Friday, October 31, 2014

Walk a Mile

I have a favor to ask of each of you reading this... I'd like for you to take your time reading these words, and taking them in, and letting yourself into the character's shoes. When you're done, close your eyes and truly image yourself in his/her shoes...

Imagine you're a young teenager. You are awakened early, after another restless night's sleep. Your first thought is "blah... I don't want to go to school..." but is immediately followed by listening in the silence for your dad's voice. Is he throwing up again, as he's doing so many mornings? Is he in pain? Is he even awake? Is he alive? Please let him be alive!

You stumble down the stairs to check on him. Sometimes, upon hitting the bottom of the stairs, you remember he isn't even home - he's in the hospital again. Sometimes, he is home. But often, when he is home, he's either sick or in pain. And when he's sleeping, you stand by his bed checking to make sure he's breathing.

Finally accepting that he's ok, you get ready for school and head off. Like any teenager, you have a million other things on your mind. Did you finish your math homework? Why didn't your boyfriend/girlfriend text you this morning? Do I really have to go to phy ed today? But, unlike most teenagers, amidst those common but stressful worries, your thoughts also go to other things. Will Dad be ok? Can Mom handle helping him, and work? How's he going to get to his doctor appointment? What if the doctor finds something else wrong, and Dad's going to be in the hospital again?

You come home, knowing you need to help with the chores, and the siblings. And with taking care of your Dad. You can't go out with your friends because he needs someone to help him out. You don't want to go out a lot of times, because you're worried something will happen while you're away. 

You go to bed each night praying God make him well... praying God end his pain... praying God make your life easier, though you often feel guilty for this desire. Your sleep is broken up as he calls for someone to help him in the middle of the night... or because you are worried he will call for someone.

The stress becomes almost unbearable. Tears threaten to fall, even though you've tried so hard to keep them away. You've had to become so strong, and yet you constantly feel so weak. You try turning to a good friend... again. But, you've apparently turned to her so many times, she doesn't have time for you anymore. She'd rather hang out with the "fun" crowd. You try another, knowing you desperately need a shoulder to cry on, or at least an listening ear. But, he doesn't have time for you either.

You try to be understanding. Everyone has their own issues to deal with. You recognize this. And you know you've abused the friendships so much by always being in need. But, dammit, you need someone now. Again.

In selfish, needy anger, you lash out at those who abandon you.
Eventually, you cut yourself off from them all.
You learn to toss on masks - acting strange and psychotic and goofy. It's not for attention (or, not exactly). It's to hide from the pain that no one wants to hear about. It sometimes is also for someone to see you  and listen to you - they won't listen to the real you anymore. But, it's still a mask. The pain and stress and anger and frustration still lives within.....

......

Monday, October 20, 2014

Gossip and Slander - the Tools of Fools

I'm sure you've all met them before. Conversations with them usually begin with "did you hear what [insert name] did???" It's usually followed up with... "Well, Betty told me she overheard Jim tell Jack that Susie's husband's brother said...."

Gossip


I remember going into work about 10 or 11 years ago, and being approached by the boss' wife. "Are you and your husband getting a divorce?" The question came out of the blue. He and I weren't having any problems whatsoever. So, I answered her honestly (no, we're doing great)... and asked where the question came from. She explained that someone had told her my husband kicked me out of the house and I was living in a motel. It was several hours later before I figured out who said it and where she got the information...

The weekend before, I was stressed beyond belief and driving my husband nuts. So, he gave me some money and told me to go uptown for a while. Upon arriving at the bar, I told some of my friends "I was driving my husband nuts, so he gave me 10 bucks and told me to get out." I knew what I meant. My friends knew what I meant. The old lady sitting behind me, however? She decided to run with the story, and fill in the blanks on her own.

Slander


4 or 5 years ago, I was volunteering at the school for a fundraiser. I was walking near my son and one of his classmates, when I suddenly heard an old lady quite loudly tell her friend (while pointing directly at me) "She used to be a stripper!" I was floored. First, I've never been a stripper (maybe I should have been - they make good money), and second, I still don't have a clue where that one came from.


What's the Difference?


There are some people who consistently feel the need to take little snippets that they've heard, and fill in any blanks with their own creativity, and spread this around to other people. They hang on every juicy tidbit other people feed them, embellish the stories a little, and eagerly share their story with the first person who'll listen. This kind of gossip is annoying, and hurtful, but it's usually fueled by a simple desire to talk... to say something "exciting"... to relieve boredom.

But worse (in my opinion) are those who feel the need to make up their own crap with the intention of hurting other people. The woman who was telling people I was a stripper - the only intention behind her words was to slander my name - to ruin my reputation. She told lies with the express purpose of making me look like a bad person (as if I don't do that well enough on my own).

