Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Chief among Sinners.

I just have to tell you about this friend I Scrabble with. You can tell he is very in love with his wife and kids by the little comments he says about them. So... nice guy, right? And for some reason 90% of what he says makes me laugh so hard that no sound actually comes out of me... my shoulders just shake and tears come out of my eyes! He destroyed me again in a game last night. I keep telling people I used to be really good and I was! I was I tell ya! I had a score in the upper 1400's which is respectable... but I started playing people who's score were all in the 1500's through the high 1700's!!! I don't like those people! All that to say, my Scrabble confidence is waning.

So me and this fella were talking after a game last night... somehow a bunny trail about smiley faces got us to the homosexual issue... HA!!! I have a biblical view on that issue, which includes loving the sinner and hating the sin, and that I am just a sinner too. We discussed a few things and he shared that he was an Atheist. He couldn't have been more generous and is always kind and encouraging. He said I could have the last word and I only came up with UM. He said to do better so I said, "Good night man who will believe." So say a prayer for my buddy so I don't come up a liar :)

Scrabble doesn't have a way to have a rematch with someone without adding them to your friends list, so I add a lot of strangers... (skeery.) I always check out all their info as soon as I add them. The funny thing is, so many say "Christian" or whatever under religion, but if you scan down a bit, they have also joined the "Drug and sexual addicts who like to kill cats for the 4th of July" club. For so many, it's just a title. I have known many Christians who don't seem happy at all compared to my Atheist friend. And I have met Atheist's who look like they would give their left arm for a sliver of hope! The only reason I share this story is just that people are so interesting!

I have made this point several times in my blog... "WE ARE ALL THE SAME!" My homosexual friends, my Atheist friends, my African friends, my Christian friends... the common thread is we are all born with a sinful nature and only One thing can save us from the consequences of that sin. A Christian comedian used to say, going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more then going to McDonald's makes you a hamburger. I think when we Christians start getting to know people for who they are, and loving them on the same level we want to be loved on, people will start falling in love with Jesus. We always feel we have to appear perfect so as to represent Him well... but appearing perfect isn't the goal... being perfect is. What is perfection? Look at Jesus. It's to love the lost! It's for us to admit the only reason we're saved is that we needed a Savior.

I used to be a lot more uptight cause I thought that's what I was supposed to be. But I have learned to keep it real (as they teach in our church I'm seeing that God is bringing people to me... even though He knows my failings, of which there are too many to count... He still brings em. I guess what I do when they get there is up to me. I wanna do what Jesus did. I wanna love em. What about you?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Having everything and nothing at all.

I have watched a documentary on PBS (sad to say) maybe 3 times now... I can't help it. I get sucked in every time. It's the true story of Richard Proenneke. He left society and moved to the Twin Lakes in Alaska. One Man's Wilderness is the name if you ever want to see it. The interesting thing is, he used a movie camera (this could have been 4 decades ago now, not sure...) and filmed himself doing everything. It's the voice of the narrator that draws me in and what Richard does that keeps me there. He shows himself building his own cabin and an underground refrigerator to keep the meat he hunts cool and safe from beasts. My favorite thing he does (don't ask me why) is when he makes his own wooden spoon to ladle pancake batter with. He was just a wiry old dude, but you sit in awe of his gifts and strength.

One thing runs through my mind the whole time the shows on. What happened? How did he end up separate from all humanity... from his family... friends... all alone. I mean a lot of people love nature. When I was a kid, my dad used to take me fishing and it is hands down, one of my favorite memories. He loved that I loved what he loved. We had found common ground. He was kind enough to put the worm on the hook for me... ha! And the best time, was when we were all done and he was cleaning up. I dipped my hook down in the water, no bait, and he looked at me and said, "You'll never catch anything like that!" As if God Himself were on my side, a tiny fish came up out of the water, dangling from my hook. We laughed... together. Good times.

But this man Richard, would have none of that. He would experience highs and lows... alone. What happened?! He was through crying, laughing, dancing, making love and touching any other human being. All alone. That breaks my heart. But sometimes... I get it. It's a messy thing, getting involved with people. I can't tell you how many times I've imagined the same scenario: A cabin in the mountains. A gun for safety. A garden for food. A little canoe. Books to read. Prayers and the Bible. Just hiding where no one can hurt you. Where your life is your own and feel owned by nothing. But the trade off... the trade off.

So I keep coming back... I hope you do too. It is the story of mankind... to love, hurt and to be hurt, to forgive and forget... seems like the later is the hardest part. I cannot not look at any ones motives. Only God can judge a heart. I must accept what people say at face value and not search for deeper truths. So take me as I am, friend. I will do my best to do the same, lest we all find a nook in the world and hide in it.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Dream about it every night and day, spread my wings and then I fly away....

I went to a women's retreat last weekend. I didn't want to go... I am becoming a little more Hughes'ish than one should be. It's funny how God steers you into those things... kinda like that shepherd with his hook and that little lamb. I simply approached Paul who was standing by some friends and didn't even realize that I was standing next to the sign up table. Shoot! My sweet friends were like, "Beth, you gotta come, have you signed up yet?" I didn't stand a chance against the two of them. I got so nervous realizing I had run out of excuses that I didn't notice (till I looked crazy) that I was playing with my hair like that freaky woman who has to "one up" everyone on SNL.

