Thursday, August 29, 2013

HELP ME, I’M FRUSTRATED




Checking in with Secrets of the Vine, by Bruce Wilkinson this morning, I found myself flying off into familiar, yet unfamiliar territory.  In discussing the Vinedresser from John 15, he is pointing out some fine points of loving discipline.  Most of us really do not understand the whys and hows and whens of discipline.  We usually have to come out the other side before we realize what God has actually done for us, even if we suspect it all along.

In reading this, I jumped off a cliff running with a point of discipline that has me frustrated in trying to express it to others.  Mostly it is because I never had children.  But I was a child and I remember very well how frustrated I was as a kid: I needed everything to go my way, not because I had to be important, but because anything that did not go my way frightened me terribly and my reaction was always screaming and crying.   In other words, I was a screamer… the kind who embarrassed myself and my mother half to death.

My frustration now is wondering how to tell mothers that not all screaming is “evil personified,” and there is a way to help screamers by redirecting them from their frustration.  Something went wrong with their undeclared plans for their day and the world has literally crashed in upon them.  They need to be removed from the crash zone and given a way to deflate.

Once believers understand God’s motive in discipline, an astonishing truth dawns:  The discipline doesn’t have to continue! It’s all up to me. I will only experience pain as long as I hang on to my sin. 

What a beautiful way to think of the discipline we use for children.  Discipline does not always have to be a negative.  The purpose of discipline is to learn how to control ourselves so, simply helping the child learn to “control” the outbursts is a very plausible goal.

I was visiting in a home once and the children where vying for my attention to the point that the mother actually has to send one child to her room to cool off.  She told me that she and her husband really were frustrated at that kind of behavior because they, themselves never reacted that way and could not figure out what was happening.  I told her, “She is me.”  She could not have been a better example of me than if she were my own child. I made some effort to explain passion and what it can do to a child with no outlets for that passion, but I am not sure what I said was understood.

You may have noticed that when I write or speak I seldom have apologies on hand about what I believe and how I put it together.  When I write or speak I am very passionate about what I am saying, so I simply say it as though it is undeniably true.  What you may not understand is that I would love to have the conversation continue, but my “tone” often sounds as if you had better not disagree.  I am sorry for that, because I still want to hear what you have to say.

Today, I am thinking of positive discipline and this comes to mind:  Send her to her room for 5 minutes and have her look up a favorite Bible verse and be prepared to read it or speak it when she comes back.  She is removed from the crash zone; she is given a task to do (and she was old enough to do this task). Then, hopefully, when she returns she will be calmed down.

Some of this idea comes to me from when I worked with mentally challenged children and was instructed thus:  With some of these children you can never say “do not” or “stop” doing what ever they are doing because it will only make them have to do it all the more.  We were told, “Redirect their thinking;” as in, do this… instead of do not do that.

But the image that first came to my mind is a precious little one who screams and screams over everything, suddenly and without warning.  This young one likes to run, so my imagination took me to this possibility:  take her outside and direct her to run around the cul-de-sac with this instruction:  I am going to walk around here one time and you need to run around and catch up with me as many times as you can before I get back to the door.  Now that is redirection based on the need for discipline that will help her learn how to handle her frustrations.  I laughed out loud at the thought.  But I wish I had been redirected that way.  Maybe I would have grown up to be a runner. :) 

And then I thought about making a defined track in the backyard so that any child could run out frustrations when needed.  Many homes have a basketball hoop that serves that very purpose without even planning it that way.  But not all children can play basketball.  Many children, though, can run.  Perhaps forgetting House and Garden for a moment, young children could be more encouraged to play outdoors if there was room to run with purpose.  We had lots of room to run, back “in the day.”  But I never picked up on running or anything else as a way to control myself or work out my frustrations.  It was never pointed out to me as a tool, and I missed it all in the fear of being and looking foolish; my greatest fear.

