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Lie vs. Truth: Steepek or Lyle

image (Original photo by Brad Gerrard, viewable on flickr Photostream. All rights reserved.)

This post originally appeared on fvbf in July of 2013 when it made rounds on many social media sites.  It is making the rounds again.  I received a comment from Willie Lyle regarding this blog post.  I feel compelled once again, to share the truth not the lie. –Donna

A story just over 48 hours old is making the social media and email realms.  Pictured above is the photograph circulated as being Pastor Jeremiah Steepek, a newly elected pastor of a congregation of 7,000-10,000 members.  Sight unseen, apparently except for the church elders, Pastor Steepek reportedly went into his new church disguised as a homeless man.  He was largely ignored and even asked to sit in the back of the sanctuary.  The elders introduced him and Pastor Steepek’s first sermon shamed his congregation.  It makes for a potent reminder we are to actively serve and love one another. Sadly, Pastor Stecpek is not a real, verifiable person.  When I read the story I found a few red flags about it’s truth.  So I checked. The picture is of an actual homeless man, taken by Brad Gerrard in Richmond and posted by Gerrard on flickr Photostream and obviously used in a case of fraud. Whoever wrote and first posted the false story very well may have based it on a true story out of Clarksville, Tennessee.  The newly appointed pastor of Sanyo United Methodist Church was under a huge tree on the church lawn his first Sunday.  He had spent a week living as a homeless person. image (Photo from June 23, 2013 report on LeafChronicle, all rights reserved.) His 200 member congregation witnessed his daughter and daughter-in-law help him transform back to himself during his sermon.  Twenty of his church’s members offered him assistance when he was posing as a homeless person.  This pastor’s name is Willie Lyle and his sermon though meant to move Christians to action was not, as I understand it, about shame. In the fictional account Pastor Steepek also wants change, good change, and the author of his story agrees.  The real man and Pastor Lyle wanted change too, equally good change. Which of these two stories shows real hope?  Points out a real plight for thousands of people?  Why was the real story so less impressionable? How many of us read this first story and felt a flicker of self-righteousness?  How many of us had a feeling that, “…they got what they deserved”? Why does the first story become an social media sensation in 48 hours and the second story not? When the mighty fall they fall loudly don’t they?  When our hands in the cookie jar we see the speck of dust in brothers eye but not the planks in our own, right? -Donna (a.k.a. Faye)

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Lie vs. Truth #2: Words Betray the Veteran

What was passed along to my Facebook notifications was this:


“When I first saw this I thought
the girl was one of his daughters.
Green and white shirt, black tee shirt, …
gray pants and tennis shoes.
How many people know that President Bush
hosts a few Wounded Warriors at his ranch
10 weekends every year?
Every year! All expenses paid!
Not what you expect to see, huh?
There he is, dancing with a
“Wounded Warrior”
who has lost a leg but still dances.
I guarantee we will NEVER
see a story or picture like this
from NBC, CBS, ABC,
The New York Times, or The Washington Post.”

 

 

 

 

Truthfully, what made me look twice at the post was the line, “There he is, dancing with a “Wounded Warrior” who has lost a leg but still dances”. The implication that former President George W. Bush was consenting to dance with a woman wearing a prosthesis, as if he was bestowing upon her some great honor he’d not usually lower himself to do.

It irked me and pricked my sensitivity as I am an amputee and pity is something I detest. Really the un-named woman in this photograph is certainly not the reason for the internet pass-along. But her presence is what screamed at me and a few clicks of my laptop mouse soon revealed a lot of truth behind the photo and a “pity dance” was not one of them.

The first line of the post could be true, the writer clearly says this is their opinion, their first thought when seeing the photograph. The second sentence, “Green and white shirt, black tee shirt,…gray pants and tennis shoes” call your attention to the attire of the man in the photo at which point you are to notice the man is the former President of the United States, George W. Bush. He’s dressed so casually because he’s removed himself from the spotlight (which is true, he doesn’t seek public attention) which sets the reader up for the good work President Bush is supposedly doing behind the photo.

Per this short post President Bush hosts a “few Wounded Warriors at his ranch 10 weekends every year” “all expenses paid”! You do the math, 10 weekends a year is one weekend 10 of the 12 months of the year. That’s a lot of entertaining of wounded veterans.

Our men and women in the military give a lot to our abilities to remain a free country. But, even if this didn’t have a veteran involved in the story or a former president of this country, why stretch the truth? Why not just tell the truth like it is? The lie sure sounds good. The words attached will rile up the blood of some. It’s a reminder that the truth isn’t told. But there’s various versions of the “story” according to the Truth or Fiction web site. All with remnants of truth, none accurate.