When Paul and I first got married, he would come home at night and he would open the front door, only to see me suspended on the door by my fingernails... I wanted out! I wonder how it is that we go through such changes in this life... the pendulum swings so far one way then the other. I am always sharing with Paul the funny stories and interactions I have had on Facebook that day... he teases me and says, "You know it's not real." "But it is," I argue. It's sort of like souls without bodies... kinda like Heaven if you think about it (only with cursing, anger, rudeness, quizzes and the like.) Of course we're supposed to have new bodies there... yet we're spirit... all I know is the only scale there will be the scale of justice and that will be thrown out when Jesus enters the room! There's a great book about Heaven and what it will be like... it's entitled "Heaven" by Randy Alcorn. In the first three chapters he defends what he believes, mostly for all the biblical scholars, so it's a bit dry, but if you can get past that... it's a lot of good stuff to ponder for sure!

People picture Heaven as a boring, cloudy, floaty kinda place, but it's not... it's gonna be a solid, beautiful place. Earth redone many say. Surfing without the sharks, skydiving without the parachutes... (or the ker-splat), climbing Mt. Everest without the lack of oxygen and the life threatening temperatures. But besides the earthly ideals... God will be there. That loving, fatherly Creator Who has been so in love with you since before you were born that He was willing to suffer incredible pain and loss in order to hold you close to Him. I have never wanted anything more than I want this... to be with Him in that place. To feel beautiful and loved when He looks at me and not embarrassed or ashamed of my humanness.

At this women's conference they reminded me that I am not my own. I was bought with a price. People bought a century ago were bought as slaves... to be used and abused. People bought now are purchased as sex slaves, to be used and abused. Again, His is a Kingdom upside down... I was bought and marked. To use Christianese, I was saved... but not just saved from Hell... saved from death. I was saved for something... I was reserved for a better place! My position is saved for me. I have things to do when I get there. The things I was created for... I will not seclude in that place! I will not hide! I will laugh and dance, and sing and run and I'm pretty sure... I'm even gonna fly.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Mr Darcy, I presume.

My husband has mentioned many times the fact that his grandmother lived in a world that spanned the horse drawn buggy to a man walking on the moon. It changed more for her generation than any other, no doubt! I loved her generation, it was great and momentous and that fact has now been well documented... but out of sheer pleasure, I have to say, I loved the generation before hers too. I get the NPR feed on my home page and apparently today is "Talk like Shakespeare Day." Oddly enough, a Scrabble friend just told me that too! I do love a great tale of romance... and I love me a good Jane Austin story the most! (I'm sure that is how she would have phrased it.) Oh how she knew the heart of a woman! I love the flair that's sent around stating the fact that "Mr. Darcy has ruined me for all other men." Mr. Darcy... mmm... just give me a minute. Yes, I'm ok. The gentile ways are no more and in most ways we are the worse for it.

I was thinking earlier how my kids wont ever know the joy of playing pretend on an unplugged rotary phone for hours. No, they have squawking, beeping, flashing cell phones with princesses and cars all over them. They will have to try very hard to remember homemade fried chicken and ice cream. Home made ice cream... mmm... just give me a minute. Yes, I'm ok. And oddly enough, they will never know a world where grown ups (entertainers) don't know it's wrong to touch themselves in public. How bizarre! And I'm so happy to say, my youngest wont ever remember a nation where a person of color hasn't been elected president! Huzzah! Of course, as much as the world has changed... it stays the same. People have always had, since the beginning of time, the fierce desire to protect what is theirs. Whether that's their country or their family... maybe their belongings... point is, people fight for what they love.

I know there is a spiritual realm. The Bible says there is a battle on for my soul. Me? Are you sure? Every good story, from a Jane Austin novel to Star Wars, came from this original story. Good verses evil. Love verses hate. God verses Satan... and like every great story, a main point that has to be established in order to give the reader deeper understanding is... motive. Why is there a battle for my soul? Because out of the two competitors, one wants to destroy me out of hate for his enemy. He knows that the greater Warrior loves me... the Greater cares about my destiny... The Greater is quiet... He has a still small voice. He doesn't need to scream or shout or force His will on me. He simply, powerfully, quietly, gently loves me... He loves you too. Turn your head oh wayward daughter... oh wayward son... see your Hero... see your King! He's coming soon... coming for you. Have you heard? He is the lover of your soul?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

No blocking allowed in Heaven!

Relationships are a funny thing aren't they? They are like money... a necessary evil... at least that's my opinion. I am definitely one of those desert island people, I tend to isolate. But it wouldn't be long till I was craving relationships... and probably food and maybe coffee, but I digress. I am kinda mouthy though, you might have noticed. It's not that I want the attention (as every one of the facebook quizzes I've taken says I do :) it's more that I want the interaction and I will constantly put myself out there in order to draw... the good and the bad, I suppose. Do you feel like me? Like you are not just one person? Like you're an introvert and an extrovert? The prom queen and the burnout? The parent and the child? I think we all fall into those categories. We are not so one dimensional.

