Sunday, November 23, 2014


There comes a time when you have to say "goodbye" to the things of the past; a point where you wake up to the reality that your future can't involve people or situations over which you have no control.  A moment you are fully aware that you are being controlled emotionally by the disappointment and, as a consequence, that your time and your energy and, very sadly, your state of mind are being held hostage to your inability to open your hand to a future without your past.

When you hit that crossroads, you know walking forward without looking back is the best thing you can do.

I have this history, this long list of things done to fix my own situation.

I've tried to hold my head up high and proclaim that I don't care (not true).  I've tried asking for a heart that isn't hurt (but it is).  I've tried being strong and muscling through (heaping on more disappointment).

Yet, I've found, in my own strength, I am extremely weak.  I can't say goodbye just once.  It seems I KEEP running backward to say goodbye "one last time", hoping against hope that something will have changed and that my goodbye will end up being a new hello. 

This goodbye reminds me of the "on again, off again" relationships I seemed to have post-college.  The kind that involved men I am so incredibly thankful I didn't marry.  The kind that were on again in sloppy conversations at midnight after one-too-many-drinks.  And, off again, when I realized the next morning, mid-hangover, that he wasn't ever going to change.

If I know my past isn't good for me, why in Heaven's name do I keep trying to fix it and make it my present?  

I realize I am better off to move on.  I realize I am the only one in this equation who apparently cares.  I am blatantly aware that this is not going to change.

So, I must. It's just so damn hard.

Not so long ago I studied Job and his stubborn character.  Job was, if nothing else, a zealot for his way of doing things.  Even when it was abundantly clear he was fighting against God and wasn't going to win, he kept ignoring God and running back to his own way.  It literally took Job being on the doorstep of death before he got the picture that it was God's way or no way at all.  So, Job finally relented, got the task done, and sat down in the desert and had a big, fat pity-party for himself, shaking his fists at God for making him obey.

I feel like Job, mid-mission, without the death wish.

I know moving forward is for my own good.  I know God has His hands all over these circumstances.  I know that I am doing myself little, if any, good in wishing for things that are clearly not going to happen.  My brain KNOWS.

But my heart is broken in little, tiny pieces.  And it has been for too many years.

Some days, with God's help, I feel strong enough to dream about moving forward;  I make baby steps toward healing.  Other days, I battle life alone and tip-toe backwards to play the "what if" game solo.  On the worst of days, I blame myself for the brokenness, as if I could change the circumstances and God's mind by simply demonstrating how much I don't want to leave the past behind.

In the strength only God can provide, I want to be the anti-Job.  I want to hear God's voice and obey, even if I have no explanation as to the "whys" and "what ifs".  I want to say goodbye, without God having to remind me to do so for the umpteenth time, even if I might die trying.  I want to be convicted that change is the right thing to do, not just for myself, but for everyone involved.  And, when this long goodbye comes down to one last farewell, I want to look back and celebrate the victory of taking care of what God has known all along was my job to accomplish, even if this was the longest goodbye ever.

I know my God is bigger than these circumstances. And, I'm grateful that my heart can be mended and the hurt plucked out so that I can see a future without my past.

God, please grant me the peace and wisdom to see this through to completion.  Help me to understand what I need to do.  Break me where I need to be broken.  Heal me where I need to be healed.  Help me to forgive where forgiveness is the only solution.  Love me back to wholeness again.  Replace my disappointment with gratitude for all I have in the here-and-now.  Let my hands be open to see my present blessings and to receive the gifts you are trying to give, gifts that will replace the shattered dreams of my past.

You are bigger than all of this God.  Let me never, ever forget that.


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Not ashamed to be called "American"

I am tired of America being blamed for a host of ills around the world.  I'm sick of hearing people complain that America is an awful place to live because we fear illness that is capable of killing us.  I'm weary from hearing how this "land of opportunity" isn't doing, giving, and assisting those who are capable of helping themselves.

Can we, for once, just place the insult where it REALLY belongs?  At the foot of the ruler of this evil world, Satan?

Sure, we are each full of sin and hatred and worry and (insert word here).  That hasn't changed for a couple of millenia.  I don't expect that will change until Jesus wipes this planet clean and starts afresh.

But, we are a good (not perfect) nation. 

What other country has the reputation for being able and willing to help in all-sort of situations?
What other country has people jumping over barriers trying to get in?
What other country has freedom of speech and religion?
What other country has boy-men still selflessly signing up to fight for the liberties we all enjoy?
What other country has a system of government that allows us to vote out those who aren't effective?

There is a reason people from other countries still look to America to help them bear their burdens.  We've, historically, been reliable in supporting others during famine and war and injustice.  We are first-responders after hurricanes and tsunamis and other devastating natural occurrences.  The amount of food and clothing and medical supplies that flows out of our country to others is unrivaled.  We volunteer our time, money, talents, and energy to fly to other parts of the world and use our vacation days to make the lives of the less fortunate more fortunate.