In this case, as written about in Lie vs. Truth: Steepek or Lyle published on this blog, the truth is better than the fiction so why not post it?

The woman in this photograph is 1st Lieutenant Melissa Stockwell, US Army Retired. Leading a convoy in Baghdad a roadside bomb exploded and she became the first female to lose a limb in the Iraq War. Dancing is truly one of the little things this amazing veteran does since retiring from the military.

The Wounded Warrior Project has had her on their board since 2005. She is a motivational speaker for other veterans who have lost limbs or have other challenges from incidents in the war. In 2010, 2011 and 2012 she competed for the United States in the ITU Triathlon World Championships, taking the gold in all three years in the Tri2. This is just the beginning of her accomplishments.

As for the picture, on April 26-28, 2012 the George W. Bush Presidential Center hosted a 100K mountain bike ride in Palo Duro Canyon State Park. As part of the festivities after the ride 1st Lt Stockwell and former President George W. Bush danced. Someone took their picture. Now this post and email “pass along” post accompanying the picture dishonors two people, Stockwell and Bush.

Turns out the former president hosts this 100K, three-day extreme mountain bike ride annually. He does a lot of “good deeds” since his years in the White House have passed and he tries to stay out of the spotlight but today the greatest injustice is the one this post does to the first lieutenant.

The former President George W. Bush is pictured here, also with 1st Lt Stockwell, shortly after the 100 K was completed. (Photo from Truth of Fiction web site, photographer unknown or not listed.)

Here is a remarkable woman, strong in every way, inspiring others to push beyond their limits regardless of their challenges and she’s used as fodder for a “pass along” social media post to highlight the good deeds of a former United States president whose time in the spotlight is over at his own choice. This is what I find most offensive about this “story”.

The truth would make an even more remarkable report and social media again chooses to pass along the lie. Sometimes, though I know human nature is fickle and Paul tells Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:3-4 that the time will come when men will only want to hear what pleases their ears, not sound doctrine, I never thought Paul’s words would also be talking about the same ailment in every day news.

“For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”

–Donna

 

 

No More Crying “Wolf!”

There is one of Aesop’s Fables titled, The Boy who cried Wolf (although it has also appeared under other names through the centuries). To paraphrase the fable the village shepherd boy knows that if he calls out “Wolf! Wolf! The wolf is chasing the sheep!” the villagers of the town will come rushing to his aid. It is a safety precaution, a signal given so the boy knows he will not be alone to face a wolf attacking the sheep. Only this naughty boy cannot resist the temptation to use the signal cry to the ease his boredom. He does this not once but twice and the villagers all come running with angry and fearful faces only to find the boy laughing. He is warned not to repeat the prank both times (and in some versions of the fable it is more than two times) or the next time the villagers will not come thinking he is again lying.

Unknown to the shepherd boy the wolf has witnessed his pranks and heard the villager’s warnings. Only the wolf realizes villagers aren’t lying to the boy, they really won’t come when he calls again. So he makes his move upon the flock. Of course the boy sounds the alarm, “Wolf! Wolf! The wolf is chasing the sheep!” only the villager’s think he is lying again and they do not rush to help him.

At the end of the day when the boy does not return to town with the sheep the villager’s go to check on him. Here again the fable’s ending has differed through the years. Sometimes the boy is sitting, sobbing the sheep scattered and lost and when he asks why the villagers didn’t believe him when he used the signal. Sadly he is told it was because he had lied previously and so even when he told the truth no one believed him. Other times the boy and the sheep are all eaten by the wolf and the villagers use the event to warn their children about the dangers of lying. Either version has the same message, when you lie you risk not being believed even when you tell the truth. Sometimes the price you pay is one of life or death.

In John 14:1-4 Jesus is talking to His disciples and he says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

The entire book of Revelation was written by John in solitary confinement upon the island of Patmos is about the second coming of Jesus Christ. To John in Revelation 22:7 Jesus spoke these words, “Behold, I am coming soon! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in this book.” In fact in Revelation 22 in verses 7 through 20 Jesus tells John 3 times He is coming soon.

In Mark 13:5-31 Jesus tells Peter, John, James and Andrew the signs of the ending of the age and His second return. And He warned them in verse 5, “…Watch out that no one deceives you. Many will come in my name claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many.” In verses 32-37 Jesus tells them that the day and time of His coming back are unknown but they are to keep watch.

