The Best Gift Is Your Company Over Breakfast

Sit with me and sip the comforting liquid from cups that are far too small. We’ll have breakfast. I’ll always have eggs but you might choose hotcakes or a sandwich. What you choose to eat makes no difference to me. That you choose to share it with me does make all the difference.

Guilty By Association

It was hammered into my newly regenerate brain. “Do not be deceived. ‘Bad company corrupts good morals.'” (1 Corinthians 15:33)  It was helpful, really.  I needed to separate from the influences of a few people who had the power to easily take me from my new path.

Sometimes, however, it has come to be just as true that whatever good company I am or whatever good company I am with at a time might just makes my friends and associates guilty by association.  In our uncomfortable world, I tend to mingle my associations rather than segregate them.  There are many reasons for this.  Practically, I simply have no energy to have my associations in the never-the-twain-shall-meet boxes.  I quit living like that back in the 90’s when my church at the time would not let an HIV+ man serve on the worship team because it would involve microphones.  I determined that I would not be the excluder unless excluding was for the true protection of my friend or, obviously, the intermingling would be dangerous for anyone involved.

A few months ago I threw a little get together for a man who was home from a live-in treatment facility.  It was a celebration of his growing freedom and his first longer leave.  There are a few who care about him and we shared hamburgers.  It was then I realized that his association with me tended to get him judged.  It was assumed that he had particular struggles because of his association with me.  It was assumed that the others who were invited were suspect to have similar struggles because of their associations with me.

It isn’t that the conclusions of the party-goers and others in the vicinity were right or wrong that disturbs me so much.  What bugs the pieces out of me is that adults find themselves preferring to categorize other adults in this way.  Good grief!  Hasn’t life taught you anything?  People are out there struggling with loneliness  fear, isolation, addiction, singleness, widowhood, night shift jobs, caregivers, stay at home mothers or fathers, degree programs, social weakness, awkwardness, sickness and the like!   It could happen to any of us at any time–life events can put us to the fringe of the action and we are powerless to overcome it on our own.

What is so cool about reaching out to the diverse world of people with some genuine care and friendship is that you are no longer alone.  You make friends.  You get to see people find freedom.  People begin to overcome some of their quirks and behaviors and, in exchange, you will overcome some of yours.  You become increasingly free of the need to judge the motive of others and to simply walk with some wisdom that people make really crappy choices and do some really crappy things and they still need love.

Consider the Savior!  He certainly was accused for eating and drinking and healing on the Sabbath.  He was scrutinized for spending time with the tax collectors and prostitutes.  He lingered at the well talking to the Samaritan woman.  He defended the woman caught in adultery. Some of his closest associates were tradesmen and he decided to use them to build his ministry though some of them were, likely, uneducated.

What will be the measure of what I do?  Will it be to make others happy with me?  Will it be to get affirmation from any side of any part of this?  People are very changeable and it is likely that I will fall in and out of favor with any one person at any time.  I’m pretty sure I’ll have those same struggles with you.  I just wonder if we can live life a little more openly?

http://biblia.com/books/esv/Mt22.1 – 14

I was thinking about it on Sunday because the sermon suggested that our tendency to separate activities into categories might be misguided.  Preacher Man suggested that we separate into 3 categories when, perhaps there might be only two.  We tend to take our 168 hours a week (which everyone has, by the way) and create categories for those hours.  Firstly, there is the category of the sacred in life.  Into this we put church, service, devotional life & prayer.  Secondly, we have the secular pursuits.  Into this we put recreation, work, entertainment, non-church volunteerism, maintaining our household, etc.  Finally, there are sinful pursuits which would perhaps include drunkenness, getting high, unblessed sex and the like.  Preacher Man suggested that there are only two categories–sacred and sinful.  The minute he said it, I knew he was right but that I had never really thought about it that way.

For the normal Christian life, ALL OF LIFE is our worship.  Our work, our worship, our associations, our chores, our cooking, our outreach, our art, our entertainment…All…ALL are to be to the glory of God.  If it is not, it is sin.  It blew my mind to think on this anew.

“Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” (Colossians 3:17)

“For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in;36 naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.'” (Matthew 25:35)

As It Was In The Beginning…

Just last week, I was telling a friend about some recent changes in my life.  I talked about the decision to stop playing online games in order to leave room for something else (anything else) to happen.  I talked about how the doctor has been unrelenting in her suggestion that I do this specific diet in order to reduce inflammation in my body and, she suggests, I will lose weight and feel much, much better as a side-benefit of doing what she says.  I also told my friend of the decision to begin moving my body.

