The ‘R’ word…

I’ve spent a lot of time reading about the topic of racism since the latest barrage of protests regarding the death of George Floyd. My biggest take away is that I use words I don’t really know what they mean! It’s a VERY complicated subject and we have a tendency to want to fix it on Twitter in 120 characters or less which only serves to piss someone off!

If you think you disagree with these books or my decision to read them, or this is just too many words for you, then please by all means don’t throw the baby out with the bath water … skip down to … My Journey Thus Far.

What I gleaned from Woke Church by Eric Mason:

I love that he laments. There is truly much to lament in our society today, for sure!

I’ve learned that we can do better than thinking that we live in a post-racist society taunting that I don’t have a problem, I’m colorblind! Mr. Mason presents eight problems with “color-blindness”

  1. It denies God’s promise to Abraham that “in you all the nations shall be blessed.” (Galatians 3:8 NKJV)
  2. It denies the Father’s promise to the Son that “I will make you a light for the nations” (Isaiah 49:6)
  3. It denies the Spirit’s promise to us that all peoples will praise God. (see Psalm 67:5)
  4. It denies Christ’s great commission to disciple the nations.
  5. It denies the Spirit’s work to prepare us for a multiethnic table. (Acts 10)
  6. It denies one of the main tenets of the Apostles’ Creed, “the holy catholic Church.” Catholicity means the opposite of colorblindness–celebrating the inclusion of all ethnicites.
  7. It denies Christ’s power to heal racial divisions, disparities and injustices by ignoring their ongoing impact
  8. And it undermines unity in the church by refusing to acknowledge ethnic differences and significant problems.

I was also convicted by Lament #7: That the Church Didn’t Create and Lead the Black Lives Matter Movement. (Mason pg 107)

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

Attributed to Edmund Burke

Now in 2020 we’re all upset that this is an organization that is violent and corrupt and it’s anti-christian to use the hashtag. But what do you expect? One of Russell’s favorite sayings was “Nature abhors a vacuum.” Which is a smart people, sciency way of saying, if you don’t step up someone else will! And this is certainly true of the Black Lives Matter movement. Too many good men sat quietly saying, “Yes you do matter” then promptly went about their own lives!

I’m frustrated that Christians have been so critical of this book because Eric Mason boldly proclaims – more than once that Jesus is the answer. His own definition is, “Being woke is to be aware. Being woke is to acknowledge the truth. Being woke is to be accountable. Being woke is to be active.” (Mason pg 32) I want to be aware, acknowledge the truth, be accountable and active! He’s right – the church should already be woke!

You have to be intrinsically changed by God in order for justice to be done. …But at the end of the day legislation doesn’t change hearts…only the gospel does.

Mason Pg 50-51

My take from White Fragility Why It’s so Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by: Robin Diangelo:

I was hooked in the introduction with the Beyonce Knowles quote:

“It’s been said that racism is so American that when we protest racism, some assume we’re protesting America.”

Beyonce Knowles, quote in White Fragility page xi

I’m three pages in, just in the foreword and already convicted that I’ve only been looking at one side of the story. I never stopped to listen to or think about Colin Kaepernick’s point of view when he knelt during the National anthem. I jumped on the “I stand for the flag and kneel at the cross” bandwagon. I honestly thought “those people need to find a better way to address what they perceive as a problem”. I have great respect for those who serve in the military, law enforcement, really anyone whose life work is for the benefit of mankind. I have been unwilling to talk about racism because I bought into the post-racist ideal that we just need to stop talking about it. I have bowed my head, closed my eyes and in the name of God, left no room for any other point of view.

Diangelo’s chapter on the good/bad binary really spoke to me about how we justify racism by screaming that I’m not racist, because I’m not a bad person. If I say or do something racist it doesn’t really count because I’m not a bad person. Two qoutes from this chapter really struck a nerve with me:

While making racism bad seems like a positive change, we have to look at how this functions in practice. Within this paradigm, to suggest that I am racist is to deliver a deep moral blow, I must defend my character, and that is where all my energy will go–to deflecting the charge, rather than reflecting on my behavior.

Diangelo, pg 72

If, as a white person, I conceptualize racism as a binary and I place myself on the “not racist” side, what further action is required of me? No action is required, because I am not racist. Therefore, racism is not by problem; it doesn’t concern me and there is nothing further I need to do. This worldview guarantees that I will not build my skills in thinking critically about racism or use my position to challenge racial inequality.