So because of the incredibly funny jokes I am always telling and my extremely hilarious nature, I am sometimes stepping on toes... the last thing I would ever want to do, believe me! Why? Cause that would cause rejection which in turn shuts down the interaction process... see? It makes sense in a way :) I have had 2 people drop me from their friends list (both from church... ouch!) And another person blocked me before he ever added me... now that one confounded me! Yeah... that one could have stung a lot, but I think I figured it out... had to do with some "arranged wedding" jokes I made about 3 years back. I have made those a thousand times concerning all my kids, but I think he might have thought I was gonna try and harm his relationship with his fiancee. Pffffft! Whatev, right? (At least I'm learning to take on that attitude the older I get.)

It is SOOO easy to step on others toes and to have yours stepped on in return. The Bible says not to be easily offended... easier said than done though. Forgiveness is probably the most important thing in the Christians life... following love of course, but who would offer forgiveness without love? Sometimes I feel like I have been mad at Paul for over two decades. (Fun for him, I know you're thinking :) But you know, it's all that crazy man stuff. Like, why'd he get mad at me when he left this morning when I was going out of my way to help him? and... remember 12 years ago when he didn't get me an anniversary present? and... what about 18 years ago when... Ha! Yes, the list goes on and on. How does a marriage survive without forgiveness? For that matter how does a friendship survive... or even a church which is basically a giant pot of relationships.

I am sorry, if I've ever hurt any of you. I wont go so far as to say that my motives have always been pure and my heart always righteous... but I do know that if I did hurt you, then I shouldn't have, and I hope we can be free from my mistakes. I want you to know that I am trying to forgive you too... it's not easy. I am a grudge holder. I am one of those people who just wants to laugh and cry with you and if you turn your back on that... I tend to hold on to that hurt. I'm sorry. I know that God isn't finished with me yet... and in saying that, I know that doesn't free me from the responsibility to let go of my grievances... each and every one. I think of one thing, over and over again... we cannot avoid one another in Heaven. WE WILL BE HUMBLED IN THAT PLACE. It may make the process a little easier if we start getting over ourselves now. So, I guess what I'm trying to say is... lets not give up on one another. There's most likely a reason we're in each other's lives.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Destination: Busia.

I said I'd tell you some more Africa stories... if you like them, I will share more. Here we go.

We traveled by plane for more hours than I can even remember to get to Kenya... I barely remember the hotel we stayed in when we arrived. It was kind of nice... had all the amenities. I think we all knew that after that morning, it would be the end of life as we knew it. We piled up into vans and hit the road for Busia, one of the poorest towns in Kenya. We were right near the Ugandan border. The "roads" were a little different from ours. I'm not sure, but I think they might have once been the ocean floor. I'm not saying there were potholes, I'm saying there were canyons in the road. "Life" took place on the sides of the road. I think they would freak out if they saw we had sidewalks here... the spoiling never ends. The drivers were quite used to the busy street life and really couldn't be bothered. At one point we saw a man dive into the weeds to spare his own life as we barreled past him. I can't count how many tires we popped as we drove along these roads at 60 mph. I can say that I know how a can of soda feels when a little kid gets a hold of it. Ten hours of that driving was incredible!

We actually saw zebras running along side the road and the greatest part about the van ride was the scenery. You always picture Africa with that one picture in your head... you know the one. A barren desert with the sun blazing down and that one African tree in the center. Instead, we saw forest with the tallest skinniest trees on earth. We saw ant hills bigger than a VW bug, and yes the joke was always, "I'd hate to see the ant that comes out of that thing!' So when we got to Busia, they showed us to our huts... we had cold water in barrels to bathe with, which they kindly supplied from a tank that captured water when it rained. I can't tell you how beautiful the people were. What a quiet, strong, contented beauty they had. Many were anxious to come to America and study, but they all looked so self assured and were so welcoming and fun!

We each had our own translators. I had a couple of kids... teens. They cracked me up... We were walking together from village to village and hut to hut. Once, as we walked through some grass higher than our heads, I heard a rustling, but couldn't see the cause. I asked one of the boys... he said, "That is... hmmm... how do you call it?" (I waited interested.) "Oh... an alligator." WHAT?! Come again!!! Could you please have some expression on your face when you say things of this nature? I looked around and no one showed the slightest interest... trying to wrap my mind around it all, I finally figured it out... they're not afraid and I think I know why. They're with a 30 y/0 white woman who hasn't spent one day in the outback, let alone running from wild animals... and she has a skirt on. "We're good." I think they thought. "We just have to outrun her." The faith of these kids was incredible. One of the boys, just 16, cast out demons by the power of God. I'm not saying he stood on a stage and put on a show... I mean a man that everyone knew was possessed, came to him swearing and screaming and this boy prayed over him and he was healed. Those kids were awesome... I didn't deserve to be sowing and reaping with them. May God grant them His hearts desire for them and not there own desires. May He keep them safe, loved, fed, healthy and productive... those are my desires for them.

Monday, April 20, 2009

It's a love thing.

