I’m BACK!

Just a quick note you guys!  My computer is FINALLY repaired!  FINALLY!  Yes, I SHOULD have done this MONTHS ago, but life happened, over and over and OVER again!  And again, and again…well, you get the point.  SO, this short note is to let you know I am finally back on my lap top and will have some new reads soon!  Stay tuned!  I’ve missed writing, been doing the old fashioned…ya know…an actual pen and paper (GASP) and oi, my hand, my poor, poor hand!  Typing is just SO MUCH faster, and easier.  I do like the therapy that came from actually writing, though.  Journaling…a lost art…everyone should try it!

So, here I am, back, and ready to share my woes and (what is the word opposite of woe??? Happys?) not woes.  My accomplishments and failures, and just a general peek into the life of me (because I am SO interesting…[insert eye roll]).  Anyway, I miss writing, and I am ready to begin again, but first, Bible study.  AND Bible study is at my house tonight…in approximately 25 minutes so I gotta go!
Much loves!

Advertisements

Suicide-Silence Can Devastate

This post may have trigger warnings surrounding issues of suicide and other things.  Please be advised before reading and proceed with caution.

Ok, so I want to talk about an issue that is usually whispered about.  I want to address this subject because it seems so…dominating in the culture of our youth today.  I am cautiously broaching this subject today because on Thanksgiving evening, the loved one of a loved one made the tragic decision to take his life.  And my heart hurts so much for this family; I pray that by sharing some today, maybe, just maybe one life might be saved.  One life changed.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (http://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_youth/Facts_for_Families/FFF-Guide/Teen-Suicide-010.aspx) “suicide is the THIRD leading cause of death among 15-24 year olds, and the SIXTH leading cause of death for 5-14 year olds”.  THIRD and SIXTH leading causes…this is not ok!  This should break your heart so much more than who won the presidency, what someone’s sexual orientation is, and what the leading cause of divorce is.  Our children are dying, and more die from suicide than cancer and heart disease combined according to the U.S. Census (http://www.allcountries.org/uscensus/129_death_and_death_rates_by_age.html).  Almost 4% of our teens are feeling so lost that they SUCCESSFULLY (note that word, these stats don’t cover attempts) take their own lives.  That may seem like a low percentage, but to put it into perspective, I emailed a company the other day regarding a defect in their clothes.  The defect has been found in over 3% of their clothing which is a legitimate reason to address the issue and repair it as well as revamp their quality control.  Friends, it is time to address this issue and repair it as well as revamping quality (of life) control.

Now, I am not of the mentality that the world needs to walk around with safety pins so we can recognize who is and isn’t nice, I am actually of the mentality that all people should just be considerate.  AND, if you are a Christian, you REALLY need to rethink how you are treating others considering the greatest commandment after loving God is to love our neighbors as ourselves!  Would you be a bully to yourself?  No…well don’t bully someone else.  Would you talk down to yourself?  No…well stop talking down to others.  You don’t agree with someone, that is OK!  It really is, (this goes for Christians and mankind in general) but don’t persecute someone for their view.  If you are right, gently rebuke, don’t trash someone and call them names and beat them down until they feel they no longer have a place in this world.  GOD created this world, not us.  GOD decides who is here and who has a place, and friend, if you are here then you have a place. Please believe me.

I am going to be open with something right this moment that I may regret later and that I have NEVER opened up about…I have briefly mentioned it to my husband and a few other key people, but I want to be brutally honest right now.  This is raw emotion here, this is me reaching out trying to let you know that if you feel alone, I too have felt that and I am here for you.  When I was in the early days of my high school era I began cutting myself.  This began with a mechanical pencil with a metal tip and me carving letters into my leg.  I don’t know what prompted me to start this; I know I was hurting so bad inside that I actually relished the pain on the outside.  It’s hard to explain if you’ve never felt it, but the pain actually made me feel better; I thought I was healing my heart by hurting my skin.  Looking back and knowing now what I didn’t know then, I was in need of not only someone to talk to, but attention.

Though I did my cutting in private and had good excuses and hid my wounds well, I found attention when I was hurt.  I was depressed.  There were signs, I am sure there were signs.  I never made an attempt on my life, but I would be lying to myself if I said the thought never crossed my mind.  I tried to imagine the world without me in it; who would be better off, who might miss me, who would cry, and sometimes in my teenage mind, it seemed better off without me.

I share this because I know the basic mentality toward suicide is that the victim is often selfish.  That they don’t think of how this will affect their loved ones and how hurt people will be and what they left behind.  Friends that is not what is crossing the mind of someone who is hurting; you know what is crossing their minds?  How they keep messing up; how they want to be away from the pain they can’t escape in reality, how they are tired of being abused, how they just can’t cope with life anymore and it would benefit the world if they were no longer in it.

I can’t speak for the young man who took his life thus prompting this particular piece of writing.  I do not know him personally, though I have met him.  I don’t know what led him to it, but I am sure it wasn’t selfishness; he was probably thinking of making it easy for someone else which is the opposite of being selfish.  Something else I can speak for, and this is to all teens who are victims of suicide, they do not think the way we do as adults which is why I say without a doubt that this young man was the very opposite of selfish.  I am going to say something that may seem to contradict this, but it is my opinion:  a teenager is meant to be selfish.  That is EXACTLY how the mind of a teenager works, so maybe every teen suicide victim thinks they can’t handle something anymore so they take their life.  That is how their brain is wired, which is why, dear friends, it is IMPERATIVE that we are aware of this problem, we address it, and we STOP BEING AFRAID TO SAY SOMETHING!

STOP being afraid to say something if you notice a drastic change in behavior and attitude and performance in the life of a teen (or anyone for that matter) and report it; saving their life may mean they get mad at you, deal with that later.  Save their life now.  I would much rather lose a friendship to doing the right thing than a friend losing their life because I was afraid to speak up.  We MUST CHANGE THIS IN OUR CULTURE!  We must be the ones to stop writing off depression as teen angst and something they will “grow out of”.  Collectively, we must address this issue head on with more love and less judgment.

We must address it first by raising our children in a way which shows them that it is 1) ok to be different and 2) NOT OK to make fun of people for being different. And parents, I am addressing you (myself included) now because the parents and family of this young man have said this several times which means it is something to be reiterated: PAY ATTENTION TO SOCIAL MEDIA.  PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR CHILD’S FRIENDS.  Be the nosy parent.  Be the annoying parent.  Be THAT parent who is all up in your child’s biz.  They may despise you for it now, but when they have children they will understand and thank you for it.  You are not meant to be their friend right now anyway; you are supposed to be the nosy one.  You are supposed to hack their phones and know their passwords and follow them on dates.  This is all part of that gig.

So, dear society, dear friends, dear Hillary and Trump supporters: STOP WITH THE DAGGUM HATE ALREADY.  QUIT SAYING ALL YOU WANT IS LOVE THEN SPREADING HATE!  QUIT HATING SOMEONE BECAUSE YOU DISAGREE WITH THEM.  Funny thing, God made us all different, yet we are all “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14).