There are more verses with similar if not the exact same words, promises and warnings. Despite the fact Jesus tells us that the day and time of His second coming is unknown to anyone but God Himself through the centuries multiple upon multiple people have claimed to know this information. They read the prophecies and they allow themselves to be misled and they in turn mislead others and the world watches as they are proven wrong and the people of the world laugh or shake their heads, pick up their daily lives and go on. Such events don’t even get as much attention as they used to for again and again, like the shepherd boy, the signal cry has been sounded for a false alarm.

Only Jesus coming back to earth again is real. This is no fable, parable or story made up to teach children (or adults) how to live choosing good things, to be good people. The Bible, the prophecies within it, the record of Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, ascension and how He will come again is real. Within it the signs that point toward the ending of time are given. I can read them, just in Mark 13 alone and see how many are happening all around us today. I wonder, as are many, how soon is the second coming going to be?

The world seems to be asleep as we attempt to evangelize its population. Are they asleep or are they apathetic towards the whole idea of Jesus returning to earth because it has been so long since Jesus was here the first time and made His warnings and because of those who have allowed themselves to be misled and then mislead others? Have we as a society become like the villagers and though we hear the cry we think it is the cry of a prankster, a liar?

Add to this the fact that Christians have walked along wider paths than the narrow one that leads to Jesus, getting distracted and lead astray from their mission to take the word to others so that sometimes it is hard to tell a Christian from a non-Christian. The deceptions of the Devil have always been crafty and capable of deceiving anyone.

But it is time for Christians to shake off the grip of the world, get on our knees and seek our mission and rebuke Satan in Jesus’ name! It is time to remind the world, Jesus is coming soon!

Sounding the alarm,

-Faye

R-E-G-A-R-D-L-E-S-S

image

Regardless will we cling to Our Lord
Even when the price is high?
Gone the freedoms we’ve always known
Arrested and convicted will we stand in one accord?
Realities of the life we’ve known
Destroyed comforts and illusions
Left to the filth we’ve ignored so long
Encased in the lies we’ve never outgrown.
Silenced or we face our death or be
Stopped by the fear of losing family.

Regardless of the cost to us
Regardless will we stand for what America left?

Will we serve Him no matter cost
Regardless of the pain?
Will we rise our hands to say ‘Here send me’
When the front lines say ‘All seems lost’?
Heed this voice of warning now
Share the message far and wide
Regardless now we must pay the price
To serve God not man, wealth or brow.
Jesus bore the bloody path for us
Paul knew the whips, stones and chains
Bonhoeffer died to stand for Christ
Will I be true to God, will I honor His trust?

Regardless.

Regardless!

-Faye

Noted and Named! Are They Really Handicap Accessible?

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The American’s With Disabilities Act means well I’m sure. It’s intentions are good and it also means to make prejudice against those with disabilities difficult at least. Businesses, public places, churches, schools, health care facilities, sidewalks-and more are supposed to be handicap accessible. Employers cannot hire or fire based solely on disability, having one or needing accommodations.

The letter of the law may be being met, but reality is that far to few truly are accessible for the handicap. As a wheelchair bound, disabled person it is my personal experience to note and name the following:

-The Gadsden Psychiatric Service office restroom I just visited is not.
-The weight of, and arrangement of, the interior doors of the oldest social services agency in Birmingham, Alabama is not.
-The restrooms at Jim-n-Nicks and Lone Star Steak House in Trussville are not.
-The sidewalks around the corners of 20th Street, 14th and 15th Avenues and Richard Arrington Boulevard as well as others in Birmingham are not.
-The aisles of any Dollar General or Dollar Tree in the Pinson, Remlap, Locust Fork, Cleveland and Oneonta areas are not.
-The parking lot at the building housing the Montclair location of Alabama Psychiatric Services are not.
-The restrooms at Alabama Psychiatric Services on Acton Road are not.
-Over half of the aisles in Big Lots and Michaels in Trussville are not.
-None of the actual rides (though they are for the handicap capable of stepping up, down or over small ledges) but for those needing to transfer wheelchair to seat at Disney World they are not.
-Many bathrooms in the handicap accessible hotel rooms are accessible for those needing secure, stable wheelchair to shower bench transfer are, in reality, accessible.
-Many restaurants in the Trussville, Pinson, Oneonta areas are difficult for the wheelchair bound patron and surrounding diners to have enjoyable seating arrangements including Applebees and Jim-n-Nicks in Trussville.