I am an armchair traveler... heard of that? Like the Sunday morning quarterback? I never really liked to travel... we found out later in life that I have Fibromyalgia, which is a chronic pain disease (boring!) Only to say that traveling can be a very uncomfortable thing for FM people. I travel to distant lands every week though... through PBS. We love PBS! However, I have been to a lot of neat places for someone who can't travel much. Been to Canada twice, which doesn't count really since it's just an extension of America. (KIDDING! HA!) Been to Mexico a lot... never had a bad time there. We went to China to get child # 4 and believe me, at 5'8 and 6'4, we stood a head over... everyone. I saw people actually point at Paul. Hahahaha... my awkward time was coming, but in a different country.

Paul asked me to go on a missions trip to Africa once back in '98. I was telling my friend/mentor about it before we left... and she just goes, "Oh Beth, you're not ready." When we go on car trips across America, I am so tense by the time we get home... do you know why? Public restrooms. Can't stand 'em... just the thought of them makes me queasy. So to say I wasn't ready to share a hut surrounding a hole in the ground, with an entire village is an understatement to be sure. We actually had to pee in the forest a few times. At one point as I was using the "facilities" and man walked right past me... looking right at me! How do you say, "I want to die" in Swahili? Except for the "white part" this event seemed to appear normal to him... but it was new to me.

I kissed a little boy on the head when he asked Jesus into his heart. His name was Bill Clinton. He had a cough. By that night I was coughing up blood. I was SICK!!! Paul didn't really know how ill I was... he couldn't stop telling people the good news... news they hadn't heard... that God in Heaven, the one true God, adored them and wanted them to be a part of His family. So as he walked the streets alone, the other missionaries in bed, I was in a cement hut. The bed I lay in was used for prostitutes normally. I had already been awake the whole night before sick with some sort of stomach virus. We pressed on. What else could we do.

There are so many stories from Africa that I like to share, cause they are powerful. So many! I think I will share some later... but the one that always sticks out for me the most is more a picture than anything else. It's the eyes of our translator. He knew how ill I was. My cough was hard to keep secret... I was dragging for sure. They dropped us off in a village somewhere and as he began to drive away, he looked at me... only at me... and he said these two words, "Win souls." His eyes were filled with seriousness and sadness for his beloved people.

I know people talk about "evangelical Christians" a lot. I've never claimed to be anything, but a Christian... that's the only word that matters to me... everything else is just a box someone puts you in. But there was a reason that people started telling the story in the first place. It wasn't because Jerry Fallwell said to do it... it wasn't because we became guilted into speaking out to an angry world. It was because Someone loved His beloved so much... that He sent His only Son to save them. When did that message become something to be ashamed of? He asked us first... before anyone else... to "Win souls." It was a love thing... it still is.

Friday, April 17, 2009

No joke!

So much talk of Scrabble, I know... you may be tired of it, but it's what I do. I told you that with my illness it has been the only way I've had contact with the world. It's hossum (as my son's friends would say.) I have met a lot of Christians, a whole lot of Canadians and a lot of folks that I would consider friends. Maybe we're all a bunch of freaks and geeks, but we're a mish-mash of society and it's been interesting to say the least.

If you play long enough, you will get pretty good. You will learn the tricks of what goes where and what you should never do. If you are fortunate enough, you will play people who are better than you and they will school you. You will have many losses, but learn new tactics. You are always bettering your game and I think that's why we all like it so much. There are some drawbacks to throwing yourself into a pot of society though. I have heard more double entendres playing Scrabble than I have heard in a lifetime. I don't know what's wrong with college boys, but it terrifies me for my daughter... they have but one thing on their minds and they are driven to make that point. I have deleted many a game because of it, but I have also made friends in spite of it.

Often sounding like their dialogue was taken from one of the T-Birds on Grease, they press on as I change the subject or gloss over a comment. How many times I have said, "I have a daughter your age" or "I am a member of the AARP" I don't know, but I guess they have to meet their quota's. There was one boy who I genuinely cared about. Don't know why... something about him seemed sad... like he needed a mom. I don't know his whole story, but he had a baby out of wedlock and we had gotten to the point where he realized he needed a new script with me. So I got to know him... a little I s'pose.

One day, I was reading my friends list status's. I never really do that, but I was bored. I came upon his and it was a shockingly bad joke... about Jesus. My mind raced... I hated having that on my page, where anyone could read it. I came to a quick decision and deleted him as a friend. It may have been the wrong choice... I don't know, but it just seemed that my love and loyalty to Jesus was questioned in that moment. I sent him a note and simply said, "I don't think you know how much I love Jesus." He said he thought He was a great man, but that he didn't really die on the cross... that those stories were make believe. I told him that He was my god... that I doubted he would have made a joke about Muhammad or Buddha for fear of offending, but that Jesus was always an open target.

I've lost a few Scrabble friends... it's always sad, but I do hope taking a stand for the Man Who died for me, was the right choice. Maybe this kid will come back and apologize. Maybe God will use what happened to speak to him that He is real... that the Bible and the stories he's heard have survived for thousands of years because they're true. Last night, when I went to bed, I read in Matthew that familiar verse, "If the salt, loses its saltiness, what is it good for?" Such a fine line between not expecting others to know what you know and experience what you've experienced, and recognizing when someone has willingly made themselves an enemy of God... please pray with me that like a lamb who's been lost and alone, this kid will find his way into the arms of the Shepherd Who loves him.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Hold my hand... I'll make sure to let it go.

