A while back, I opted to stay an extra half hour at the service desk at work even though we were dead slow but I’m glad I did. I met this lady who had come to exchange flower pots. Even though she decided to keep what she had we ended up talking about me being a writer and my novel and how vulnerable people, especially kids, are. I told her that’s when you shoot up a prayer and we started talking about faith. When I said I believed in a God who loved me and was bigger than anything out there she said she needed to hear that. Then she looked at me with such desperation my heart broke and asked me to repeat it. So I did. I told her that there was a God who loved us both and He was bigger than anything that happens in life. Soon the conversation was over but I liked that we encouraged one another and I got to be a small part of something bigger. I sometimes feel crazy for believing what I do because of how counterintuitive it is to the despair in our culture. I guess that just goes to show that you never know how powerful those crazy things we say can be.
Be strong and courageous. My favorite definition of courage is not the absence of fear but the overcoming of it. Sometimes that means running into a burning building, standing up to a bully, leaving home or just getting out of bed in the morning. Life is full of obstacles to overcome and sometimes it’s the little everyday things that wear us down more than the great acts of heroism. Take courage! There are better days to come. A friend of my mom’s used to say, “These things have come to pass not to stay.” Life can be difficult and for many it is more so than it should be. But being a good friend to someone can not only give them hope to continue fighting, it can give you hope too.
I suffer from depression and I have friends and family who suffer from depression. Yet they are some of the strongest and most courageous people I know. You would never guess the struggles they go through unless you were really close and even then you may not. My one friend especially puts on a brave face and a smile and treats you like the most important person in the room. She doesn’t push me away when she’s down like I expect but lets me be a part of her life. I can’t tell you how much she means to me. She makes me want to be a better person and a better friend and gives me something to fight for when I want to give up. Courage comes in different forms. Mine often shows up in the face of a friend.
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot” (Matt 5:13 NIV).
What does it mean that we are the salt of the earth? Salt at the time was a form of currency. It was valuable, nutritious, and flavorful. It also had healing properties. As followers of Jesus Christ we have value. We possess and distribute God’s love and healing which is essential for life. I’m sure we’ve all seen what a life without love looks like and the damage it can cause. Love needs to be yielding and accepting but it also needs to be firm. If you see a child reaching for a hot stove or about to run into traffic you yell at them to keep them from harm. A reprimand even done in love can hurt, like putting salt in a wound. But the salt disinfects so healing can begin.
Proportion and application are crucially important in this process. Salt, no matter how good or necessary, won’t help a wound if you keep grinding it in. Once the problem has been addressed and the area is disinfected it needs time to heal. The results may not be, and most likely won’t be, immediate. If you confront someone in love and they don’t automatically agree with you don’t keep throwing it in their face. Be gentile. Have tact. The reprimand will hurt enough; don’t make the healing harder than it has to be.
Where is the line between having the courage to confront someone you love about a wrong and using it to punish or manipulate them? I wish I had an answer for that. I tend to be on the non-confrontational side. I may let things slide that should be confronted for fear of hurting the other person or myself. My salt gets pretty bland.
The great part about being a follower of Jesus and not actually salt is that when salt loses its saltiness it’s useless and can’t be made salty again but if we lose our love or “healing properties” God can revive them in us and make us “salty” again. Life is a learning process and sometimes it gets messy and people get hurt but God is a great physician and knows how to facilitate healing.
No one really knows what they are made of until life happens in a big way like at the Boston Marathon bombings. Some people find they aren’t who they thought they were and others find they have a strength, courage, and purpose they thought they had lost forever.
It takes a special kind of hopeless desperation or perverse ideology to do what those Chechen brothers did. We don’t know a motive for this attack. Many people including those in the government are calling it a terrorist attack. Honestly, I don’t know what else it could be. It certainly had the desired effect of a terror attack. There were thankfully few deaths but hundreds of injuries and nationwide panic. There are some things worse and more dangerous than death.
While this attack caused a great deal of destruction, panic, and grief it also brought out the strength of the American people. Neighbors and strangers ran into danger to help pull others to safety. One of the runners was a doctor and while I’m sure he was exhausted and scared insisted on being able to help the injured. Yet another conquered the grief over the loss of his son, the reason he was at the marathon, and found purpose again. Helping rescue others in need broke him out of the immobilizing grief he’d been trapped in.