Doing just the following doesn’t make reality handicap accessibility possible:
-Putting handrails on a bathroom wall.
-Designating a parking place.
-Widening a doorway.
-Providing cheap and/or not replacing worn bath benches.
-Just increasing the stall size in bathrooms.
-Removing a chair at a restaurant table leaving a wheelchair bound person to repeatedly have servers and other diners tripping over wheelchair wheels.
-Providing a handicap restroom in a store.

As a wheelchair bound handicap person I can offer this suggestion to business owners; get a manual wheelchair and try getting through or enjoying your store/facilities for a few days. It will be a true learning experience.

Since I am naming names bravo to:
-Regal Cinemas in Trussville, both theater and bathroom facilities are great PLUS a free pass to the movie for a companion for the handicap.
-Christian Family Store in Gadsden where an employee was already working to make the aisles accessible for the wheelchair bound when we entered.
-WalMart and Target who provide electric shopping carts for disabled patrons.
-Major amusement parks, including Disney World and Dollywood who provide electronic scooters for rent to those needing them.

-Faye

Necklines, Hemlines & Blocks

As a Minister to Youth a couple decades ago I would find myself reminding some of our female youth that when they wore short skirts to church then went bounding up the stairs things would show they didn’t mean to be seen. I always felt as if I was speaking strictly for my own benefit for repeatedly they would say, “Miss Faye in church men shouldn’t be looking!”

I would counter with, “Of course they shouldn’t, but frankly men are visual creatures and when you offer them visual treats their eyes are going to be drawn to them, in church or not. Plus, do you really want males in church or out of church to see what you are displaying?”

Fast forward a decade plus and I am having a similar conversation with my niece over an eighth grade graduation dress, then a senior prom dress. Again, it seemed like a useless conversation.

With our own daughter my husband and I started early to correct behavior and to teach her modesty. We’ve tried to instill in her not that her body is something to be ashamed of or that is “dirty” but that there are special parts of her body that deserve special consideration and that are private. It has not always been easy to teach modesty to a young girl in this day and time.

Fashion has seemed to dictate clothes for girls that are as revealing as their adult counterparts. We often struggle with finding appropriate clothing that is going to allow our daughter to feel good about herself in the way God would want. Low necklines, short hem lines, tight fits and thin material. Plus, the lack of garments such as slips available for girls!

Yet with our daughter the message seems to have gotten through. At least she knows what we will say yes to and no to when it comes to her clothing and when she is looking at what characters on television or what models in magazines are wearing she remarks, “Geez, didn’t their Mama tell them to put some clothes on?” Even the men in her life she expects to be appropriately dressed. When we passed a Jeep full of bare chested males whose bodies boasted tattoos and evidence of working out she yelled (inside the car), “Go put some shirts on! No one wants to look at your naked self or your tattoos.”

Sadly in church this Sunday I wanted to repeat my conversation with the youth of long ago, only with women of all ages.

The young lady who’s long in the back, short in the front dress that was made of material so thin you could see the color of her underwear when she walked across the front of the church.

The mature woman in the choir loft whose breasts were showing.

The lady in the front row of the congregation the men were having to look anywhere but in order not to get an eyeful.

The teens in skimpy spaghetti strapped tops.

The teenage boys and girls in jeans so tight I wouldn’t be amazed to learn that they had to soak in baby oil to get into them.

This wasn’t an unusual Sunday either, which makes it more of an issue. I remember the young woman who came to sing our special music one Sunday whose dress would have more appropriately labeled a sweater and had males all over the church blushing or gawking.

Yes, men have a responsibility to keep their thoughts pure and to not lust after females. Yes, they should be focused on worship in church. Yes they are responsible for their own decisions, actions, thoughts, feelings, impulses and sins.

But we women have responsibilities too and I believe one of those is to be modest in our clothing choices. Instead of referring you to what Paul in 1 Timothy 2:9 had to say directly about women’s clothing choices or Peter in 1 Peter 3:3 I want to draw your attention to I Corinthians 8:9 where Paul in discussing the eating of food scarified to idols but which I think can be aptly applied to my point.

“Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak.”

Yes, I propose in the area of lust for the members of the opposite gender we all have our weak points. And knowing that I believe we all have a responsibility NOT to try to be a stumbling block to anyone. For if we are daring to dress with less modesty in the choice of clothing we have to go to worship the Lord our God in, WHAT are we choosing to wear outside the church?

The church is not a body of believers who are perfect, it is a body of believers who are sinners saved by grace who join together to learn about the Word of God, draw strength and encouragement from our church family and then to go into the world and tell others about Jesus and how He has changed our lives and can change theirs.

The world does not share those common goals.

