Tag Archives: Christianity

A girl interrupted.

I was walking into work today deep in thought.  My mind was mauling over the previously mentioned “baggage” that 2015 is starting off with.  We, as a family have some serious decisions facing us.  I’m talking the heavy stuff but desperately wishing for the “paper or plastic?” decision making variety.

Let’s table the decision talk for awhile and face some facts.  My beautiful Mom was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer.  I’ll write more about this later but  she is a general in her faith and one of the strongest women I know.  It’s pretty sad when the “patient” (i.e. Mom) is telling the family member (i.e. Me et al.)  “I’ll be ok.”   We should be the ones encouraging her and yet, true to her nature, she continues to protectively care for us.  She has begun the long treatment process (below) while we try to be useful…if nothing else we provide the sick, distorted, dysfunctional humor to distract and deny the facts.

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But decisions are to be made and I was deep in thought.  I was also being slightly pessimistic and maybe even a little pissed over the tendency of humans to meddle in the affairs of others and create unnecessary talk.  With this talk comes wildly incorrect information and by the time it’s repeatedly circulated it becomes difficult to find even a nugget of truth in the muck.  So yeah, I was pissed.

But God understands His creation and unconditionally loves.  He is good.  This fact I know regardless of the storms around me.

In His unconditional love and understanding of my extremely pessimistic thoughts I heard a voice belt out,

Now that’s the optimism I love!!

I chuckled as I appreciated the sarcasm and then looked up to see if God Himself had appeared in the flesh to deliver me this message.  And he did.  In the form of His human creation.  A man, who was exiting the hospital and who I had failed to notice due to my self preoccupation, stood before me smiling from ear to ear.  He repeated again,

Now that’s the optimism I love!

Keep it up and maybe we’ll get somewhere.

I paused and began to laugh truly appreciating the humor of my God.  I was also at a total loss as to what in the heck this seemingly nice man was talking about.  Just as I began to wonder if he was a Psych ward escapee he saved himself with,

It’s sixty degrees out right?!?

I mean you’re not wearing a coat so it must be warm! We can hope!!

I looked down at my body clad only with thin scrubs and a lab coat just as I felt the negative temps and wind hitting my skin.  Oh yeah, a coat! Of course!  I never wear one when I’m in the hospital.  I don’t have a place to keep it and carrying it around with me all day? Not an option! So I have grown accustomed to rapidly scurrying across the parking lot before I turn into a human ice block.

Now it all made sense and I couldn’t help but marvel at the perfectly timed interaction.  My God, what a God!  I am truly thankful that He knows us and uses everyday occurrences to speak.  I am always willing to be a girl interrupted…by God!

I am not God (shocking, I know) but in my humanness I’m going to speak.  To all of those people who like to meddle, gossip, and delight in the misfortune of others…I feel sad for you.  Sad that your life is not full enough to enjoy.  But they say a picture is worth a thousand words and I believe my daughter actually says it the best…

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Live your own life and forget about the lives of others unless you can actually offer sincere help.

Cheers!

An auditory love affair…is it really over?

I am in love with the British.  This is nothing new.  I routinely stalk the McDonald drive thru when the Brit is working.  There is just something about the way he coos “May I add the cream and sugar for you?” that causes me to revert back to a cardiac palpitating, zit faced, blushing school girl.  During these braced faced school girl moments, I frequently forget items and must revisit the drive thru again…and again…and again.  I spend way to much time and money at McDonalds when the Brit is working.

Then there is EJ (James Scott), a villain on the brain candy Days Of Our Lives Soap Opera that I watch.  EJ is evil.  EJ is selfish.  EJ kills people.  EJ is vile.  But when EJ speaks good things abound in my ears.  If I were truthful I’d tell you that I really don’t listen to what he says and I certainly don’t pay any attention to what he does.  I simply hear that perfect British accent and it’s all good.  Sure, kill the man.  Steal the baby.  Kidnap the girl.  Just please continue to speak.

After watching hours of footage and biographies of William, Kate and the Royal wedding I am even more in love with the accent than ever.  I’m in deep.

I think a Brit could convince me to swim in chum with sharks…to give away a body organ…to engage in illegal activity.  Of course I’m midly exaggerating. 

