. There are some “rules” of blogging I haven’t adhered to very well. So, although I won’t be depositing a physical quarter into fvbf’s
Oops! Jar
I will offer virtual ones to you my readers.

  • Sometimes I drop off the blogging field for days, even weeks at a time.
  • I am no computer whiz and when I had to purchase a new laptop unexpectedly with Windows 8 and upgraded Word products it threw me for quite a loop. Rather than deal with it, I’ve chosen to bury my head under the laptop and try to wish it to work like what I was familiar with.
  • No back-up! Yes, I know I should back-up my computer files and I was once regular at doing so but, I grew neglectful and when my old laptop crashed – yes, you got it, I lost work in process and that made me annoyed with myself so I just didn’t deal with it.
  • When I am blogging regularly I don’t post my blog before 9:00 a.m. like the “suggestive guidelines” tell me.
  • My writing will win me no grammar awards I am sure!
  • I’m sure there are others and ignorance isn’t bliss so for those I also offer an Oops! Jar contribution.

Now, with those Oops! Jar confessions accounted for here are some for the personal blogging guidelines God and I hammered out when I began to publish my blogs that I’ve violated too.

  • I’m not always willing to give my readers “the rest of the story”. Especially since I was forced into taking disability. As a Christian I have wanted to handle it better, allowing God to show grace through me, to forgive and to push on to the rest of my life. I have struggled in ways I have no words to describe these last six months. I have chosen to hide away at home on Sunday’s so I could avoid admitting to my fellow sisters and brothers in Christ that my faith is taking a beating, that I have been asking “Why?” of God and not trusting. Now there are some who may comment that I’ve been way more forthcoming than they have desire to know. I respect that opinion if it is yours.
  • I need to forgive my father and his role he played in leading to my having an amputation AGAIN. That is difficult for me to admit but I’ve allowed resentment and bitterness to interfere and become a stumbling block AGAIN. This is on me, not him, for I am the one who forgives, leaves it at Jesus’ feet and picks it up again.

Finally let me remind myself and you my readers that I am no formally educated person in theology, doctrine, religious beliefs. The views I offer are of a layperson who is a female, a mother, a wife, an amputee with complications, a wrestler with depression and anxiety, a want-to-be writer, artistic painting dabbler and a flawed human being with a relationship with Jesus Christ that is not always what it should be because I can’t “surrender all”. I want this blog to be “real” and sometimes gritty revealing honest emotions, faith struggles and life lessons. Here I hope people read “real” and by doing so, find God to be real as well.

For now it is way past posting time and my coffee grows cold. Until next time dear readers and friends!

Faye

A Prayer for Healing

Abba:

For those Abba who are moving through their day functioning, feeling unwell, I ask Your healing grace upon them.

For those Abba who are at home sick in bed, I ask Your healing touch upon them.

For those Abba who suffer illness, sickness, and disease, in poverty, mire and debris; I ask Your healing mercy to surround them.

For those Abba who are in hospital beds, for surgeries, illnesses, complications and more, I ask Your healing grace upon them.

For those Abba in facilities of all different kinds, whose health seems to ebb and flow, I ask Your healing touch upon them.

For those Abba whose injuries are of heart, spirit and mind; I ask Your healing mercy to surround them.

For those Abba whose names I could and cannot call, but whose lives hang between heaven and earth; I ask Your healing grace to enfold them.

For those Abba in need of Your healing right now, I ask You grant them the healing You have planned upon them.

For those Abba whose healing will come through knowledge You’ve allowed to mankind, I ask Your healing now upon them.

For those Abba whose healing will come through miraculous means, I ask Your healing touch upon them.

For those Abba whose healing will come when they pass Heaven’s gates, I ask Your healing mercy to surround them.

For those Abba – I ask Your healing to enfold them, surround them, draw them, cleanse them, open them, cure them, be in and with them.

Whatever their need.

Grant Your healing to them.

Amen

Love Anyway

Commitments.
Vows.
Promises.
Guarantees.
100%.
Forever.
Always.
Unending.

Something our pastor said one Sunday morning stays with me.  He recounted couples who came to him seeking marital guidance when one or both partners tell him, “I just don’t love them anymore.”

Our pastor replies, “Love anyway” for fact is that feelings change.  Commitments, promises, vows made before God do not.

Act in love.  Speak in love.  Do in love.  Keep loving when the feeling is worn so you think it gone.

There are extremes that due to human involvement require exceptions.  Personally I think in cases of physical abuse, repeative adultery or emotional, spiritual, mental or financial harm, then breaking the vows of marriage by divorce are necessary.

But from what I witness it isn’t these big rocks that shatter a marriage it is little pebbles, grains of sand. 

Indifference.
Apathy.
Fatigue.
Fear.
Worry.
Misplaced priorities.

Further we all seem to struggle with an “entitlement issue”.  In other words “I deserve to be (fill in the blank).”

I want to be in love and be happy.

I want to be in love and my spouse do with and for me what I want, how I want, and when I want it.

I want a marriage where we both give 50/50, equal contributions.

I want THAT relationship.

Aha…is the grass always greener?

Few relationships fail due to one partner alone.  Multiple relationships survive the hurricane because one partner digs in, stays on their knees and loves anyway.

Which is one of the messages from the movie Fireproof.  Act in love.  Speak in love.  Do in love.

If your marriage is in trouble then be logical.  Seek help.  Working through the sand and pebbles makes the rock slides survival possible.

Paul by God’s inspiration, in 1 Corinthians 13 records for us what love is and is not.  Love does not quit because the journey is tough.

Lust ends. Control shifts. Money comes and goes. Health improves and declines. Bodies age. Opinions differ. Children grow up.

Love survives.

Love does not quit.

Love anyway.

-Faye