Perhaps we could all take another look at our reactions to frustration and may we all seek sensitivity to frustration and seek ways to help with positive discipline, whether for ourselves or for others.  My positive self discipline is writing it down.  There are many, many “blog” pages that I have written but never published which have calmed down the frustrations and helped me move forward.  For many this is simply called “journaling.”  And I highly recommend that, especially for the non-athlete. :)

May God bless you today as you walk with Him seeking to be a blessing to someone as you go.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

LIVING NOTHING LESS THAN JOY REQUIRES RESPECT




Word has it that all we need is love, lots of love.  But love requires more than heart hunger and lust.  It requires respect.  And respect has gone the way of reason:  It just doesn’t exist in way too many minds.  I expect the word to simply disappear from the dictionary in the near future because there will be no definition for it.

Three boys shot a runner just because they were bored and needed a little excitement.  A woman strikes a cyclist as she passes and leaves him in the road broken and alone. (She was not even supposed to be driving for several reasons.) A cyclist pushes an 80 year old man into the road as he passes. and leaves him lying there.  A young man shoots a WWII veteran because he is disabled and the kid doesn’t like that.  An old man drives into, and kills, a young girl playing in her own yard; he did not take the time to control his blood sugars that day. And it was not the first time.

A woman accepts an intimate relationship with a man she will not marry, but she will not accept his short comings and leaves him at home, without transportation to do the work he otherwise would be doing.  A man, who is not yet divorced, moves in with a willing woman who he then takes full control of to the point of getting her to put her money into his bank account.  Another man keeps his wife under his control by keeping her medications from her, telling her he will give them to her as he sees fit; and he does it in the name of Christ.

And I am not even going to get into the general horrors going on today.  There is just too much of it.  What I want to emphasize is that respect for each other has been thrown out the window in favor of cruelty in every corner of society today.  There is no respect from the young for the elderly; there is no respect from the elderly for the young as they spread their wings; there is no respect between the classes; (Yes, we do—have classes.) There is no respect for any authority—teachers, firemen, policemen, grocery clerks, bank tellers, wait persons, business owners—from anyone, young or old.

But, sadist of all, there seems to be so very little respect between men and women that marriages and relationships seem to be something to be avoided.  And, frankly, this disrespect overflows to the generations following and it turns into hideous behavior along the way. One sadly destructive demonstration of this is the way exes treat each other over the children and in front of the children.

God saw Adam and saw that He was alone.  None of the other created beings were alone. He had created them male and female, making them instant couples. Only Adam was alone.  So God created woman.  Some say life has been a big mess ever sense.  But at the beginning they had a wonderful relationship with each other and with God.  What a beautiful testimony to God’s love for us.

Then the tempter came along and split the relationship into three.  Adam was guilty.  Eve was guilty.  And both were ashamed.  They each had to come face to face with God and hear His love and disappointment in them.  They were still a couple and they were stirred to the core with the realization that they had sinned.  In their shame they pulled together (after having blamed one another) and they set about making a life in their new circumstances.  They set aside petty things and went about attempting to please God and walk with Him together as He would have them do. And they respected each other and God as they went forward.  We can see that in the respectful, God honoring, Able.

Now, as is with all of us today, not every child followed suit, but they let God have His way with each child out of respect for the child and for the God who loved that child.

Okay, so I made the respect stuff up.  There are no scripture verses I can quote here about respect.  But God’s Word in total, demonstrates what happens when there is respect and when there is not.  And the world today is a living demonstration of disrespect.

I thank God for parents who teach their children to respect God and to respect others, not just by word, but by deed.  I thank God that there are children and young people in our community that I do not need to fear, as a woman, especially an old, single woman.  I thank God for each and every person who shows the respect to other people that He Himself showed to everyone He met; even the Pharisees to whom He constantly spoke the words they already knew right back to them when they challenged him.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T might be a very popular song, but respect is not popular at all.  May we show the respect of Christ in our lives and in our relationships; whether they be causal or intimate or somewhere in between.  May we be shinning lights of love and respect that will bring attention to the Light of the World as we wander on our path through this world.  May God make us a blessing to someone today just because He wants to.  Amen.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

FIRST, BE QUIET




Do you know anyone who can never do anything unless they are doing everything?  This can take many different forms from micromanaging people they supervise to never letting their children help with housework because they just don’t do it right.  The need to be totally involved or not involved at all is very strong and unrelenting.

