Just for you!
I went fishing for the second time today. I'm not one for hurting animals, so this was a bit of a stretch out of my comfort zone. Even though we released the fish back to the waters of safety, I found it difficult to have the fish sitting there, waiting for my husband to unhook it and send it on it's way. So while the fish and I sat, patiently waiting for the hubby to make his way to us for that release, I was gently telling the fish that he was coming and we would put him right back.
I'm very blessed to have a husband who totally understands my ways, my quirky personality, and never said a word about me talking to a fish. I know some may think I'm a bit crazy, and that's ok. I embrace every part of myself, including the crazy parts.
I only wish society might have that same gentle kindness toward one another. When someone we know is stuck, hurting, broken, confused, lost and alone- often times those souls are left out on the margins, detached and isolated from a world who doesn't understand.
If Jesus chose to love first through the discipline he handed out, why aren't we in the business of loving first. He didn't condemn those being condemned. He taught the lesson of right and wrong in their particular circumstance, and he forgave, then he advised to go forth and sin no more. But before he could do all that, His love came first.
If I believe a fish was important enough to talk to in what must have been his fear (at least in my world), then I should be that much more aware of loving those I know, or meet, even more sincere love and concern.
We are called to love our neighbor as ourself- and pray for our enemies. Sometimes, without realizing it, we stop loving when we are confused and unsure when they are in that hard place. We don't first pray for our enemies. No, first we complain, judge, resent and hold anger against those who hurt us. 21st century media and viral internet addictions make it easy to do. Whether it's the neighbor living to the right of you, or the enemy living across the globe from you, you were told, as a commandment, what your role as a believer is- to love.
I'll be fishing tomorrow- and no doubt, talking to that fish. But I will forever remember this lesson the Lord reminded me of, while I'm fishing.
The Good, The Bad, The Ugly!
I have plenty of friends who have encountered divorce. I have many more who chose to stay, even though it seemed inevitable, but they stayed. They were able to lean on a small number of friends that were aware of the situation, and to quietly deal with the brokenness of marriage- privately.
Yesterday, the news hit that the President of Proverbs 31 ministries, Lysa TerKeurst, is preparing for divorce as well. She felt responsible to publicly announce the details surrounding her own broken marriage and to share the news with the many women out there who follow her and Proverbs 31. What an impactful statement she made, transparent, authentic and very, very raw. Given her place within our Christian community, I guess it was what she had to do.
We’ve demanded such transparency. Everything has become our business in this viral world we live in. Yet, Jane down the road was able to quietly walk away from her marriage without much hoopla, and if asked, she simply disregarded the questions, and shrugged them away. No public outcry will be made for Jane to ‘tell the truth!’- for sweet Jane, it’s nobody’s business what her husband did, or for how many years.
But take a ministry worldwide and become a voice of understanding for many around the world, a teacher to all, and things change. You have no privacy I guess- because people think they have some claim and ownership over your life. We so scrutinize those big names that we forget all about the plank in our own eye. That’s where Jesus told us to focus, but we disregard what He said, because we think they owe us something.
The truth is..they don’t.
While I appreciate her willingness to be so forthcoming with her current situation, it wasn’t necessary. I have already seen so many people responding in love and support, and to also be willing to share their personal journeys as well. Women all over the land wanting to let her know she’s not alone, they’ve been through the same thing. What an outpouring of love.
Divorce is an everyday thing in the 21st century. Adultery is common, for both men and women. These issues are found in every church community, small group, and many pastor’s circles. Still, there are people afraid to come forward, to share their pain, for fear of rejection, ridicule and judgement. Maybe Lysa will help, in some way, to remove the stigma. I can certainly hope.
So let’s be real here. Our hearts must remain open to the Lysa’s of the world and to the Jane’s of the world who live in the cul de sac down the street. Our arms should remain open wide for the well-known, and never known. Our doors must remain open for the lost, the suffering, the bitter, the broken. We don’t get to stand in solidarity for the familiar faces, while turning our backs on the forgotten ones.
