Saturday, November 29, 2014

Ugly Speech (or Why I Rarely am Controversial on Facebook)

Facebook -- I love it and I hate it.  I have a FB page, and several friends.  Many of whom do not agree with me, or with each other, on various topics.  Most of these topics are benign, like whose baseball team should win the World Series, or whether Clemson University or the University of South Carolina has the best football team.  (Go Tigers!)

Some of these things, however, are controversial.  Like abortion, corporal punishment, the Second Amendment, school choice, capital punishment, and politics.  I have opinions on all those topics.  Very strong opinions.  But I very rarely, if ever, voice them on Facebook.


Several reasons, really, the main one being I don't like where "discourse" in this country is going.  Or not going, as the case may be.  One person jumps on FB and posts a comment with a strong pro- or anti- opinion on one of the above topics.  Someone else jumps in with an opposing view.  Sometimes, they are civil.  Most of the time, they are not.  Then the original poster gets angry, and the original two, plus various supporters on each side, jump in and call names, cast aspersions, get ugly and personal.  It's just not worth it.

I am called to be salt and light in this world.  Christ said that the world will know us by our LOVE.  Not by our clinging to our "rights" or clinging to our opinions.  I cannot win someone to Christ if I will not love them.  And calling ugly names is not loving someone, no matter how important the issue is.  It will not matter in eternity where someone stood on the sanctity of life if they have rejected Christ.  And woe to me if they reject Christ because of me, because they know I claim His name.  Christ was humble.  Yes, He stood up to corruption within His people.  He called THEM names, said "harsh" things to them.  But why?  Because He was zealous that people be able to get to Him, and to His Father, and these people were standing in the way.

Sound much like today's discourse with so-called Christians?  Are we standing in the way of people coming to Christ by the way we talk, to them and each other, when we disagree?  Would those names that Christ called the Pharisees and other leaders of HIS people back then fit us today?  Would they fit me?  All too often, the answer is "yes."

I'll admit -- this is an area of weakness for me.  I like being "right."  I like having just the thing to say to fire back at someone who is "wrong."  I know if I post something, or comment on something, that a firestorm might ensue.  That things will be said to me, and I will say things back.  And I will have hard feelings toward the person who was harsh or just plain mean.  So, I keep my thoughts to myself.  I prevent myself from sinning in the future by not speaking now.  Generally, the point I would have made is already being articulated by someone else anyway.  It's a way of loving others for me.  Others can handle the back-and-forth with grace; without firing back, or holding a grudge.  I struggle with those two things, so I keep quiet.

Another reason is this -- I will not change someone's mind with a FB post.  I will not make someone see things "my" way.  And they will not change mine.  The best I can hope for is an "agree to disagree."  Which, in my opinion, is best done one-on-one and face to face.  You see, tone is lacking on a FB status or comment.  I may write something that is sarcastic in my head, but it may be read seriously.  (Or vice-versa.)  Plus, once something is "out there," it is out there for all time.  Ten years from now, that topic may be moot, but the harm I may have caused will still stand.

Finally, I do not know everything about everything.  Often, the topic involves the "controversy du jour."  And I rarely have all the facts.  I do not know the situation, the ins and outs of various things.  Sometimes, what seems to be the case isn't, and the unlikely is exactly what happened.  It is best to hold my tongue (or, as it has been said, "better to be silent and thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt.")

So, generally, I keep quiet on controversy on FB, saving my opinions for those who know me and my heart.  Afterall, my primary objective is to be salt and light, and the best way to do that is to LOVE others.

Thursday, November 27, 2014


Today is Thanksgiving.  A day for giving thanks.  To whom?  Well, originally, it was meant to thank the Creator God for all He has done for us...

Of course, we should thank God each day for that day's blessings.  Ideally, we would live in moment-by-moment communion with Him that includes giving thanks in all things.  Yes, all things.  Not so easy, particularly when we don't see the good in any given thing.

So why set aside a day each year?

I think, in part, because it's so much easier to complain.  It's so much more "natural" to focus on the things that are wrong, the things that need to be changed.  We focus on our pain, our disappointments, our unhappiness.  We so long for perfection that we fail to see the beauty in the middle of the mess. 

So we set aside one day each year.