In particular, this morning, I am thinking about someone I know who avoids going to church because if she does, she is compelled to throw herself into service, whole hog. But she realizes that she is too totally involved in too many other things to have time and energy for that. Taking anything easy is “against her religion,” so she avoids worshipping God because she doesn’t feel right about doing that while not running the whole show somewhere in the background.

It breaks my heart for two reasons:  1. She is missing out on the best times of her life and 2. I started my new journey that way.  It didn’t work.  And I still try to run my life according to being fully involved the way others are and I stumble into a mess everytime.  It is hard for me to understand, but that is not what God wants me to do.  Little by little I have come to understand that He wants me to be quiet and follow His directions on a daily basis rather than set myself up for a schedule of activities that will keeps me from listening to Him.  (And keeps me from writing.)

Now, some of you will say, what’s wrong with her attitude?  Would that we might have many, many more people in the church with that attitude!  Wow.  Think of what we could accomplish.

But how many examples of that do we find in God’s Word?  Abraham walked the desert for many years before God gave him the son who would carry on his blood line to Christ.  Moses had forty years to quietly grow in faith before God sent Him back to retrieve His people.  David had years to grow up before he became King. Even Jesus had 30 years of preparation before His ministry. And, when He sent out his Apostle’s to preach the gospel He had first taught them the Gospel they were to preach.  After the resurrection He sent them to “be quiet” and prayerful for a time before beginning their ministry. Paul got three years of training before he began preaching in earnest.  The pattern of “first be quiet” is very clear in the Bible.

When I came back to following Christ, I had been a Christian for 53 years, but for most of those years I had really not ever been quiet, listening to God, and I had walked away from Him to follow my anger wherever it led me. I was not at all equipped to handle teaching His Word or leading in any way.  I had healing and growing to do. 

But, in my excitement, I managed to find ways to help without needing to teach and threw myself into things that were not what He wanted for me.  Each took a nearly disastrous turn.  I guess I have a really hard head, because I didn’t get it until now, 8 years later:  First be quiet – then see what God really wants from you, regardless of what others think He wants of you.  And it very well may be that He will want some to also be quiet in what they “do,” working with Him in ways few will ever know.

True Joy in the Lord, comes from “being” in the Lord, not from doing.  Should we do?  Of course.  But doing comes after learning to “be.”  Without Him we can “do” nothing…  And trust me, that is absolute.

May we all seek to “be quiet” first and “do” later, when we have established a pattern in life of listening to Him every day and leaning on Him to guide us through each hour of each day.  May we never avoid worshipping God and studying His Word because we feel we must throw ourselves into activity to live up to the standard we created in our own heads.  And may we never fail to take breaks from the service we gladly do, to just listen to Him for a time of refreshment of our souls.

May God be guiding us today, in everything we do and may He bless us all with His great love.


Note:  My own plans were to post to this blog once a week (Friday) and my new blog once a week (Monday), but God said write and post this today.  I do pray that someone will be comforted or challenged by this page today or in the days to come.

Friday, August 16, 2013

THE CONUNDRUM OF WOMANHOOD



After two years of deep Bible Study, I had a realization that a lot of my knowledge was going to waste because I was not also grasping a lot of realities of life.  Application is important and I had narrowed my application to gaining knowledge without wisdom.  You may not believe where I went to gain some insight on wisdom:  Christian fiction.  I believe that the people who write these books do it as a tribute to God and an outreach to people who might not otherwise see what Christian thinking looks like under pressure.  I have previously actually quoted from some of these books.  They are a balm for my tension ridden body and a sweet tea for my mind.

The one I am thinking about right now, having just finished it, deals with women caught up in the Civil War.  It is not for the faint at heart because it takes place right in the middle of the action.  One sees herself as an ugly woman raised by three older brothers and confident in male skills like fist fighting and sharp shooting.  She joins the war as a man and we follow her through some pretty horrible situations.

The other woman is a single Southern Belle raised in the society of the rich and proper in Virginia where some went north to fight and others went south.  They were split on that.  But they were not split on the proper behavior and goals for a Belle.  Finding a good husband was the number one priority for every proper society woman in the south.  She ran away and became a nurse during the war and what she saw and did is also not for the faint of heart.