Diangelo, pg 73

This point was huge for me. I could totally relate to this binary. I have said and heard racist comments deduced and written off because the person isn’t a bad person, you don’t know their heart. News flash: Generations of good people have been raised in a racist structure. My parents weren’t bad people, they just taught me what they had been taught and honestly anyone else raised in America. I was not raised to hate, but their was no denying that being white is better. It’s not about good people or bad people–it’s about doing better and to do better you have to see there is room for improvement!

Diangleo also addresses the issue of color blindness stating that, “color blindness may have started out as a well-intentioned strategy for interrupting racism, in practice it has served to deny the reality of racism and thus hold it in place.” (Diangelo pg 42) This brings to my mind the comment Stephen King made regarding the lack of diversity in the 2019 Academy Awards, where he said, “I would never considered diversity in matters of art. Only quality.” (https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/jan/14/stephen-king-oscars-diversity-criticism) A comment I fully agreed with until I considered the fact that he also never realized that the pieces of work he was considering did not include any diversity. His color blindness did not allow him to see that the Academy had failed to give films by directors and screenwriters that were not white male a chance to even be considered. He had the opinion, “I’m not racist, so racism must not exist.” Diangelo concludes that to be color blind is to deny diversity.

This book reflects so many things that I have lived. Chapter 11, White Women’s Tears really made me stop and think about how I could be a influencer for change, it’s easy to cry, I can do that during a sappy commercial — but am I really willing to stand up and say enough is enough, to be better, to do better, to demand better.

Take-away from How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi:

We don’t understand the words we are using as weapons! This biggest thing Kendi did for me in this book was define terms. Again, I was hooked on this book in the introduction when he states, “Racist is not … a pejorative. It is not the worst word in the English language; it is not the equivalent of a slur. It is descriptive, and the only way to undo racism is to consistently identify and describe it–and then dismantle it. The attempt to turn this usefully descriptive term into an almost unusable slur is, of course, designed to do the opposite: to freeze us into inaction.” (Kendi pg 9) Critics of the book say that being ‘not racist’ is enough, I don’t have to be anti-racist. I contend that instead of standing up against racist behavior, policies and even education we’re too often burying our head in the sand with the belief that I am not impacted by racism, therefore it does not exist and we need to quit talking about it so it can go away.

We have got to quit arguing over the words.

We have to quit minimizing peoples experiences.

IF ANYONE is still impacted by racism today we must face it. And there is plenty of evidence that there are many anyones! I will even go as far as to say if you don’t know anyone impacted by racism, then you’re living in such a privileged bubble that even people you know cannot share there fears, pains and trials. Zig Ziglar once said that the appearance of impropriety is impropriety, although I can’t find that quote on the web, he used that as a mantra to never be seen alone with a woman who was not his wife. We need to say the same thing about racism today – the perception of racism is racism therefore I can scream I am not racist all day long, but if I support a system that is perceived as racist — I must act. You can’t add a ‘but’ and make it okay.

I learned that colorblindness, white privilege, critical race theory … are sociological constructs that examine how we view our world. They are not a threat, an accusation nor judgement, they are social concepts that just are. You can use any word as a weapon.

We cannot deny that

Black people comprise 13 percent of the U.S. population. And yet, in 2015, Black bodies accounted for at least 26 percent of those killed by police, declining slightly to 24 percent in 2016, 22 percent in 2017, and 21 percent in 2018, according to The Washington Post. Unarmed Black bodies–which apparently look armed to fearful officers–are about twice as likely to be killed as unarmed White bodies.

Kendi pg 73

Wasn’t Jesus all about the least of these? the underdog? I think Kendi wrote this book for people just like me. People who want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. To get people to stand up and take a side. I could quote for days from this book – just read it!!!

My journey thus far:

I have been so enlightened by reading the perspectives of these authors who see the world differently than how I was raised both familially and culturally. I also want to add that while I read these books I continued to study, read and meditate in and on the Bible. These books strengthened my faith and resolve to life my life to be more Christ-like. Still, I am so disappointed by the Christian community that has spent more time arguing over semantics than being compassionate, understanding and willing to see another’s point of view. I am so discouraged by looking at Facebook posts that are steeped with self-righteousness, piety and condemnation. I am heartbroken that the biggest obstacle to Christ can be those of us who claim, so boldly, to be his followers. I have to ask myself:

Do others know what I am for? Or do they only know what I am against and how I fall on the political spectrum?

I have to ask myself EVERYDAY, will others see Christ in me. Some days, sadly, the answer is no. My love language is sarcasm. My quick wit and sharp tongue often leave me with regret and a path of unintentional hurt. I do love Jesus, but I cuss a little, okay sometimes a lot. My children say I have no filter. I have absolutely no right to condemn another BUT if good white people continue to do nothing , to see nothing, all our critics are right! I encourage you to READ, to LEARN, to LISTEN to be more concerned about having relationships than being right, because it is only through relationship that we can share our point of view and impact another’s perspective. I will never lead someone to the gospel that I don’t first value, respect and listen to because I’ll never have a chance to be heard.

