Tag Archive | shifting viewpoints

Into the World

Seems like all I have wrestled with the past week are the forced acknowledgements of how uncomfortable I am in the world. Frankly, it drives me nuts. There’s nothing to upset my apple cart more than a trip into the world, no matter how brief, how fun, or how refreshing in the moment for once I’m back home, I find a stale and bitter taste in my mouth.

I have, in my forced exile from the world, come to immensely crave the isolation. A danger I foresaw, for who knows me better than I except God? Herein lies the reason I never willingly sought the status of disabled, why I fought to keep focused on the goal of being in the daily workplace, because I knew I would come to choose to remain isolated and with my own thoughts for company once forced to acknowledge how ill fitted for the world I am.

Recently my husband, our daughter and our niece took a brief and whirlwind three day weekend to Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg in Tennessee. Travel is hard for me since the amputation and the spread of the Lymphedema to other areas of my body. But for a few hours on the Saturday afternoon of our trip I enjoyed being part of the tourists crowding the streets of Pigeon Forge. My husband forces my wheelchair into areas the world forgot to allow me access to being capable of lifting me and the chair up over curbs and not timid about asking or just telling people to get out of the way when they block the sidewalk or store aisle. On this Saturday we parked in the Old Mill area of Pigeon Forge and went in and out of overcrowded shops, had our picture made in an old-time photography shop and ate a marvelous lunch at the Old Mill restaurant (even if we did have to wait nearly an hour for a handicap accessible table). I felt much like I imagine a kid set lose in a candy store does during those few hours.

But all too quickly my body started reminding me of how uncomfortable it was and how ill-suited to travel. Our ways of adapting in our home didn’t work in a suppose-to-be-but-isn’t wheelchair accessible hotel room where even the bed was an issue. (It was so tall it came to the top of my hip making “hopping” up on it an adventure and fear of falling off it a possibility.)

So we returned home and I was grateful to be back. Back to where I am more comfortable. Back to where we’ve ironed out far more of the wrinkles in the fabric of being disabled for me and my family.

Only I heard and saw and tasted the message of the world. “Look what you’re missing! Isn’t this fun? See? Feel? Come experience! Come play! Come be us!”

But I can’t. The same world reminds me I can’t.

“No! Keep your wheelchair away from here!”

“No! You can’t eat yet, there are only six tables where we can put your wheelchair and 51 others we can’t so wait.”

“No! We put up rails in the bathroom, wait for someone to help you if you can’t use the standard size accommodations!”

“No! You can’t swim here!”

“No! You can’t! No! No! No!”

So I wrestle with shutting the voice of the world out of my mind. I seek solace in scriptures ancient and true. I seek comfort in the arms of a Heavenly Father who doesn’t reject me. I seek a way to express myself that the world will welcome or at least accept. I turn to the modern world of technology seeking a connection and find a weird sense of being anything but connected. My mind whirls and sleep does not come.

Prayers ooze out of me with a desperate plea about them.

John wrote in I John 4:18, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”

I fear.

I am always human here.

I sin here. I sin in my need to be accepted for superficial appearances and for superficial reasons. I sin and I do so in my inability to accept this twist of life.

But I am on my way home. Truly my home where my body won’t be ravaged by disease. Where the accommodations will be perfect. Where I won’t want to go anywhere or do anything that someone will say “No” to. Home. Home where the perfect love reigns and the message isn’t buried beneath layers of “stuff”. Home where expressing myself isn’t an issue at all because the selfishness that drives my ego of self is silenced by the much stronger need to worship and express my love for God.

If only I could get that down here I would be much more like Paul who wrote in Philippians 4:11-13, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is like to be in need, and I know what it is like to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who give me strength.”

Meanwhile I am more in the mindset of David who wrote in Psalm 40:12, “For troubles without number surround me; my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see. They are more than the hairs of my head, and my heart fails within me.”