But the story is exceptionally inspirational in very real ways to the faint of heart.  And I have been just that lately so I have chosen to share a change of mind that I have had because of reading this book:

I will continue writing this blog and I will go ahead with my political blog, but it will be with a much different tone than I was planning.  It will be a more humble plea for sanity, than the scorching tirade that I had in mind.  God is good and God will show us the way when we actually let Him!

Through everything that these women did right and did wrong we find them growing in their love for Him and working constantly in His love for them.  We also see the web of lies that got them into the war come between them and their hopes and then turn around to prove that God can make all things right for those who love Him.  The book was well worth reading.

It is the plight of the Belle that intrigued me most.  Each woman was expected to “find” a good husband and settle down into life as his property and his porcelain doll, looking great and doing mostly nothing, not even dressing herself let alone raising her own children. I was shocked to realize how far this is from what God wants a marriage to be. It does not even come under that shadow of Proverbs 31.  But history was full of this:  Consider Solomon and his 300 wives and 700 concubines, none of whom got any husbandly attention after the first glow.  Or Esther who could not even approach her husband to ask a question without fearing being put to death.  Our Belle actually attempted to discuss her feelings with her fiancĂ© and was reprimanded angrily for doing so.

Today we celebrate that we have come a long way, but the truth in most homes is that nothing has really changed except the right to argue and scream day and night in front of the children and the neighbors. Many men, not just the rich, still see women as a prize that must be shown off as an extension of themselves, and kept at their beck and call.

Having the right to be a person aside from a husband or even without a husband can be a good gain and has been for many, many women.  But winning the right to kill children is not.  Being able to work outside the home is deemed good, but is questionable since it was part of the driving force that now makes that a necessary part of life.  And, once again, women are leaving the raising of their children to others, giving the children a few minutes of their time in the evening, often running them around to activities rather than actually being with them, and a bit more serious time on the weekends if they are not off visiting their father.

All I am trying to say here is that being a woman is a balancing act of keeping our personhood and our promises to God in following Him, and performing our duties to husband and family.  Women today have a challenge to be submissive to their husbands in their faith and obedience and still keep their personal relationship with God first in their lives. 

Does that shock you when I say “God first?”  The Belle was shocked, too, when she realized that marriage might not be God’s first choice for her if it would remove her from God’s will for her to serve Him as a nurse.  When she surrendered to God’s will, she was in for a beautiful surprise. But she could have ruined it all with the wrong choice.

May we all be choosing God’s will for us first, over every other choice that comes our way, no matter how confused we may become about the consequences of making that choice. And may we be patient as God works out the details of getting us to where He wants us, not running ahead but not staying behind either. May we find great Joy in the fact that God loves us enough to see us as individuals in His family and guides us individually through life, even as our lives are intricately tied up with other lives. And, may we thank God that we are women of great value to Him.

An email tid-bit:
SUPER WOMAN
1.  DOES
2.  Tries to impress
3.  Is controlled by an agenda
4.  Her self worth is found in her accomplishment
5.  Her peace is found in a perfect environment
6.  She is discouraged by failure

7.  She expects perfection from herself and others
8.  Teaches her kids to be good.
9.  She is frustrated with her lack of spiritual fruit
10.  She does things with her children

11.  Her perspective is based on what is seen

12.  She chooses quantity of activities

ABIDING WOMAN
1. IS
2. Pleases the Lord
3. Is controlled by the Holy Spirit
4. Herself worth is found in an accurate view of who she is in Christ Jesus
5. Her peaces is found in Jesus in the midst of any storm
6. Failure reminds her that faith is made perfect in weakness.
7. She practices grace with herself and others
8. She teaches her kids to be Godly
9. She abides in Christ and bears much fruit

10. She builds a relationship with her children
11. Her perspective is based on what is unseen
12. She chooses the most excellent way.


Monday, August 12, 2013

GOD GAVE THEM OVER




I have been a little uptight lately over the state of the souls in this country.  I am not evangelistically inclined and do not run the streets shouting that the wrath of God is I here (though maybe I should), so I have been hurting a little over how to help pull our feet out of the mud, without loosing our shoes in the process.  And then I think that loosing our shoes may not be all that bad, depending on what we are using our shoes for.  Are we using our shoes to separate ourselves from and walk away from the mud of this world or are we using them to feel more comfortable stepping right into that mud of the world around us?