I have a son in law enforcement, he’s always wanted to be in law enforcement. I can not be anti-law enforcement nor minimize what they face each day, but I can’t deny this is an issue that we can’t bury our heads in the sand about. I recently spoke to Bishop McBride who talked about what it is like to be a black man pulled over by a police officer. Most of what he told me I was aware of, but what shocked me was the comment he made: “…and it doesn’t matter what color the officer is.” The most dangerous thing an officer does is a traffic stop, I am just as big a threat to an officer as the next guy statistically but yet we’re treated differently because of race. That my friend is systemic racism. In Temple Texas. Today. It’s not an individual issue its deep in the fabric of who we are and it won’t improve if denied.

These pictures represent to me how we have whitewashed our history. Why are we not as comfortable with black Jesus and black Santa as we are the white ones? Photo credit: Jesus: The Last Supper by Sarah Jenkins, Original painting inside the permanent collection of the Virginia Museum of Fine Art, Richmond, VA. Santa photos stolen from Hayti Heritage Center, St. Joseph’s Historic Foundation and Raising Race Conscious Children.

I loved the series “A Handmaid’s Tale” because it is a wonderful examination of how wrong right can go. The creators of the society were great fundamental Christians who wanted to create a Utopian society based on good — but fundamentally it was so wrong. Any of us given free rein would do the same! It’s human nature and it’s ugly and we need a Savior!

I am a product of white privilege, segregation, prejudice and racism. I can not deny that, I don’t have to apologize for it, but I do have a responsibility to continue to learn, to grow and to do better.

I am a work in progress. I want to do better!

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but

to do justice,

and to love kindness,

and to walk humbly with your God?

Micah 6:8 ESV

I just noticed that verse ends with a question mark, it demands a response!!

Hell can be a beautiful place!

We lived in Utah from December 1997 – August 2000.  We had lived in New Mexico for ten years and were planning to follow our jobs to Phoenix when Russell got an offer he couldn’t refuse in Salt Lake City.  Being young and adventurous we jumped in.  I literally would have followed that man ANYWHERE, but never entertained the idea that moving to a state I’d never even visited and 1000 miles from our family might cause a few problems.

Salt Lake City is beautiful!  They have four seasons, just like in those books we read in elementary school, the views from the valley are spectacular, the mountains, the weather is so nice!  Even when it snows, the entire place isn’t paralyzed like we are with a little ice in Texas.  The tulips come up through the snow in the spring and Christmas lights covered in snow are so spectacular.

The culture, however, was very different from anything we’d experienced.  We moved there from Albuquerque, a cultural melting pot that is SO diverse and by contrast Salt Lake seemed very white and very Mormon.  While we were white, we definitely were not Mormon and that was a little problematic.  I’m not bashing Mormons here, just pointing out that their culture was very different from what we knew.  In New Mexico we met so many people that had visited and decided they just had to live there.  Many people like us, had no family nearby. We found people to be open and friendly.  In Utah, however, it seemed like we were the only people that weren’t “from there” and were the only people there with no extended family.  (I’m sure that’s not literally true, but it was my perception.)  We both had GREAT jobs, we had a beautiful home with gorgeous views of the mountains and a relationship under s t r e s s.  Russell’s job was so consuming that most days he left before Ryan and I got up and came home after we’d gone to bed.  Ryan could go days without seeing his dad and was usually the first kid dropped off at daycare and the last picked up.  Some days I’d pick Ryan up from daycare and take him to play at McDonald’s while I finished the work I still needed to do —

then, somehow I got pregnant! 

Then Paxton came along with the mantra, “HA – you think you can have it all!”  His minor health issues pushed our already strained lifestyle right over the edge.  I remember sitting looking at the snow capped mountains, tired, frustrated, exhausted, overwhelmed and tired (yes I said that twice on purpose) — thinking

Hell can sure be a beautiful place.

 You remember Russell’s work schedule, well we added to that an infant that DID NOT SLEEP.  I don’t mean didn’t sleep through the night, I mean, DID NOT SLEEP.  He had reflux so badly that he screamed bloody murder EVERY TIME you laid him down and had pneumonia constantly and low oxygen levels continually as a result. It is truly a good thing he was cute because life with him was H A R D.