And these are the kind of people I need a lot of patience from God to deal with. These are the people who will smear the name of a good person, just because they don't like her. These are the people who set out to ruin a man's reputation, job, marriage, or all the above, just because they don't agree with him. These are the people who intentionally seek to destroy good people just because they can, or because they don't care for the person, or because they're simply heartless fools.
 

What's the Bible Say about it all? 


There are actually many verses which speak to the evil of slander, both in the OT and NT. But, my personal favorite is this one...

Psalm 15
 1 O LORD, who shall sojourn in your tent?
Who shall dwell on your holy hill?

 2 He who walks blamelessly and does what is right
and speaks truth in his heart;
 3 who does not slander with his tongue
and does no evil to his neighbor,
nor takes up a reproach against his friend;
 4  in whose eyes a vile person is despised,
but who honors those who fear the LORD;
who swears to his own hurt and does not change;
 5 who does not put out his money at interest
and does not take a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things shall never be moved.

And, of course, there is Matthew  15:18-19...

18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.

And then there's... well, look them up. Just do a search for "Bible verses about slander."

 And then... stop slandering. Or, if you're not one to slander, at least stop listening to those who are this way. They can't slander someone if they don't have an audience.

May every word that leaves our lips be brought forth with the intent to lift up, comfort, love and support one another.

God bless!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Button, Button, Who's Got the Button

Have you ever found yourself spinning yourself in circles, to the point where you confuse yourself much more than you already were?

This is how I've been feeling lately. For the past several weeks, my Bible Study group has been concentrating on Spiritual Gifts. I really hadn't paid much attention to the topic before. I'd skimmed over the verses which discuss these gifts, but never spent energy on what they are, what they mean. It never dawned on me that perhaps we each have at least one of these gifts.

It has been an interesting study. And it's motivational and encouraging to believe we each have at least one gift. I entered into the study excited to find out what mine is, and how I can best use it.

And, 6 weeks in, I still don't have a clue.

Service
Prophecy
Mercy
Exhortation
Giving
Leadership
Teaching

These are the motivational gifts. We should each have a primary one (or two). How one reacts instinctively to a situation is generally a good indicator of which gift it is. And, I'm still lost. I react instinctively in many different ways, depending on the situation.

Service - I offer my services whenever and wherever possible. But is this an instinctual, drawn-to-do-so behavior? Or do I simply feel someone has to do it, so I agree? Or do I do it for the recognition and acceptance? Or because I really can't afford to financially give, so I give my time to compensate?

Mercy -I can often empathize with people who are hurting or in distress. I sometimes feel their pain almost as strongly as if it were my own, sometimes without them even telling me. And I sometimes can minister to these people. But is it an instinctual reaction because of a gift, or is it more because I know where they're coming from because I, too, have been there?

Teaching - I love absorbing myself in studying. I study the Bible, the commentaries, the original language/translations. I could spend hours researching a topic. And, I love to write about these topics, or whatever other topic pops into my head that I need to shout to the world. But do I do this to teach others? Or is it just a love of education?

Even the others (or some of them anyway), I can see myself fitting into in some way, at some time or another.

Arrrgggghhhh!


So what about you? Do you know your spiritual gift?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

We Treat Furniture Better




Last night, a beautiful young lady made a comment that really touched me. I had been talking about how I don't like seeing people mistreated - bullied, ignored, cast aside. My apologies to her, but I can't recall the exact words she used. It was either "people care more about animals than they do people... they care more about furniture" or "people treat animals better than they do other people... they treat furniture better."

Either way, she was right. And, it saddens me that someone this young can see this, and has to see this.


The best way to judge a person's character is to see how they treat animals...?

I've heard that statement before, and thought nothing of it, until it was suggested that some people treat animals better than people. I have known people who take very good care of their animals. One particular couple I know had a bird and a cat. Those two animals were well fed, played with, talked to, held, and never once abused. The children in the home had to clean the entire home, cook all the meals, were kept on a very strict routine, were often "kenneled" in their rooms, and were beaten severely and often.

I've known some who will make a bed outside next to a sick calf, but come to school the next day and bully other students. I've known some who will cry over an injured animal, but physically abuse a supposed loved one or friend. I've known some who will take in any stray animal they can find, but kick their own child out of the house in the middle of winter for no reason.

Don't get me wrong - I'm all for treating animals well. I cried for hours when I accidentally hit a squirrel with an arrow when I was a child. I'm constantly trying to bring strays into the home. But a person's character is not only how they treat animals...

It's how we treat all living creatures, and especially how we treat other people!