I suppose people would assume that these things are New Year’s Resolutions (given the convenient time of beginning) but, they would be wrong.  In fact, I am unable to resolve to do much of anything.  As I mentioned to my friend, change is frightening to me.  I have what I think is an irrational fear of doing anything different.

Irrational?  Me?  Well, wouldn’t you agree that to be afraid of the US Mail is irrational? Would you not think it irrational to be anxious about setting a title for a blog post? Would it be irrational if I have fear concerning stopping my online games?  If I am honest, I have many irrational fears. For many years (20 or so) I’ve been doing things even though I am worried, anxious or afraid.  There is just something about how I function that gets a little freaked out at the strangest stuff. (By the way, I’m not afraid of what some would call the bigger stuff–like public speaking, going new places, meeting new people, being publicly humiliated, or making big mistakes on a stage.

Yeah, it isn’t the biggies that bother me now days. You see, I get afraid of my internal struggle.  I am bothered with my impulsive decisions that are able to overrule my firm decisions.  I don’t like minor falls (or major ones) where I lapse and fail (for the moment).  And, I don’t like having to get back up or trying again. But, this is the normal Christian life for me.

As it was in the beginning, it is for me now.  Back then I was trying to overcome things that were secret and controlling and destructive and obsessive AND emotional and defeating AND confusing…and I did overcome. I suspect that this is no different. Not really. I already know that this battle is primarily waged in my mind and emotions. I wonder if the lessons-learned back then will apply to my current fight? I guess we’ll see.

The Pitter Patter of Little Feet

(Written in April 2011)

Perspective.  Either the word is overused or, likely, it is underused.  Sometimes (for weeks at a time) I don’t think about the “little feet” that are not in my life.  Sometime (like this week) I think about it constantly.  That is where the perspective thing comes into play. I was with a group of older women.  This is the habit lately as I have attended a morning bible study with them for the past 10 weeks or so.  They  often speak to me as the young woman among them.  But, I’m a few months away from my half-century mark.  I feel…oldish.  They are`60ish or 70ish and have their children or grandchildren or great-grandchildren.  MY children are hidden with God.  When I answer the inevitable question regarding my family, I sometimes reveal that I’ve got two that are hidden with God.  IF I reveal that there is another even more inevitable question: “How far along were you?”  For those of us who have miscarried early, there is a moment of clenching fear before we answer that one.  We wonder if our hearer will respond with grace; or, we wonder if the hearer will dismiss our losses as an non-event.  We might wonder if our hearers will respond with a quick attempt to cover their discomfort by taking hold of this bare revelation and telling it something that will fix the pain between us.  My favorite–Can you have others?

Yesterday’s conversation was very different.  These older women sought to console me by sharing their stories–their painful stories of children that were heartaches and the pains of motherhood.  This was an odd twist.  I was going to react with the self-pity that wasn’t present a moment before but which was so glaringly present in my self just then.  I felt frustrated with them.  Then.  Then I had a change in perspective.  I realized that my bare revelation had opened a door and they perceived in me an ear that was capable of listening.  They weren’t wrong.  It is just that it took me a moment to get there.  My listening ear was put on a shelf a few months ago and, suddenly, it was being yanked off that shelf to meet the need of grieving mothers.  These older women has suffered so much with their losses.  One beautiful lady has lost her boy to suicide a few decades ago.  Another woman had adopted and had a child who has, thus far, been unable to return this mother’s love.  This adopted love-child had entered adulthood in the most self-destructive way and her mother was grieving.  Someone close to me has grieved the harshness of her growing children who, sometimes, demand everything and then hurl it back with resentment.  The mother grieves.

This is perspective.  It is a moment in time where my view from the gallery of life takes a shift and I see things differently.

What is my perspective today?  I am a grieving mother who grieves the loss of her children and what could have been.  I am, by the sheer grace of God, able to offer an empathetic ear to a grieving mother–or three.

What an odd day!  I realized I don’t have to offer even one word of counsel or helpful feedback.  There were three phrases that came to me.

“That must have been so painful.”

“You must worry so much.”

“I can’t imagine what that must feel like.”

Thank you, Father, for this gift of grace today.