It took me a long time to surrender to the idea of motherhood.  I never really thought I’d be a good mother, I thought I was way too selfish (and I was not wrong!).  It wasn’t until a spiritual journey that Russell and I took through the Walk to Emmaus that God really started to change my heart, but even then, I was willing to surrender only because I knew Russell would be such a great dad — I thought just like the rest of our lives he’d drag me along.  Pregnancy wasn’t automatic for us, it took quite a few months of trying which really tested my faith because I really felt that God was calling us to parenthood and yet it eluded us.  I made an appointment with a fertility specialist and at my first appointment, I was pregnant.  Ryan was a dream infant, he took right to breastfeeding, he was happy as could be, he loved daycare, he traveled well, he hardly interrupted our lifestyle at all.  I really believed women can have it all, career, family, social life — the skies the limit.

Then we moved and lost all our support system.

Then we had a real baby.

I’d like to say we moved back to Texas and lived happily ever after, but that would not be whole truth.  Difficult times don’t just disappear, they slowly fade. We decided that our family needed a full-time wife and mother and evidently that was me!  In theory it sounded like a great idea.  My employer in Utah had been MORE than gracious with all Paxton’s health issues, they allowed me to work from home three days a week and really could not have been more accommodating.  I knew it would be next to impossible to find a new job bringing  that baggage along. Our pediatrician in Utah had threatened to drop us from her practice if I didn’t get Paxton out of daycare, how could I put him back?  So I reluctantly decided to surrender myself completely to this job of wife and mother and it was a T O U G H transition.  But once I realized how much better off all three of the boys were with my undivided attention soon we all began to thrive.

The key here was my surrender.  I had to let go of that vision of what I thought my life would be to the life God had chosen for me.  In that I grew to realize that Hell is largely of my own making.  If I surrender to God’s plan for my life, Hell is a distant threat.

Looking back I realize I’ve had to surrender my vision of my life many times to follow Christ, I’m starting to maybe think, I might not be in control.

Fast forward, I have a dear friend who had the perfect life.  She was a beautiful, charming, Godly woman who had a wealthy husband, four wonderful children, a gorgeous home — then he decides he can have it all and starts travelling and cheating and their fairy tale life becomes unraveled.  It was ugly.  Five people were hurled into unbelievable grief while one seemed oblivious. I know I have no real grasp on the depth of her pain. She asked us to look after the house (I called it the mansion, much to her dismay) while she was gone and as we sat by the pool, I had that same thought, “Hell can sure be a beautiful place” as this beautiful home had become her living Hell.

Contrasted to the missionary that spoke about living among families in an actual landfill that were filled with exuberant joy over the smallest things.

How can a mansion be like hell and a landfill be paradise?

I don’t really understand what Hell is, honestly, I don’t.  I’ve studied it in the Bible, I’ve heard lots of people’s thoughts on Hell, I’ve heard lots of sermons on Hell, I even know one very wise Christian who doesn’t really believe it exists, but what I do know for sure is that it is Christ-less.  Our Hell on earth comes not from the actual absence of Christ but our inability to see his redemptive plan at that moment.  Our personal Hell can be a beautiful place physically, but true beauty rests in the redemptive power of a loving savior — no matter what the circumstance, or what your surroundings look like. 

My friend and I shared the same place in our history. A time when our dreams seemed lost, hope seemed illusive and our vision was clouded by circumstances. We lacked the ability to see, at that moment, but not forever. You’ve been there too.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good , for those who are called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28

It’s easy to see Paul’s truth in Romans when our life seems to be in our control but true hope comes from seeing it even in the midst of life’s storms. Living a surrendered life that is not of our own making, that holds treasures only God could imagine, we can trust in the hope of a future and of good despite what this moment may look like.

Hold on! It really does get better.

I finally got it!

I love Jami Amerine, author, blogger, mom, she makes me laugh and smile and look for the joy in the ordinary life of following Jesus. Her tag line is Jesus be all over you! She says it all the time but today is the first day I got it.

I’m scrolling through Facebook and this memory pops up

In the picture is just Ryan and the old DPS cruiser he so proudly bought as his first car. But when I look back at the picture six years down the road, his dad is all over that picture. Ryan didn’t have a lot of money but he wanted a cool car and his dad found this place in Austin that sold old state property. The two of them researched about the cars, planned all the work they were going to do to civilianize it, how much money he had, how much it would cost to change what they wanted, so many plans and dreams realized on this day. While the picture is one boy and one car I see so much more.

