Those Who Go Before Us

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I ran across this cartoon on Facebook, and it touched me. (I have no clue to whom the credits are due.) Memories of those wonderful people who have gone on before me, waft in and out of my mind throughout the year, but during the Christmas season, it seems like there is just this barrage of memories that assault me. So many of the traditions we follow each year have threads of these precious folk woven through them.

Through this barrage of memories, it could be easy to get wrapped up in the sadness and stay in that dream world.

Traditions – if we let them – can serve as a type of Balm for healing, I think. Remembering what those precious folk taught us and meant to us and lived for can spur us on to continue on, live in joy, keep the faith. Traditions can also keep us trapped in the past. I guess it’s important to learn when to embrace tradition and when to let go and begin new ones.

May your Christmas past be a Balm of healing memories so that your  Christmas present is joyful and strong and you make way for your Christmas future!!

What traditions do you have that bring peace to you at Christmas?

What If?

It occurred to me  as I’ve been trying desperately to wake up this rainy morning, that perhaps if I paid more attention during the day, God wouldn’t have to wake me up to give me the answers to the questions I’ve been asking.

Yesterday I was wrestling a bit with some dilemmas related to my job. I often wrestle with work related things. Last night, though, I woke up and I had a plan. Amazing. It makes sense, it’s exactly what needs to happen, and I know this is the direction I need to take.

Trouble is. I’m tired today.

What if:

  • I turned the volume of my life down during the day?
  • I dedicated a portion of my day to quiet?
  • Instead of the radio, I tuned in to God?
Lord, You have my attention.

Petty Buffoons, Another Rant

This is another rant specifically directed to my Christian Brothers and Sisters. The rest of ya’ll are welcome to read. 😉

I am not a Democrat.

Actually, I’m not a Republican either.

I am, however, getting disgusted. And now, I begin my rant.

Yesterday I was reading posts on Facebook and ran across this picture posted of President Obama carrying a book called The Post American World. The conversation in the comments started to get a bit heated, jabbing President Obama for reading this kind of a book. I was surprised at how quickly those commenting assumed that this book was a book to teach Obama how to make America decline and that he was reading it to get ideas. I hadn’t heard of the book, so I went to Amazon and here’s what they say about that book:”This is not a book about the decline of America, but rather about the rise of  everyone else.” So begins Fareed Zakaria’s important new work on the era we are now entering. Following on the success of his best-selling The Future of Freedom, Zakaria describes with equal prescience a world in which the United States will no longer dominate the global economy, orchestrate geopolitics, or overwhelm cultures. He sees the “rise of the rest”—the growth of countries like China, India, Brazil, Russia, and many others—as the great story of our time, and one that will reshape the world. The tallest buildings, biggest dams, largest-selling movies, and most advanced cell phones are all being built outside the United States. This economic growth is producing political confidence, national pride, and potentially international problems. How should the United States understand and thrive in this rapidly changing international climate? What does it mean to live in a truly global era? Zakaria answers these questions with his customary lucidity, insight, and imagination.”

I hope he’s reading this book to get ideas. He needs to. He’s the leader of a wonderful country that is in trouble! Thankfully, my friend removed the photo and her comments. She was quick to realize that maybe she had assumed something she shouldn’t have. That was cool.

What isn’t cool is that there are so many Christians (me included) who jump to conclusions, base our opinions on half truths and become completely disrespectful when we disagree with someone’s ideology. Which brings me to the point of my rant: How can we show the world Jesus when we act like a bunch of bickering, petty, uniformed buffoons?

There is a great chasm between how we are to be acting as Christians and how we are acting. If someone doesn’t align themselves with our right-wing, conservative political agenda, we crucify them. While we don’t hang them on a cross and beat them up, we name call, make fun of, and show anything but respect to them. We pick  apart what they wear, what they eat, how they look, and now, what they read.

Little, petty things that make no difference at all.

And then we make huge political statements without even being informed. We are able to shout out quotes and quips of what we hear from our Conservative Christian circles, but we really have no substance to what we are quoting and quipping because we are really just uninformed. We rely on a few ‘leaders’ to spoon feed us rhetoric and we don’t know what any of it means. We rely on right wing conservative media and information, forgetting that their biases and agendas are just as strong as any liberal agendas or biases – and they’re not always right.  And then we spew. And those with whom we disagree become targets of mudslinging, slander and malice.

And the world doesn’t see Jesus. Again.