So, this is to all who are hurting.  You are worth it.  You are loved.  You are important.  You are special.  You are unique.  You are amazing.
“Once upon a time life was so innocent, somewhere along the line your smile came and went.  They made you feel like you just don’t measure up, they try to steal your light, but you are a treasure of the maker of the stars.  See once upon a time, there was a secret place where Heaven’s hand designed even those freckles on your face.  Some things you’d rather trade; some things you’d try to fix Love has one thing to say “it’s perfect just the way it is”.

You don’t have to wonder you are wonderfully made.  Perfectly beautiful in every way, wonderfully wonderfully made.  You’re anything but typical it’s true; they ain’t seen anybody quite like you.  GOD NEVER MAKES A MISTAKE.  You are wonderfully wonderfully made.

(Matthew West, 2012).

The following link will take you to a website with suicide hotlines in every state:

http://www.suicide.org/suicide-hotlines.html

Please, if you or someone you know is suffering from depression, anxiety, or having thoughts of self-harm and/or suicide I urge you to tell someone and call 1-800-273-8255.

You are not alone, sweet friend.  Please, give them a call and more than anything, please know there is light at the end of the tunnel.  Your situation does not have to be like this forever.  You can find a way out with the help of a friend or loved one or simply an open ear.  Please, please know, you are loved.

And to the family of the young man who prompted this article, should you ever read this, I am in tears for your pain and for the pain he must have felt as well.  Please, to all of you, you are also not alone.  Don’t suffer this tragedy in silence or alone.  Someone will talk to you, I will talk to you.  You are hurting and sad and devastated; there aren’t even enough words to cover the anguish you are feeling, but you do not have to feel them alone.  Please, find a safe person.  Find a person to talk to who you don’t feel the need to hide your emotions from.  Find someone who you don’t feel the need to be strong for so that you can grieve.  Don’t go at this alone.  You are not alone.

And to those of you reading, please join with me in prayer for this hurting family.

The Least of These…a Thanksgiving Post

“I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving.  This will please the Lord more than an ox, more than a bull with its horns and hooves.  The poor will see and be glad—you who seek God, may your hearts live!  The Lord hears the needy” (Psalm 69:30-33 NIV).

This coming Thursday is Thanksgiving and generally this isn’t a Christian holiday, but we should think of it in Christian terms…I mean, come on, it is thanks and giving in one word.  That can pretty much sum up how we should live our lives daily!  We should be thankful for grace and giving grace and charity to others in His name.

I want to start off by talking about what it is like to be needy and just how giving can make a difference during this season.  You see, we should be “giving” all year, though for some reason we don’t, but giving during this time of year means more.  Giving during the holiday season gives hope.  I have spent time on the streets as a person in need, and it is tough.  I was so blessed by gracious friends so I actually only slept “on the street” a few times, but I went through a period during the holiday season where I was homeless.  Friends, being homeless can feel hopeless.

For me, it was by God’s grace I already had a job at this time.  Have you ever tried to get a job as a homeless person?  No physical or mailing address to speak of; employers don’t like that much.  Then there is the hygiene issue.  Again, thank God I never really had to deal with this because I have wonderful friends, but have you ever tried to “wash up” in the sinks at the library?  OR, even more humiliating, washing up in the sink where you are interviewing for the job?  It’s not fun.

Now, I know most of us have this mindset that if a person has time to beg on the corner of the highway then they should have time to get a job.  I know I have thought that same thing even though I have experienced homelessness.  Jesus tells us that doing for “the least of these” is doing for him (see Matthew 25:40), so when did doing for the least mean turning our nose down and having zero empathy.  I actually know people who won’t visit our local library because that is where some of our local homeless population hangs out.  I was once told that homeless people don’t have God’s grace else they wouldn’t be homeless.  Because, you know, they know God’s plan for these people’s lives and of course God wouldn’t use a homeless person to do his work, right? (Hmmm, I wonder if that is why I am a former homeless person with a call to minister to children and families and to write and share my story with people in prayer that it reaches someone who needs to hear it).  Nope, God doesn’t use the homeless.  At all.  Never mind that many of the lepers he healed were probably homeless considering they weren’t allowed in the town walls after they got the disease.  I KNOW Christ used some homeless lepers in HIS work!

Anyway, so I KNOW that a few bad apples seem to ruin the bunch, but how fair is that, really? Do you have any idea what their story is? Not every homeless person is an addict, though the rate of addiction is quite high among the homeless community.  You know why?  I mean, I haven’t done a formal study or anything, but being homeless stinks in a way you cannot imagine if you have not experienced it.  There is no stability, no sanctuary, no safe place to lay your head; I mean you have no home.  No home means you probably also have no belongings to speak of save a few key pieces you tote in a tattered bag from place to place.  It makes sense, sad as it is that people find anything to escape the pain and horror they feel.  It isn’t a humbling feeling, it is a humiliating experience.  To know that people walk by and instantly judge your situation without knowing what happened in your life to get you there can beat you down.  All this anti-bullying campaigning is useless in reality, because bullying will always be prevalent when there is a community of people being judged for their situation and basically told it is their fault and that God doesn’t love them.

Have you ever felt hopeless?  I know I am painting a gruesome picture here, but I want everyone to understand just how much little things mean to this community AND to the Great Commission.  We are ALL the least of these because we ALL fall short of His glory.  Not every homeless person is an addict or a loser.  There is this guy who is a disabled vet, that girl who escaped the sex slave industry, the woman and her children over there are in hiding from an abusive husband, and how about that family lost everything they owned trying to fight off cancer.  Have you ever gone to war and come back to nothing?  Have you ever lost everything to disease?  Have you ever been in hiding in fear for your life?

When I was nine my mother gathered me and my brother and sister up and fled Arkansas literally overnight staying at women’s shelters along the way.  We left with the clothes on our back fleeing from a man who had been physically, sexually, and mentally abusive to us all.  I can’t imagine how it felt to be my mom at that time.  She had to hide us from a predator and literally do it at the grace of others without a penny to her name.  Now, my mom is no saint and we have come a long way in our relationship, but doing this…there are no words to show the respect I have for her.  My mom is not an emotionally strong person (I love you mom, don’t hate me), but she found the courage to gather up her children and flee knowing the consequence would be us losing everything but essentially saving our lives.  That is what a homeless person looks like.

How about the girl who aged out of the system, an easy target for the sex slave industry (which is VERY alive and thriving, friends, please research this and be aware) because she is alone, penniless, and vulnerable.  The man who lost all hope because he was laid off so maybe he left his family thinking they’d be better off without him.  These are the faces of the homeless.  It is real and these are their stories, I know because not only do I have a story, but I have talked to people and learned their stories because I am not afraid of them.

