Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Your armpit or mine?

Everyone has opinions, and everyone has a right to them. Everyone also has a right to share their opinion. I've even dared to share mine on occasion.
But when did it become okay to completely slam someone over a difference of opinion? Why is it okay to belittle or insult someone just because they don't think the same way? What good is it doing? How is it improving anything? And do you really think you're going to change someone's mind or even get them to consider a different perspective if you're being sarcastic or downright mean?
And Christians, goodness. We should really, REALLY, do a better job of respecting one another. REALLY. It's embarrassing to see brothers and sisters in Christ being so awful to one another.
The bottom line is that there are no easy answers to anything going on in our world today. And, honestly, our opinions aren't going to solve anything, but our actions sure could.
"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
“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. ... We need not wait to see what others do.” ~ Gandhi

Monday, November 16, 2015

Open Book

It's 1:24 a.m.  I wish I wasn't awake, but I'm antsy.  I'm irritable.  And I'm having trouble breathing.  I changed into my pajamas because I felt like the clothes I had on were actually going to cut off my air supply.  That's not how I typically feel when wearing jeans and a t-shirt.  Even in my comfy clothes, I feel like I need to take slow, deep breaths to get oxygen into my system.  

I have no idea where this came from.  Today was fine. Church, Sunday school, lunch with a friend, home, back to church.  Nothing out of the ordinary.  No problems. Then I came home and the furnace feeling started.  What's the furnace feeling?  That would be when I get so full of rage that it's like a fire is burning inside of me.  I look perfectly harmless on the outside, but inside, I want to throw things just so I can hear them break.  Nothing anyone can say will be taken the right way, so I want to be alone.  But this doesn't happen when I'm alone.  No, that would be too convenient.  This happens when I'm home with the people I love the most, the last people that I want to dump this white hot fury on.

I would like to write all of this off as withdrawal symptoms since I'm transitioning off of an anti-depressant.  Unfortunately, my brain started messing with me several months ago.  Memories of events from 14-15 years ago started popping up out of nowhere, and they won't seem to go away.

Now, 30 minutes later, I'm feeling better.  I can breathe.  I'm not sleepy yet, but I'm calm and feeling okay.  I am really thankful for this feeling, and I guess I'm glad I started writing this out so I can remember it.  So I can remind myself that those horrible moments don't last that long, that I can cope, and nothing has to be broken or shattered in order for me to feel better.  Most importantly, I want to remember that there's nothing I'm going through that God doesn't care about, and He is the One who can bring my heart, and my mind, real peace.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Yes, It's Another 50 Shades Post

   This is a post dedicated specifically to my sisters in Christ who are considering or planning on seeing "Fifty Shades of Grey."
"But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called 'Today,' so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness."  ~Hebrews 3:13~
"Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself."  ~Galatians 6:1~
Now, I know you're an adult and you're free to read and watch what you'd like.  
 "'I have the right to do anything,' you say—but not everything is beneficial. 'I have the right to do anything'—but not everything is constructive." ~1 Corinthians 10:23~
Friends, please ask yourself if you honestly feel that seeing this movie will honor God?  Would you really read the book or watch the movie if you could see Jesus sitting beside you? 

"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable -- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy -- think about such things."  ~Philippians 4:8~
"So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart." ~2 Timothy 2:22~
"Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage ware against your soul."  ~1 Peter 2:11~

If you read those verses and you've prayed about it, and you are still comfortable seeing the movie, then go.  I am so very aware that I am not your Holy Spirit, and this is a decision that is ultimately between you and God ~ and your husband, if you're married.  (Those who aren't married, consider your future husband.)

No, I haven't read the books.  It's my choice to not read books that are classified as erotica, regardless of their popularity.  I have read many reviews on the books, from fans and foes alike.  Some of the discussion points for fans confuse me.

"It's a love story."  Do you know how many books contain love stories that don't include graphic sex scenes?  Or BDSM?  Claiming to read this book for the story seems similar to your husband/son/father/brother saying he reads Playboy for the articles.

