Monday, October 28, 2013

Love is the Answer

What if love really is the reason?
What if we stopped judging and just loved?
What if we accepted ourselves and others with a deep love that transcended sin and hate and intolerance?

These are questions running through my mind lately.

It seems there are plenty of people who are willing to convict us of our own sin.  They willingly stand, plank in eye, and point out the splinter in ours.  They speak of us behind our backs, in hushed tones and prayer requests, throwing the weight of their self-righteousness around.

I'm tired of those people.

I am ready to love them as though they didn't act that way, though.
I'm ready to listen to their hurts and pain and needs.
And reassure them that it will all be OK.

Too many times those who hurt the most are the most hurtful.

It is easy to get caught on that Tilt-O-Whirl.

It is much harder to unbuckle and know that gravity is going to throw you, HARD, onto a new path, one that might be even harder than the painful path you are on.
It takes courage to decide to step off, mid-ride, and let life take you where it will, simply because you are tired of being hurt and hurting others and generally being disagreeable.

You have to want the change, though.

Nobody can create that desire in you.
Only you can decide that change is better than stagnancy.
No amount of someone else WANTING you to change will create anything lasting or meaningful.  At best, change borne out of shame or guilt or posturing is temporary and meaningless.

If love really is the way, it isn't always going to be an easy walk. Just like a life of hate, there will be potholes in the road.

But, instead of the glass being half-full and people being assholes and life being unfair, the perspective will change.
It won't be the world against you, it will be you against the world.  With, if you choose, God as your sidekick.

He believes this whole love thing.
He created this whole love thing.
He asks us to embrace and embody this whole love thing.

Is it time we all get on board?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


Of all the lessons Kelly Minter taught me last weekend, I think the visual of God as an anchor will stick with me the longest.

In Hebrews 6:19 we read "We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure."  Kelly led us to visualize an anchor, thrown over the edge, deep below a boat.  That anchor serves to allow the boat to remain in one spot but, simultaneously, float freely and not be tethered too tightly.

This is what God does for us:  He anchors us, so we are free to rest without worrying about the wind and the waves.  He anchors us, but with just enough tension that we can move around in confidence, yet move of our own accord (the Baptist in me calls this "free will").  His anchor is like a rocking cradle:  it is soothing, reassuring, and comforting.

I praise the Lord for giving Kelly this verse to share with us.  I praise Him for never pulling up His anchor on me and for giving me short and long lines of rope along the way.  I praise Him for being a God who helps us know we need an anchor.

In the words of the amazing Chris Tomlin song:
There's a peace I've come to know
Though my heart and flesh may fail
There's an anchor for my soul
I can say "It is well"

It is well, indeed.  Thanks be to God!

Friday, October 11, 2013


We looked at each other across the office.  "I feel like we are under attack."

"We are."  I acknowledged.


These past two weeks have been a roller coaster of emotions.  We removed our son from a school we love to pursue an education for him at a school we know is a better fit.  There were tears and kind words and prayers and "we'll miss you" as we walked away.  There were open arms and welcomes back and smiles and hugs as we walked in.  On balance, all good, yet emotionally tough.

We finally acknowledged our beloved Bob cat had lost weight and seemed to be throwing up hairballs more often than not.  Blood tests and long conversations about kitty diabetes and the possibility of the death sentence of kidney disease ensued.  Dinnertime brought about the "what if" conversations no one had answers for;  there were tears.  Greatly affected by the thought of death for the first time in his life, The Babe insisted that Bob sleep with him.  Being the loving soul he is, Bob did just that, under the warmth of a red blanket with white hearts.  We await test results.

Phone calls from her are regular.  Test results from her Dad's lungs, now showing tumors, are not.  Her voice was flat.  She was numb.  I understood but words failed me.  Prayers, in the moment, were forgotten.  The call ended and I had failed.  All that suffering I had been through, not put to good use.  I prayed in that moment for her Dad, for her, for her family.  I silently wept.  This is not how we want to say goodbye to our parents.  I pray pending test results come soon.
The letter came unexpectedly.  2010 taxes were wrong.  There were penalties.  There were fees.  There were back taxes.  A quick glance at returns indicated the error to be on their side.  Yet this is the IRS, with all the backlogs and endless wait times and bureaucracy.  Forms have been sent;  appropriate defenders of our return contacted.  Yet again, we wait.