Before anyone gets riled up thinking I am calling for a return to women covering themselves head to toe behind burlap sacks that is totally untrue. All I am saying is that we can choose to dress in ways that are attractive WITHOUT our breasts showing, our underwear being revealed or every curve or lack thereof we have being broadcast to anyone whose eyes happen to look our way. Along with that must also come an attitude change. If we want men to think of us as intelligent, kind, strong women capable of anything why would we want to advertise ourselves as objects for their sexual impulses? If we don’t want people to talk about how our clothing doesn’t fit us well, we might be wise to think modestly and wear clothing in the size appropriate for our bodies EVEN if that number doesn’t make you feel happy or that hemline make you feel young.

Choosing modesty,

-Faye

Of All the Men I Loved Before


Today’s post touches on a subject of much controversy in the Christian church, homosexuality. There is no need to respond with the multitude of Biblical passages concerning God’s view of this topic. Both Mitch, the man in the story, and myself know all of them. Instead this post is intended to put a face on the controversy and perhaps help us all not only understand but find a common ground to work towards healing in and of all parts of this issue. It is a true story, one of my own, which I believe may surprise a few of my readers but I did change the name of this man to Mitch to protect not his identity but his privacy.

God brought my spouse into my life when I was 35, I was 36 when we married. We’ve been married 16 years after only a four month courtship. We had much in common from the beginning; a love of and for God, bad examples of marriage in our parents, music, and a desire to have a successful marriage, just to name a few. Before God, our pastor and quite a few of our congregation we vowed to love one, and to remain married to one another until death did us part.

Our promise to one another every single day, whether spoken verbally or not has been, divorce is not an option. We’ve had our share of difficult patches. But we have worked through it, together, getting whatever professional help we needed as individuals or as a couple to help. Today we share a home with our almost twelve year old daughter, the ups and downs of life with one of us disabled and the other in a career that keeps them away from home for long hours and at inconvenient times. I love my husband. He is a man who strives to please God and who takes his relationship with God very seriously. He is my desire. He is solid and dependable and kind. I can think of nothing that I’ve ever asked of, or from him, that he hasn’t moved mountains to provide. Whenever I am in the hospital he moves in right along beside me, taking care of me, holding my hand and in the time his job takes him away as anxious to return to me as I am to have him return. This man has even learned to wash my hair using five gallon buckets or trash cans (clean of course) and trash can liners to prevent spills while I lay with my head hanging off the edge of the bed. Even between the time we have called 9-1-1 and the time they arrived.

The only times my mind ever wanders back to the men I dated before my husband are if someone else brings them up or my daughter mentions something that reminds me of a lesson I learned the hard way that I hope she hears to save herself the heartache. There is no one I’d like to “catch up with” or talk to again. Except Mitch.

Mitch and I dated, hung out, and drove one another crazy during our college days. He was initially a friend of my brothers and normally my brother’s dislike of us sharing friends would have been enough to keep me away from being Mitch’s friend but this time was different. I really liked Mitch. He and I clicked.

Mitch was Christian, cute and kind, serious and funny, reserved, quiet, shy, and introvert for the most part and could play the piano like nobody’s business! Boy could he make those ebony and ivory keys dance. My best memories of us are of me just sitting near him while he rehearsed or he just played for the love of playing. He didn’t mind when I sang along and he didn’t hesitate to follow me when my mood took the music and notes into other styles than what they were written.

Music was Mitch’s dream then and he wanted to go to a private college near the town my brother and I grew up in and he got his start on his dream. When he was accepted there as a student we helped him move into his housing assignment. I knew I was going to miss Mitch like crazy but I also knew I’d get to see him if he went to college so close to my home. I don’t think three weeks went by and classes were just really gearing up at both colleges when I looked up and there was Mitch. He was back!

We drove around in Mitch’s car to aught up. You would have thought he’d been gone a few years instead of just a few weeks by the amount of talking that went on. My brother had a thing about back seats and he still wasn’t happy about how close Mitch and I were, so he had claimed “shot gun”. For once I didn’t let it irritate me, I sat in the back behind Mitch and all through the drive Mitch would catch my eyes in the rearview mirror until it was too dark to see. I was just content to have him back. Finally we pulled up to all go our separate ways and my brother asked Mitch a question, “So, why did you really give it up?”

Mitch turned on the interior light, and waited until I met his eyes in the rearview mirror and said, “What I love is here.” And my heart stopped beating and the air left my lungs and then I’d never been that happy before. He came back for me!

That one night I expected a fairy tale ending. That one night I built castles in the air and wore rose colored glasses. But the fairy tale shattered.