Last evening I went with my Mom, Grandma and a few of their friends to a church service.  Not just any church service but a church service where the presence of God was so strong that you could feel the electricity zapping in the air.  After worship the speaker came on the platform and took the mic to welcome the crowd.  He opened his mouth and spoke.  With a British accent.  Time stopped and with it, my heart.  I was ready to do whatever he asked.  Jump.  I’d jack rabbit jump.  Sing.  I’d sing like a slaughter house cow. Raise your hands.  I’d reach for the stars.  I waited.

And waited.  But when he spoke the accent disappeared.  No, not really but as he preached the accent melted away in the context of what he was saying.  The magnitude of the message overpowered the accent.  Not only could I hear what he was saying, but I actually listened to the content.  After awhile I couldn’t hear the accent anymore – not even if I strained my auditory muscles.

I guess God is not only no respector of persons but also accents!  Acts 10:43 And Peter having opened his mouth, said, ‘Of a truth, I perceive that God is no respecter of persons [and British accents – my addition]

And although there are some people and accents that we find more attractive than others, God doesn’t consider things as we do.  1Samuel 16:7  “The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart”

Has my auditory British love affair been wiped away?

I think I’ll have to visit McDonalds drive thru just to be sure….

What accents play your acustic love music?

Germs, Poo and Resurrection

My daughter is a germaphobe freak.   Actually, two of my three kids are germ freaks. My second born (and middle child) is the only one who has a cavalier attitude toward microbes.  He was fed enough spiders from his loving older sister at a tender young age before resisting her was possible.  Initially he would furrow his brows and smack at the object while wearing a mixed look of curiously disgusted.  Occasionally Most times I caught feeding time and performed the perfected parental finger swipe retrieving the object.  I’m convinced it was this constant diet of nasty that lowered his freaking-out threshold. 

My germ loving son NEVER gets sick.  That child has a nazi immune system.  And it seems he has been rewarded for enduring all of the meals provided by older sis because nothing in nature, of nature, around nature, or containing nature touches him.  He is the nature whisperer!

Older sis?  Not so much.  She attracts nature just by breathing.  Payback?  Maybe, but we often attract that which we fear or place our focus on.  Whatever we place before our eyes and elevate in our lives, we empower.  It’s like the child who fears becoming like a parent and declares “I will never be like my parent!” They focus so much on the behavior of the parent that often times they become the very behavior they despised.  

Think about it…Have you noticed that there could be a group of people gathered outside but it is always the people who fear bees or are allergic to them that get stung?  The people who fear dogs attract them like Cesar Millan (minus the “ssssttttt” of course).  The people who are afraid of water usually are the first to fall off the boat.  And the people who fear heights too frequently find themselves in nosebleed situations. 

Could it be that the bee people proclaim “I know I’m going to get stung!”  The dog people utter “Dogs are always after me.”  The aqua people respond “I’m going to end up in the water…I just know it.”  And the height people confess “I’m afraid of heights and I know this lift is going to stop!”  All of these people share two things – fear and belief.  Fear of a situation and the belief that IT WILL HAPPEN.

Fear is a powerful emotion.  It is the opposite of faith (some say fear is faith in the wrong kingdom) so it should come as no surprise that fear works.  Hebrews 11:1 tells us in the new living translation that “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.”  Now doesn’t the fearful statment of “I just know….[insert feared expectation]” sound very similiar to the faith principal?

I came across this quote a few years  ago and I found it enlightening:

“Fear imprisons, faith liberates; fear paralyzes, faith empowers; fear disheartens, faith encourages; fear sickens, faith heals; fear makes useless, faith makes serviceable and, most of all, fear puts hopelessness at the heart of life, while faith rejoices in its God.”

So what of my daughter who breaths and nature responds?  What could be the worst for a clean-freak germaphobe to experience while taking a leisurely walk through heavily populated Central Park?  Take a look:

It's a direct hit - Bird Poo fresh from Bird Butt!

 Heavily populated Central Park and the bird chose her for this special gift.  I was right beside her…shoulder to shoulder…a few cm and I would’ve been blessed with the gift.  I felt the wind from the falling “load” brush past me but it was not until I heard her wails of disgust that I fully understood what had occurred.

We laughed as we washed off her boots and she said “I’ll never look at these boots the same again….I can still see where the spots are!” 