I have been on facebook for a year and a half and I realized something... it's like community on steroids. I have learned so much about myself, others, communication, socialization... the list goes on and on. I learned something new about myself, that many of you may be slapping yourself on the head (V-8 style) as I am just figuring it out... I think I allow my happiness to depend on others. Ack! Big revelation to me. On the days where I get lots of messages, inbox mails and interaction on Scrabble, I am happy!!! On the days where things are more subdued, I am sad. Pretty simple, kinda lame. I learned that I am looking for something... to deep to dwell on yet... but it's something I'm lacking. I think I have tried to feed my flesh for years... mostly by trying to feed my flesh... but I desperately want something... grrr... to be 20 years older and not age yet. Isn't it great to look back? I mean, not always, but still... how great to gain understanding.

When I was in the 6th grade, I was very popular... have no clue how it happened... but everyone was following me and listening to me... strange. I guess I decided I would use my powers for good cause there were 3 students, girls, who came to our school, don't know why or how, but there they were. One was from a Latin country, two were from Vietnam. I tried to speak what little Spanish I could muster to my Latin friend Ana. Mainly I repeated the word "recro", if I remember correctly, so that she knew she was welcome to play with us. I might have tried using the word "recro" on the girls from Vietnam too, maybe I thought it couldn't hurt.

I made this 6th grade class the kind of Utopia I always felt the world should be. All accepting, all inclusive... ALL. Then I got sick... really sick. For two weeks. They did tests of all kinds... they didn't really figure it out. When I got back, the troops rebelled. They did not want Utopia, they wanted cliques. I became despised among girls. I will never forget asking the new ring leader what I did wrong so that I could apologize. She told me to go to Hell. I was shocked... no one had ever said that to me... in fact quite the opposite. That year was not much fun. I lost my best friend of many years and it hurt deeply.

So fast forward... I am still learning you can't fix all problems. You can't make everyone like you. Even though Christians are supposed to be like-minded, we're often not. We are empty vessels wanting to be filled with something... anything to make that hurt and void go away. The funny thing is, I know that if I throw myself into God's arms, the way I have in the past... the hurt and the emptiness begin to dissipate. But I keep throwing myself into quick fixes. They never, ever satisfy. Again, lucky am I that I haven't tried drugs.

I wonder if you are hiding today... or hiding something. I wonder what you lack that you so desperately need. Maybe that's why the Bible says to continue fellowshipping as the end draws near and not to give that up as many have... because we need to encourage one another not to self medicate. Again, how important to live openly with one another. I had a friend share something with me, that she had kept quiet. The funny thing was, God had shown me already, clear as day... but I think it blessed her to say it out loud. In turn, I shared with her my failings and I knew that was good for me too. Like Popeye, I am what I am, but I'm not what I was and I'm not what I will be. I hope I don't rely on all of you for my happiness in the the future, but I do hope we will still spur one another on in love. Maybe that's why we have chosen the narrow road... it brings us closer together :)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

To be... or not to be (good.)

I play Scrabble with a lot of strangers... some stranger than others :) But there was a man recently who knew I was a Christian from the things posted on my Facebook page. He wanted to know if non-catholic Christians observed Lent. I told him some do, but it's not imposed... thinking better of my answer I told him nothing was actually imposed. I shared the verse about all things being permissible, but not beneficial.

It's funny how restrictive many think Christianity is. "Don't drink, smoke or chew or hang out with those who do." Who came up with that? It's no wonder the world sees Christianity as a list of do's and dont's and not as a relationship between a man and his Creator.

I was raised in a Christian home. I wasn't perfect... at all... no where near. But I lived on one side of the fence more than the other. People at church usually thought I was a pretty good girl with a positive example... most the time that was true. I went strait from being 17 to a married woman on May 16th, 1986. Almost 23 years now. 40 years of trying to be good. Wow... that's a long time. I remember in my 20's thinking I would try drinking, as other Christians I knew did. That was not a good idea for someone with an addictive personality. All I can say is it's a good thing I never tried street drugs... I'd be in jail or dead by now.

According to the Bible, I can do whatever I want... but each choice will set me on a path. A path of my choosing, really. Wide is the path that leads to death, narrow is the path that leads to life... hmmmm. It seems so simple that even a child could understand. What is it about that wide path that draws us so much? And if I am always choosing the wide path... was I ever really on the narrow path at all? So much to work out with fear and trembling.

I love that I have been learning... growing in understanding really, about the difference between trying to be good, and loving someone so much that I would never seek after anything that would hurt my relationship with them. I recently read a quote by CS Lewis that said, "Love is not an affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person's ultimate good as far as it can be obtained." That is perfect for marriage, but it also speaks of our love for God. We know that sin separates, but do we care? I mean how deep does this love go on my end? I know it went to the cross on His.

God, as you mature me... help me not pursue any righteousness separate from you. Help me not to waver, but to grow in my love and understanding of who You are. Help me be... help me... help.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

To the bat cave! Wait... maybe not.

I am always so surprised when people tell me they have read this blog. I guess it's because I myself, do not like blogs. I have to really force myself to read them. I think it's because I want to interact with the author and instead I feel more like a sounding board. Hmmmm... hope you don't feel that way, but I love when you leave notes so that we can interact. :) Some have told me they like this blog and I wonder if it's because I sometimes reveal my garbage and it makes them feel better about themselves. Ha!!!