The Dr. Demento Show of My Youth

I’m old.  These songs are older.  I remember feeling like such an adult when I found this amazing radio show and the music and humor it introduced.  The Dr. Demento Show was broadcast weekly from “sunny South Pasadena where the smogberries grow” and made it all the way to little ole Oklahoma City and to my little virginal ears.  There were the most amazing pieces of music and marvelous artists to experience through that show.

The Playmates – “Beep Beep” (The Little Nash Rambler) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o1c4QZGQw5o

Benny Bell – “Shaving Cream Song” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5rpq6u8hYgk&feature=related

Monty Python – “Spam” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M_eYSuPKP3Y

Monty Python – “Lumberjack Skit”  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5zey8567bcg

Napoleon XIV (Jerry Samuels) – “They’re Coming to Take Me Away”  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sum4Esubx-w

There was the recording of Victor Borge doing some “heady” comedy bit about inflection and punctuation. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ehCFbVhT6o

And, there was a version of Leroy Anderson’s “The Typewriter” of which this is a good arrangement. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g2LJ1i7222c It would be worth your time to watch Jerry Lewis as he performs this. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a7ySmnxy29Q&feature=related

Gee.  I just wanted to share.

Have a nice evening.

I’ve Been Lucky

We use to have a little gathering place in Oklahoma City called the Jesus Lighthouse.  It was somewhere around MacArthur and NW 16th and was a place where live music and some food were mixed together so that kids could gather safely and socialize.  I had a couple of favorite groups but the overwhelming favorite was “Heartsong.”  I suppose that the cuteness factor of the lead singer was part of my attraction.  Anyway, they talked about the difference between being lucky and being blessed.  I’ll leave the argument up to you.

I am in the middle of a week of remembrance.  I have been walking closely with Jesus for 20 years this week.  For some in my world, twenty is a long-past marker.  Many of my contemporaries never walked the path of the religiously rebellious and deceived.  I was SO deceived that I could not see the error of my ways.  Anyway, it was during this week 20 years ago that I turned toward the Lord and, under His leadership, began to make a list of every transgression that was unconfessed and unforgiven in my life.  It really was the leadership of the Holy Spirit.  I could have never, never, never (under my own self-examination) seen the truth of what I was walking.  The list was huge and horrible.  In the process I began to fear that had never walked an honest and clean day in my life.

A more mature sister in the Lord heard my confessions before the Lord later that week.  It must have been grueling.  They had been gone ministering that week and she graciously sat with me after a taxing week of her own.  I brought it all into the light.  ALL OF IT!  The Holy Spirit revealed my compromise and self-deception as well as the deeper roots of my strongly-held misbeliefs.  The process was terrifying and I had no assurance that there would be even one thing different when I was done.

Grueling task done, I felt no different.  In fact, I felt a little heavy and a little afraid.

I was certain that I meant what I said.  “Jesus, I cannot help myself; I need you to help me!”

And, He did.

SHE broke up with me.  Holy Spirit began the examination and began the cleaning process.  The first tentative steps were taken on that broad highway spoken of in Isaiah 35:

8 And a highway shall be there,
and it shall be called the Way of Holiness;
the unclean shall not pass over it.
It shall belong to those who walk on the way;
even if they are fools, they shall not go astray.
9 No lion shall be there,
nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it;
they shall not be found there,
but the redeemed shall walk there.
10 And the ransomed of the Lord shall return
and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
they shall obtain gladness and joy,
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

It felt like luck that I escaped.  It seemed that I was in the right place at the right time and that I had somehow fallen through an escape-hatch and gotten away.  Whew!

Holy Spirit led me in a new direction.  He took me in the direction of obtaining a clear conscience.  So then, for me it was not to be enough that I confessed to the Lord and another.  God was leading me to make some things right with people I had harmed.

Whoa!  That is a biggie!  Even in the current days when I share this part of my testimony I have sincere, well-meaning Christians confront me about this.  “Past is past,” they’ll say.  “It was all under the blood,” they exclaim!  Like I said, it was the LORD’S leadership that took me there.  And, it is biblical!  Those confessions to the ones I had wronged led me into some difficult places.  I had to deal with the pain and betrayal they felt as they learned of how I had sinned against them.  It was difficult.  It ended a few relationships.  It altered others.  It cost me money.  It cost me trust.  It taught me the gravity of my selfish acts.  (In this decade this is a strange revelation.  We are living in the belief that one can do whatever one wants and it affects only oneself. )  I had to confront the fact that MY SIN hurt many people.  I tell you what, I did a whole lot of repenting and making-right for a long, long time.