Sadly Mitch and I just couldn’t make it. Not for lack of love but perhaps for a lack of the right kind of love. As perfect as Mitch was in my eyes he was waging a war within himself I couldn’t contend with, or compete with. My funny, cute, marvelous piano playing man was gay.

The music died, the spotlight flickered out and I was left alone on an empty stage before an empty audience. Not that I didn’t try to make being straight more appealing but some things are beyond our ability to influence. Frankly, Mitch and I drove one another crazy with an on again/off again friendship sort of more kind of relationship.

I tried to understand. My mind grasped the events that led Mitch down the path of homosexuality but my heart was shattered. Of all the people to do this to me it crushed me that it was Mitch! Mitch the guy who said he loved me in front of my brother! Mitch the man who could fill my heart and soul with music! Mitch the man who remembered everything I told him even down to that I wanted a gold chain when I graduated from college and bought me one like I’d never seen before, or seen again. Mitch who would grin knowingly when I’d date another guy! Perhaps I was too hurt but I think the main problem was I just didn’t understand.

Mitch and I lost touch. I moved to Virginia and once he called me and said he was thinking of moving up there to be near me. He didn’t call again.

Meanwhile I was dating other men. A few of whom would also make that confession that would start with, “Faye, I have to tell you something…” and I would see Mitch’s face and hear his voice.

I learned to be kinder. I learned to be more understanding and more forgiving. I learned to treasure these men’s friendships. I learned it was time to let them go when they would say, “Faye, if I were straight I’d marry you.” For they weren’t straight. And in my heart of hearts I knew if I wasn’t “woman enough” for Mitch to change I wasn’t for any of these friends either. Besides none of them were my cute, funny, kind, piano playing man Mitch and I didn’t love a single one of them.

After a few years I just stopped dating. I focused on the healing I needed from my own childhood burdens and battles. I told God when He was ready for me to get married He’d have to hit me upside the head with the man because I was through with dating. Shortly thereafter I met my husband to be.

In the last four or five years though I’ve wondered more about what became of Mitch. I would hear things now and then but nothing concrete, nothing certain. Then through all of the social media we have today I located him. We talked a couple times and typical Mitch, he dropped out of my life again. Recently we’ve talked a few times and the connection seems steadier yet only time will tell.

I don’t have a deep insight to Mitch’s life now. We’ve stuck to the current lives we’re living without diving into the past. Should we have a conversation that covers all the old ground all I would want to say to him is that I’m sorry. I’m sorry I wasn’t a better friend to him then. I’m sorry I never really understood his battle. I’m sorry for the hurt he’s had and the pain he’s carried. I’m sorry we haven’t been a part of one another’s lives. I’m sorry he gave up playing the piano.

Mitch has his own insights into not only our friendship/not a relationship but not just a friendship and of course into his sexuality. I hope one day he’ll share them with me. But in his time, not mine. I sent him this blog before posting it for his approval. So I break no promise of secrecy in sharing.

Meanwhile I will pray for him and remember there are numerous faces behind the word homosexuality and all the controversy. One of those faces is my friend, Mitch.

-Faye

Hope in the Hands and Heart of God

As an amputee, now confined to a wheelchair, there are some things I count among the cost of losing my leg that are connected to worship with our Body of Believers:

  • Standing to sing in church
  • Being able to see above the heads of those seated in front of me so I can sing seated down
  • Kneeling in prayer

In church this past Sunday morning we sang “I Can Only Imagine” as recorded by Mercy Me. This is the first Sunday we’ve met to worship since the terrible Boston Marathon bombing. So when this song asks “…will I dance before You Jesus or in awe of You be still…will I stand in Your presence or to my knees will I fall…” many images rush to my mind Suddenly I was overwhelmed with the words of this poem below.

“Yes! Before Him I will bow

Fall upon my face, forget the crowd!

Yes! In His presence knees to the ground

Downcast eyes to see His feet!

Yes! I will dance for Him at last

Forgotten cannot of this earthly life!

Yes! My legs will leap and twirl

Whole hearted, whole bodied in Heaven found!

Yes! I’ll run to meet Him like the wind

Two feet, two legs freed of earthly pain!

Yes! Yes! Yes! I will kneel!

Yes! Yes! Yes! I will dance!

Yes! Yes! Yes! I will run!

Yes! Yes! Yes! Before Jesus my King!

Leap legs! Dance feet! Kneel!

No longer crippled by earthly woes!

Yes! Kneel! Yes! Dance! Yes! Run!