Perhaps we all need to go back to Romans 1:18-32 and refresh ourselves over God’s view and God’s wrathful judgment of “giving them over” to the sins they so heartily seek after: (And by “them” I mean “us, Americans.”)  The picture is as graphic as any you have ever seen and is explicit about what God sees us doing and what God brings on because of what He sees. And for some reason, I am suddenly calmer when I understand that God has “given us over.”  It is not simply the “work of the devil” that we are fighting, it is the wrath of God Himself beginning the destruction of this once proud country.

The list is long and pointed and undeniably American as read from beginning to end.  Yes, it was intended for Rome about Rome, but Rome is only one proud country of distinguished world control that has followed in these same footsteps.  And America is not the only modern country doing so, either.  But it is America where I live, and America that I have loved and rooted for all these years so it is America that I am concerned about right now.  And it is the Christians in America that I am praying will see the truth about how much garbage we are really not only putting up with, but participating in and approving of these days.

“Although they knew [better] – although they claimed to be wise:

God gave them over… in the sinful desires their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.

God gave them over to their shameful lusts.

God… gave them over to a depraved mind.

And they “not only continue to do these very things, but also approve of those who practice them.” 

I do not want to beat a dead horse to death here, but how careful are we with our minds?  Really.  How careful are we.  Do we have any awareness in us of selecting what we listen to, watch, or read according to standards that we feel we need to follow.  Do we try to keep our shoes out of the mud or do we just jump right in because what we listen to, watch, or read is always the Next Big Thing in popularity?   

Do we live with any “filters” at all, especially if we do not have children in the room?  And, if we do have children in the room “up through finally married,” do we discuss with them how to filter their own selections or how to deal with things that surprise them; things they wish they had not seen or know that they should not have seen?

Personally, my major filter is sexual, or implied sexual behavior.  I am a single woman who has been married and the last thing I need is an enlivened libido.  And the not yet married do not need that either.  So I make choices based like this:  NCIS and CIS have been faithful to keep sexual behavior to a minimum and it mostly is seen briefly as the reason for the evil done and it is rewarded with wrath in the end.  I watch those. Chicago Fire, which I had hoped would be a good show, turned out to be all about the sex lives of the firemen (male or female).  I don’t watch it.  I also avoid (like the plague) all fictional “reality” shows because they are the very things that are the subjects of these lists in Romans.

Again, we all make our own choices.  I am not making my choices a list of choices you should make.  I am just saying that we all need a guideline in our heads as we make our choices so that we can be careful to not fill our minds with depravity.  And that goes for facebook as well.  I have come to realize that even the good side is depicting seriously unsubstantiated material about the “wrong” side and I have stopped looking at the majority of what comes my way. 

May we all be vigilant and ready to make choices for a sound mind.  And may we be diligent to pass these filters on to the next generation so that they too will be vigilant in protecting their own minds.  May we be careful to discuss the opportunity to make these choices as we live together with those we love and seek to help them follow God’s way, The Way, Jesus Christ.

Side note:  The real beauty of this country still exists and can be found on Sunday Morning and 60 Minutes, two of the oldest continuing programs on television and still reporting the people and places of this country from the heart rather than from the dollar value.  :)


Thursday, August 1, 2013

THE BIGGEST LIE WE TELL OURSELVES




This morning I find myself crying over some very interesting things.  One is that my life has been centered around me in spite of my wanting it centered around God.  The fact that my heart breaks over things happening to people I love seems to be centered around how it affects me, rather than around how it affects them

I couple of women I love are having a really hard time dealing with actually submitting to God’s Love and direction.  One has my attention nearly everyday on facebook.  Her posts are breaking my heart.  But I came to realize this morning that my pain is in her disregard of my love for her and my efforts to help her learn.  That is a selfish, me centered, feeling.  Seeing her still so desperate for Love should make me hurt for her, not for me.  It should send me to my knees in prayer, not to my thoughts of how I would like to ring her neck and shake her shoulders until she gives in to God.