God created everything - the land, the sea, the birds, fish, and all animals. And He made man guardians of it all. We do not own this land - it is His alone. But we are to care of it (see Leviticus 25). Additionally, we are to care for the animals. We are to treat them well, helping the sick ones, finding the lost ones (see Genesis 1, Ezekiel 34).

There are definite references throughout the Bible that we are to care for these things. However, I don't know if you can find a chapter within the Bible which doesn't mention how we should care for others (ok, there probably is... but it is stated quite often). We are to love each other. We are to care for each other. We are to make sure those who need food are fed; those who need shelter are protected; those who are naked are clothed; those who are in sorrow are comforted; those who feel alone are welcomed.

Why saddened?


So why does it sadden me to have this young person talk about how mean people are?

First, generally for someone to recognize this, it means they've also experienced it. Granted, I don't know for certain if she has, but as I have seen how mean people can be, I would not doubt she's been on the receiving end. And this is definitely saddening. This is an intelligent, polite, insightful young lady with a beautiful soul.

Second, it's quite sad that someone of her age can recognize this fact when most adults can't even see it. Or, they can see it in others, but act the same as those others. And, I honestly cannot leave myself out of that. While I do try to be loving, and do try to avoid being hurtful to others, I know I have had my share of mean moments.

Let me end this rambling...


I know, I know. I talk about this topic a lot. Love love love! But seriously - this is what it is all about. This is what Christ is about. Let's stop treating our animals (and furniture) better than we treat one another. Let's open our hearts to people, and close our mouths from uttering mean things to (or about) one another.

God bless!


Things That Make Me Go 'What The...'?

 Have you ever watched the news, or read an article, or been involved in a conversation that just makes you stop and say "what the heck!?!"

This happens quite often to me, although I generally just ignore them and move along. But, I figured this time, I would share a few things that made me go "huh?"...

1) Biracial Baby to Lesbian White Parents: 


We still live in a society where homosexuality is not the norm (in fact, it is still considered a sin by many Christians, and just taboo or wrong by many non-Christians). However, apparently, it is equally horrible to be of a different race. It seems, a Caucasian lesbian white couple wanted a child. They picked out the sperm donor - a good looking, successful white male (or, so the profile at the sperm bank stated), and one proceeded to get pregnant and have the baby.

The baby which arrived was bi-racial (apparently, the person read the profile number wrong and sent out the wrong vial). So, this intelligent white lesbian couple decided to sue. They were not happy they didn't get what they had ordered. But the main reason they gave for why they're angry and suing for so much money? The child will grow up picked on for being biracial, and because the parents don't know how to take care of her hair.

Seriously??

2) Give Him Sex Whenever He wants It!


So, I'm sure many of you have heard of the Duggars - 19 and counting (very large family). Anyway, this family has some very strong Christian values. And, some that just make me go... ummm... huh?

When one of their daughters is allowed to start dating, the father is the one who selects a potential partner. There is, understandably, no sex until marriage. However, there is also no kissing, no hand-holding, and all dates are chaperoned. Ok, I get it - trying to minimize temptation. Sex is something for within the confines of marriage, and holding hands can get hot and heavy pretty quickly.

But... within the confines of marriage... the Duggar girls are taught that whenever their husband is in the mood, it doesn't matter how she feels. She is to give it up. There are no headaches. No excuses.

Yeah... sorry... I've written on this one before and well, while I recognize the importance of sex in a marriage, and I know the scripture on your body belongs to him, his to you (I'd look it up and quote it accurately, but I like giving my readers something to do - or something to complain about). But if a woman (or man) is not in the mood for sex, then no. You cannot have loving, intimate, physical relations if one of you is not feeling well, or just not in the mood, or is too tired. 

3) "Burn the Gays!" says the divorced mother sleeping with her ex-husband's coworker and his best friend.

Ok, so I didn't exactly hear or read that specifically. However, I have read repeatedly article after article condemning homosexuals. The reasons cited - it is Biblically wrong! It's an abomination! It is living in sin, and continuing to live in sin.

And yet, these same people who yell the loudest about how wrong it is, ignore divorce being wrong... ignore that premarital sex is wrong. Many of them continue to live in their own sins. We are told by Jesus that whoever divorces and remarries, is committing adultery. So almost every re-married person (or divorced but sleeping with someone else) is continuing to live in sin. I'd almost say what they are doing is actually worse (although, a good friend told me there are no better or worse sins...) than being homosexual considering Jesus himself spoke of this topic.

Seriously, before you begin screaming about the immorality and sinfulness of another, take a good long look in the mirror. Please.

 

Amen!



God bless you all!