So, friends, this holiday season I encourage you to give without ceasing.  Show love to your neighbor who has lost all hope because you could be giving them hope.  This doesn’t mean give a ton of money to the bell ringers outside Walmart, this doesn’t mean take every angel off the angel tree…those are nice gestures, but gestures don’t have to be grand.  When you are making banana muffins, wrap some individually and go to your local shelter hang out and hand them out.  It’s probably been awhile since they’ve had a homemade muffin.  How good do you think that will taste to them?  Bake mini loaves of bread and get little bottles of water to hand out and add Scripture to them with ribbon or tape to remind people of the hope they have in Christ (bread of life and living water verses are perfect for this).  Make up little toiletry baggies with deodorant, toothbrushes, and mini tooth paste tubes to hand out; this will really help lift spirits and give them courage for that job interview!

Friends, we are called to “invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind…because they cannot repay you” (Luke 14:13-14 ESV).  Let us follow Him in doing these things.  Let us be thankful for what we have by sharing with those who have nothing.  This is not just a blessing to them, but to you as well.  It will fill your heart with joy because you will be living out the Fruits of the Spirit.

Are there homeless people at fault for their position, yes?  Is it our job to punish them?  No.  We are all the least of these, and whatever we do to them, we do to Christ.  It is our job to love them and show them what hope looks like, and that is what your generosity can do.

“Then the King will say to those on the right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?’…The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ [and to those on his left] he said ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these you did not do for me.’” (Matthew 25:34-45 NIV).

 

Where is the Road?

“A man who walks by the side of the road can turn himself around…he can pick himself up and dust himself off, and start all over again…” (Kenny Rogers).

Ok, so October was a month full of issues for me and my computer was not to be left out of that series of events.  I’ve been a bit absent because, though my fingers have been aching to hit the keys, my computer apparently was not missing the pounding my fingers gave said keys and refused to cooperate! (Note: I began writing this before I wrote my post-election post, but am just now publishing…sorry). Hopefully, it is better now and soon, perhaps, I can take it into the computer doctor for a check-up!  Until then, I will just have to plug away as she allows and hope for the best (and get a hand cramp using old fashioned pen and paper should the worst occur)!

ANYWAYS, so ya, October was rough.  I had some issues accepting the turn of events because our hearts are being led one way while our brains were told something else.  SO alas, we wait for God…for His righteous right hand to guide us and lead us in His time, not ours.  Patience is a Fruit of the Spirit that we (collectively…yes all of us) rarely produce.

So let’s talk about roads.  Amazing things can happen on roads.  I love songs and poems about roads!  There is David Lee Murphy who sings about coming back down the road you leave behind you, there is one of my all-time favorite country duos, Brooks and Dunn, who sing about all that can be learned on a red dirt road, and we can’t forget Frost who speaks of the road less traveled and how it can make all the difference.  Roads are significant in our culture and have been since…oh, well, probably since roads were first made.

Roads signify change, moving forward, the future, and even trust.  One of the most significant roads in history is the Road to Damascus and the story of [P]Saul on that road.  If you aren’t familiar, I am going to paraphrase the story in my own words, but you can find the story in your Bible in Acts chapter 9.
So, Saul is really this pretty mean guy who persecutes Christians to the fullest extent of the law (and probably beyond)…we are talking beating them, imprisoning them, and even killing them.  He was rough.  One day Saul was walking along nearing Damascus and searching for Christians and disciples to take as prisoners when a light blinded him and he heard a voice asking why he was persecuting “me” (that’s Jesus).  Saul was like “I don’t know you” and Jesus is like, “well, you are persecuting me, now go to the city and you will be given more instructions”.  Now, Saul wasn’t alone but the other guys with him were obviously rendered speechless, I mean, what do you say when the presence of the actual living God is before you, right!?

So Saul goes into the town, he was blinded by the way and didn’t eat or drink during this time, so he goes into town (being led by those guys I spoke of earlier) and meets Ananias whom the Lord had already spoken to.  God told Ananias that this guy from Tarsus was coming and that it was Saul and that He gave Saul a vision to see and speak to Ananias to get his sight back.  Now, Ananias has heard of Saul…what do you think he said.  He’s like, “Lord, please, this guy is bad news and I don’t want to die” but the Lord is like “This is my work, so just do it and quit being afraid because I am God.  This guy is going to have his heart changed and is going to end up suffering for me.  Don’t argue”

So, of course Ananias does what he is told, because who really says “no” to God, right?  He heals Saul and sees Saul get filled with the Holy Spirit…then Saul got baptized and ate and drank and got strong again so he could do God’s work now.  Ok, so remember, Saul is a Roman citizen turned Christian…he is now gonna be in BIG trouble with the Romans!  BUT, guess what else, the Jews (of which he has now left) got mad at him and tried to kill him because he was spreading the Word of God around Damascus and proving that Jesus was the Christ.  So, Saul escapes and gets to Jerusalem but the disciples are afraid of him until Barnabas takes him in.  Barnabas tells the disciples to chill out because Saul is good people and how the Jews in Damascus tried to kill him for preaching about Jesus.  So, thus we have the story of Saul’s road to Damascus; the road that not only changed his life, but the lives of thousands of others and the course of history.

So you see, roads can be pretty important, whether they are asphalt and literal or ideas and figurative.  So friends, there is something good about roads whether they are literal or figurative; they go two ways.  Now, I know streets can be one way, but technically you can walk or drive either way if you choose, right?  So, roads can run two ways, they can have forks, four way stops, roundabouts, on ramps, and yield signs too.  My great and deep thought-provoking question for this post is, how do we determine whether to continue forward, merge, turn, or go back?  I mean, God isn’t going to physically meet us on the road as he did for Paul and blind us for three days until we get it right.  Of course, Paul (or Saul, same guy) didn’t have the entire Bible then as we do now either.

So we took this road recently, and there is this road block.  We know what we feel God is telling us to do, we just can’t figure out how to get there or how to get a clear picture of where He is sending us or what exactly He is telling us to do.  It’s so…well, to be quite honest, it’s frustrating!  I mean, do you think Paul was frustrated just a little, maybe, over the three days that he was blinded?  He had NO IDEA where he was going, what he was doing, he had to fully rely on a few guys to get him where they said he was going AND he had to rely on a God he didn’t even know before he was blinded to guide these guys who were not believers to the place God was sending them.  Did you catch all that…I know it was a run on, but I would have said it that way, so I typed it that way (in my mind I stress certain points and they go on and on…I wish you could hear me speak sometimes LOL!).  This guy had to blindly follow God.  And apparently, so do we sometimes (well, many times, actually).

Have you ever really done that, friends?  I mean really.  Have you ever just closed your eyes and said “ok God, send me on Your way”.  Well, we did that and there is a road block.  Now we don’t know if we were supposed to turn somewhere or take a different on ramp or if we are simply supposed to be yielding (that is waiting our turn).  What I do know is that we have made a commitment to follow Him, so that is what we will do.