Yes! He’s waiting and Yes! He knows!

My heart goes out to those in the Boston Marathon bombing who are suddenly without legs, arms, feet, hands. I know the drastic change in their lives. Join with me in prayer that they will reach the place that they will be comforted by the facts of what Heaven will bring. No matter the outcome of any trail, any punishment, nothing will make up for the loss of your limb. As nothing can make up for the loss of life. This one suspect’s death did not restore any life. This remaining suspect’s imprisonment or even his life will not restore whole bodies to their victims.

Could it be that the ones responsible die three times it would not be enough.

Could it be that the ones responsible lose their limbs multiple times over, it would not be enough.

A billion dollars paid to the victim’s families and still their son and daughters are gone from this earth. It cannot make that seem right.

For some things there is no justice.

For some things there is no way to right a wrong.

For some things “I’m sorry” is not enough.

Such is where these victims and their families are…it is a difficult place…it is a dark valley…but their hope lies not in the legal system but in the hands and heart of God.

In Christ’s Love & Grace,

Faye

“…a time to weep…a time to mourn…”*

*Scripture reference: Ecclesiastes 3:4

It is difficult to know what to say to someone who endures any part of the bombings at the Boston Marathon yesterday. To the families of the 3 who lost their lives in this senseless act there are no words to bring back their loved ones. Nothing one can do to allow them a final goodbye to the person they loved and not merely the body that held that person’s spirit.

What can one say to the still increasing number of injured? I especially identify with those who lost limbs being an amputee myself. How drastically their lives and the lives of their families and friends were changed in mere seconds when those bombs exploded! For what cause will these people live with for the rest of their lives missing a limb?

To those who were eyewitnesses to the carnage and the mayhem during and after the bombings what can one say? No words will ever erase those images, ever wipe away those memories.

As a nation we will again react and feel the shock waves of yesterday’s act of violence against innocent people. There will again be the hesitation where we pause and wonder “could it happen here?” The answer is yes, yes it could.

As individuals, especially those directly involved, there is no doubt the question of why did this happen is running through their minds? What motivated someone or more than one someone to do such a thing? Theories abound I’m sure. But even if we learn the truth, which is likely not to make sense to us, will it be enough? Is it ever?

There is a quote I wrote in my journal that came to my mind as I read the Scriptures yesterday and this morning. It was said by Maryanna, a character in The Guardian by Beverly Lewis, “I’ve learned that sometimes I have to give up my right to know and simply believe that God’s knowing is enough. Not that I don’t want to question. Ach I surely do.”

It is difficult to arrive at that point when the pain is so fresh and so deep. It is difficult to arrive at that point when the wounds are scarred over too.

Ephesians 3:16-21 reads, “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you being rooted and established in love, may have power together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge– that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.** Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask, or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (**emphasis is mine)

May this love of Christ indeed strengthen us in this time of mourning and of rebuilding lives. For the living must go on living for life does not stop for the rest of us when it ceases to be for an individual.

“Abba Father, You are Holy, You are Righteous, and You are Emmanuel. We need You now O Mighty God in this time of mourning and questioning. We need You now as lives are forever changed. We need Your Spirit to comfort and strengthen us. We need Your love to hold us up. Abba shield us from more pain and suffering if it is Your will as people recover. For each victim Abba I pray Your will to be accomplished and I know You do not will anyone to suffer from such acts of violence. For the person or persons responsible for such an act of carnage Lord we pray Your redemption of their soul and that Your justice will be done. Amen.”

-Faye

Rooting for the Cheat

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The Oxford American Dictionary defines passion as being:

  1. “strong and barely controllable emotion”
  2. “a state or outburst of such emotion”
  3. “intense sexual love”
  4. “an intense desire or enthusiasm for something”
  5. “a thing arousing enthusiasm”
  6. “(the Passion) the suffering and death of Jesus (a narrative of this from any of the Gospels or a musical setting of any of these narratives)”

One of the clichés’ often heard during motivational speeches, seminars, events, graduations is something like, “What is your passion?  That is your key to success!  Go do it!”  Nike had a successful ad campaign several years ago with the slogan, “Just do it!”®”.  Any competitive event from which a victor is proclaimed has someone attributing the success to the competitors’ passion.  A common characteristic for most of humanity is the natural instinct to be the best at something.  We want to win!  We want to win badly!  Why?  Because we have passion!  The one with the most passion wins!

Passion in some form or the other is the magical ingredient.  Skill, ability, talent are only a small part of winning a competition if we have passion!