As we celebrate Easter this weekend I am faithfully thankful for a Savior who has not only [permanently-residue free] washed away my sin and spots, but also is blinded to my sin and never looks at me the same again [I am new]!! 

I am a new creation in Christ. Old things have passed away and all things have become new! (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Life…

…has been a whirlwind.  I am suddenly thankful for every precious moment.  I have not been able to write anything recently because of the flood of emotion and the crazy schedule of trying to maintain normal.  As I sit here it is well after midnight and tomorrow comes too early for my comfort level.  My cousin called recently and chuckled rather sadistically as she asked if she woke me up at 9am.  She then proceeded to state that she wasn’t sure if I trained my entire family to sleep in until 2pm or if that was something that I got to indulged in alone.  Ha, HA – gone are the college and newlywed era and, with them, the days of 2pm wake-ups!

I did want to share a few photos I captured of the passing of my beloved Grandpap.  Now, the disclaimer is that my eyes were swollen shut from crying…literally and 99.9% of the time my vision was a blur.  I could barely see plus, it is not really proper to whip out a big ‘ol camera at a funeral so I had to be lightening quick.  However, I wasn’t really concerned with offending people at this moment in my life.  I was mourning and wanted to capture some memories for my family later on…when the pain isn’t as raw.

Here goes…..

Gathering   memories
 
                                                                                                                                                                         
A small portion of his life
                                                                                                                            
The family he loved created….              
                                                                                                       
With the woman he loved
                                                                                                                                     

63 years of life together…Life
                                                                                                                            

Life:  Past and present.  Grandma comforting the boys… 

                                                          
and in return being comforted by family.
                                                                                              
Remembering the good times.

 

Finding it difficult to say goodbye.           
                                                                                                                               
The procession of a life’s journey                         
                                                                                     
A glimpse ahead

Being carried by and…..

…holding a little more tightly on to those we love.

                                                                                                                         
A temporary tombstone and residence for the body…for the dead in Christ shall arise first!!

Walking into their home alone for the first time to begin a new chapter…                                                     

as the songs of life go on…                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                                                                              
 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          
 
But we will never forget those who help compose our life songs!
James Lloyd Brown 1928-2010
We love you.

My personal can of worms

It appears that I have opened up my own cranial can of worms with my last post.  My inner, fun-loving writing world began to get bombarded with thoughts and ideas that, like oozing poison ivy,  I must scratch.  For those of you who follow me you are aware that 99.9% of my writing is, well, warped.  I seldom take on heavier topics unless I feel moved.  I’m moved.  So I’m going to let these little digits loose on my keyboard.  You are welcome to come along for the ride.

While attending a Christian meeting recently I heard the speaker cry out “For God’s Sake….” and it cut me like a paper cut searing into my flesh.  I paused.  I wasn’t expecting this reaction but my Spirit ached.  I felt saddened and grieved.  Why?  I am not a religious or legalistic Christian.  I run [ bolt, charge, flee] from religion and legalism.  I am not judgemental and refrain from judging like I would refrain from drinking posion….I don’t do it.  But something about this remark bothered me deeply.  

Then, I became aware that there are Christian counselors…counselors who advertise and market themselves as Christians…who swear profusely during their counseling sessions with youth as a way “to connect with the young people.”  I’m not talking about a mere damn or hell (although still inappropriate in my opinion).  I’m talking about dropping the mother of all mother’s…. the Hiroshima, the F Bomb, among other crude, street “languagey” things.  Again, I am not a prude.  I have several body piercings and plan to get inked as soon as I can get past my nearing 40yr mentality of “I might get a dreaded disease.”  I soooo should have taken the tattoo plunge in my 20’s when I was invincible.  But I digress.  Back to the swearing Christian counselor.  In one incident a teen reported that the foul language made him/her uncomfortable and he/she felt that the church staff viewed the matter as insignificant.  This teen was encouraged to return to counseling with the sewer mouthed counselor.   Something didn’t feel right about the whole “I swear to connect with the youth” excuse.  I realize that youth are creatures unto themselves.  I know that when working with these unique beings one must be in touch with the culture of the day and possess an element of edge.  But there must be boundaries which are established in love.  To me, swearing to connect with the young seemed the same as saying “I need to sleep with a bunch of men or women to really know how to relate to a prostitute” or “I must steal to know what a thief feels like”   Stupid right?  Of course it is. 