My friends, church is not a building we gather in, it’s a family we belong to. It’s the family we are called to increase! That increase comes from accepting those who enter new and continuing to love those who are already here.
I’ve been welcomed and pushed aside. I’ve found a family, and sometimes I feel like nothing more than the outcast- the unwelcomed family member. If we can extend our love to someone most of us don’t know intimately, please be reminded to share that love with someone you have the ability to hug every day.
I’ve waited a week to write this piece. I had to take time to discern, to pray, to follow God’s lead, and before I sat down to write, God said, “Go watch the video one more time.”
What had my feathers ruffled last week? A video that needed to be reviewed one more time. Sure enough, as I watched with a renewed willing spirit, an open mind and obedience, I saw it differently.
The topic had two points, ‘comparison’ and ‘perfectionism’ and the battle women have in both areas. But as I watched, I found myself doing exactly what they were discussing- comparing (wrong!)! They opened with comparison and used Facebook and Pinterest as the example- namely the battle for the best Pinterest party (something I have NO clue about). Who in the world has issues with comparing a ‘Pinterest party’ against their girlfriend’s?
Am I crazy?
Is this truly where we are in this country? Women around the world are being sold into slavery, sexually abused, being cheated on by their husband, physically abused, mentally abused, starving, dying of diseases, grieving the loss of their husband, battling addiction, fighting suicide… and we are tackling the issue of comparing our Pinterest party to the lady who does the better Pinterest party- because that’s her gift?
I will be honest- because I was so riled about the superficial intro and content of such a deep and important subject, I may have turned deaf ears to the meat of the conversation. For that, I deeply apologize. The true message was very important to women everywhere- within those Pinterest following neighborhood Bible study groups, and to the many of us in the world battling some of the issues I stated above. When we are busy comparing we are losing, because of loss of community among women. When we are busy aiming for these standards of perfection, we aren’t giving God the credit for the love He has for each one of us, in the midst of all our ‘imperfections’, we are fully and wholly loved.
It took a conversation
with my bestie, who I know is among one of the Pinterest following communities, to understand that while this issue may seem more of a non-issue to me, to certain groups, it really is a battle! The battle of comparing one’s ability to another. And while
I will never understand that battle, it may be somewhat unfair of me to compare what seems like an ‘inviting’ problem to have, given the deep, painful and often times unavoidable issues of my own life. The last year alone has proven to be so complex
that I’ve been left with anxiety that put in me urgent care, thinking I was having a heart attack. If I compared the two, I’d much prefer to suffer with the battle of the party! But that’s not fair of me, and this, also, is comparing.
It’s the internal battle of surrender that we are talking about here. And yes, maybe some issues in surrender do seem superficial. Take for instance, my personal addiction to ice cream- and you are probably laughing. But eating ice cream like I’ve been known to, can lead to instant weight gain and additional health issues. If I desire and want that ice cream more than I desire to spend time with God, my kids, my husband, it is a real addiction, and therefore, becomes a battle of surrender. So while it’s ridiculous and small, and yes, shallow, it’s a real problem. Usually people laugh at me, and I don’t blame them. But..it’s my small issue.
As women, we tend to pull out the claws more than we realize, and to be honest when it comes down to comparing, sharing and supporting, we leave much to be desired. Walls have often been erected
and when those shallow issues become deeper than we’re prepared for, or our deeper issues seem to swallow for those in our pond, instead of showing our support and willingness to be there for one another, we pull away into our 'easier' world of
Pinterest parties or our 'isolated' world of my issues are bigger than yours- both leave women missing out on so much.
I’ve seen this with my own eyes. When life changes happened for a close friend of mine, those ladies that were happy to meet up with her and discuss the Pinterest craft ideas, or compare cake making skills, had no clue how to step up and be that same ‘friend’ in her time of desperate need. It was like we went from the kiddie pool to the deep end, but no one was willing to jump in! They left her high and dry. Words like adultery and divorce had made their way into the circle. Her kids were acting out, and that seemed to pose some sort of inconvenience to the group- therefore, one by one, every Pinterest party partner backed away, until eventually, not one of them remained in contact. Not one called to ask how she was, invite her to coffee, or simply listen through the tears and heartache she was enduring. Not one of those ladies knows today of the suicidal tendencies my sweet friend fought, or the complete lack of self-esteem. And most importantly, they never had the opportunity to witness her recovery, her climb, and to see the miracles and many ways God intervened and lifted her through it all.