I think we all do a lot of hiding. Remember when Adam and Eve were in the garden and when they realized God knew their sin, they tried to hide from Him... in a cave or something. Ha! Seems so silly... like you could hide from God. But they knew Him differently than we do. We have that perspective of a giant God Who knows all things and is everywhere at one time... all powerful. They actually walked with Him. That makes me stop and catch my breath... they walked with Him. Awesome. I can't imagine the loss they felt when they had to give that up. I can't believe I give that up for other things myself. Foolishness.

Do you hide things from God? I don't really. I guess I am aware that He is aware of my darkest heart and there is no cave I can run to where He can't find me. I do notice that we Christians tend to hide things from each other, and the world. I don't know why... we're all the same. Not one without sin... no not one. I get why the secular world can dislike us so. We end up putting a "better than you" kinda vibe out there although most of us never intended to. We just try so hard to be like Jesus, Who was perfect, and somewhere along the way, we forgot we're not capable in our flesh. There is a definite benefit to steering clear of worldly things and seeking after the things of God, but at no point, on this side of eternity, does our humanity enable us to overcome our humanity (or our flesh, as we Christians call it.)

I want to live honestly. So I will start by telling you, I want to hide some things about myself that aren't nice. It's like my facebook pictures. I'm only putting the ones up that shed me in the best light possible... I'm not putting up the wrinkles, double chin, no make-up pictures or anything so vile! :) It's all in the presentation isn't it? Well that may be ok for facebook, but I can't live my life that way. Even if someone were to fall in love with Christ by seeing my example, the best hope I could offer them was to be another me. Ick! Who needs that?! We have to live real in front of each other and the world. Tell people you have an anger, an unfaithfulness, a drug, a drinking problem... it could bite you in the butt, yes... but it was doing that anyway. God isn't done with you yet. That's what He does!!! He heals!!! He rescues us from ourselves! You don't ask Him to be your Lord and then suddenly become perfect. He is a perfecter... He does this job over time.

So yeah, you look great on Sunday morning... you really do. But what's in that heart? Is it empty? Are you dying inside? Are you lonely, hurting, tired, broke and undone? Maybe you forgot playing dress up doesn't make you a Princess. Take off that tiara... find someone you trust (they may let you down... deal with it) but start getting real with that heart. You can't hide it from God and shouldn't hide it from the rest of the world... you know why? Cause they need to know that they're not alone.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Wipe that "L" off my forehead, please. I'm the one who put it there.

When I was in Jr. High I wanted to take acting classes in Tucson, AZ. They were very expensive, but I still held out some hope. I bugged my mom about it and she said my dad said "No." Now, I don't know if this really came from my dad or if my mom told my dad this and he agreed, but she said my father didn't want me to get into acting because I had a hard time with rejection. Hmmm. I didn't even know that about myself. I was like, "I do?"

Now as I have gotten older, I am pretty firm in my understanding that I have a big (strike that), a huge (not big enough), a massive problem with rejection. As a matter of fact, if I am trying to resolve a problem with a friend and they are not quick to deal with it, everything escalates in my mind to the point that if I don't cut things off, I will go crazy coco-puffs. I have actually ended friendships, not because I don't love the other person, but because the rejection hurts so deeply I can't function until I have closure. I guess my Dad had a valid point.

Have you noticed that everything on Earth is a copy. Coffee is a substitute for energy... and a good nights sleep. Porn and sleeping around is a copy of the gift of a loving relationship and intimacy given by God for marriage. Revering movie stars, music stars and basically anything on a stage is a replacement for worshiping and adoring our loving Creator. I think that's what Satan has twisted inside of many of us... I know I'm not the only Earthling with this rejection issue. I think that basic desire within us was put there to desire being accepted by Christ... being welcomed in to Heaven when we see Him for the first time. I think that's why people like me struggle with our salvation. I know that my salvation was paid for. I know I can't earn it, even though at times I have tried. I know it is a free gift and I have accepted that gift... and still, at times those thoughts enter in... being sent away from God for eternity is the ultimate rejection. I have loved Him my whole life... I just want to be with Him forever and to be sent away is a thought I cannot even contemplate.

These things are my issues, I know you have your own, and God is working them out of us. But the overwhelming sad thing is... some will be rejected. (Oh the agony of that thought!) Not because they weren't good people, or because they weren't special to God... but because when He offered them a chance to get to know Him, to receive this gift that would save them from eternal death... they rejected Him... an irony that holds no humor. Oh God, I pray today, if anyone at all reads this, and doesn't know how much You love them, that You will reveal Yourself to them now. Let them feel the chains that have bound them to sin, drop away... free them and accept them as Your own.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Flipped out.

My husband is truly the most patient man on earth... he'd have to be to put up with me. He's like a geyser though... he stays calm a long time, but if you push him when he's at his limit... he will snap. Stand back. When those dogs (mentioned in my last post) were getting out everyday, he reached his limit and... well he snapped. He went outside and picked up each dog (which always makes us laugh, cause he is so big that he makes the dogs look tiny) and stuck them in the tree house. At the time, I wasn't laughing... I wanted my husband to come back to reality and see that this was not a long term solution. Now it kind of cracks me up every time I think about it. So yes, my husband is a lil crazy, but now that I've revealed a glimpse into his "dark side" allow me to tell you what I admire about him.