"She saves him from his past."   Let's consider this.  If you had a good friend that was involved in a relationship similar to Anastasia's with Christian, would you really, REALLY think that it was healthy?  Would you encourage her to stay in it? Honestly, think about that.  We would not counsel our friends to stay.  If I told you that my ex-boyfriend experienced a great trauma at a young age, and that was when he started changing, and THAT is why he beat me often, would that excuse his behavior?  No, it wouldn't.  In my case, and in our fictional friend's case, the response would be that I/she could not change the man ~ only a relationship with Jesus Christ (and likely a licensed therapist) could.

If you are one of my precious friends who is not yet married, and who is faithfully waiting for your wedding night to have sex... Please don't taint your view of it with these books or this movie.  I'm not an expert, but I just don't think that this is what God had in mind when He created sex.
   Remember, God is not embarrassed by our sexuality, nor is He embarrassed to tell us good and harmful ways to live as sexual creatures.
   Solomon knew that when he said to be be exhilarated with our spouse's love. Solomon knew these God-given desires can be most satisfyingly met by our spouse, with his body and soul in our bed.     ~ Jonalyn Fincher
For those of you with daughters, please consider this letter, and ask yourself if you would want your girls reading the books or watching the movie.

I'll say it again, I'm not your Holy Spirit.  This decision belongs to you, and I am praying that many of my Christian sisters who are enthusiastic about this movie will carefully consider if this is something that will honor God and truly benefit their thought life and their marriages. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Supernatural Nonsense

"I'm only laughing on the outside. My smile is just skin deep. If you could see inside, I'm really crying. You might join me for a weep."
                                                                                 ~ The Joker, "Batman" (1989)

If you're reading this post, I'm betting it's the gazillionth post you've read that has something to do with depression.  And that's probably depressing to you.  And that's understandable.  But, this is my little corner of my little world, and I can't sleep.  I'm thinking about Robin Williams.  I'm thinking about depression. 

There have been things that have made me sad in my life... When relationships ended.  When friends hurt my feelings.  When I found out my first husband was having an affair.  When I was with a man that hit me. When my grandmother died.  When my parents got a divorce.  When I had our younger daughter and I dealt with postpartum depression.

It made sense to be sad in those times, though.

These days, I'm what you would call "too blessed to be depressed".  I have an amazing husband, lovely daughters, great family living nearby, wonderful friends, etc., etc., etc.  It would make absolutely no sense for me to be sad at all.  Ever.  There's no reason for it.

But sometimes I'm not just sad, I'm (brace yourself) depressed.  Feeling lower than the dirt that is stuck in the grooves of my flip flops.  Feeling completely and utterly worthless.  Feeling like the lives of those around me would be better if I weren't here.

And it doesn't make sense.

Depression doesn't make sense. 

The practical side of me is SCREAMING that I'm fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14).  That there are plans for me, plans that aren't meant for harm, plans to give me a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).  That I have great worth in God's eyes (Luke 12:7).

But the depression doesn't listen.  Because depression doesn't make sense.

I've found, though, that I can combat the nonsense of depression with some supernatural nonsense...  The peace of God.

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
                                                                  ~ Philippians 4:6-7 (emphasis mine)

God's peace doesn't always make sense.  I remember so clearly when I was in the midst of the roughest part of my divorce, when my insides felt completely empty and I was sure I had ruined my entire life by marrying the wrong person... I was able to speak to someone who calmed me down and set me straight, and I was filled with joy.  JOY.  Joy, as I was learning that my alcoholic, addicted-to-pornography husband was having an affair with a co-worker.  JOY.  

That makes perfect sense, doesn't it?  (The answer to that would be, "Big fat NO.")

Or several months ago, a good bit after a bout of soul-sucking misery had passed, feeling led to share about that time with a few certain friends.  To confide in them, and tell them about the darkness that I would sometimes slip into.  "WHY NOW, GOD?!" I asked, in my very loudest thought voice.  "I'm all good!"  But I knew it had to be done.  So I did it.  I shared my broken heart and ugly cried all over them.  