-Faye

Advertisements

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

Life Message

Life may have

taken a body part,

broken my heart,

discouraged my

spirit, & tested

my faith but I am

still here. Why?

Because my God
is

stronger, better,

greater,
more

enduring and totally

undefeatable! I am

His daughter, His

hier and after

this life I have

a whole new life

with Him
in eternity!

So LIFE bring

it on, in the end

God wins!

Wrong Words of Encouragement

These words are so often spoken when someone we know is going through a difficult time or a course of trying events, “Remember, God doesn’t give us more than we can bear.” I think we’re wrong about that.

Before you stop reading in a statement of disgust at my statement I offer you this challenge. Find the verse in the Bible where it says that. Where does it say “God doesn’t give us more than we can bear.”?

The thinking is flawed, though this “wisdom saying” has good intentions (And need I remind you of the wisdom saying, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”?). People when in pain, physical, emotional, mental or spiritual crave comfort and we who are witness to their pain want to offer words of comfort, encouragement, inspiration. But there are some reasons we have to take a second look at a waving banner for encouragement that is incorrect.

One, God does not “give us” life’s troubles. We suffer in this life, as Jesus told us we would, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NIV) Life has trouble because life is flawed due to sin. When Adam and Eve sinned humanity gave up paradise and perfection until we come into God’s presence in Heaven after our physical death. Yes, God is in control but He does not force His will upon us. This world is corrupt but that corruption is due to Satan and humanity’s sins, Jesus is in the business of redeeming man. God does not bring us trouble. As in the case of Job, God allows trouble, but He doesn’t cause trouble.

Two, we suffer in this life because we sin and there are consequences to our actions even when forgiveness is given. Our own sins can bring us suffering, but so can the sins of other people. Regardless of what we’d like to believe none of us live without our lives impacting someone else. The unfaithful spouse causes suffering to their spouse and family. The wayward child causes suffering to his or her parents. The thief his victims. The drunk driver his own family and the family and actual victims of his accident.

Three, we have pain in this life because we love. We love our spouses, our children, our friends, our extended family and church family. Most of us share a sense of love for the mass of humanity around us, at least we share sympathy or empathy with those in life who suffer in natural disasters, terrorism, poverty, hunger and war. So when those we love suffer, we suffer too.

But we can offer very real and very Biblically accurate words of encouragement to those who suffer and even to ourselves.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

“To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9)

“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances…I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:11, 13)

“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful, he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.” (1 Peter 2:24)

In times of sorrow and trouble we are right to offer hope, to offer comfort but let us offer them in truth.

-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

Rooting for the Cheat

????????????????????????????????

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

Assignment: God Stuff

HPIM1136

Our daughter is at that age where she is no longer a “child” but not yet a teenager.  Her special “friend” Charlie, is still as alive and real in her world as we are, and people in our life know not to refer to him as a “stuffed animal”.  Yet boys are starting to become interesting creations and a bad hair day can ruin an otherwise bright morning.  So when I’ve requested prayer for “What is it God wants me to write?” her answers, I’ve thought were well, suggestions from my eleven-year-old.  The same child who begs me to tell her stories about “squirrels being crazy funny” and “princess who love squirrels” also suggests:

 “Christian writing Mama, what else?”

“Angels and God things Mama.”

“How many times do I have to tell you?  You write “God stuff”!”

On the way to school this morning I was silently praying for our daughter when I had a clarifying moment for my own question.  Suddenly I heard her voice suggesting what I write and in the same moments I remembered one of the things I’ve been told in a multitude of ways which is “write what you know”.  If I take that with what my daughter’s advice is my direction to write would be to write “about God stuff, about the times I’ve encountered God and angels in my ordinary life”.

Returning home I pulled out my favorite Bible and prayed for as clear a direction from scripture as what I believed I had received as I drove away from school.   I started in I Corinthians 13 but it was chapter 14 that held my attention.  I read it over and over for I knew something was calling to me to pay more attention and verses 9-12 kept drawing me back.