We got married right out of high school. It wasn't a shotgun wedding or anything like that. We just truly loved each other and wanted to grow old together. At the time, it seemed like the battle we might have to wage in order to get married so young, was too big to face so we eloped. Now, I think Paul is kind of a genius... a mad genius, but very smart and that is attractive to me. I call him my own personal Google, but I seemed to have received all of the communication skills of which he seemed to have received none. Many times, I felt superior as I would leave him in the dust in some silly argument. However, as I mature, I realize more and more that it is he and not I, who is wiser. It's like that old song about living in a Kingdom upside down... meaning, in the world, the Kings are served and the surfs are the servants. However, in God's Kindgom, you see the dichotomy from the worlds perspective. He came to serve us, He gave His innocent life to pay for our sin riddled souls. These are the things I have learned from Paul. These traits are quite different from what Hollywood would choose for their hero.

Find the good in everyone and give them the benefit of the doubt.
There are very few battles worth fighting for, but fight the ones you must.
Don't hold grudges... let things go like water off a ducks back.
Respect others and don't worry about their opinion of you. Just do your best.
Try new things.
Be faithful, in everything.
Don't grumble or complain.
Always be bettering yourself.

There are a hundreds things I have learned from him, but his kindness always sticks out the most. When I told Paul I felt that God was leading us to adopt, he seemed to pray about it less than a week, and he agreed. Not many husbands are anxious to take on more kids, but to him, it was a natural decision. I have seem him stand on the corner, week after week, telling young women that he and his wife would adopt their child if they only wouldn't abort it. For 23 years I have seen him care for the less fortunate, with a willingness to give until it hurt. As I grow... me and my rapier wit, and my quick tongue, have learned who the one with all the savvy really is. Paul's living that kingdom, upside down. No, Hollywood would not choose him as their leading man... he's a led man. It can be dizzying at first, it's been hard to get my bearings standing on my head. But once you flip your perspective, you start to see things, the way they were intended to be. Maybe someday I will be crazy too... but this time, for the right reasons. :)

Monday, April 6, 2009

Hope to cope.

Does anyone remember Pinky and the Brain? It was a cartoon in the late 90's. It was about an evil-genius mouse who was tiny in size, but whose head was freakishly large. He sounded like James Mason... he was Brain. He had an assistant mouse... tall, skinny, cockney accent, hugely lacking in intellect... he was Pinky. Every episode ended with the duo failing in there evil scheme to blow something up or what have you. And they would repeat the same mantra every time.

Pinky: What are we going to do tomorrow night, Brain?
Brain: Same thing we do every night Pinky, try to destroy the world!

We have two dogs. Charlie is half basset, half beagle. We "adopted" him from Happy Tails. This dog is Brain. We took Baby, our chocolate lab, (black in color) from some friends who were trying to find homes for around 13 of them. Baby has cost us $14,ooo worth of damage at least. This dog is Pinky. When they are free in the back yard together, Brain somehow incites Pinky to chew through the fence, then they run around the neighborhood destroying things. Luckily, only one neighbor has complained. She frightens me. We tried EVERYTHING to keep them in, including Paul spending two days in the pouring rain putting some kind of chicken wire around the bottom of the fence, but they would find a way through that too.

One day I came home after some heavy duty sinus surgery. I wasn't even supposed to be driving. Getting home alive, without throwing up was a feat, to say the least. I just wanted to lay down before I collapsed. When I pulled into the driveway, I could see the stuffing pulled out of the neighbors patio cushions and spread ALL over their yard. I had to clean it up of course. I repeatedly bent over causing the blood to flow out of my nose into my bandage and as I finished, another neighbor (scary lady, not the people who owned the cushions) came out and started yelling at me. I told her I was so sorry, that we would pay for the damage, that we were doing everything possible to keep them in. Nothing I said appeased her. She was very upset. The fact that my eyes were rolling back in my head and blood was pouring out of my face didn't seem to concern her much at all.

It was just one of those months. Everyone needed money, bill collectors... everyone. We didn't have any. Paul and I hadn't really had a chance to speak... (for 20 years... kids n' stuff.) After my sinus surgery, Lily had surgery on her ears. Anything that could go wrong did. It was overwhelming. Wow... just one of those months.

I tell you all that 'cause we have about 12 of those months, every year, for well over 20 years. There is an old song called, "Life is hard, but God is good." I really don't know how people survive without the Lord. If I didn't have God to bring my worries, fears, doubts, hurts, failures, and sins to... where would I go? Would I hold it all inside? Hire a professional to listen to me talk? What if I had a really close friend, or a spouse who helped me deal with all those things... would they always be here for me... 24/7? Seriously, I don't know how I would survive a month like this if I couldn't tell Him I was falling apart and ask Him to step in and carry me through.

We got a zip line and put Pinky on it. She doesn't seem to mind. She likes routine. It has taken away Brain's ability to get out of the yard. We haven't solved our money issues. The IRS alone wants almost as much money from us as we made in our third year of marriage. But we are still going. I never know what the answers will be. I do know the trials will always be here. They'll come and go, some will be inflicted by self, some by others... but they'll always be here. I have no hope to cope outside of God's unfailing love. That's why we build our house on the rock and not the sand. They can take the house, but they can't shake the rock on which I stand.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Rough waters ahead.