Suddenly, they knew my secrets.  They knew my shame.  

And I knew God's peace.

I'm not saying that now I'm skipping along, eating rainbows and pooping butterflies.  I do take medicine for anxiety/depression.  But I do know that if I feel like I'm being enveloped in a black cloud of hopelessness, I have a stronger weapon.

"We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ."
                                                                               ~ 2 Corinthians 10:5

And in those times where I don't feel I have the strength or the worth to reach out to God, I have some friends who are willing to pray for me, and I'm strengthened by those prayers, and once again, I have peace.

Smile, make 'em think you're happy
Lie and say that things are fine
And hide that empty longing that you feel
Don't ever show it, just keep your heart concealed

Why are the days so lonely?
I wonder where, where can a heart go free
And who will dry the tears that no one's seen?
There must be someone to share your silent dreams

Caught like a leaf in the wind
Lookin' for a friend, where can you turn?
Whisper the words of a prayer and you'll find Him there
Arms open wide, love in His eyes

Jesus, He meets you where you are
Jesus, He heals your secret scars
All the love you're longing for
Is Jesus, the friend of a wounded heart

Joy comes like the the morning
And hope deepens as you grow
And peace, beyond the reaches of your soul
Comes blowing through you, for love has made you whole

Once like a leaf in the wind
Looking for a friend, where could you turn?
You spoke the words of a prayer and you found Him there
Arms open wide, love in His eyes

Jesus, He meets you where you are
Jesus, He heals your secret scars
All the love you're longing for
Is Jesus, the friend of a wounded heart

He meets you where you are
Jesus, He heals your secret scars
All the love you're longing for, all the love that you need
Is Jesus, the friend of a wounded heart

Friend Of A Wounded Heart by Wayne Watson (1989)

Friday, May 9, 2014

For the Moms Who Didn't Have an App for That...

Mother's Day is upon us, and soon social media will be filled with accounts and photos of the cutest handmade cards and gifts, messy and creative breakfasts in bed, and perhaps some jewelry ~ some made of gold or silver, others made of macaroni or tiny rubber bands painstakingly crisscrossed together on a loom.

All of it is beautiful, and we all deserve the attention.

But I want to give a little special attention to a certain group of moms.

The moms that had a lot of the moms that will be posting, tweeting, Instagramming, and blogging.

I'm talking about the moms that were doing their mom thing "back in the day."

The moms that, if they needed to phone a friend, had to actually pick up a receiver that was attached to a cord that was attached to a wall, and turn a dial to connect with someone.  There were no quick texts.  No speed dialing.  No Siri.  There were no e-mails, either.  If they wanted to contact an out-of-town friend without paying exorbitant long distance rates, they had to get a pen, get paper, and write a letter.  With their hand.  Or maybe, maybe, they used a typewriter.  Then, they sent that letter off, and by the time they got a response, they'd forgotten why they wrote in the first place.  They relied a lot on a little something called women's intuition.

And if they wanted some advice beyond a friend?  Dr. Spock.  In paperback.  Acquired at a book store, or maybe through the library.  No ordering on Amazon with delivery to their door.  No e-readers.  A real, live book.  Or maybe they watched Donahue?  Forget Oprah, Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz, or the ladies on The View.  Their choices were slim.

Speaking of television, the only educational programming was on PBS, and if they missed the time slot, THEY MISSED THE SHOW.  They could not DVR it, restart it, or watch it On Demand.  They didn't pop in a DVD.  They just sat while their child cried because they did not know what Big Bird and Grover were up to that day.  And cartoons?  They were shown on Saturday mornings, and ONLY Saturday mornings.  And they didn't offer anything of value, unless the kids kept track of how many times Wile E. Coyote had an anvil dropped on his head.  Because that was math.