That car was so fun, he loved it everyday he had it and when he was finished with it and bought a new vehicle he actually gave the car to someone who needed it. Generosity — that is a trademark of his father. But to me this picture now represents the relationship Ryan and his dad had. Dreams they shared. Time they spent together planning and dreaming, not just about this car, but about the life Ryan wanted and the dreams he had. Russell researched and figured out how to get the spray paint off the sides so it looked cool before he got it painted. I can see in my mind the smile on his face as he took this picture — Russell is all over this memory.

Which made me realize for the first time after reading and hearing “Jesus be all over you” by Jami. When you look at me I hope you see that Jesus is all over this story. As you read my words you have to see that Jesus is all over it. Without him, I’m just another picture with no depth, no memories, no emotion. I may loathe my image in the mirror of the creepy old fat lady until I can look at that girl and realize Jesus is all over her — and that my friend is good indeed! Thanks Jami!

The point is …WE

Early in my faith journey I found studying the Israelites so frustrating.  They had to be the most stiff necked people ever.  The constant cycle of rebellion, repentance, deliverance was so tedious to me until I realized — I am no different.  I need to study their stupidity, because it is no different from my own.  My whole perspective changed when I realized that it was not “those people” who couldn’t see that God’s redemption was there all along, but I don’t live knowing that God’s redemption is there for me – always.  

I studied the plight of the Hebrews and their rebellion against God as “those people”.  It was not until I realized that there is no “those people” there is only us and God.  And that most of the conflict we face comes from our thoughts about “those people”.

Teachers think of students as those people

Old people think of young people as those people

Whites think of blacks as those people

Fat think of thin as those people

Rich think of poor as those people

Haves think of have-nots as those people

Christians think of Muslims as those people

Americans think of immigrants as those people

This generation thinks of that generation as those people

And all of those again vice versa and many, many more!

Sean McDowell once said, “How you view this generation will shape the way you relate to them.”  If we think of our students, or young people, as lazy, entitled, internet dependent, device addicted — that’s how we will treat them, as less than.  If we think of them as the next generation, whose world is different than the one we grew up with and our mission is to help them make their world a better place — what a difference our approach will be.  This doesn’t just apply to teaching. It applies to how we deal with others period. We have to see others as valuable, young, old, black, brown, poor, rich, disabled — all of us!

As a Christian, I must look at others and see — wow, WE need Jesus!!

People don’t grow where they are informed — they grow where they are accepted.

Bob Goff

We are all driven by the need for acceptance, yet struggle with being accepting. How much better our world would be if we were all just “those people”!

“Our” Anniversary

Today is our anniversary, except there is no longer an us, well in real-life anyway.

We had our first date on June 13th, we went to see the movie Friday the 13th. And then the year we finally decided to get married, the 13th fell on Friday again in June and we were ecstatic!

My dad said, “Of course she would marry on Friday the 13th, she’s been a financial omen her whole life.” My mother in law, being British and somewhat superstitious, was horrified.

But today, the 40th anniversary of that date and the 36th anniversary of our wedding, there is no longer an us, there is just me and my memories.  Not even for the human beings that our marriage created does this date hold significance.  I never realized how deeply personal anniversaries were.  I wish we had celebrated them more because they are awfully hollow now that you’re gone, but we weren’t really the celebratory type.

It made me think about longevity.  I looked it up, it simply means long life.  Which made me look up long, which means a measure from end to end, lasting or taking a great amount of time, relatively great in extent, then you can talk about odds, phonics, finance, prosody.  You can have a long day, a long meeting, a long nap — those don’t require a specific measure of time, long is a measure of how good or how bad it was.  You can long for something lost or absent or anticipated. All these things are wrapped up in an anniversary.  Even at a wedding we anticipate those anniversaries to come.  The saving of the top of the wedding cake for the one year anniversary, the toasts and wishes for a long and happy marriage.  But like joy and grief, anniversaries are both universal and deeply personal.  We threw a big party for my parents 50th wedding anniversary.  We weren’t even alive when the wedding took place and while their marriage both created and impacted me, it also had nothing to do with me. I really have no understanding of the connection that made them decide to marry 50 years earlier.  But now he’s gone, what is that day now? Now it’s suddenly very personal again. Incidentally, tomorrow, June 14, 2020 is the 67th Anniversary of their wedding.

I think anniversaries are not so much about longevity but reflection.  That reflection changes over time.  The first anniversary celebration is nothing like any other, then they blur into the big ones.  At GriefShare you hear people reference them as we just celebrated our ___ anniversary or we were looking so forward to our ___ anniversary.  But only looking back can we see our last anniversary.