But that day seems to have lost its focus.  Sure, people post random thankful posts on Facebook and other social media sites, but mostly, it seems, that Thanksgiving is more the "gateway to holiday shopping."  We have turned it on it's head.  As soon as Halloween is over, the "Holiday shopping" sale papers begin to come out, ads for what "super deals" we can score for "the holidays."

What if we truly decided to make the holidays about their original purpose?  What if we made Thanksgiving about truly being thankful to a Creator who loves us, who blesses us in the midst of our sinfulness?  Who, ultimately, longs to spend eternity with us, and who made that possible?  What if Thanksgiving DID become a gateway to a time of anticipation of Christmas, not for what we are about to "get," but for what we've already been given?

What if Thanksgiving kicked off a season of gratefulness and of blessing others?  What if, instead of stressing over the "perfect" gift for "the man (or woman, or child, or teen) who has everything," we focused on making ONE person's day better each day, giving one person a reason to be thankful that day?  What if we spoke kindly, smiled more, spent less time stressing over "perfection" and just thanked God in all circumstances?

Start with the cashier the first time you go shopping during this stressful time of year.  Smile at the cashier, call them by name (kindly), and thank them (sincerely) for helping you.  Ask about their day, sympathize with their troubles.  Standing on your feet all day is very hard work.  Treat them as you want to be treated at the end of your day.  (No, don't give them a foot rub.  That would be weird.  And possibly criminal...) 

Move on to the post office worker when you're mailing mountains of boxes (or cards).  Maybe take a treat for them to share within the post office.  (This probably works better in smaller towns.) 

Knit mittens or socks or hats for a homeless shelter.  Make baby blankets for a crisis pregnancy center, or a women's shelter.

Make "angel baby" blankets for the local NICU.  (These are small blankets/quilts given to families whose babies do not survive.  Sometimes they are used for burial, sometimes, they become a special "something" that the family keeps as a memorial.  Talk to your local NICU.  Many of them desperately need these, and very much prefer handmade over those impersonal hospital issue blankets.)

Basically, remember all the ways you are blessed, and do something for someone who is not similarly blessed.  Thank God and then do something.  Make Thanksgiving count.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Weighing in on Ferguson

Here in the US, it seems like events in Ferguson, MO are on everyone's minds.  Many loud voices have added their opinions to the mix, many people have shouted each other down, called each other names, and generally said mean and hateful things about all parties involved.  Mostly, it seems to be along the lines of, "If you don't agree with ME, then you are WRONG, and EVIL."  Sadly, this seems to be what passes for "discourse" in our country any more.  (But that's a whole 'nother post for another time.)

But what seems to me to be missing, at least from what I can see, is a looking at the humanity of the situation.  In all the name-calling, and anger, and screaming from both sides, no one is looking at the genuine heartbreak.

A man has died.  And that's exactly what he was -- a man.  A young man, yes, but a man nonetheless.  He was not a child, not an "innocent" as so many want to portray him.  He was old enough to vote, to defend his country, to enter into a legally binding contract.  Barely, but he was.

Now, he stands before his Maker.  That's all that's left.  The Bible says, " is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment," (Heb. 9:27, NASB)  The bigger, eternal question is this -- was he ready?  Aside from the hype, aside from the angry voices, was this young man ready to meet his Maker?  If not, he is in a sad state indeed.

You see, the manner of death has NOTHING to do with his eternal destination.  The violence, or calmness, of one's passing does not determine where one spends eternity.  I cannot make the determination on his soul's eternal home.  Thankfully, that rests with the Righteous Judge.  But I do know this -- his decision is now final.  He cannot change it.  What he decided in this life is now his decision to live with for eternity, for better or for worse.

So, my takeaway is this -- be ready.  We never know when this is the end.  It could come when you are young, youngish, oldish, or old.  I could walk out the door today, be hit by a car, and die.  I know where I am going.  Do you?  Do your family, and friends?  Please, please, don't wait until the decision is unchangeable.  Grab hold of Christ, follow Him, lean on Him, obey Him.  Make Him Lord -- truly Lord -- of your life.  Then, no matter the manner and timing of your death, you will be ready.  You can live and die without fear of judgment.  "Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." (Rom. 8:1, NASB)

Friday, November 14, 2014

Out to Dinner with the Doctor

Sunday evening, I took the Doctor out to dinner.  She is my "academic" child, the one who learns things so quickly, who I am not so much homeschooling as I am getting out of her way as she rapidly assimilates knowledge at speeds I cannot accurately describe.