Today, I will tell you about my Dad. He passed away one week after my mom's birthday in 2000. He was 61 at the time. My dad held a strong presence in our home. He was usually more on the serious side, but enjoyed a good laugh when he deemed it appropriate. He liked a good story and liked to tell one too. He took us to church 3 times a week rain or shine. He worked long and hard. He played battleship with me when I was a kid, catch with me when I was a teen, and Othello when I was an adult.

I enjoyed hearing stories of his youth cause they didn't sound like him to me at all. Once when he was little he threw a fit while his mom was on the phone. He wouldn't stop so she put him in the closet so she could finish up. When she retrieved him, he had pulled down every stitch of clothing in that closet. Little ones always win in the end... why do we not know that? He helped his family work a farm and told me, that when he was a teenager, he would lay in the field and dream about a job where he didn't have to do manual labor. He got his wish. Forty years plus as a successful business man. 

Apparently, we all carry some kind of strep around in our bodies... not a big deal. But Dad had bone cancer. He didn't even tell him mom 'cause he was told it would be 15 or 20 more years before he'd have to worry about it. It's a slow moving cancer however it left his immune system weak and on my mom's birthday she rushed him into the E.R. A week after that he went home to meet his Creator. I just can't get over the briefness of life. When we suffer, it's a slug, but when we're just living day to day... it's a cheetah.

The Bible says every man will give an account for the time he has squandered. DID YOU HEAR THAT?! (I am talking to myself now.) I must use every opportunity, no matter how small it may seem... to glorify my God. Not out of fear, or responsibility, or because there is some kind of eternal score card... but because life is a gift and I need to remember that. How many times have you wished you could give that gift back? I have wanted to give up the ship (a few times) when the waves overwhelmed me. But I'm still afloat. Do you know what that means? The storm lost. I won. If I'm still afloat and so are you, then there's a reason we're here. To live out the day to day? For some great endeavor? Or just to fall in love with Jesus... we are His bride. He is coming for us.

I don't know if I'll make it to 61. It doesn't really matter. Every man has an appointed day. I wonder if I will spend my days in rebellion, tearing down clothes in a closet... or following my dreams. My dad sure didn't stay in that field, though it would have been fine if he had. He pursued his dreams, and God blessed him. I wonder if some days, I forget to dream... if my compass is tucked away, and my ship too close to shore. I do like that feeling of security... but the kind of security we want... isn't real. Everything we put our trust in, is but a vapor. Oh God, from where my help comes from... give me goals, give me opportunity, give me strength. I will try not to ask for smooth sailing... but instead ask for peace through the storm.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

In my weakness...

I want to reassure those of you, who don't believe that you can be a Christian and watch the Simpson's... you can.  :) We chose not to watch the Halloween specials, and we closed our eyes during the "Itchy and Scratchy" segments... but we still laughed more at that silly show than almost anything we ever did together... sounds a little pathetic when I say it out loud, but there it is.

We always joked that child #2 was like Bart and that my husband Paul, was like Homer. My husband's a gentle giant. Unlike Homer, he's never harmed a child in his life, but he does have the capacity to let others wait on him. It's my fault. I wanted to be a Proverbs 31 wife... I wanted to be like my Granny... turns out... now I only want a new husband. Hahahahaha... sorry. Just kidding. There was an episode where Homer is finally kicked out of the house by his long suffering wife Marge. She says he can't come back till he can come up with a valid answer to her question: "What do you have to offer this marriage?" 

He has to live somewhere so he chooses the tree house in the back yard (as my husband would.) Within a few hours, his clothes are tattered as if he's been ship wrecked, and he has a full beard and a wild look in his eyes. Oh my! I am laughing now. By the end (spoiler alert) he runs into the house, falls to his knees and says to the love of his life, "Marge! I finally figured out what I have to offer you! Total and utter dependency!" Paul and I looked at each other and burst out laughing. That is us. He is a go getter in life, but in this home... it all falls apart if I'm not in the picture. 

I didn't think I could blog today... my heart and mind are on other things... people. Christians. We can get so far off track when we turn even slightly to the left or the right... such a slippery slope. I speak from experience. When we get away from Christ, we actually convince ourselves that things are still on track... it's just a different track. I remember asking a dear friend once, who had walked away from Christ, "How do you do it? How do you turn your back, knowing what you know?" He said something so obvious and simple. He answered, "You just keep shoving God to the back of your mind till you don't think about Him anymore." Wow! Deep... and shallow all at the same time.

I can tell you that the trials I face, I would face whether saved or unsaved. The Bible says that the rain falls on the just and the unjust. All I know is that the things I've faced, I've needed Someone bigger than my trials. I needed Someone Who knew the outcome and Who could comfort me and strengthen me when my legs were too weak to stand. I needed a Rescuer who didn't just pick me up and pull me out, but Who taught me how to trust, obey and follow so that when the next trial came, I was stronger. In return, I have but one thing to offer that Hero... that Saviour... total and utter dependency