Well, naturally I became curious as to whether ‘letting it verbally rip’ was the “norm” among Christian counselors today.  Thus, I asked a few Master prepared Christian counselors (who I highly respect) their opinion/method.  I barely got the entire question out when they spewed laughter at the craziness of the idea, so forceful that it was laced with spittle, right in my face.  This was of course after the long incredulous look(s) of unbelief.  Without going ad nauseam into the details, it is safe to say that swearing to connect with young adults is uncalled for and unnecessary of a true professional – more importantly, a Christian who is held to a higher standard of conduct.

I had to ask myself “what is going on in our church today?”  What are we Christians thinking?  Swearing? Behaving in crude ways? Using the Lord’s name inappropriately?  Walking a fine line with worldly behavior and our faith?  Blurring the margins in order to make people feel comfortable?  A little discomfort is often what propels us on our face before the Lord.  It’s ok to allow someone to feel a little uncomfortable.  It’s ok to call sin, sin!  There have been times when the presence of the Lord hit me so hard during a meeting that immediately I began to become aware of things in my life that needed altered.  It was this awareness or discomfort in the presence of holiness that caused me to repent.  I’m not saying it is ok to judge or withhold love from individuals.  Remember, judging is 100% toxic.  We should welcome all with radical love regardless of how they look, what they do or where they are in life.  But we don’t have to lower our morals and values just to get people to come to church and feel “comfortable.”  We wouldn’t whip out heroin, needles and shoot up during a church service just to make the addict feel at ease, would we? 

I’m all about the idea of grace and I realize that we are loved in a radical way by our heavenly daddy regardless but, but, but….I must admit that I found myself puzzled.  The notion of grace is not our get out of jail free card.  In other words, we cannot behave poorly, speak trash, and act like the world and think grace will get us off the hook.  Yes, there are times when we have areas in our lives that we desire to change.  However, change may be difficult because we really struggle or find these areas next to impossible to change.  It is during these times that the grace of God is at work and will help us change what we are unable to change.  But sometimes I think we flee from religion and legalism so much so that we become adulterated.  I had to ask, “Lord, what is going on?”  “Why am I so bothered?”

I believe the answer stems from Holiness or a lack thereof.  I’m not saying that we can make ourselves holy because we can’t.  Hebrews 2 says that Jesus made us holy so there isn’t anything we can do to achieve holiness.  But when you encounter the Lord and His holiness it is earth-shaking.  True Holiness and fear of the Lord would bring about very different behaviors than the above mentioned.  Immediately my mind was flooded with scripture.  Ok, I must confess that I skip over most scripture verses in blogs but please, read these.

“. . . and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come” (Revelation 4:8).

And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of His Glory (Isaiah 6:1-3).

Psa 96:9 O worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth.

2Cr 7:1 Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. 

Psa 93:5 Thy testimonies are very sure: holiness becometh thine house, O LORD, for ever.

1Ch 16:29 Give unto the LORD the glory [due] unto his name: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.

Eph 4:284 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

Christians get your HOLY on!  Because I can tell you that if Jehovah…God showed up in our midst we would be face down sucking some ground.  Check out what happened to people in the Bible who had divine encounters.  They say stuff like “I trembled in fear” or “I laid on the ground as though dead.”  Um, yeah that’s about right. We could not stand in His presence.  In Daniel chapter 8 Daniel says that he became so terrified that he fell upon his face and became fast asleep on the earth.  The Angel then had to touch Daniel to give him the strength to stand in the presence of such holiness.  We need to get back to a place of respect and reverence for God and His awesomeness and our behavior will adjust accordingly.

Nuff said!

Are you a snob?