As I now look forward to and long for eternity I wonder: What does an anniversary look like in light of eternity.  I think that anniversaries are a human shortcoming to deal with the fact that time makes no sense because we were meant for eternity.  When the world was created, our days were not numbered, that came from sin.  Now that our days are numbered, we’re obsessed (some of us (me) more than others)  with counting them.  With pregnancy we start counting weeks, the newborn we count months until eventually years all morbidly counting toward the end when we are awarded our final number.  Then we lament, “Their life was cut so short” or “But they lived a long good life.” But living in the light of eternity is starkly different.  It’s kinda sad and hollow when we wish someone a happy birthday in heaven or mark the anniversary of their death as their home-going or a wedding anniversary that reached its expiration date.  I recently cleaned out my refrigerator and threw away all the condiments I had accumulated that reached their expiration date, is that the same thing?

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is a thousand years, and a thousand years is one day.

2 Peter 3:8

But my hope lies in the reality that time is something I will grapple with only while I’m on this earth.  We aren’t supposed to understand time! Like other things of the flesh, hatred, hunger, sadness, pain, fat and tired, time is one thing I won’t take with me in eternity.  I don’t think we’ll celebrate birthdays, anniversaries or homecomings, we’ll celebrate only being in the presence of God. So maybe that’s why, today, more than most, I long for eternity.

Inspired by Draw the Circle devo Day 39

Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.

Exodus 3:5

I had a “send chills up my spine moment” typing this when I realized that I am typing to you in a place that has become holy ground to me (We started the Draw the Circle 40 Day Prayer Challenge by Mark Batterson and Covid-19 hit right in the middle so I finished the 40 day challenge via email typing the daily devo and then relating it to our journey.) When my husband died one of the first places I felt less lost was in the chair at his desk, in his office.  It was the first room in our house that wasn’t re-done for one of our kids.  He had inherited a couple of hundred dollars from his mother and wanted to do something tangible with the money and decided he’d invest it in his office space. I remember him asking, “Is that selfish of me?”  I, of course, said no, and encouraged him to move forward.  

He picked out the paint colors,

He designed the desk, 

He picked out the flooring, 

He re-wired the lighting.  

He made it a space that he loved and as soon as he was gone, I loved it too.  

Before he died, I had sat in his chair to type something for him and commented, “This is the most uncomfortable chair I have EVER sat in.”  Knowing him, he had probably found it in the trash somewhere and refurbished it.  I promptly bought him a new chair and he fell asleep in it the next time he was on a conference call!  ANYWAY, he’s been gone 1,349  days and this is still one of my favorite places to be. I’ve done a few things to make it my own, but it is largely the space he created.  It’s small, well lit and comfy.  But typing this week’s devos I was overwhelmed by the fact that this is where God has done great things in my life.  

It is in this chair that I have poured my heart out to Him in my journal and written the prayers I have seen Him answer.  

It is in this chair that I have worried about how I would make it without him and seen God fill our EVERY need. 

It is in this chair feeling lost and with no direction that I have sat and done Bible Studies that have sustained me.

It is in this chair that I have opened the cards people sent that contained exactly what I needed, exactly when I needed it.  

It is now that I realize this place was prepared for me long before I knew I needed it.

It is from this chair that I have risen and faced what I thought was unfaceable.

I never have shoes on here unless they are house shoes because my feet are cold – and I never will again, because now I know this is holy ground.  It is where my God has met me, comforted me, sustained me and sent me.  I will never look at this place the same again.

God knows where you are!  Get your order pad ready!

The one handed girl isn’t weird?

I saw a post on Facebook by a super cute one handed girl who was pleading — don’t let your kids call me weird, I’m different.  I don’t even know you, but I love you one handed girl who had the courage to post on Facebook.  But, sorry sweetie, you are weird — and spoiler alert, we all are!  I may have two hands but I’m a creepy, old, fat, white lady and a lot of people find that weird.  Really we’re all weird in some way, but you have to reach a point where you realize your weird is wonderful, if you will just let it be. I’ve actually met three girls born without one hand in my lifetime — and at first glance they did look a little weird, but it took me no time at all to see that they were also quite wonderful!  It took me days of thinking about this topic to remember I’d ever met someone with one hand because once you get to know someone you just accept them as a fellow human being and remember they touched your life.  While it takes a second to realize someone is different it only takes the next couple of seconds to get to know them and see that really they are  more like me than different. 