Those same women today are comparing their perfect lives to her broken one, and when they see each other around the neighborhood, it’s as though nothing ever happened. It is like a la-la land of false faces.
We are not perfect, and my greatest comparison will always be wishing I was the stronger believer, the mighty singer on worship team, and the quickest quote-r of scripture! But I’m not perfect. I’m me. God made me to be who I am, and you are you. God made you to be who you are. I can’t compare with the talents of women who maybe has the perfect children, or the woman who sings the sweetest melody, or the woman who gives some perfect Pinterest party.
But I can be a women with compassion and love. I can be a woman who listens and prays. I can be a woman who sees our differences as a beautiful part of God’s amazing creation. That’s who I can be and to continue to strive to be. And if our difference is that you can put on an amazing Pinterest party and I can’t, I will appreciate that about you. If our difference is that I have survived bipolar disorder and you never dealt with it, I hope you will appreciate that about me.
As women, let’s stick together, in our likenesses and our differences. In our imperfections and in our gifts. As women, we have a lot to offer this world as believers in Jesus Christ. Let’s stay focused on that.
That dusty book is still alive!
There have to be dozens of large women ‘related’ (typically ‘only’) meetings out there. Thousands of women gathered for years in anticipation of the annual Women of Faith conference, one I attended often. You would sometimes see a few men in the crowd, not many, but they were there.
I was always amazed to see so many people come together with one purpose- to hear about God, His Word, His Son the Holy Spirit and to be taught how wonderfully loved we were. It was also a reassuring way to connect with those penetrating stories of faith, stemming from real life- anxiety, depression, cancer, struggles with parenting, finances, drugs, etc etc etc.. Those weekends were uplifting and usually there was always one speaker that hit us in our gut.
I was watching some intros into a new conference I became aware of this morning- aimed more for women I believe, and found myself encouraged. When we come together to share our struggles, authentically, God can use His word to penetrate our thickest walls, breaking down those barriers that seem to hold him out. Fear, doubt, hopelessness, anger, un-forgiveness to name a few, have ways of standing taller than our God in the midst of our battles.
What I know is that life holds many conflicts against us all, men and women alike. And it is in those conflicts we are challenged and called to be prepared through God’s Word. He didn’t lay it out there for all of us to let sit stagnant on a shelf and collect dust. His Word is a life giving and sustaining addition to our active lives on this earth and is much more than just a bunch of pages held together by binding.
We can attend a conference every month, but it will never compare to gaining the relationship God so desires for our lives today by connecting with Him! We can’t gain that relationship without his Holy Word, without constant dialogue with Him, without stopping everything to just listen. So dust off that Bible (or bring it up on your device, I’m still a 'hold it in my hand flip the pages kind of girl').. but get in the Word- pray in the Word, live out the Word in your life.
Bring all of you to Him, as he has already given his ALL for you!
I’ve known the name Donald Trump my entire life. He was the ‘rich man’, seemed a bit obnoxious, also seemed to be something of the mythical King Midas- reaching financial heights I never even dared dream. He has certainly built an empire, and I’m sure he worked extremely hard for decades to do it. Which was the American way, the American dream. A dream many now say is lost. (I don’t!)
Over a year ago, I watched as this man took one step, then two, then three, to become a nominee in the Republican Party for President of the United States. I watched and saw it coming as many said ‘no way..’.. ‘it won’t happen’.. I even said, ‘it can’t be’. I watched as people laughed, because they didn’t think it would ever happen. Or those that knew it would, smiled coyly, having no doubt.