Roads can be scary.  Sometimes it is a dark mountain road and you’re driving in the late hours in the rain and take an off ramp by accident (that’s for you MMG) and sometimes the sun is shining bright and your way is completely uninhibited.  There are no obstructions, just a clear and simple path to take.  There are potholes and bridges that are really scary and construction.  No matter what happens, though, there is a way.
The Word is quite clear and these verses give me much hope in this time of confusion:
“Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them.  Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’” (Isaiah 30:20-21 NIV).

This voice is the Spirit.  We will let Him guide us.  We will listen to His instructions, though right now they seem muted. Just because we went down the road and hit a block, doesn’t mean it isn’t our path.  Just because OUR plans changed doesn’t mean He changed HIS plans. Roads run TWO ways, our way, and His way.  Find His way; when you are blinded, pray and be patient and find His way.  That’s my wise advice, now I have to take it;).

Pondering Politics

Just a quick note-this is a picture of my family after we voted.  You can just barely see Myrah’s head over my shoulder.  My sticker was covered by Noah’s head and Scott’s covered by Myrah’s jacket lol, but here it is!  Lessons were learned and fun was had…and we were in and out quickly!

So here goes probably the only political post you will see from me, for at least the next four years anyway.

Ok, so here’s the deal in black and white (and, of course, in my very humble opinion). When Obama was voted in, a ton of people were up in arms about it and I told them that even if they do not like the president, they should still respect the office. Think of all those times your mom or dad made you mad or annoyed you, you may not have liked them, but you still should have respected their position.

So, of course, I am going to say the exact same about Trump. I will NEVER share who my votes were for in either election, but I can tell you that Obama was not my first choice in two elections, and Trump was not my first choice in this election. Neither of these men took stands that represent my personal beliefs on many issues, but here we are. If you want my honest opinion for this election in particular, we the people lost our best choices when we didn’t push them through in the primaries, (we really had some decent candidates back then, remember?) but that’s neither here nor there.

SO, I know there are conspiracy theorists and I KNOW the American system is NOT the best, but one thing I have seen proven in our government is the system of checks and balances that keeps control out of the hands of one person so we do not fall to tyranny. Whether or not you like the president-elect, try to have faith in this system. Pray that the system works so that any nonsensical plans do not get pushed through, but the things that truly do make America great will be brought to light or kept in place. Pray that our elected leaders (Senate, House, Justices, etc.) will stand firm in what is right and best for the people whether it is foreign policy, education, or health care.

Teach your children the history of the United States whether you are a home educator or they attend public school. Teach them the words written in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Teach them WHY the people chose to immigrate here and write these documents. Teach them the trials some groups of people had to overcome to get the right to actually vote and have a voice in this country. Teach them about the men and women who have fought and literally died to protect the rights of this country to have a voting system and democratic republic. We have that, guys. A democracy is a form of government where the power lies with its citizens who elect representatives. A republic is a sovereign state whose ultimate power rests in its citizens who elect representatives. (It is also a constitutional republic…the semantics go very deep).

Teach your children what the Electoral College is and why their vote matters, but stop teaching hate. We are teaching hate with our words and actions! Do this now, guys, because tomorrow will be too late. If you don’t like what is going on, help change it, but don’t lay the responsibility of educating your children about the workings of the government on another, take time to do it yourself so you KNOW they learn it correctly. Teach them it is ok to disagree but, for goodness sake, that there is no sense in tearing another down. And if you choose to be uneducated or not to vote, don’t complain and remember you are teaching your kids that it’s acceptable to not use your voice (I am a firm believer in voting, can ya tell?).

Finally, can’t we all just get along? I know that sounds preposterous, but when I look on social media and see the gloating and insulting of one party and the shame of defeat and insulting from another party it just seems gross. Everyone is being so ugly and mean! Of COURSE the world is scoffing at us, we are all being hateful! What if the whole point; the grand scheme of this election was just to divide us further!? Let us all, every American citizen, unite and take a stand against division. Let’s follow the words of our pledge and, when we recite that we are “one nation under God, indivisible”, let’s actually be one nation under God and indivisible! Our country looks weak and silly from the outside; we are divided among race and gender and even lifestyle choice, but what if we weren’t?

What if we lived our lives in peace with everyone so far as it depends on us? Christians, are we not called to do this? And no, I am not taking this out of context.  I KNOW we are to confront our brothers and sisters in love when they sin, and I KNOW we are to first examine our own hearts and be blameless so we are not hypocritical when we do this.  I also KNOW we are called to love the least. We are divided, America, and the fault really lies with us.

We have allowed a few to dictate the beliefs of many. Who has decided to make America the land of rampant racism again? Who has decided to make America the land of division among men and women again? Who has decided that one group of people is better than another again?  Friends, we have! We have made these choices. We have collectively made the choice to believe lies and fall prey to the enemy which has resulted in division.

I don’t care who you voted for, it isn’t my business, (there’s a reason we are taught not to share, I happen to like having friends…HA!)  just as who I voted for isn’t your business. But it isn’t the elected that is the problem at this moment, it is us. Let’s quit allowing this division and remember to love one another again. Let’s be an example to our leaders. Remember that we are to love our Lord with all our heart and love our neighbor as ourselves. Christians, we are NOT doing this. There is much division even among believers!

Friends, let’s write in the sand and let us not be the Pharisees. Let us respect the office of the president without sewing discord among ourselves. Let us unite and be strong and courageous, and let us have faith that God is in control and that the system of checks and balances our forefathers put in place will work in our favor.

Whether you were for or against Trump, the reality is that he is our president-elect. History is made, it is done.  We can either unite and flourish or we can continue to be divided and flounder, the choice is ours. Let’s not lose our friends and loved ones because of it. If you got annoyed when people talked bad about Obama, remember that feeling when you talk bad about Trump. Treat others how you want to be treated, not how you were treated ;).

“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.  Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.  Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.  Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.  Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.  Live in harmony with one another.  Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.  Do not be conceited.  Do not repay anyone evil for evil.  Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.  If it is possible as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:9-18 NIV).

Remember, these are my opinions, I do my best to stay neutral. I also do my best not to insult others for their opinions and would appreciate not being insulted for mine.  If you have a strong opinion, I have no problem with it, however, please email me directly with any comments of a negative nature and we can talk.  I don’t have an issue talking, but I won’t allow my posts or page to be turned into a political tear down session of other people. Let’s build each other up in love.

A Closed Door

Ahhhh…my keyboard.  I have been so busy lately I have not been able to peck away at these keys and I forgot how therapeutic it is for me.  It feels marvelous…and I need marvelous right now.  I can’t sleep; today was a bit emotional (HA…that is an understatement for me, I know!).

Ok, so first let me just say, God does NOT always use us in the way we THINK He is going to and I learned that fact today in a way I never thought I would know.

Some back story is required because many have no earthly idea what I am talking about!

SO, back in about August I was browsing good ole Indeed (a job site) and put out my resume.  It was bravery at its finest!  (I kid).  Anyway, I got a response from this great church in Northern Michigan…a beautiful church in a beautiful place full of what we found to be beautiful people.  SO I get an email, a few phone interviews, a couple video interviews, THEN these wonderful people pay for me and Scott to go up there and check things out (and have an IRL interview of course).  This is probably the most exciting and scary thing I have ever taken a chance on, and God was talkin loud so I had to listen.