And in all of that, I forget how young she is.  I easily forget that she's not even a year and a half older than the Cowgirl.

I forget how fun she can be, how silly and giggly.  I forget sometimes how much a child she is, and SHOULD be.  Because, well, she's still a child, still single-digits old.

So tonight, I let her have caffeine, and too much sugar.  And laughed and giggled with her as the 57 squirrels that run in her brain (normally in the same direction) jumped track and ran in 57 different directions at once.  And incredibly intelligent child hopped up on caffeine and sugar (a VERY rare occurrence in our family!) is a sight to behold!

But fun is what she and I needed most in our relationship right now.  She's often so serious, learning so much, and so quickly, that I think even she forgets to just be a kid.  She has big dreams and plans, but I don't want her to lose sight of NOW, of FUN, and childhood.  And as her mama, it's easy for me to let those things fall through the cracks, because I am a serious person by nature.  I am a goal-setter, a dreamer of big future dreams, too.  And I too, forget how to be fun, how to be here now.  She is so very much my child.  And I am so very thankful she is my daughter.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Cowgirl and the Concert

My middle child, the Cowgirl, and I walked to a local church for a cello and viola concert/recital on Sunday afternoon.

This is my "quiet" child, the one who tells me that she likes the quiet.  Frequently, when I take her places without her sisters, she doesn't say a word in the car.  Her brain runs on a different channel, too, on a different frequency than mine or her sisters'.

Saturday, she was watching college football with her Daddy, another activity she enjoys.  Sunday was music.  Her interests are broad -- animals, music (particularly cello), and college football.  She is funny, silly, and oh! so entertaining.  She reads people quite well, uncannily so.  Her love for others isn't as exuberant as Fidget's, but more helpful.  She will quietly do what is needed, without much fuss or fanfare.  She looks for ways to help, for things to DO.

At the concert, she asked the cellist a question during a Q and A session.  This lady knew from her question that she played some kind of instrument.  I think the Cowgirl was a little embarrassed to be spotted like that.  She doesn't really like being the center of attention, but she sure does like having her questions answered, her curiosity satisfied.

The walk home was pretty typical for her, full of off-beat funny and a multitude of faces.  And excitement to be home, to be back with her sisters.  Because that's the other big thing about the Cowgirl.  She truly would rather be home than anywhere else.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Fidget and the Play

Fidget loves people.  Genuinely loves them.  If she has met you, she "knows" you, and will be over-the-moon excited to see you.  She WILL run across the room to hug you, probably knocking you a bit backwards in the process.  And people light up when she's around.  Even as a preschooler, she has the innate ability to make each person feel loved and important.  It's a gift, and a responsibility.

So, I took her to see a play this weekend.  One in which several of the people she loves best had roles, either on stage or behind it.  She sat through the play about like you'd expect a preschooler to.  She waved so excitedly at our pastor's oldest daughter that she momentarily "broke" character and waved a finger at Fidget while on stage.  That's her effect on people.

But afterwards -- OH! afterwards! -- she hugged everyone she knew.  She shouted names, helped fold and move chairs, hugged people again, met new people, and generally worked the room.

She doesn't get this from me.  This is NOT how I am.  I meet people, yes, and will speak to anyone.  But I am not the hug-everyone, remember-all-the-names, wave-frantically, light-up-when-I-see-someone-I've-met-once type.  I am more the call on me when things are bad and I will move heaven and earth to help friend, not the let's celebrate the fact that we saw each other friend.

God has given her a genuine love for people.  A love that makes them light up, feel special, and seriously look for her in a crowd.  Older kids and teens seek her out for hugs and smiles.  Adults light up when she walks in the room, because she is THAT excited to see them.  And she really, truly MEANS it.  It's not an act to manipulate.  It's real.

Oh that God would grant me the ability to love like my youngest!  Genuinely, and without reservation.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

My Weekend

This weekend did not turn out at all the way I expected.  Saturday afternoon, I went to a play with Fidget, and then on Sunday, I took the Cowgirl to a cello/viola concert, and the Doctor out to dinner and some shopping.