“So it is with you.  Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying?  You will just be speaking into the air.  Undoubtedly there are all sorts of languages in the world, yet none of them is without meaning.  If I do not grasp the meaning of what someone is saying, I am a foreigner to the speaker and he is a foreigner to me.  So it is with you.  Since you are eager to have spiritual gifts, try to excel in gifts that build up the church.”

I Corinthians 14:9-12 N.I.V.

Paul was writing about the desire the Christians in Corinth were having for spiritual gifts and how those gifts they desired should be ones that build up the church.  These particular verses are about orally conveying the message of Christ in a language that the audience members can understand. (At least to the way this layperson understands them.)

Would God direct me any differently today than He did through Paul those early Corinth Christians just because my venue is the written word?  After all God did not intend that Paul’s letter would be one to encourage and instruct just the Christians at Corinth.  Even then God knew that His message through Paul would one day be devoured by Christians all over the world.  Yes, I believe even then God knew I would be in need of His words to the Corinth church.  Should I not convey the message of Jesus Christ’s love for us?  That Jesus Himself became the mediator between God and us?  Should this message not be written in a language people can understand?  Should I not be writing so that God’s people are encouraged and the body of believers is built up?

Or in a more direct understanding, should I not write about my ordinary life and encounters with God and angels with words that people understand?

Maybe this blog is my assignment at this time whether I have many followers or not.  God must have His plans and as long as He keeps inspiring me I’ll keep writing “God stuff” and pray that I use words that people understand so He is edified.

-Faye

…a time to laugh…

Before reading this please know that if you are dealing with depression, anxiety, grief and any number of other difficulties in life that seeking professional help is not only advisable it is most likely necessary.  I do not advocate EVER using tools such as laughter, praise and prayer alone to help ease the burdens of depression and other such illnesses.  There is NO SHAME in allowing God to use all His resources to help you.

MC900434743

“…a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance…” Ecclesiastes 3:4 (N.I.V.)

“A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones.”  Proverbs 15:30 (N.I.V.)

The dearest friend I could ever have and I have been separated by hundreds of miles since 1998.  During the times we have those “catch up conversations” it is a time of sharing the troubles of our lives but also the joys.  Those reunions are seasoned with love, enduring friendship, caring, understanding, compassion and a healthy sprinkling of laughter.  We giggle (yes, grown women can giggle) and that compassionate laughter of recognizing the challenges of our own growing up (yes, we are all still maturing) and our surviving.

We laugh at our reactions to the events that have occurred in our families.  (Oh the stories our families give us to share!) We laugh at what we were thinking at the time and how it seemed perfectly acceptable then, but which we have to acknowledge now, were impractical or way off base.

Yesterday as we hung up from just such a conversation I realized that one of the things I value and love most about Pattie and the friendship we share, is that we can be so honest with one another and laugh at ourselves through the eyes of the other.  We are both “serious” people (well, most of the time) but together we always manage to find reasons to laugh!

The laughter we shared yesterday was much-needed by me and I don’t have a doubt Pattie as well.  We are both in stages of our lives where our children are rapidly growing up, our husbands are knee-deep in their careers and we are transitioning ourselves into new stages of life, aging (oh the horror of that realization) and new self-realizations.

Laughter sometimes has to be sought in life.  If I allowed myself I could sit and drown in the tears I shed in mourning the loss of the woman I was…mourn the loss of my left leg, my job, my independence…and I confess there are days, sometimes stretches of days, that I do.  I sob.  I hide away.  I MOURN, I grieve and I wrestle with God over the losses, the changes, what I want, who I was and who I am becoming.  But, no matter how hard, I do try to find something positive, I try to allow Abba Father to nurture the flame of hope that my relationship with Him fuels.  Laughter is often a huge part of that.

My challenge to you today dear reader, no matter what you’re going through is to find some reason to laugh!