I think not being weird is weird.  What is normal after all?  It’s weird how upside down God’s world is.  Years ago I read a book by Carol Kent, A New Kind of Normal.  It’s about how her life turned upside down when her vision of her life was turned upside down in an instant and the process of how she learned to adapt to her “new normal”.  She never would have chosen this path. I don’t imagine anyone would say, I’d like to be born without an appendage, or dyslexia, or whatever imperfection we came with but we can adjust.We can do our best with what we are given and try to define ourselves, not as others see us, but as God sees us – redeemed by the blood of the lamb. Normal is just perception.  If I perceive any situation as normal – it is my normal. Normal really only exists in cyberspace where professionals take weird people, Photoshop and air brush them and then present them to the world as normal — and we eat it up!  I, personally, really like weird, probably the weirder you are the more likely we are to be friends, because I am pretty weird. If people define you by or treat you according to the number of appendages you have, number of pounds you weigh, the color of your skin, your religion, your sexual orientation, number of blemishes you have, number of eyeballs you have, whatever — they are missing the opportunity to know someone wonderful.

The tabs open on my computer would make Freud’s day.  Right this second I have Facebook, Zoom, BibleGateway, Urban Dictionary, Pinterest and 4, yes four Google email accounts (Real me, work me, Paxton who’s been working on a project in here and a student who’s been coming over to use my stuff).  I’m pretty sure this fact alone makes me weird!  But I looked up weird on Urban Dictionary, (I love Urban Dictionary, people put definitions on and other people vote for the most accurate one. Disclaimer: It’s often irreverent, sarcastic and off color, buy hey, I’m weird).  It is very unconventional.  It also helps me navigate the world of teenagers I work in without having to ask so many stupid questions! 

The truth is every word has two meanings: what I meant when I said it and how you take what I say.  They are both right.

This teaches me that I have a choice with every word I say.  I can choose my response, I can choose to be offended, I can choose to think you are ignorant, or funny, or clueless or kind, but most importantly we can choose to not be defined by the words of others. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion after all. We should use kind words, but sometimes I don’t. I may be having a bad day— hurt people hurt people.  I may think I’m funny when really I’m not. But at the end of the day I choose Philippians 4:8 and I choose to focus on

…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.

Philippians 4:8

If I have said something that wasn’t these things – please disregard!  Our words DO matter but I think what we focus on matters more, because I can control that!

Go – make your weird wonderful.

I don’t want a dog!

My twenty something year old son says arrogantly, “I don’t want children now they are too much responsibility, but hey, I really want a dog.” Because, you know, they are no responsibility at all!!!  

Then you hear, 

“Mom, I’m going out of town, can my dog stay with you?” 

“Mom, I’m going out of town, can my dog stay with you?” 

“Mom, my dog is tearing things up because I work and I’m gone a lot.”  Who knew!  

“Mom I’m working double shifts this week can my dog stay with you!”  

“Mom I’ve been working double shifts and really need to sleep late, can my dog stay with you!” 

“Mom you can’t go to school because of COVID-19 and I hate for you to have come over and let my dog out in the afternoon, can he just stay with you?”  

And bam – I have a dog.  

I don’t like him (the dog, not the kid, that’s another post all together!), but he really likes it when his treats are dipped in peanut butter first.

I don’t like him because if you leave the remote control out, he will eat it. I know because he’s eaten FOUR, because remember I am a slow learner. 

I don’t like him because he demands to have the bathroom door open and since my bathroom door is a barn door there is very little I can do about it.  He hates water, no amount of peanut butter will get him in the shower, but I can’t be in there alone either evidently.  Once the door is open he’s perfectly happy and goes to nap on the bed or back outside – he just has to have things the way he likes them.  

I don’t like him because he bites my left foot continually when I’m on the TreadClimber.

I don’t like him because he chases off the squirrels and the birds, and he lays IN my flower bed which he has eaten the landscaping timbers, and he likes to dig, and eat holes in the fence…..and he has a hunger for knowledge – he’s eaten several books.

Yes those are landscape timbers that he ATE!

I don’t like him, but he’s sweet as he can be and I love that stupid dog.

Now in the dog daddies defense, he did send him to obedience school, he is crate trained, he’s not a beggar or big fan of people food, but he does keep my kitchen floor clean and he does spend weekends with his dad (sometimes) and he loves to sit on the patio with me and watch tv at night.

Really I don’t want a dog, but he comes with some things that I DO want.  I want a great relationship with my adult kids.  I want them to say, “Mom can you ….”  I want to be needed.  I want to have a reason to get up in the morning.  I want someone to be excited to see me.  I want someone to sit on the couch with me and watch TV  at night.  I want something to complain about besides my own idiosyncrasies, well dammit, I do want a dog, because he’s part of a package that is in fact a blessed life!

The reality is — the best things in my life I didn’t even know I wanted.

For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.  

Romans 7:15

Life is such a dichotomy.

I don’t want a dog, but suddenly I have one.