So, here I am in the anniversary week and today I got a phone call.  The woman on the other end asked me a direct question (more like a statement really).  It was basically this: Did you also sin against us?  I answered slowly, “No. I did not sin against you in this way.”  Then, more directly, she asked again: Did you sin against us because I know you also sinned against others.

Ow.  That hurt.

I felt my mind begin to spin and my heart was racing.

Ow!

I was trying to listen but I was quickly feeling fear take over.  “NO!,” I screamed in my head.  “No.  I sinned against many but you were not among them.”  However, I spoke differently and asked, “What has happened?”

She recounted a bit of their story and I felt helpless and heartbroken….and accused.

Probably whatever I said has satisfied her.  I was tempted to defend myself but didn’t.

The fact remains that what she was asking wasn’t at all far-fetched.  I could have done something like what she was asking.  I just didn’t.

My response and feelings today were truly familiar.  It was shame that got me, plain and simple.  It nailed me good.  “Happy Anniversary to you!,” the Accuser of the brethren said.

My cousin blogged about “shame” recently in her blog  and posted a beautiful song by Charlie Hall.  Here it is for you to enjoy.

Random Musings at 1:22 a.m.

Here we go.  How do I break my effortless silence?  I’ve spent the best past of 2009 thinking along very narrow lines–lines which lead to some sense of survival for the three people in my home.  I am tired.  I don’t think I’m tired because I’m sick and tired.  (You know the “tired” THAT is, don’t you?  It is the kind of tired that says “screw it” a lot because it can’t think of anything else to say.  I’m not THAT kind of tired today.)

No, I am the kind of tired that is bone tired.  I live in a very emotionally demanding and physically demanding existence.  There is no true solitude.   The carefully cultivated means by which I could refresh myself have been difficult to access.  Talk time is limited.  Creative time lacks breath and life.  I find that it is much easier to play than to think.  It is much easier to be idle than to act.

I feel as though I am “winging it” every single day of my life.

I find it difficult to be “intentional” for myself because the energy is completely used up for others.  (Please don’t take that as some noble thing.  It is, in fact, without boundary and it is the stuff that made me emotionally unwell so long ago.)  This is different however.  I do know how to change it.  I know how to reach out.  I know how.  Now, I must do it.

I said this was a “random musings” post.

The character of Patrick Jane is cute (and a little arrogant) and Simon Baker is a sight to behold.

I don’t like candy corn.

It turns out that Mrs. C. might not have accurately labeled me when she said I just didn’t have the “gift” for baking.  (A lie.  I have labored under a lie since 1988.  I now reject that lie.)

There really is more to do that I can get done and more to do that I want to do.

I miss having free, unencumbered time.

I would have rather NOT sold my mother’s car because it looked cool and I could just plug in the iPod and play.

I will live. : )

I was thinking again this morning about my choice to take on this task of loving my mother in a very practical and in a very unrelenting routine.  I don’t regret it (now, one year later) but know I haven’t found the bottom of the expectation and demand that it will bring.  Her physical, spiritual and emotional needs are real and at our mercy.  If anything good will come to her, we are the door.  (Yes, I know that Jesus can do things for her but THAT is not what I mean.)

I’ve had about a month of re-counting the cost.  We are signing on again.  It is my heart that still needs adjustments.

Is this random enough?

Your Thoughts Wanted

Years ago I read the following from Joni Erickson Tada’s book, “A Step Further.”

It’s a kind of scale, I finally reasoned. Every person alive fits somewhere onto a scale of suffering that ranges from little to much.

And it’s true. Wherever we happen to be on that scale-that is, however much suffering we have to endure-there are always those below us who suffer less, and those above who suffer more. The problem is we usually like to compare ourselves only with those who suffer less. That way we can pity ourselves and pretend we’re at the top of the scale. But when we face reality and stand beside those who suffer more, our purple-heart medals don’t shine so brightly.

Along these same lines I’ve been thinking about what we call the sovereignty of God.  In the face of suffering people talk about the sovereignty of God quite a bit.  “It must have been God’s will,” we say.  As I worked through the miscarriages, the loss of friendships and the death of a mother-in-law I wondered, I trusted and I prayed.  “Was this YOUR will, Father?”  I also muse that in the face of suffering we do not talk much of the goodness of God.   It is as though God’s sovereign-ness deals a hard blow to life.  God’s goodness brings only joy and good feelings.  What if both of these simplistic ideas area not true and a reflection of how we deal with ourselves and others as we move along the “scale of suffering” that Joni talks about?