We live in a wonderful country that gives us the liberty to be able to disagree with our leaders and with each other without fear of federal wrath. I love that I can speak  my mind even when speaking my mind may be completely against the agenda of those in leadership. I am not suggesting for one minute that because we’re Christians we shouldn’t exercise that right. What I am suggesting is:

  • Be informed. We need to make sure that what we are reporting is accurate. We need to check many sources – even sources that are not :::gasp::: filled with right wing conservative agenda. We may be surprised what we think is true may not be.
  • Pray for those in leadership of our country. God says.
  • Pray again.
  • We need to remember that it is entirely possible to disagree with people without shredding them to pieces. If we really are informed, we will be able to explain our reasons for disagreeing or our stance on certain issues well. If we aren’t informed – really informed, and if we haven’t checked our facts, we really should just keep our mouths shut.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer. From the Bible in Psalm 19:14

Random Thoughts

Every once in a while, I get ideas. Sometimes I just love having my brain full. Other times it gets exhausting – especially when those ideas lead to me having to do something about those ideas.

For example. On Tuesday, one of our farm cats gave birth to a litter of kitties. This time of year is a bit unusual to have kitties,. but there was no denying the mewing going on outside my kitchen window. The mother (AKA Skanky Ho Cat) abandoned her kittens and we found them the next day. They were nearly frozen. Of course, we couldn’t leave them when they were calling out. So, my daughter and I – both of us are horridly allergic to cats – brought the kittens in and tried to get them warm. We put warm water in ziploc baggies and wrapped wrags around them, laying the cats on top of the baggies. It didn’t take long and the kittens started becoming active.

The next morning, I spent $40 at the vet for food, and we began a journey of learning more about kittens than we wanted. I knew that their bottoms needed to be wiped every feeding so it didn’t get crusty and prevent them from pooping. But did you know that you have to simulate a momma kitty by wiping their gentalia so they can pee? What the heck?

I never woke up to feed my own babies as much as I had to wake up to feed these kittens. I took them to work to make sure they were warm, and each night, I lost a kitten. Finally, this morning, the last one died.

Yuck.

 

I’ve been thinking about Skanky Ho Momma Kitty and wondered why she left her kittens. It made me mad at her. First we thought that she had died. But yesterday she just showed up – after the $40 was spent, of course. We tried to take the kitties to Momma, but she wouldn’t have anything to do with them.

Rejected.

There are some things I have learned since Tuesday.

  1. I’m really glad that Human Mommies don’t have to lick bottoms to make sure their babies potty.
  2. I should have only bought the small can of formula and saved $28.
  3. Kittens stink.
  4. Mother Nature does a better job than I do.

 

Jumpers, Mountains and Words

Years ago, I borrowed a cute pregnant jumper from my friend Diana. It was the early 90s, and we were both homeschooling moms, so if you guessed that it was a denim jumper, you would be correct. What I especially liked about it was that it had enough room to accommodate a growing belly, but wasn’t one of those tent dresses that was so popular. Seriously. Some of those pregnant dresses were like wearing actual tents! So, anyway, this was an unassuming denim jumper that I just loved and wore a lot while I was pregnant with Jordan.

The jumper found its way to the back of my closet during the last month of my

The Lost Jumper

pregnancy because as accommodating as it was for my growing belly, Jordan grew so much that this sweet jumper just couldn’t keep up and a pretty, soft pink jumper of the tent variety soon took its place. Some months after Jordan was born, Diana found out she was pregnant, so she called asking if I could return the jumper.

Thinking I could just go to my closet and pull it out, I told her I would bring it right over. (She lived across the street.) It wasn’t there. I was mortified!! The only thing that I could think of is that the jumper had been mistakenly placed in my give away box and would have made it to Goodwill. Shoot.

I called Diana, and apologized profusely, telling her I would buy her a new jumper. She stopped me in mid-sentence and said a phrase that has had staying power in my life. “You are more important to me than a silly jumper.”

Talk about a relationship builder! This sounds so cliché, but that phrase was implanted in my mind that day and has often come to the fore front when dealing with broken antique plates, chairs or ruined ceilings. I have to admit, though, I have often fought the urge to throw out the phrase, ” I can’t have anything nice!” (and have on many occasions). The times I have said, “You are more important to me than _______”, were the times that an important  relationship was strengthened. I know that day I heard Diana speak those words to me, I felt loved and important. I need to remember – and practice – saying those words.