"Find rest, O my soul, in God alone;  my hope comes from him.  He alone is my rock and my salvation;  he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.  My salvation and my honor depend on God;  he is my mighty rock, my refuge.  Trust in him at all times, O people;  pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge."  Psalm 62:5-8


I am so imperfect.  I lack so much faith when the dark clouds roll in.  If I am not careful, I am pulled into the abyss of my life and feel overcome. 

I cling to the Psalm.  I pray.  I cry.  I pray again.  I find peace and lose it in the same moment.

"Get behind me Satan" becomes my battle cry. 
I grab the Armor of God and strap it on.
For the moment.
For the hour.
For the morning and afternoon and evening.

Only for today.  Today is all I have to handle.  Tomorrow has its own worries;  I will leave them there.

Yesterday I was being crushed by a rock.  Today, I am in the cleft of the rock. 

Thank you, Lord.

Saturday, October 5, 2013


I had never thought of anger as a "...charged, morally neutral, emotional response of protective preservation" until reading a book by pastor Chip Ingram.  This statement was such a revelation to me that I had to read the sentence over and over again until I could ingest it.  Then, I had to read it to Mike to see if he had the same "Wow" reaction (He did).

My understanding of anger came from years of watching people around me.  The following were understood in my brain:

Anger is loud.
Anger is frequent.
Anger doesn't deal with emotion, it stuffs it.
Anger is negative.
Anger is scary and menacing.
Anger reminds you later of why it was angry to begin with.
Anger is passive.
Anger is aggressive.
Anger blames those around it.
Anger doesn't go away easily;  it hangs around indefinitely because it never gets resolved.
Anger loosely apologizes but it never asks for forgiveness.
Anger is bad.

The book Overcoming Emotions That Destroy:  Practical Help for Those Angry Feelings That Ruin Relationships came to me late in life, almost by mistake.  I had listened to Pastor Ingram speaking on the radio and he mentioned this book, one he had just finished writing.  I jotted the gist of the title on a scrap of paper, so it wouldn't flee my brain.  And then that piece of paper floated away, the way smallish scraps like to, into a very deep debris pile.

A couple of years later, I ran across that reminder and immediately ordered the book.  I became engrossed almost from the first page;  it was like reading about the years in my life I wasted being trapped by my angry, unproductive responses.

I had no concept that the Bible allows for anger (even Jesus got angry, for heaven's sake!) but, not for the sin that comes out of anger.
I had no idea how much unresolved anger was trapped inside of me.
I had no clue that the busy life I had created was actually causing me to feel out-of-control and that my means of controlling the chaos often was anger.

Every chapter contained closing questions that forced me to think about my life and how anger played a role in it.  I left every chapter feeling I'd had an "AH HA!" moment that, for the first time in my life, was ushering me towards being able to use my anger in productive ways.  I felt I was going to be able to claim victory over the beast that had ridden shotgun with me all my life.

An unintended consequence of examining my own anger was now understanding other people and their anger as well.  I could finally see those who were passive-aggressive, who stuffed their emotions, who spewed their hatred all over other people.  Yet, it was though I was simultaneously blind;  until those whose anger was misplaced, inappropriately used, self-damaging, relationship-splitting could see it for themselves, it was of no use that I could point it out to them.  So, I didn't.  I started praying for them, instead.

God has demonstrated to me, over and over again, that forgiveness and love are supreme.  When I am able to focus on those qualities, I am a better person.  I can walk in His counsel and accomplish the goals He set before me because my frame of reference is right.

Satan, on the other hand, has tried to counsel me that vengeance is mine and I am unlovable.  When I focus on those qualities, I got angry;  I stay angry at others and redirect the anger within myself onto others.  I walk away from, instead of toward, God;  I get stuck in the mire of hatred and self-loathing that Satan is happy to continuously distill in me.

I haven't read much in the past year or two, but this book managed to get read cover-to-cover during a time when life could have been all about anger and hatred.  I can only credit God for putting this book in my hands, at the very right time (a time when I would FINALLY GET IT), and leading me gently down the path of understanding my own anger, asking for forgiveness, and accepting Christ's very generous gift of forgiveness for myself.

Thanks be to a God who can accomplish all that in the life of a very lowly sinner.