What would I have done if I’d been a spectator when the first bomb went off showing smoke, ash, and debris? When bodies started moving and falling only to be further jarred into chaos by the second explosion. How would I have reacted to the shear panic, the noise of the explosions, people’s screams of pain, people yelling to find loved ones when all around them the ground was slick with blood? Would I have been able to hold it together when body parts were disconnected from their owners or would I have added to the panic and the regret of all the things in life that go unsaid and all the things said that shouldn’t have been?
I have no idea and honestly I hope I never have a reason to find out. I hope that I would find strength and courage buried deep inside me to be what I needed to be to help. What this teaches me is not a new lesson but an old one: Life is short. Don’t take it for granted. I try never to leave a friend or family member angry and all my conversations and text messages end in I love you because I’m less afraid of saying it too much and more afraid of regretting what I said and didn’t say should something like the Boston Marathon bombings, or Sandy Hook, or Columbine, or you name it happening here. We live our lives believing those things only happen to other people and when something like that happens to us we are ill equipped to deal with it.
Life is short, don’t waste it. Don’t be afraid to love the people you love. Don’t wait until the last minute to do what needs to be done because you may miss it. And above all, if nothing else, believe that there is a good God to turn a tragedy into an opportunity for change. Don’t let a tragedy be just a tragedy. Force it to be something more, something better.
Sorry I’ve been absent for the last three or so weeks. Life happened…a lot, and then it was Easter and I was trekking about visiting family. Enough excuses, you want to read something clever and insightful. Hopefully you feel that way about this post.
I’m swimming in debt as far too many of us are but the strange thing is, I still feel like a rich woman. Things may not happen as I would plan them or in my time frame but God has always provided for my needs. Even when my circumstances don’t change, God changes my perspective. If you haven’t already, you should read a previous post of my titled Homeless is a State of Mind. Poverty is not solely measured in monetary values though that is the dwarfing response.
I’ve been trying to transition from begging God to heal me, help me, provide for me, my family, and my friends to thanking him for His provision. Period. God knows what I need before I need it and He is willing and able to provide. We may have differing opinions about what exactly I need but I trust Him. I’ll express my preferences but I try to focus on the promise that God knows what I need and will provide. I may look crazy but it is a huge relief knowing that All Mighty God will take care of the things I can’t handle. All I have to do is ask and believe. It sounds easy but it’s not. Belief is difficult to demonstrate on a non-physical, non-tangible level. My way is calling things into being that are not yet and thanking him for what I believe He will do.
I want to talk about sex. I’m bound to offend someone but I’ve learned I can’t please everyone so feel free to disagree with me if you must. All I want is to engage in a dialog on a prevalent social culture…and maybe vent a little. My intention is not to be rude or a prude but to express questions and frustrations so please bear with me.
I don’t read tabloids or follow entertainment news but when I get bored at work I read the latest headlines. The big breaking news in entertainment: the bachelor isn’t having sex until marriage. How is this news you might ask? Easy, our culture doesn’t bother with self control anymore so someone waiting for gratification instead of going for instant gratification is practically unheard of. It seems like you can’t read a magazine or watch TV without “dating” being synonymous with having sex, usually in the very early stages of the relationship before either party really knows the other.
Sex is meant to bring people together, draw them closer, produce offspring and create a desire to protect said offspring. We live in a culture where children, often as not, come about by accident as a product of satisfying wants without considering the results first. Also children are produced as a sort of magic band-aid for relationships and then are discovered to make bad relationships worse. Is this the child’s fault? No.
Honestly, it makes me upset that waiting to have sex is such a freakishly novel idea because it makes me feel like an oddball for waiting. I’m glad that I did. I truly believe that if I had jumped the gun that there is a high probability that the stress of that connection would have hurt or destroyed my relationship with my now husband. I’m a highly emotional person. Sex releases hormones which mess with emotions. Just because I’m highly emotional doesn’t mean I’m not reasonable though.
Casual sex in uncommitted relationships or outside of relationships period is something I never understood. There is a scientific, physiological connection between sex and emotions. There is no such thing as sex without strings attached. The saying, “a promise is made in any bed” comes to mind. Even if both parties agree that there are no strings attached they can’t shut off their internal wiring.