Today, we know, he did it. Donald Trump, having never held a public office, often arrogant, rude and having a serious obsession with social media- (of which someone needs to school the man on public image and the need to stand taller than his critics), is now the President. My President.
And today, the day before his inauguration, many protesting (their right), many are crying, many are marching, and many are just plain ole unhappy sitting in their living rooms watching the news that best aligns with their ideas.
But, I ask, how many are praying?
You see, I was originally surprised by this election. I do not pass judgement on Donald Trump, however, he hasn’t hidden his character from the public eye, so I do pass judgment on some character qualities that I believe to be less than admirable for the President of the United States. I’ve witnessed too many attacks against people over the years to overlook it. He’s attacked the body image of women, made fun of a person with a disability (I saw it originally, and there is no denying it), to name a couple examples. He is offensive. Still, he is now my President.
Our society has changed so much since I was a child. Respect seems to be an admirable quality of the past- respect that was once taught from an early age, and expected, has seemed to fly away with the age old idea of writing a letter to a friend, or dialing a phone number to simply say hello to someone. No, today it is a quick text, usually so abbreviated it’s hard to understand. As though typing love vs luv is difficult. The quick touch of a phone pad or keys, in angry haste, just to reply to someone’s comment, also typed in angry haste, has led to a complete lack in communication and again, respect. Today, I’m saddened to say, our new President is often right in the center of such texting, typing and social media sharing nonsense.
I have to question how, as a society, did we get here? Our differences should unite us as a rich, diverse and blossoming country. Leading by example of love, generosity, kindness, acceptance and yes, respectful appreciation of one another, in those differences. Have moral standards now plummeted so deep, that we don’t even have standards? I could sit here and point fingers at flaws in our President, or I can sit here and ask my community, and myself, to rise up. To take back our country by taking on the issue of respect, or lack of.
I have no doubt the next four years will be disheartening to some, non-eventful to some, disappointing, joyful, questionable, or possibly even history making. We all have ideas and opinions on our new President, and whether you like it or not, he IS your President. Unless you would like to denounce your citizenship and move on out of here. But instead of posting daily attacks of his decisions, because contrary to popular belief, you posting something on your social media isn’t being an active and engaged citizen, why not stop, and pray. Here’s the next newsflash, people no longer believe the stories on the internet, they may like and comment in agreement, but it’s because they agree with your anger, and your stance, which is clearly against, or for, YOUR President. The catch phrase, ‘reputable source’, no longer holds water folks. Credibility is lost. Why? Because we bought into the now coined ‘fake news’. WE sold their junk, we shared, sending stories viral that were juiced up for the exact response we’ve given them. We blame the media, when truly, it’s our fault. People are sitting and scrolling through these stories, looking for the click bait headlines that best tear up our leaders, and sharing away.
You want to share something? Share a word of encouragement, a word of RESPECT, hope, kindness, compassion, and decency. Those stories do exist, and they are so inspiring they don’t need to be juiced up for ratings.
Politics aren’t everything. Before we are a Republican, Democrat, or Independent, or whatever new ‘title’ suits your fancy, we are Christians. Some of us may be a part of the armed services, but all of us are a part of the Lord’s army, and HE is who we represent. Just because Donald Trump is the President of a country, doesn’t mean he represents me. He and I may not agree on the political issues that surround this country and world, and they don’t have to. In fact, no President has ever had 100% agreement by their societies. You may not like the character of this man, but that doesn’t mean you should spout hate, no matter how nice you do it, towards him. We cannot have expectation of others that we do not have of ourselves.
Pray. Pray for President Donald J. Trump, because we are told to.
1 Peter 2:17
Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.
Whether you like it or not, the word honor is in there. It doesn’t say to only honor those who are upstanding and of good character, though I think we interpret things that way. It doesn’t say honor, but share false news about people. It says to respect everyone, which includes our President, to love one another, to fear God and honor our leaders.
There are many scriptures about staying away from bad company, but those references are for you personally, about guarding your heart, and to not fall prey to such people.
To honor and to pray for our President is simply expected of us, and a righteous thing to do.
God bless you and God bless America.