The first four definitions of passion are about it being an emotion, a feeling.  The fifth about something (or someone) that creates a feeling or emotion so again, it’s about our motivation  which is often based on a feeling.  There’s nothing wrong or sinful about that as long as the emotion doesn’t lead you to do something sinful.  What about when your passion to win causes you to cheat?

Smiling BakerI am a fan of The Next Great Baker© and The Cake Boss© seen on TLC in the United States.  Both are supposed to be reality shows and both center on baking and cake decorating to the extreme.  The first features 12 contestants who compete to win the title of The Next Great Baker© and with that comes $100,000 and the opportunity to be employed by Carlos’ Bakery working for The Cake Boss©, among other prizes.  This season’s finale was aired last night.  Right up until the end I was questioning many things about this season’s shows.  Specifically my awareness of my own uncomfortable prick of conscience over of whether or not the two finalists and eventually the winner are contestants whose performances were greatly aided by cheating in one form or the other.  Were either truly worthy of the victory?

Gretel Ann needed the victory due to circumstances in her own bakery’s existence and her personal life.  The truth is that Gretel Ann’s skills were not as good as other contestants as shown by her sloppy work.   Besides Paul I don’t know of another contestant who needed the win more.  In time she has the potential to be great, I think.  It’s my opinion what stood in her way was her misguided passion to win by frankly, cheating.   I heard her expressing she justified actions such as turning up the oven temperatures so that her competitors bakery goods burned, hiding baking sheets so there were not enough to go around as simple good competition.  Earlier shows had us viewing her plotting to sabotage her own teams competing product by doing inferior work deliberately.  I don’t agree that her passion to win or for cake baking and decorating were keys to her success.  Her passionate strategy and actions certainly lacked good “sportsmanship”.  Most of all for me it screamed “I can’t win this because of my abilities, my skills, my passion to do my absolute best so I will win it by cheating.”

Ashley, the victor in last night’s show, is very skilled, very passionate and in my view, the possessor of a passion also misguided.  It wasn’t as much her method of winning as it was her lack of people skills.  She had no tolerance for a particular few contestants’ viewpoints, work or questions.  In particular one male contestant, Paul, and she were constantly at each other’s throats and Ashley risked her victory for one last opportunity to let Paul know how much she loathed him.  Yet the larger issue for Ashley’s victory was the appearance, from how TLC edited the footage we viewed, that Buddy (The Cake Boss©) favored Ashley above the other’s contestants.  For example during one challenge the contestants were blindfolded and told to ice, pipe a border on and create and place a rose on a small round cake.  Difficult if you can’t see!  Yet Buddy seemed to just stop short of telling Ashley what to do during the competition.

In all the competitor’s defense I don’t think the show truly represented anyone’s personality or “true self” because reality show orCake Decorated with Fresh Flowers not, it was filmed and edited by TLC to be what they wanted it to be.  Ratings were a huge consideration and the more drama TLC could make seem to be going on the better the numbers.  Sadly, the show is but a small and clear example of what America’s seems to want in their hero’s.  Win at all cost.  Win for the sake of winning and don’t worry about the causalities left behind you.

??????????Clearly it’s a competition. This means someone wins, someone loses.  I got that.  I just don’t feel comfortable watching someone win by unfair means.  By adding to TLC’s success with the show am I not agreeing with the message of the programs?  In my heart Gretel Ann’s sabotages were cheating.  Ashley’s lack of self-control and seemingly being favored by the main contests judge were unsportsmanlike behavior and also cheating.

In the Scriptures of the New Testament in John 2:13-17 Jesus responded with passion, with righteous anger because men were selling inferior animals for sacrifice in the temple courtyards and he overturned their tables, driving the men out with a whip.  He did not sin in his anger.

As a believer I struggle with my passion on this subject of competition and passions that arise due to it.  I think that the adage, “all things in moderation” adeptly applies.  Competition, regards of the event, isn’t evil – mankind’s inability to temper their wish to win or for their favored team to win while expecting fair behavior from everyone is where the potential for evil exists.

For myself, I am torn between the enjoyment I have in the creative process and methods of achieving the construction of cakesChildren looking at birthday cake that are masterpieces of art and in watching others strive to be a part of that with the awareness that the shows have entered that arena of passion gone awry.  Do I continue to watch or do I hand the remote over to my husband?

Sadder still, am I more distracted by pondering misguided passion in a TV reality show than in being passionate about Jesus Christ?  Shouldn’t the sixth definition for passion be far more important to me than whether or not the winner of a television program contest deserved the victory or not?  Wow, I just condemned myself.

-Faye