Sure, we have our problems.  Our government is often gridlocked.  There are greed-mongers present at every station of life, from the poorest to the richest.  Our media is polarized and ineffective at reporting the facts without adding spin.

But, hard-working, honest, helpful people are around us every day. 

Will we choose to ignore them?  Would we rather focus on the lazy, dishonest, slandering folks who seem to fill our heads with how "evil" America is?

Not I, thank you very much.

I am going to go about the business of cleaning out my insides first so my heart is in the right place.  I am going to be THANKFUL I live in a country which affords me the ability to help others who are less fortunate.

I am not going to look God in the proverbial eye, spit in His face, and say "You put me here?  Are you kidding?  What kind of blessing is this, living here?"  What an insult I would be to my Maker to assume He doesn't know exactly where I am supposed to be.

A grateful heart, full of love for a country that does its best (and, like all things on Earth, often fails), is what we should all be striving toward.

Let's thank God, instead of slamming our country.
Let's remember who is ultimately in control.
Let's not look at others' suffering and assume we should feel bad about ourselves because we are afraid that suffering might land on our doorstep.

Let's be honest.  We are fallen.  We hurt.  We worry.  We fear.


Let's step up and forgive.  Let's step out and admit our faults.  Let's move forward, past the anger and concern.

Let's bless others.
With no expectation of return.

Let's bless America, so she can continue to bless others, too.

And, mostly, let's hit our knees and thank God for allowing us the privilege of His wisdom, guidance, and strength, if only we will ask.  Thank Him for sending His son to die in our place.  Thank Him for making us a voice for the voiceless.

We are only here for a short time.  Let's use that gift to be thankful for our lives.  Let's bless this land, instead of cursing it, so we leave it to the next generation as a place they feel honored to live, not ashamed to call home.

Friday, September 26, 2014


We are the most threatened and defensive when people speak truth into our lives.

I learned this today, when I lovingly offered a dissenting opinion to a friend.  A friend who was looking for people to verify she should be angry, escalate an issue above a person's head, and be generally hurt over something that had happened to her child.

I offered that, maybe giving another chance (because you really don't know what is going on behind the scenes) might be reasonable.  Meeting face-to-face would be in order.  At that meeting, discussing the very issues that made her angry would be smart.  Volunteering to help would be a nice touch, too.

The response was more anger, this time directed at me.  I could read the "How could you be so insensitive?" all over the response.  She didn't have to say it;  you could read it between the lines. 

I propose that this is the very problem we have with people in this world.  When we ask for an honest assessment, we really don't want it;  we want people to clone our emotions and spit them back out at us, along with a "I'm sorry you are being so violated".

Folks, let's put down our first-world, upper-middle class problems and really dig deep here.

Life is fleeting.  It is over in the blink of an eye.  Your present circumstances rarely are worth a second thought, much less an entire diatribe determined to help you gain support and fuel your anger to bonfire proportions.

In moments like this, we are EXACTLY where Satan wants us.  And THAT is the reason we feel threatened and defensive;  we are doing the exact opposite of loving others.  When we walk outside the lines of loving other people, no matter how much they screw up or screw us or screw our friends, we have temporarily lost touch with God.

It isn't until the situation has passed that most people realize their error.  And, by then, they have often left a trail of destructive behavior that is messy and ugly and needs an industrial-size clean-up.

Trust me.  I know.

When life hits you hard, hit your knees.  Forget calling your best friend, unless you count your best friends as Jesus.  Take it to Him.  Lay it at His feet.  Ask His opinion.  And, when He answers, LISTEN and RESPOND ACCORDINGLY.

People most always (read that again: MOST ALWAYS) are going to try to make you feel better about the error of your ways.  They will give you examples of times they faced the same harsh treatment.  They will nod their heads and tell you how awful you've been treated.  But how you respond to the dissenting opinion in the crowd will often point you in a better direction. 

Jesus was a man of controversy.  He didn't look to the world to determine how to handle situations (thank goodness!)  He often made statements that went against the grain and against human logic (turn the other cheek?  really?)  If we are to follow Him, we have to lay down our defensive attitudes, our need to be seen as "right", and our desire to have agreement from Earthly sources.  

Learn to speak truth to others.  Learn to accept truth from others.  Learn to learn from everyone in the moment, where they are, faults and opinions hanging out for others to take or leave, and glean what you can without insult.

Mostly, grab Jesus by the hand when you are unsure.  Allow Him to calm your fears and nerves and anxieties.

If you do that, your worries will become His.
You will walk in the freedom of knowing your wisdom is not from the world.
And, most of your problems will seem trivial.

Because, in the great big scheme of things, they really, really are.