When my life was on spin cycle, during the early years of rehabilitation and recovery from a life completely controlled by anger, she was there struggling, too.  We leaned on each other in many ways, even though our addictions seemed to be totally different.  We became very good friends and I helped to see her through some really rough times.   Even though she could not really be there for me, emotionally, she remained my friend and we struggled together trying to pull our lives out of the stream of garbage and into the river of living water that had always been there for us.

But the time came when her desperate need was diminished by finishing up her legal obligations and she began to take her life back into her own hands.  Two things, maybe three, kept her from growing in Christ from then on:  One, she was totally back into the life she had been living before the legalities kept her from it.  Second, she was totally back with all the people who had encouraged the life she had been living.  Third, she was angry.  She was so angry that fire spit from her mouth when she talked about the things that were going on.  She not only returned to drinking, she returned to drugs. 

Then there was a respite because they were caught with the drugs and the drug paraphernalia in the house where they were raising their beautiful daughter.  They shaped up quickly and began to pay attention to things so that their daughter would not be taken from them.  They were on probation and they had to follow the rules.  When probation was over, things fell apart quickly. They were both very angry people and they resorted once again to drowning out reality through drinking and drugs.  They both blamed each other for the truth of this collapse in their lives.

They screamed and yelled and taunted one another constantly, in front of that beautiful daughter, in front of the “sons’ that were part of a very mixed up family and in front of friends and nieces and nephews and neighbors, and, finally, in front of the world on facebook.

My own parents did the same in front of me and my brother whenever they got drunk.  That was every weekend.  We were forever changed by that – a long story in itself – so I shuddered to think what was going on in the young ones heads and hearts through all of this.

So we drifted apart.  It broke my heart but we stayed in touch on facebook and I have been privileged, along with others, to watch this train wreck in action.  Once I even told her that all I was seeing was her living life exactly as she always had, with just a touch of God for decoration.  She agreed that might be true but continued with her life as usual.  And her salvation was through her anger; more and more anger.

And she, like the rest of us, blames everyone and everything else for her anger.  Well if he didn’t… I wouldn’t.  Well if they would just… I would….  Well if that hadn’t happened… I wouldn’t have….  He/She/They/It MADE ME MAD.  Nonsense.  That is the biggest lie of all time. NOTHING can make us angry.  We choose to be angry and the only way to get our anger under control is to take inventory asking the question:  What am I really angry about?  If we do not do that there will never be “Anger Management” in our lives.

Why am I speaking of this, this morning?  As I said, I am crying for her today.  God has shown me that my own interests and the cooling of my heart toward her have been for very selfish reasons: I feel betrayed by her behavior.  I am disappointed that she has not taken a cue from me and worked out her anger so that she could let God love her and love others through her. I am frustrated by the rut she has fallen into and the fact that she is no longer caring what I think. Who in the world am I, anyway?  It is not my feelings I need to be concerned about.  It is God’s grace and salvation for her that I should be concerned about.  It is the Peace and Joy and Longsuffering that God provides for her and she refuses that I should be thinking about.  My feelings are totally irrelevant to this situation.  It is her heart that matters here, not mine.

Do you have anger that you need to deal with?  Do you love someone who is out-of-control with anger and it breaks your heart OR “makes you” angry back at them?  We all must remember that though we cannot live in the past, we must take time to remember it and to deal with it in such a way that we are sure we are not living in it anymore.  Our past is what shaped our present and we must make sure that it is not holding us back from our future.

May we all take a look at how quick our trigger is and what sets us off for choosing anger over peace.  May we also take a careful look around us at others we may be destroying by our own outbursts of angry, destructive words.  God would have us live in love; His love. And He would have us seeking control over our feelings of hurt and insult and diminution, trusting Him to make these things right, and asking Him to help us love and forgive those who hurt us.

And may we also realize that it is not outside forces that make us mad.  It is our choice to react in anger or in love.  And when our choice is naturally to be angry, we can still turn to God to change our minds; the sooner the better.

May you all have a sweet day of love today as you seek God’s Pleasure in you..