Speaking of math, let's talk about homework.  If these moms' kids had to look something up, it meant the mom was taking them to the library.  Not sending them to search on Google.  Or (heaven help us) Wikipedia.  It was either the library, or there was a full set of encyclopedias present so their kids could do their research in the privacy of their own homes. 

Let's give a shout out to the moms who planned our birthdays without Pinterest, and when they wanted to take pictures of those parties, they used a camera with film.  Then they took that film to a drugstore where it got developed.  And then two weeks later they were able to see their twenty-four precious pictures, and maybe seven of those were actually not blurry in good light, and one would actually have a kid looking at the camera and smiling.

They taught us to ride our bikes without helmets.  They drove us here, there, and everywhere without five-point harnesses or seat belt laws in cars without air bags.  They washed dishes by hand, hung laundry out to dry, all with babies on their hips and toddlers at their heels.  

Whatever it was they were doing, they did it well enough to raise the kids that created the things that we enjoy today.  And for that, we should be in awe of them, and thank them and praise them.

And we should do it with more than an e-card.

Monday, December 2, 2013

What NOT to give this Christmas.

It doesn't matter what you wrap it in.

It doesn't matter how pretty the bow is.

It doesn't matter that you felt it was worth more than two cents.

Your opinion is not a gift.
"Opinions are like armpits.  Everyone has them, and most of the time they stink."
I'm not sure who came up with that gem originally, but I do recall our youth minister saying it.  And I remember thinking, "He's got a point."

A friend on Facebook mentioned that they don't do Santa in their home, and they received a couple of (well-intentioned, I'm sure) suggestions that perhaps they should let their child enjoy the magic of the holiday season, that Santa wasn't so bad, etc., etc.

I know that's not atypical for Facebook happenings, but maybe for this season we could try to focus on and enjoy what works for our own families without suggesting that what works for us would work for everyone.

Don't do Santa?  Merry Christmas!
Santa visits your home?  Merry Christmas!
Real tree?  Merry Christmas!
Artificial tree?  Merry Christmas!
An Elf On The Shelf keeps your kids in check during the holidays?  Merry Christmas!
The Elf On The Shelf terrifies you because you think they're creepy and scary and really do sneak around the house at night trying to find sharp objects to poke in your ears?  Merry Christmas! 

If you are gifted any opinions that aren't quite your size, aren't the right color for you, or are just plain ugly, instead of trying to return or exchange them, maybe just toss them.  Click DELETE and move on, or just move on.  'Tis the season to be jolly!

Friday, May 3, 2013

"I have been crying, and it has done me good."

That's a line from a book I've never read, The Romance of Judge Ketchum by Horace Annesley Vachell.  I was looking for a nice line about crying, and that one came up.

“I have been crying," she replied, simply, "and it has done me good. It helps a woman you know, just as swearing helps a man.” 

Do you ever get overwhelmed?  I do.  Except lately, I've been overwhelmed by happiness, and with joy.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining at all.  I can't really put into words how stinking awesome it is to feel grateful and happy and loved and just plain amazed by all the wonderful things God has given me.  I mean, obviously I don't feel like that all the time -- I'm not sure that's possible without being heavily medicated.  But lately... Yeah.  It's been really great to be aware of the positives outnumbering the negatives.

The only thing is, I tend to cry when I feel happy.

So I've been crying a lot.

Watching my daughters make up their own handshake.  Sniffles.

Seeing a man bring his elderly neighbor's trash can up from the road so she doesn't have to.  Tears.

Anytime I see an older couple holding hands.  Sobs.

And for all I know, it could be an adulterous octogenarian couple, really.  But I'm still going to cry happy tears thinking about the possibility of two people being in love and together for so many years.  And then I'm going to cry some more as I think about being that age and still crazy in love with The Husband, and holding his hand as we shuffle through Target (because any good date ends at Target), and then maybe we can bring happy tears to the eyes of a middle aged woman who sees us.

So if you know me in real life, and you see me with tears streaming down my face, don't worry too much.  I probably just saw a baby smile or something.  It's all good.

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.  James 1:17