Our words are so powerful that they can build or destroy. When I am irritated, it’s especially important that I take pause and choose my words carefully. I really want to build mountains – I don’t want to strip mine my relationships. I recently read the book, The Help, and watched the movie shortly afterwards. (If you get a chance to read the book, please do. It’s awesome. The move? Eh.) Aibee, getting ready to say good-bye to her last charge says:

“I look deep into her rich brown eyes and she look into mine. Law, she got old-soul eyes, like she done lived a thousand years. And I swear I see, down inside, the woman she gone grow up to be. A flash from the future. She is tall and straight. She is proud. She got a better haircut. And she is remembering the words I put in her head. Remembering as a full-grown woman.

“And then she say it, just like I need her to. ‘You is kind,’ she say, ‘you is smart. You is important.'” (The Help, by Kathryn Stockett)

Think about the strength of positive, life-giving words. They really can be eternal.

I did find that blue jumper, by the way. Funny thing. It was in the back of Terry’s closet. Go figure.

They Will Know We Are Christians by Our Love

Warning: The following contains a not so nice post. I’m ranting, if you will.  Please do not read if you are uncomfortable with cynicism or criticism. 

You were warned.

 I have just about had it with Christians – and I am one. And by that I mean that I believe that Jesus was born of a virgin, he is the Son of God, he died and was victorious over death and by that sacrifice and miracle, I am a Daughter of the KING. I believe that. For most of my life, I have been very busy in ‘ministry’. I’ve been a Sunday School teacher, a VBS director, youth leader, worship leader, worship team member, I wrote curriculum for nearly everything. I loved being involved. For years, though, I’d look around and wonder why we really weren’t making much of a difference in our world.

 And then I stepped out of my bubble – my nice little church bubble where all the people were Christians and were members of my church, and all my friends were Christians, too. I liked that climate controlled bubble, and I’ve got to admit that some days I long for that comfort and that kinship. It can wear on a soul to be on the outside, because being out here nearly brings me to tears every day.

Because out here the masks are off and the smiles are gone.

Years ago,  I announced through an ad in the local paper that I was a Christian mom seeking to provide day care for children in my home. I ran that ad for over a month, and it went unanswered. I was a bit surprised that when I took the word ‘Christian’ out of my ad the next month, I had more calls than I knew what to do with. I didn’t understand that back then, but I have a very good idea now. 

The world is skeptical of Christians. And rightfully so. 

I have seen a lot of ugly stuff in my job as a child welfare worker. I knew I would when I first started, but I’ve been a bit surprised at the type of ugly I have seen. When I first started my job and I needed to find a home for a child, I would hope that a Christian home could be found. I had this idea that a hurting, abused, unloved child could experience the love of Jesus in a Christian home. And here’s the ugly: I haven’t found that to be true.  

What I have found to be true is that these hurting, abused, unloved children become targets and projects. And they get to learn how they just don’t measure up to our Christian expectations. They get to learn what is just not acceptable in the climate controlled bubble – The Can’ts if you will.  Because, you see, many of us Christians get in to a rut, I think. We dress up so that we can fit in that perfect climate controlled bubble. We get our masks on, wear the perfect costumes. But we don’t show love.

 Quite frankly, Christians, it’s time we step up and act like our Savior. We don’t need a degree in Greek or Hermanuetical studies to get that. It is time to put down our building tools, Church. We don’t need bigger, fancier, hipper stuff. We don’t need programs and committees. We really don’t need to have one more Bible study on the shelf to buy or one more meeting at the church to go to. We’ve had all that stuff and we still can’t show the world Jesus. 

Each one of us needs a mirror – the lighted, magnified make up mirrors that show every pore, blemish and wart.

We have not allowed the Holy Spririt to reign in us. We have not allowed the love of God to indwell in us. I think it’s time that we get our noses out of our little rule books and we certainly need to quit slapping people around with our expectations. The world gets what we don’t believe in. We tell them all the time.

Seriously. Have we ever thought of giving water to a thirsty person for the sake of quenching his thirst?

In John’s account of the Gospel, Jesus said that the whole world will know that we are his disciples by the love we show each other. Church, I have come to the conclusion that there might be a whole world full of Christians. I just don’t think there are very many disciples.

If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, 

 would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 

If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, 

I would be nothing. 

If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; 

but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

 

Love is patient and kind. 

Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. 

It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.

 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 

Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. 


But love will last forever! 

Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, 

and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! 

But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless.


When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. 

But when I grew up, I put away childish things. 

Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, 

but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. 

 All that I know now is partial and incomplete, 

but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.


Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.

 

—Saint Paul, from the Bible

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