We go up to this gorgeous place with these great people in the amazing church and just hit it off with all of them.  Seriously.  Neither Scott nor I have ever felt so comfortable…so at home with a group of people we have never met.  And we were getting grilled for real…like a grand inquisition!  But it all felt right…mostly.

On Sunday I was getting a tour of the children’s department from this beautiful soul and she seemed so much like me in the way she loved what she was doing.  She seemed like she was relishing in the delight of teaching children and leading them; she was working with those who were working with the children…it was meshing.  SO (because God is kinda funny this way sometimes I guess) I had to ask her why she didn’t take the job.  THIS could have been my down fall, but I still don’t regret anything.

She told me her story and it is a story that was similar in ways to my own story except she was on the opposite side that I was on.  Her best friend left the church and she was so convicted by this.  I felt her heart break as my own, and I don’t say this lightly.  I have been the one who had to leave, I know very well the feeling of the other person, but here I was feeling the pain of the one who stayed.  We all have to follow where He leads, but for some reason I felt the conviction of this girl fully on my own heart.  So much so that I brought it up in the meeting Scott and I had with two of the pastors the next day…like I said this could have been my undoing…but I stand behind always being honest even when it doesn’t go the way I wanted it to…even when it hurts.

Fast-forward to today…I get a call from them telling me that, though she and they thought she wasn’t the person for the job, turns out she was running away (Jonah!) from God’s call and she feels a conviction to give it a shot.  Before I go on, I want to say that though this was so hard for me to hear because my heart is there, I am so proud of this girl.  The position she has put herself in is a vulnerable one and she could possibly lose her best friend over it, so I know she does not take this lightly.  If you ever read this sweet sister in Christ, please know that I really and truly am proud of you.  Often listening to God’s call makes our personal lives sticky…I know, girl.  I have literally been there, and it is hard.  I have no bad feelings toward you or anyone at the church, and I am proud of all of you for following your convictions.

But, ya, bummer for me, though!  Now I am sitting here late this night and wondering what in the world God is asking me to do.  We do feel the call to this place, we know God has plans for us, but what are they?  Why would he send us on this LONG journey just to have us stay where we are?  Is there a place for us here and if so, how do we discern this (how fitting that right now in my personal Bible reading I am in I Kings…I JUST read tonight about Solomon asking for wisdom!)?  I mean, I gotta tell you guys, the path to Michigan seemed so ready and steady and straight that this has really shaken me a bit.  I was convicted when this person told me her feelings, but was also assured that they knew it wasn’t her job…that it wasn’t where God was sending her.  Obviously convictions change…so where do we go from here?

I always hear people say that “when God closes a door he always opens a window” and other “inspirational” things, but have you ever had the door slammed in your face?  And really, who wants to crawl through a window?  (I am really speaking in jest, but seriously).  I gotta ask ya, the way we felt up there, the people we connected with…what was the reason if not to lead us there?  God places people in paths for His reasons…did he REALLY fly us across the country for the Spirit to convict someone that she was running away?  Did we really meet all those amazing people once to never see them again?  I mean, the guys who drew lots on the boat with Jonah were already on the boat…already on their way!  This was foreign to us!

So…what is meant for us and does it involve this particular church.  I pictured a future for us there…I pictured the people, the place; all of it because it felt real, but now it isn’t.  And now I am a little lost.  If I am being honest, I did struggle very much with the final decision to leave Oklahoma because I love my family and this is familiar and comfortable, but at supper one night in Michigan someone much wiser than I reminded me that God often calls people away from their comforts (more specifically their families).  It would be a piece of cake to continue to minister in my comfort zone, too easy some might say.  So this change of events He brought about has me so very confused.

If I seem a jumbled mess it is because I really am right now!  It is late and the day has been LOOOOONG!  But I am so curious now.  We still feel our hearts there, so what is it pulling us?  This seemed so right, but wasn’t…what else could it be?  The way things played out really appeared from this side as though God was literally going to pick us up and carry us there whether we agreed or not (LOL…he really does that you all)!  I knew whatever path we took would be difficult after I met the people we met there but I was truly unprepared for how I felt after the call today…I think I felt just as sad as I did when I told my family I was probably GOING to move…and to top it off I kind of feel like I let my family down, though they don’t think that, that is just my wonderful humanity shining bright!

So alas!  Here I am a jumbled mess of letters placed together to strategically form words, sentences, paragraphs, and essentially another part of my story.  You guys, I am still wandering (yes, with an ‘a’).  I do not have Moses or Joshua here to guide my direction…I have Christ, though.  And while I am not seeing the path lay out clearly before me right this moment, I know He will bring about his will and it will be done.  I am a bit taken aback by today, it was quite unexpected, but I know His ways are higher than mine.  I know that He guides me with his righteous right hand.  He leads me; he is my Fortress, my Stronghold, my Shelter, my Armor, my Strength, and my Shepherd.  He is my Savior.  He is grace and I will find his guidance and direction even if it is not where I thought it was leading.  This knowledge certainly does not make it easy; it just makes it His way, which is, of course, always right.
So I am here humbly asking for prayer for guidance for myself and my family.  Lord, take us where You would have us go and let our lives bring You the glory.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9 NIV).

 

“I bow my head to pray. I know You hear each word I say, I’m pouring out my heart to You like water.  I have faith; I have faith; I have faith in You.  I know the road is long and we don’t always get to understand it all, but we are asking, God, help us to trust You anyway.  For every mile we walk, for every sorrow that seems to break our hearts, would You give us strength to face each day in Your Grace” (Smith, Faith in You, 2007).

 

 

Myrah the Miracle

So, according to the wide world of Google, National Daughter’s Day falls somewhere between August 11 and September 24 (apparently they simply go by algorithms; how many people mention it on social media etc.…yes, I do random research because I am random like that sometimes.  You’re welcome), and according to my Facebook, I recognized this day as such last year SO…this is all about Myrah.

Today I want to share her story…dedicate this to Miss Myrah; she was a HUGE surprise.  We had just returned home after another extended stay in Texas for more surgery for Scott.  At this point he had had several surgeries and some extensive radiation and we basically knew the end of our child bearing days had come.  I mean, we had to be honest with ourselves, between my reproductive difficulties and his radiation/stress/surgeries there was just NO WAY another child was in the card for us, right?  I had generally come to terms with it though my heart ached for another; my sole focus at this point was my husband getting better!

So we are back from Texas and changing our lifestyle completely.  We took about 90% of any kind of medicine out of our cabinets and about 90% of the food out of our kitchen.  We really cleaned out our house so we could clean out our bodies.  We went drastic.  We actually ate mostly raw for a few months and while I know many will think this is hocus pocus, I feel that it really did have a hand in helping our bodies to heal; I feel that God wanted us to go in this direction so we could begin a healthier lifestyle.  And in this process, not only did Scott begin to get better, but to our amazement, I became pregnant.