MC900434743If you need help rediscovering joy then –

  • Spend some time with young children as they play.
  • Call an old friend and catch-up, share your sorrows but try to find some joy to share as well.
  • Put on a CD you love with some upbeat music and dance!
  • Crank up the stereo in the house or car and sing to an audience of one!
  • Entice your child to share some karaoke minutes with you and laugh at both of you as you sing and dance together!
  • Look at some humorous stuff on the internet.
  • Pop in a funny DVD and lose yourself in the comedy.
  • Watch puppies play.
  • Pull out your child’s joke book, the one they read to you and you moan at the bad puns and weak punch lines and read it with the mindset of your child.
  • Sit down with someone for coffee who has a cheerful outlook on life and just bask in their being who they are for they are people we need in this world for just this purpose among others.

Yes, I know it’s hard!  Yes, for some of you I know what I’m asking seems impossible!  Believe me I KNOW!

  • I KNOW life can bring you to a place that you feel as if you are down for the count and just can’t get up again!
  • I KNOW depression, anxiety, fear and a multitude of other feelings and things can immobilize us!  I KNOW my friend, I know.
  • I KNOW depression’s heavy blanket can suffocate!
  • I KNOW addictions, any addiction, erodes your energy, it takes all of you to fight it.
  • I KNOW grief is overwhelming your soul!
  • I KNOW you hear that countdown and giving up would be easier, it would be a relief but DON’T GIVE UP!  Do this, it won’t make all the ugly go away, I know, but it will help your heart, your spirit to survive.
  • Trust me, I KNOW!  It’s not a magical phrase or giggle that will erase whatever it is you’re surviving but IT CAN HELP you cope!

MC900434743

“A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.”  Proverbs 15:13 (N.I.V.)

-Faye

P.S. I know one more thing, someone is reading this today and tears are pooling in your eyes, grief is tearing at your soul and I want you to know, I pray for you even as I finish up typing this last sentence.  God bless!

Fast Food Fodder for Babeling Planks

MP900049562

As I was working on this particular blog this morning my husband came in and began to talk about a Facebook posting made by a mutual friend.  Sarah** had posted on Facebook that sometimes there were posts from people who made her want to puke.  She didn’t say why or whose but I immediately felt such relief that there was someone who had the same feeling I did about some posts that I jumped on her bandwagon without even knowing which ones she meant.  Confession, I had to go back and delete my response to her post.

The conversation between my husband and I continued with me admitting I had responded to Sarah’s post before thinking much about it.  Feeling justified in my response because I struggle with particular kinds of posts even though Sarah hadn’t mentioned any particular kind herself.  My husband however, pointed out that shouldn’t we be uplifting one another, not condemning them?  OUCH!  Divine intervention considering what I was writing about today.

MM900283044If there is nothing else that modern life supplies us with it is fast food fodder for jokes, judgment and jesting.  Our egotistical “it can’t happen to me (or mine)” mindset rears its head quickly.  Our fingers can’t seem to stop themselves from trashing someone via all the many electronic communication forums at our fingertips.

You know the fodder I’m talking about.  The same things that we all have condemned in people for centuries are now wide open to our “two cents worth” in a far more public arena.  The unwed and pregnant teenager, the son arrested for D.U.I., the spouse who has an affair, the spouse cheated on, the public servant who steals our money, or the public official who accepts bribes, the sports hero who has domestic violence problems or a girlfriend who doesn’t exist.

“But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

John 8:6b-11***

Yes it is plain our technology and electronic formats for keeping in touch come with a great number of positive and negative attributes.  The cutting edge of the sword is that we are quick to rush to judgment, proclaim that verdict and publicly announce it.*

Just because we can exercise our right to Freedom of Speech doesn’t mean we should.  Just as because we can do a lot of thingsMP900316436 that are legally protected and “approved” by society doesn’t mean we should do them.  It may be your right to do something, it may not be to your benefit or anyone else’s for you to exercise that right.  I have the right to write what I want to, including quick and profitable immoral things.  I choose NOT to exercise my right in that arena.

“Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall. So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.”  Romans 14:19-23

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.”

 Romans 12:1-3

What happens when we bash the latest celebrity for their D.U.I., domestic issues, their downfall from the top, or the same things in our neighbors?  The very thing we begin condemning –such as sex outside of marriage – becomes the “norm” not the exception.  How?  Because after a while it is such an everyday occurrence we no longer think of it as unusual.

We’ve gone from a society that so heartlessly condemned unwed mothers, forcing them to hide away, raise their children as their younger brother or sister, give up their children for adoption or abort them illegally to the other far extreme when a pregnancy outside of marriage is barely is a blip on the radar and neither is the aborting of a life than is inconvenient to our own.  (Unless of course you are a public figure and it serves your opponent to tout that by this occurrence in your family for it proves you are immoral and unfit for public service.)  But before I can condemn a young woman who becomes pregnant outside of marriage I have to think twice, for there but by the grace of God go I.

Everyone has sin in their life, EVERYONE and at the top of that list is my own name.  I make decisions that are disgraceful to me, my family and above all else, the God I have promised to serve.  And, I am as guilty as anyone else for publicly condemning people I perceive as being in the wrong such as the mayor convicted of accepting bribes to assure certain companies receive big money contracts for example or the Facebook posts of those whose lives seem too good to be true.

“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”

 I John 1:8

MP900433157I do think we show no mercy, no compassion, no understanding when the event, happening or relationship in another’s life is one we are so sure we’d see as a fake, set-up, or giving into a weakness we could easily conquer.  In the lives of public figures, we can argue that they accept the “glass bowl” when they accept the public office or spotlight for they must also accept the scrutiny of the public.  But in the lives of our neighbors what argument can we present in our defense when we condemn them?

People with evil intentions can deliberately exploit a person’s vulnerabilities, those secret needs we attempt to hide, the scars over wounds that will never quite heal – we all want to be loved, accepted, and appreciated.  It’s far easier to fall prey to such a trap than we want to acknowledge to ourselves.  Even for people who have “it all” in our viewpoint from the stands.

“The LORD smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood…”

Genesis 8:21

Firmly rooted in my understanding of myself is the knowledge that in the right circumstances I have the capacity to do great harm to myself or other people.  I have vulnerabilities that if exploited open me up to the evil intentions of other people.  There, but by the grace of God, go I.

“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them–yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.”

 I Corinthians 15:10

“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”

 Hebrews 3:13

So I’m going to try really hard to be more of an encourager than one who condemns.  When I see someone who has fallen I want to be someone who lifts them up, not stomps them down.  Come to think of it, didn’t Jesus speak on this?

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” He also told them this parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

Luke 6:37-42

Abba Father, please, help me see the plank in my eye.  Help me love the sinner yet not the sin.  Help me beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing without losing all trust in my fellow-man.  Teach me to discern a person’s spirit, love them anyway, and reach out to help them without falling in the pit myself.  The power of Satan is strong Lord and I am weak.  Please be my protection, shield and strength.  Help me not to condemn but encourage.  Help me use the amazing technology you’ve allowed man to develop for Your edification, Your glory not to sin. – Amen

Faye

*August 1, 2011.

**Name changed to protect privacy.

***All scripture from the New International translation of the scriptures.

Defined in the Last Row

1000318841Happily settled in the first desk of the first row in front of the teacher’s desk, with her permission, on the first day of school I was alive with excitement.  I could barely contain my joy.  That all changed when Cheryl Samson* walked in with her mother and stopped in front of me announcing she wanted my desk.  Mama not only forced me to move to the last desk in the last row in the corner but also to apologize for having taking Cheryl’s seat.  I was defined in this moment as being unworthy to sit up front, I belonged in the far corner. 

A spark of joy returned soon when I was called to the teacher’s desk for her to see how many words or letters of the alphabet I could recognize.  Happily I told her that I already knew how to read, my mother had taught me!  I rattled off the titles of the books I had read already, the majority of the Bobbsey Twin and Donna Parker series as well as Huckleberry Finn.  Not believing me she handed me the Dick and Jane reader and told me to read out loud.  After I read several pages my teacher stopped me. 