I don’t want to be fat, but I love to cook and eat, especially with others. 

I don’t want to be alone, but I don’t want to go anywhere. 

I don’t want to go anywhere, but I love to travel. 

I don’t want to be a widow, but I have a dead husband.  No, really I don’t want to be a widow!  Please don’t refer to me as Ms. I didn’t sign up for this, I don’t want it, I didn’t choose it and it really really sucks. But in reality … I have to focus on what I do have, not what I want or don’t want…

  • I have had one and only one marriage, I have honored a covenant to another, I have loved and been loved.  
  • I have found GriefShare and have met the neatest people through it and made some of the best friends in my life at point that I thought my life was over.
  • I have taken more chances, been less controlling, made more plans and been happier with fewer plans.
  • I have become more mellow as I realize, really, I am not in control and really that is a good thing.
  • For the first time in my life I’m doing what I feel called to do rather than focusing on being someone’s mother or someone’s wife, even though I wouldn’t trade those things for anything.
  • I have learned that it’s not about what I want, because I’m usually wrong.  It is about surrendering my life and taking advantage of the opportunities God places in my path.  And trusting that my days are numbered and I have the choice to make them count or not. And believing that the God who created the universe and cares about the sparrows, also cares about me.

It’s not about what I want or don’t want, it’s about knowing that I am NOT in control and THAT is good!

It’s about sometimes embracing what we do not want because God has incredible blessings in store for us!

Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!

Luke 12:24

Update:  A couple of hours after posting this Rocky shattered the office window charging at a squirrel, broken window, small dog cut, which I thought was no big deal until we ended up in the doggie ER for stitches at 9:30 on Sunday night (cha-ching) and a ten day sentence in the cone of shame!

Cone head the destroyer!

Scripture Writing

I’m an avid journaler.  Probably because I don’t think anyone except God cares what I have to say.  Recently a couple of people have told me I should write more – so this is my attempt.

I do scripture writing in my journal (shameless plug – love Bullet Journals – it’s like lines but doesn’t have to be straight).  I find some savvy person on Pinterest that has put together something cool and steal their idea.  I’m currently following Woman of Noble Character, honestly, because her verses are thematic and short.  April’s theme has been healing and I have to admit that after focusing the entire month on scriptures of healing, praying for the sick and thinking about COVID-19, I only today (yes, April 30th) actually looked up the meaning of the word heal (I am a slow learner Shirley Jamieson!)  and learned that the word in fact means “to be sound and healthy again”.  Sound as an adjective means in good condition, not damaged, injured, or diseased.  But healed inherently means that we once we’re broken and really may never be in good condition again.  If I am healed I will have scars, I will be a bit taped together, there will be evidence of previous hurts.  I fear that most times when I pray for healing I’m actually seeking restoration which means to bring back, or reinstate, I want my hurts and scars to be erased.  But the reality is we only get healing here on earth, and it’s not guaranteed.  We can be sound and healthy again, but restoration really comes from eternal life when this life is done and we are made whole in Christ.  In the meantime, I limp along, broken, scarred, ugly … but useful to those around me who are also broken, scarred and ugly.  I’m guilty of not praying for healing but praying to make my pain go away when my prayer should be, use my pain for your glory! 

Heal me Lord, then in fact means, take this broken vessel, slap some tape on it and use me for your glory until the day I am restored and in your kingdom forever!

Even if you wear a mask today – smile at folks – we need it!

1,000 days gone???

I do struggle so with this concept called time which has only been exacerbated while in Georgia when we took mom back to her home town of Columbus. Columbus and Phenix City are separated only by a river but each is in a different state and time zone. As you drive along the River the car clock keeps changing between central and eastern time automatically.

In that vein, Russell has been gone 1,000 days today – one thousand days – what does that mean???  I cannot wrap my mind around it, therefore, it all activated my psychosis about time. We had a long courtship (2,192 days – half the time he’s been gone). We were married for 11,047 days. He was a dominating force in my life for 13,248 days (not really, that number continues to build daily). Ryan had a dad for 7,611 days and Paxton 6,340 days.

I’m so grateful for EVERY ONE OF THOSE DAYS.   But yet have a mini panic attack thinking about the day that the biggest number is that number of days he’s been gone. Will it feel like forever or a snap – the answer is yes! 

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. Return, O Lord! How long? Have pity on your servants! Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad in our days.

Psalm 90:12

I pray for a heart of wisdom that in His steadfast love I may rejoice and be glad in all of my days!! Living in the confidence that my days are numbered and facing each with the renewed conviction that each day IS the first day of the rest of my life.