Three very different activities, two of which were entirely unplanned on as of Saturday morning.  My wonderfully flexible husband allowed me to traipse off with each one in turn, and the time spent one-on-one with each was an enormous blessing to me, as I hope it was to each of them.

So this week, I will be sharing a bit about each child.  Not much, but a bit about how each outing went, and things that I see in each of them.  Why I am thankful for each of them in our family.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Creation and the Fall

Recently, I was struck by how much beauty there still is in this world.  When Adam and Eve sinned that first time, much that is unlovely entered the world.  Death, decay, disease, difficulty during work, and painful childbirth, just to name a few.  But God did not remove ALL the beauty.  There is still much beauty that surrounds us.

Laughter, mountains, the ocean, flowers, hummingbirds.  My children's faces, marriage, music.  All were left for us to revel in, to see and thank God for.  A starry night, good food, friendship.  He could have taken all of this away.  After all, it's what we deserve.  Hell, whether here on earth, or for all eternity.  It's no more or less than we have earned.

But He didn't.  He left many beautiful things for us, to point us to Him.  How like God.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Lessons for my Children -- I Mean, Me!

I have been reading the Little House series aloud to the girls each afternoon, about a half-hour a day.  As we read the stories, I marvel at the sweetness of both Laura and Mary.  I am touched by how little they "neeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeed" or even want.

And I am tempted.  I am tempted to point out to my children, "See, girls!  You see how Laura and Mary were excited to receive a cup for their Christmas present?!  And how a peppermint stick and a little cake were a bonus, and more than enough?  And how that shiny penny apiece were 'almost too much'?  See girls, they didn't have much at all, but were thankful for every little thing."

But then I am reminded to look at Caroline.  "Ma" cooked over an open fire, either outdoors (let that sink in -- she did all her family's meals camping-style, even when they lived in a house!) or indoors (over her fireplace).  Glass windowpanes were a luxury not always to be had, and when Charles brought home fabric for her to make a new dress for herself, she didn't tell him she'd rather have picked the fabric herself.  No!  She told him it was all too much.  Her heart was that of a homemaker, a loving wife and mother.  She had so little, and asked for not much more than that.  And she was thankful for it all.  She found reason to be thankful when her chimney caught fire and almost burned her home and family down.  She found reason to be thankful when her home was burglarized as she and her children were standing there, looking on, unable to stop the thieves. 

And I am convicted.  I have so much -- too much, if I am honest.  All of my needs, and the vast majority of my wants, and yet I want "more."  Instead of thankfulness, my heart is greedy.  I know that more, bigger, newer, faster, better won't make me happy, but I sure want to find out for myself.  Just to make sure.

The little apples don't fall far from the tree, I'm afraid.  If I am ungrateful, I cannot expect to find gratefulness in my children.  If I am constantly seeking fulfillment in "stuff," I cannot be exasperated when I notice my children doing the same.  I cannot lecture them into a better way.  If I do that, all I am teaching them is hypocrisy.  I am teaching them that as long as the words are correct, the works don't matter.  And that is a lesson far too easily taught and learned in this world.

So, I keep these thoughts to myself.  I am learning.  And one day, maybe I'll understand this whole parenting thing.  Possibly in time for the grandbabies to start coming.

Sunday, November 2, 2014


Today was the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church.  Of course, our pastor spoke on persecution throughout history, both of the Jewish people, and of Christians.

To say it was a tough sermon would be a gross understatement.  I know it's cliché, but hearing the stories of men, women, children, and families being mistreated, abused, kicked out of their homes, killed, or forced to watch as their family members are killed really brought home how very small my problems are.  And how big God is.

A God who sustains these men and women as they face the worst this world has to offer, and still has time to hear my prayers over the nothingness that are my "needs."  A God who loves those killing His children, loves them enough to save them, should they repent.  And still loves me, in spite of my cowardice.  A God who holds all of history, and chooses, for His own good reasons, to allow this all to happen.  A God who truly sees the big picture of it all, whose heart breaks with His children, and who sings over His sons and daughters.  A God who longs for relationship, and who created that same longing within us.  This same God wants each of us, wants YOU to be His.  How incredible, how amazing is that?!