I’d like to think that I am not a snob.  I’d like to believe that I make those around me sincerely feel welcomed.  I’d like to imagine that I am secure enough in myself to become socially vulnerable and break out of the common comfort zone.  I’d like to surmise that I could do a Jesus and hang out with the less than desirables and not solely as a “mission.” Often we Christians think we did a ‘pat on the back worthy deed’ for being nice to a homeless person or going dumpster diving in some third world country.  But what would we do with these individuals in our every day lives – NOT viewing them as a mission?  How would we act if they approached our social safe haven?  Ok, so maybe a lice infested homeless person, who is in need of a good scrub down, entering our social clique is a bit of a stretch but what about a new person?  An “outsider?”  Far too often we devote ourselves to reaching the grotesquely lost but what about those within our life grid?  For instance, what about the unconnected youth in our churches who desire connection? What about the parents who ask for help getting their child to form Godly friendships?  What about the families who live under our noses?   These individuals and requests seem to go unnoticed or fall on deaf ears within  the church today.  I routinely challenge myself and my children with these questions.  The challenge has become even more urgent with the recent media coverage of bullying and the rash of suicides following.

I have discovered that Christians, more often than not, are the some of the worst offenders of establishing and maintaining cliques or zones of comfort.  You see it time and time again with those in the ministry.  The ministry team (pastor, youth pastors, worship leaders etc) is, by the demand of their schedule and time spent together, a tight unit.  The time invested together with their families and children results in the formation of a tight bond which, on one level, is awesome.  However to an “outsider” it presents many challenges. A youth member whose parents are not a part of the ministry team but rather a part of the congregation may experience great difficulty approaching the children of those in the ministry because he/she is unable to enter in on the inside jokes and all of the experiences forged during the mammoth amount of time these kids spend together.  Thus, the formation of a clique occurs (and depending on how many children the ministry team has collectively – it can be a rather large clique)…a clique that is often difficult to break.  What do we do?  I heard one minister say that he explains to his children and the children of his staff that since they spend xyz hours together, he expects them to seek out someone they do not know and get to know them during Church functions.  They must spend each church function with someone new and widen the circumference of their social group.  Bravo!  It comes from the top…from what is tolerated. And as a result his church has had very little difficulties with cliques among the youth.  All are made to feel welcomed and there are virtually no lines of demarcation (Virtually as in minus the individual styles of punk, posh, Abercrombie, pierced, tattooed etc!)

Adults can be subjected to the social stone wall as well.  I was appalled as I witnessed the height of snobbery at a Christian conference a few months back.  I watched in stomach sickening horror as my mom was given the ultimate shove off from individuals who profess to being lovers of Christ and engage in radical, people saving missions outside of the USA.  And I had to ask myself more questions….who do we think we are?  I mean, really.  How can you love on the lost yet treat a fellow believer with such coldness and illusions of self-grandeur? Is it because hugging a dirtball is met with praises from other believers?  Yes, It does take a special person to hug a dirtball but dirtball hugging becomes meaningless if you hate on your own.  Have I ever behaved in such a manner?  Unfortunately, I have because I am human and fallible.  As I shoved food in my mouth and began to evaluate my own behavior (because I most definitely would have sinned in anger if I continued to focus on their disgustingly snobbish treatment of my mom) I realized that I was more likely to engage in social snobbery during the times when I felt inadequate, tired or insecure.  It was during these times that I opted for the comfort of those who I knew loved me and times when I did not feel like, for whatever reasons, engaging new comers.  I get it, I do but it’s not right.  We are called to a higher standard and it is this higher standard that we must challenge ourselves and our kids to ascend to. 

So, yes I’d like to think that I am not a snob…that I make those around me sincerely feel welcomed….that I am secure enough in myself to become socially vulnerable and break out of the common comfort zone.  I may fall short but I am absolutely, 100%, for sure taking Romans 12:3 to heart “For I say by the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think…”

Amen.

Let all creation praise!

We recently visited Canada and a lake house.  It was grand.  Looking out over creation I suddenly realized yet again what a magnificent creator we have.           
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
At his spoken word a boundary was set between earth and water…
 
between day and night…          
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                
between human and creatures.             
                                                                                                                                                                                                               
Yet, no boundary was placed upon His love which he daily pours out on us…                                        
                                                                                     
as He patiently waits for us to aknowledge His presence.                                         
                                                                                                                             
Sometimes we have to get out of the boat and it may be uncomfortable…                                
                                                                                                      
but we are never without His light…                
                                                                                                                                                                                                  
and under His wings we will find refuge.                                          
                                                                                                                                                                
Our God is an awesome God, majestic in all his ways!!