Sex to me wasn’t a real thing until I met my husband. I had never experienced it so it was just something that I knew I wanted someday like a college education or a car. I liked to read romance novels in high school. They gave me an outlet for my changing hormones and fodder for my imagination. But the idea of having sex with a real live human being was like the idea of hang gliding to me. It sounded cool and had the potential to be fun but it was also scary and I wouldn’t do it with just anyone. I couldn’t imagine letting myself get that close, that vulnerable, to a real person. Not until I met my husband. Once I had deemed him safe and worth the risk I had the most difficult time keeping my self control. It was like a desire had been switched on inside me running current through my body. Even then I was still afraid to be that vulnerable with someone, even the man I loved more than anything.
Personally, I’ve seen too many relationships go south resulting in ugly, messy breakups because of intimate physical relationships. It continues to complicate later relationships especially if a pregnancy is involved. Anthropologically having multiple sexual partners is a healthy way to maintain the species but the problems lies in the fact that we are more than physical beings but emotional and spiritual beings as well. What do you think?
When a tragedy occurs people rally, when a tragedy is averted people rejoice, so what happened at Cyprus Lake High School in Florida? I just read an article at http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/03/02/high-school-student-disarms-gunman-gets-suspended/ where three students were suspended for saving the lives of their classmates when another student pulled a gun on the bus. I get that the administration sees the disarming of the offending student as a safety risk, that students could have been shot by accident, that maybe these heroic three might let their success go to their heads and cause them to act rashly, like they were invincible but let’s face it, they only tried to do the right thing.
I’m sure they were scared but there isn’t much time to think in a close encounter like that. Your options are limited to doing nothing: maybe the shooter just wants to scare the target or maybe you watch a classmate’s brain splatter. Or trying to disarm the shooter: possibly succeeding, possibly getting someone else shot or getting shot yourself.
I wasn’t there. I’m just another loud-mouth with an opinion based on conjecture. I could be all wrong but forgive me if want to see lives saved as opposed to lives lost. A lot of people commented on the article’s website about how these students were suspended for doing the right thing because a foiled shooting doesn’t inspired the necessary fear to push a liberal gun ban agenda. I like to avoid politics when I can. It muddies the waters making every motivation more complicated. I don’t know what to think anymore. I can see the logic in those statements but I can also see the anger and the bias. I can’t fully agree with either side.
We tell our children to grow up, act like adults, be responsible and when they make the decision to do so the world sets them up for a fall. What is wrong with this picture? Doing the right thing often involves more than just the immediate consequences. The saying, “Good guys finish last” comes to mind. Why is it that doing the right thing is punishable? I’m proud of those three students who saved lives that day and I hope they never have to be in a similar situation again but if they are that this will not change the decision they will make.
There is greatness in you. Don’t laugh and don’t blow me off. There is greatness in you. It’s also in me. It was planted there by our Creator just waiting to be discovered and nurtured. I can’t speak for anyone else but I seem to have grown up in a world where you go to school to get a better job and that’s where it stops. Ambition equaled pride which equaled arrogance which was bad. I spent the past few years retraining my mind to accept the fact that there are two kinds of pride. Arrogance I was intimately familiar with but there is also a good kind of pride, the kind that inspires people.
You can take pride in yourself, take pride in your work, or be proud of someone else and none of these things involve thinking higher of yourself than you ought to. Ambition and pride are the crazy desires that tell us we can achieve anything and if we believe that, we can.
We live with a slave mentality and down ever realize it. We have been taught to stay where we are and be content with what we have, not to be greedy, looking for something better. If no one looked beyond where they were we wouldn’t have electricity, or planes, or modern medicine. If Edison, the Wright brothers, and Madame Curie hadn’t followed their desire to find something great within themselves and make the world a better place you and I would not be having this conversation.
So go ahead, the next time someone compliments you, accept it and take it to heart. Nurture those crazy dreams to make the world even just a little bit better for someone else, yourself included. Have a little pride.
I’m stubborn, angry, a coward, and a failure and that is the way I like it. Some people think being stubborn is a bad thing. I say, not always. Stubbornness—and maybe a little (or a lot of) help from God—is what has kept me alive. I believe God made me stubborn on purpose, knowing that it would keep me alive.
I was stubborn—and impatient—before I even left the womb. I was born six weeks early because September is far superior to October in terms of color and temperature and I didn’t want to miss it. Unfortunately because I decided to push my birthday up I didn’t have enough time to finish developing. I was born with a small hole in one of my lungs but I wasn’t about to let that stop me.