“Your mother,” she told me, “has obviously taught you not to read but to memorize books.  You’ll have to learn again.”  Cheryl snickered MC900439405behind me.  “Memorizing the words on the pages doesn’t mean you can actually read!” the teacher said as I quickly went back to my seat.  I had never known Dick and Jane existed until a few minutes ago.  I was defined in these moments as unintelligent, misinformed and as a liar. 

At home, annoyed by my why questions about Cheryl and the desk and having to relearn to read, my mother mumbled as she peeled potatoes. Finally she sent me to my room saying, “People like us aren’t like people like her.”

“People like us”?  Why were we “people like us”?  What did Mama mean?   I was defined now as less important, belonging to some “people like us” that I didn’t understand.

Homecoming at school brought the opportunity to be the First Grade Homecoming Princess.  All I had to do was enter, sell baked goods and juice during recess for three days and collect as much money as possible from my family.  If I collected and earned the most money I could be the Princess.  I earned myself first runner-up.  Cheryl won the Princess title.

MC900432659I was pleased somewhat to be the runner-up.  I would still get to be part of the Homecoming Court and walk out onto the field at the football game half-time.  Only I blew that by trying to mimic Cheryl and failed miserably, embarrassed my family, received a spanking, lecture and hearing the story repeated through the years, the humiliation fresh every time.  I was defined as foolish and bringing shame to my family.  I was defined as a “runner-up” not a winner.

MP900305720

To make everyone happy I learned to pretend.  I pretended not to know how to read and pretended to let the teacher teach me all over again.  I pretended to be less intelligent.  That I didn’t want the very things I wanted the most.  That my home life was just as normal as anyone else’s home life was.  That I deserved to be last in everything, that runner-up was the best I’d ever be.  Through the years I learned to settle for less because I had pretended so long to only want and deserve the least that I didn’t even try.  I was wearing the assigned masks given to me and defined by them regardless of their truth.

MP900382637These three events, all too quickly defined me to myself as what I was given the message I was to be.  I recognized all too soon that what made Cheryl one of “those people” instead of one of the “people like us” were the following things:  Beauty, money, expensive clothes, intelligence, importance, lineage, and social status.  Money, I acknowledged as the years passed, could buy it all.  Or at least buy you the ability to fake it.

Reality was that there were a lot of things that set me apart from other kids.  None of those were any of the reasons my mother had cited, or my teacher insisted upon or that my childish mind connected to.  All that these false definitions of me did were to enable me to hide away.

Redefining who I was would take years.  Slowly it happened. 

I learned I did have the ability to earn A’s by earning them in master level classes.  I learned I could do, at least someMP900432927 algebra, by teaching myself from my daughter’s textbook and the online tutorial lessons to help her.  I learned to be a parent that gives her child wings to fly and roots to let her know she is always loved and always has a home, instead of clipping her wings and binding her with her roots.  It has taken years of on and off therapy to peel away layers of pretense, hurt, shame, wrong definitions and forbidden anger and I’m still redefining myself as one of God’s creations.

1001224892Paul’s words in Romans 8:28 have reminded me “…we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”   And again in I Corinthians 15:10 Paul’s words have given me courage, “But by the grace I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect.  No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.” 

King Solomon’s words from Ecclesiastes 3:1 “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:” repeatedly whisper to me that the bad times will pass and the good will come, all in God’s time.  While Jeremiah in 29:11 has told me, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jesus’ has instructed me of my mission for him in this life in Matthew 28:19-20, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always to the very end of the age.” 

We all have defining moments in our lives…defining scriptures that have awakened us to who we are in Christ…what moments have defined you…what scriptures have awakened you?

Faye

*Name changed for privacy.                                                                                                         All scripture from the N.I.V. translation of the Bible.