My pregnancy with Myrah was ROUGH to say the least.  I was terribly sick from the very beginning.  I mean awful sick.  When I was about 7 weeks along I had a terrible gall bladder attack which required even more attention to my diet and actually left me where I could eat almost nothing.  Seriously, I probably consumed 500 calories a day at this time…I couldn’t eat a thing.  I also couldn’t have surgery unless it was actually life threatening because I was considered a moderate risk during my pregnancy.  It was rough.

Then to delivery…this girl was for real not doing anything the easy way (this is still true).  The week I was in labor (yes, I said week, though there was a three day period I was in true labor, the week before I was just in a lot of pain) I ended up in the emergency room three times for dehydration.  I could not re-hydrate no matter what I tried and I tried everything!  I was drinking the smartest water and several different electrolyte replacement drinks…but I wasn’t able to eat and apparently if you can’t eat and you are dehydrated then you won’t re-hydrate.  Ya, weird, right!?  So the third time I am in the hospital I am so miserable, I can’t even sit because I am in so much pain.  Everything hurt and Scott and I just knew something was off.  During my pregnancy I had decided I was going to have a natural delivery though I had previously had C-sections…but in this moment, Scott and I prayed (really, Scott prayed for me) and by the time he was done we knew natural birth was not going to be an option.

While nothing bad showed on the ultrasound, we knew something was wrong, the nurse knew, and even the doctor had a feeling.  We made the very difficult decision to do an emergency cesarean section and from there it was a whirlwind.  Things moved so quickly that within the next hour our daughter was born.  We found out that my uterus had actually ruptured in two places and had we waited much longer things could have ended much differently, but God has a plan and His plans will not be thwarted even when our own human stubbornness gets in the way.  He meant for Myrah to be here and here she was.

She made a grand entrance but I wasn’t even able to see her at first…they whisked her away and while the surgeon was trying to reassure me a team of 6 or 7 NICU workers came running full speed through the doors of the operating room and began working on my little baby.  I saw them put the mask on her and squeeze the tiny bag full of air to inflate her lungs and breathe for her, I saw a tube go down her throat, and then I saw them wheel her out.  It happened so quickly that I honestly don’t even remember if I actually got to touch her before she was wheeled away.

I was open on the table and they kept assuring me that all was well but I was terrified.  Scott stayed with me through the operation—they had to repair my ruptured uterus, close the incision they had made, and drain a very large cyst on my ovary.  It felt like forever, but as soon as they were done I sent Scott to be with Myrah and my wonderful birth doula stayed with me.  I went from recovery to my room where I was stuck in bed for the next day because of the amount of blood I lost.  Thankfully I was agreeable and continued to rest so I did NOT end up having a transfusion…apparently I came close to the point of needing blood, though.  It was so very hard…while Isaiah did go to NICU after he was born also, I at least got to see him and touch him and meet him first.  With Myrah none of that happened.  I remember them quickly showing her to me and then taking her to work on her.

This little baby girl…I am in tears as I write this because God is just so good.  Satan worked against us through my whole pregnancy but God was simply not having it.  I remember once my BBCI instructor (and also a sweet friend) looked at Myrah (she was about 8 months old at the time, I believe) and said “that girl just looks like she is supposed to be here; God has big plans for her”.  I’ll never forget those words because I feel them as well.  It was a fight to get her here and God will not be shaken.

SO, that is the crazy and miraculous story of our little girl, and now I want to tell you about the toddler I have!  I often call her a hot mess because she is all of that and so much more.  Both boys were speech delayed so the fact that she says SO MANY words astounds me!  She has a huge vocabulary and a huge personality.  She loves accessories (bracelets, necklaces, bows, purses, shoes…seriously) and she LOVES getting dressed, particularly in dresses!  She is my prissy little girl for sure!  She also loves dirt and pizza and FRUIT!

She loves to fist bump and play shoot and pretend like she has a sword or light saber (I mean, with two big brothers, what do you expect, right).  She has this lip she pouts out which really gets her out of too many things.  And her babies; she has at LEAST 15 babies that wear diapers and get baths and have quilts and blankets…and she takes very good care of them and it is precious to watch.

So that is the outline of how our daughter came to be.  Myrah isn’t perfect, she is stubborn and has a strong will and even at her young age has a natural inclination to reject authority and do her own thing.  But, she is a miracle; a blessing from God as all children are.  She loves to sing and dance and put on a show, but she is also shy and attached very much to me, her daddy, and brothers.  She has a heart full of love already, though, as well as a passion to care for others and an empathetic nature I’ve never before seen in a toddler.

My point of this is not to build up the perfect image of Myrah, but to share that miracles are real.  We weren’t focused on having another child when Myrah came along; we were focused on Scott’s healing.  God gives us hope, though, even in the times when things may seem hopeless.  He does not always give us what we want because what we want is not always in His plan or for His glory, but he is our hope.  He is our Refuge, our Right Hand, our Fortress, our Salvation.  When we were at a dark hour in our lives fighting to keep Satan behind us, God shone his light and as always, it was good.

And, it still is.

Myrah is pretty amazing, and so very special.  God is even more so.  He made her, after all.

“I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well” (Psalm 139:14 NIV).

 

Tie Breaker

(Just a note:  I actually STARTED this last week and finished just now…because sometimes I have to be patient and wait for the rest of the words to come)

I am having an under the weather day so kids are getting a free day and though I am not feeling well, I decided to be somewhat productive by listening to some sermons…now I feel compelled to write for a bit.  SO, I just got done listening to this sermon about the parable of the vineyard workers and it REALLY got me to thinking…all ‘bout our selfishness.  Essentially, isn’t that what the story is about?

I know I have often quoted “the first shall be the last and the last shall be the first” to a group of kiddos who are all shouting to be first in line or first picked for an activity or to hold the flag or Bible at VBS opening.  We OFTEN use this quote, but boy was I humbled today when I realized I was misusing it…most of us are, as a matter of fact.  This pastor put it into a perspective I have never even thought of…he said (this is paraphrase) “what happens in a race when there are two runners and the first is last and the last is first” (Vermilya, 2016)?  You guys, it took me a minute to figure out where he was going…THEY TIE (for the record, Noah got the answer in like 20 seconds…don’t judge)!  They finish together, they get the SAME REWARD.

SO, what happens when you are given a promise and you work years toward your goal and another person comes in right before the end and they get the SAME REWARD!

For instance, let’s talk about salvation…I dedicated my life to Christ when I was fifteen, my (step-but-not-step) dad did not dedicate his life to Christ until MUCH later in his life (8 or 10 years ago, to be more precise).  Does that mean when we get to heaven I get to go straight through the gates but dad has to wait a bit because I was there first?  OR does that mean I have to wait (first shall be last) while dad goes through?