Okay, so maybe my condition was a little more serious than I intended. I would have been med-flighted to a different hospital specializing in premature babies if the weather hadn’t been so bad. Instead they had to rush me there by ambulance. Like I said, that wasn’t exactly in the plan but I wasn’t going to let that stop me.
I was in intensive care for a week and after that I got sick of being hooked up to all those pesky tubes and wires. I freaked out my already stressed parents and most of the nursing staff when I started pulling out my breathing tubes. If I could have talked I would have said, “Hey, I want to breathe on my own thank you very much!” After about the third or the fourth time I pulled my breathing tube out they decided to leave it out and see how I did. I was fine. I got to go home soon after.
I’ll admit I didn’t always use my stubbornness for good. It was something that I needed to learn how to control. It took time. It takes time, I should say. I’m still working on it. In junior high (which seems to be a scary long time ago), in addition to fighting with my little brother, I took up protecting my parents. I was bound and determined to be the perfect child and not make their lives any harder than they had to be. No one had asked me to do it but me. I just wanted everyone to be happy.
This attitude grew into a full-fledged need for acceptance. When I was fifteen I got a job as a cashier at a hardware store. I loved my job. I loved learning new things. I loved my coworkers. And for the most part, I loved my customers. I got to know a handful of regulars and that was fun. What I didn’t like were the customers—usually middle aged men—who decided I made good jailbait. Somehow, without trying to, I managed to attract about six creepers in a two year span. This wouldn’t have been so bad if I hadn’t been so afraid of hurting peoples’ feelings because I would have just told them to buzz off. After a while though, I had had enough. I decided I needed a backbone more than I needed peoples’ acceptance. I was angry. It took me a long time to get angry enough to do something about the creepers in my life but once I put my foot down creepy people in general started leaving me alone. Well, at least outside of high school.
At the same time I was hiding from and learning how to deflect creepers I was also trying my hardest to survive my classmates. Because I “grew up” at a young age I was on a completely different wavelength than most of my classmates. I didn’t party, smoke, drink, or sneak around TP-ing peoples’ houses. I believe they called me a kill joy. I was the goody-two-shoes of my class. I refused to let them get to me though. I wasn’t going to change for them. It wasn’t worth it.
Unfortunately fighting an uphill battle all by yourself tends to wear on you. My faith in God was still superficial and while it kept me afloat it wouldn’t have been as bad if it had been stronger back then. But that is probably why I had to go through all of that. God was drawing me close to Him by distancing me from the world. In any case I became very depressed my sophomore year and I would have killed myself had I not been so stubborn or cowardly. I thought about different ways to kill myself but every time I looked over that proverbial cliff I got scared of the drop. I successfully failed at killing myself. I guess failure isn’t always a bad thing.
Today I can boast in my weaknesses because God is my strength. Tomorrow may be a different story but I have my head on straight today and that is all I can ask for. So I really don’t mind being stubborn, angry, cowardly, or a failure as long as God is working in my life to make it better. In high school I heard a quote that went something like this:
Here is to lying, stealing, and cheating.
If you must lie, lie to save a friend.
If you must steal, steal the heart of the one you love.
And if you must cheat, cheat death.
I think that quote not only has merit but it dispels the myth that these are only always bad traits. It is kind of like the word consequences. No one ever talks about good consequences so it has a negative connotation even though it covers both sides.
I’m glad that God can use anyone and anything for His glory. That means He can use me and my imperfections. I can still be used for good even though the world only sees the bad. I am determined to shift my way of thinking to find both sides of traits and the people who display them that may seem only negative. That is a promise God will help me keep.
Our world is full of violence. Is it just me ore have we had a rash of senseless shootings? When did the war come to America? This is NOT the way things are meant to be! It doesn’t have to be this way. We don’t have to roll over and wait to pick up the pieces. If the war has come to us we need to fight back! Not with gun laws and metal detectors in schools those treat the symptoms not the problem. What we need, congress can’t legislate. How can you legislate love?
If we love our neighbors and our children like they deserve (not how we were loved or not, not like we think they deserve, not like we love our Ipod) we can teach the hopeless to have hope. We can teach the loveless to love. We can teach the violent to have peace. We can break the cycle.
If we spread love like a contagious infection instead of fear then maybe we wouldn’t feel the need to shoot each other. Start in your home, on your street, in your city. One person can make a positive difference. All it takes is one spark to start a fire to light up the darkness.
It sounds simple but it’s not. Why is it the things that seem like they should be simple are the hardest to do?