This pastor also focused on the fact that the Lord calls us all to Him to do His work (we were made for His glory, after all).  Is there a time where we think of one kind of work more mundane than another?  I remember about two years ago when my husband felt it in his heart to begin cleaning the church we attended at that time.  So often people think of this kind of work as menial or less than what someone else is doing.  In fact, I have heard it said with my own ears that so and so is too good to clean toilets, but this is never how Christ acted, is it?  ALL work is done for the glory of he who made us (Colossians 3:17); after all, if Christ could take on the humiliating task of washing pooh and mud off his disciple’s feet, can’t we clean a toilet with gloves and a brush? My task of changing Myrah’s diapers (cloth at that) is no less rewarding to my family than my husband’s task of going to work each day, am I right?

The Word says that we all sin and fall short of his glory (Romans 3:23).  It doesn’t say we all sin and SOME fall short.  It doesn’t say those who don’t fall TOO short get VIP passes.  It doesn’t even say those who live their lives being as good as they possible though they are sinners through and through will get a better salvation package.  Nope.  It says we ALL sin and we ALL fall short.

SO, while we ought to do good things for people (the least of these, remember…we aren’t worrying about position, right?) these good deeds are done out of reverence and obedience to our Lord, not to get a greater benefits package.

Isn’t this an amazing thing to hear?  I am NO BETTER THAN YOU and vice versa.  Repenting and having your heart changed by the Spirit and living for Christ; accepting the gift of salvation means ALL who accept that gift are given the reward.  We should strive to do good things BECAUSE of this gift; because that is what we are supposed to do and for no other reason.  We can never attain perfection, but we can strive to keep our eyes lifted to Him and our hearts living for Him and by doing this the world sees Him through us THAT is a BIG deal!  THE WORLD!  You know how big and bad that world out there is, right?  There is so much anger and hate and evil in this world, wouldn’t it be great to live for the Lord and show people He is the good.  That he is the Way and the Truth; the Bread, the Water, the Light and by His grace we can be saved.

This is exciting!  This is wonderful.  He is everything good.  We are nothing good, but if we allow the Spirit to guide our hearts and direct our lives then we can do good things in the name of the Lord.  We can all finish this race together if we just have Him.  I want to finish with you, so friend, think about it!  It doesn’t matter if you are 15 or 50, think hard about this “race” because friend, it doesn’t matter if you are first or last, if you follow Him then we go together.

“But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend.  Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius?  Take your pay and go.  I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you.  Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money?  Or are you envious because I am generous?’” (Matthew 20:13-15 NIV).

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the word, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:16-17 NIV).

“Children’s children are a crown to the aged” (Proverbs 17:6 NIV)

“The road you leave behind you is another road you’re gonna have to go back down.  It’s just the way this big ole world turns round.  You’ll find sometime you gotta go back down the road you leave behind” (David Lee Murphy, 1996).

I want to write about my grandparents for a minute, ya know, since it is Grandparent’s day and all.
My grandparents are so amazing.  I mean, I know that sounds so cliche, but it is also so very true in this instance.  If I said I had nothing but fond memories, I’d be lying and doing them a disservice because, while most of my memories are fond, there were obvious teaching moments during my childhood (AND adulthood) that were not so easy to hear (and to be honest, I don’t recall them, really, but I KNOW they are there because I know my grandparents).

Before I go any further, though, I want to really impress upon you all just how blessed you are if you have living grandparents and how important it is to show them respect and love and to take care of them.  You literally would not be here if not for them, so show some respect.  If you are my age, your grandparents probably lived through things such as at least one world war, the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl and the like.  These people lived more frugally than we could EVER imagine and yet still raised their children with love and discipline that seem to be a lost art anymore.  (Ok, so maybe I speak for my own grandparents in this aspect, but that is how I see them.)

So, I want to paint a picture of my grandma first, and in my eyes, this is what a grandma should always look like (and feel like).  I KNOW that sounds really narrow minded, but to me, my grandma is a story book grandma and I wanna be just like her when I grow up!

So my grandma is short (though being short is not a requirement for a grandma), and soft.  And by soft I mean that she radiates a softness; a gentleness that makes her always approachable.  In my memories of my grandma there is almost always laughter and a plate of cookies and chocolate cake with peanut butter (or yummy fudge) icing, always homemade.  She always has a ready smile, even now when the last year (two actually) has been so very hard for her.  She is so loving and it is easy to love her.  When I think of her, I think of Proverbs 31—“She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.  She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.  She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.  Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.’ Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.  Honor her for all that her hands have done” (25-31 NIV).   She is faithful and loving and honest and kind and generous and so many other things.  She has blessed me and my family in so many ways and she is so dear to my heart!  I cherish her so much, and seriously, I hope I can follow her lead and be this kind of mother and grandma to my own.

Now for my granddad…when I think of my granddad the first thing I think of is ornery and stern.  Now, these two things may SEEM like polar opposites, but they really go together well.  You see, my granddad was a godly man, but he did not lose his childlike sense of humor ever.  My granddad was obedient and expected obedience, which seemed harsh to some, even to me at times, but I totally get it now.  Granddad was also very hard of hearing and certain noises just grated right to his ear drum so we had to be careful about noise around him.  When he spoke, you know he had something good to say because of his hearing.  If he had something to say, you were to be quiet and listen because it was either hysterical, or profound, and he was a very wise man.  I remember last year, not long before he died, he said something to me that I still can’t get out of my head.  We were talking about how my family had been considering an out of state move but I kept holding off because one family member or another needed me and it wasn’t a good time to leave so and so.  My granddad leaned over (which meant something wise was coming) and said “Cissy, if you keep waiting for the right time for everyone else you’re never gonna find it.  It’ll never come.  If you keep waiting, you’re not gonna get to live your own life”.  Such wisdom…granddad saying this reminded me that even though I was striving to take care of my family, I might be disobeying the Lord by ignoring His call to go elsewhere.

When I think of my granddad, a Psalm comes to my mind “Blessed are all who fear the LORD, who walk in obedience to him.  You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours.  Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table.  Yes, this will be the blessing for the man who fears the LORD.  May the LORD bless you from Zion” (Psalm 128:1-5 NIV).

These things were my granddad who (along with my cherished dad) was the model I looked to when I found my own husband.
My grandparents weren’t just great individually, but their marriage was an example for me as well.  They persevered through many trials, and you know this one crazy thing?  My grandparents NEVER went to bed angry with one another.  They both told me many times how they would lose sleep for a night or two before they slept on their anger.  This is just…well, it’s miraculous, really!  They also weren’t afraid to be affectionate and always made each other a priority no matter what.  My granddad loved my grandma and my grandma showed him respect, two things a marriage thrives on—“However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband” (Ephesians 5:33 NIV).  They may not be perfect (because, ya know, they are human) but they were such excellent examples.

Which brings me to my final point—if you have even the slightest opportunity and your grandparents are on this earth still, serve them if you can in any way you can.  You have no idea the difference this makes in their lives.  It may take some creative reasoning skills, and it may humble them a bit, but serve them when you can while you can.  They won’t be here forever.  Trust me, I know.  I never dreamed of losing my grandparents as a little girl.  I never imagined a world without my grandma or granddad in it, but last November the world I never dreamed became a reality and we lost my dear granddad.  Guys, get the one last hug.  Tell them you love them.  Mow, scrub, sweep, and visit because tomorrow might not come.  I could talk about my grandparents all day long, really.  Just remember that you will have to walk the road again one day when you are a grandparent…you will have to come back down the road you leave behind.
“The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God.  They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, ‘The Lord is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.’” (Psalm 92:12-15 NIV).

Think BEFORE You Speak

If there is one thing I have learned in my love for writing and reading, it is that words are powerful; so very powerful.  Think about it.  Everything you say, read, or write garners a reaction from someone somewhere.  So do you think before you speak?

Over the past year thinking about what I say before I say it has hit home more than once because I love words and I’m obviously a wordy girl.  In short, I love to talk!  An explanation from my husband may take 30 seconds and 100 words while one from me…well, let’s just double (or quadruple) the amount of time and words for the same explanation.  Yes, I admit, I have a lot to say and I am not always concise when I say it.  This is not the problem at hand, however.  The problem is when people speak BEFORE they think.  I mean, we are such rash beings who need instant gratification so why would we think before we speak, right?
Well, friends, can we change that, please?

SO OFTEN we are not putting forth the fruits of the Spirit in our words because we allow our fast acting mouths to direct our reactions.  You may ask a simple question and mean no harm, but it is taken the wrong way because of the way we speak about it.  We ASSUME.  Now, I had a WONDERFUL English/Literature teacher in my high school (shout out to Mrs. Holt and my Macomb posse’) and she taught us that assume means you make a donkey out of you and me; HA!  Get it?  Ok, I am SURE this is common knowledge, but she taught it to me and while I don’t really like to use derogatory words like that, in this case, it was needed to make her point.

So, I too have a point, I promise.

Even in texting there is a tone.  For instance, if you text someone assuming one thing with never asking the details on what actually happened, the recipient is going to probably be annoyed and/or offended.  Is it so hard to extend common courtesy?  Before you begin assuming and spout off angry words, think!  Scripture tells us to be quick to listen and slow to speak (James 1:19 NIV), so why, friends, are we not doing this very thing?! SLOW to speak.  And the best way to be slow to speak is to take time to think before we speak.

While it is common knowledge that I am an over-speaker, the fact that I am an over thinker may not be as well known unless you know me well.  I often think of the outcome my words will have before I share them.  I can’t tell you how many blog posts I have that have never been published because of this, and don’t get me started on the number of texts I have taken eons to write out but never pressed send.  (AND, because I am a writer, I also save 99% of these messages…hey, we all have our quirks, ok).  Whatever happened to the Golden Rule?  Let me find the biblical equivalent real quick, not because I don’t have it memorized, but because I want to copy it word for word so we can ALL see AND so I can ensure accuracy:  “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12 NIV).  THIS SUMS UP THE LAW.  Hold on, though, I have more!  Did you know that the disciples asked Jesus which was the greatest commandment AND (as he always does) He answered!?  “’Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’ Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself’.  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments’”.

Hold on a sec, ALL the Law hangs on these commandments?  AND we have to love our neighbor as ourselves?  Well, isn’t that a lot to ask of us?  I mean, can you imagine loving someone else as much as you love yourself?  Be honest here, we live in a society that teaches us love of self.  We read self-help books and relish individuality like no other generation.  We are IN LOVE with ourselves and NOW we have to love others that much?  AND we have to be nice to others (I mean, are we even nice to ourselves anymore, really?)

Do you realize that Christ prayed before every sermon he gave?  Did you know he reached out to his Father for guidance too?  I mean, He had the power to stand on a boat in the sea and make his voice heard to thousands with no sound system; he didn’t take his job lightly.  Ever.  But Scripture tells us again and again how he prayed!  In Mark 1:35 we read how Christ prayed BEFORE going and speaking to people.  In Matthew 23 He prayed then went to save the disciples on the stormy sea.  Jesus prayed long and hard before preaching the well known Sermon on the Mount.  Jesus knew to think before he spoke, so why are we not doing the same thing?  Are we above Him?  Are we too good to pray and think before we speak and act?  (Again, I include myself because I am FAR from innocent!).  How dare we!

Besides, why would we NOT want to do this?  Are we so intent on building ourselves up that we must tear each and every person down in the process?  Have we become so self-important and involved that this is what we do; this is the norm?  Have we forgotten that we are to do HIS will and not our own?  (Obedience is really hard, am I right?!)  Friends!  I beg of you to stand with me on this!  Let us become a community of people who are mirroring the image of Christ as we should be!  Let us REALLY be His hands and feet; healing and moving, working for His Kingdom!  Let us do this in ALL things, but why not start here!?  I think if we all worked on this tiny aspect of simply being considerate we could really make a difference in His name.

Think about it for a minute.  If we are practicing the art of self-indulgence do you really think we are going to reach the world (remember that final instruction from Jesus?  Go out and preach…)?  If our nation is selfish on a whole, what is the point of us not letting “any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may BENEFIT (emphasis added) those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29 NIV) (little side note, this happens to be my favorite New Testament book).

Now friends, this is not to say that discipline or judgement is never needed.  I think I have made my point of view on judgement clear before (recap in my words as per Scripture: if you are going to judge, be prepared to be judged, and before you do said judging, make sure you are without sin and in a position where you are not being a hypocrite before confronting your brother or sister).  There are times when it is necessary to judge our BROTHERS AND SISTERS which means there are times we can speak the truth in love, but the truth may hurt and sound harsh.

The long point is, have some compassion.  People are always going through something and you have no earthly idea what it is at the time, so, before you send out an accusing text or long ranting facebook message or drawn out voice mail, stop and think about that.  Think about the last time you went through something really difficult and how you felt when someone assumed your life was roses and clovers when in reality it was a jumbled mess.  Don’t be that person, be the one who has compassion; the one people won’t  ignore when they see your name on the caller i.d.

In a nutshell, just be nice!:)

Words are powerful!  Isaiah is reading one of my favorite poets in school right now (who doesn’t love a good Frost?) and seeing him read the words that help nurture my own love of writing makes me realize just how powerful words are.  Think of how you feel when reading “Stopping by the Wood on a Snowy Evening” and contrast that with how you feel when reading something like “The Raven” by Poe.  Both wonderful and beautiful, but when I read one, I hear a promise of tomorrow and all the things to come while reading the other makes me think that tomorrow might not come.  Going deeper, think of the difference when you read passages from a book such as Psalms which is full of hope and praises and hymns and compare that to a book such as Revelation where we are reading apocalyptic and prophetic narratives.  But also think of the words of Christ when he assured us that there is a way to the Father through Him, or when he tells us to take heart during our troubles because he has overcome the world.

Words are powerful, friends.  Those anti-bully campaigns don’t lie, so use them wisely, please!