Blog

Not all

I have often remarked how autism is a great magnifier. Everything feels major. It is hard for a person with autism to see the ‘Venn’ in the Venn diagram (remember those? Two or more circles representing different things, yet overlapping at various points). In the minds of those with autism, things are pretty much black and white with little space for gray or overlap. Yet I see the same type of thinking that we have desperately tried to help our son overcome evident in our current society. And the results of such thinking is destructive – to self, to all.

So, no, Jordon, not all police men and women are prejudiced. But some are.

No, not all Muslims are extremists. But some are.

Not all LGBTQ are militant. But some are.

Not all politicians are corrupt. But some are.

Not all whites are supremacists. But some are.

Not all immigrants are illegal – or criminals. But some are.

Not all Trump voters are ‘haters’ of others. But, yes, some are.

Not all Christians are bigots (including other ‘phobic’ type words). But some are. 

In my experience, most Christians (who actually inter-cross and overlap most people groups in our Venn diagram) are very compassionate, kind, empathetic, and stand up for others – because love crosses all barriers of gender, culture, religion, preferences, etc. Most embrace people of all cultures, and likely more than any other people group to have invested or sacrificed their lives for the sake of others. However, all Christians are human and also in need of forgiveness for some terrible misdeeds. I deeply apologize for those who carry the name of Christ but do not bear the love of Christ and have given into hatred, bigotry, fear and selfishness. I pray for those – but though we bear the same ‘family name’ I do not share in any cause other than to share the precious truth and love of Christ. Please do not label ‘all’ with the same label as ‘some’.

This is yet another thing which those with autism struggle – dealing with only what is concretely apparent through the senses, and trying to find a mental label or ‘folder’ to organize life within those parameters. So, too, if we could lay down all labels, and look at one another beyond what appears obvious to us and try to understand one another’s hearts, we will be accomplishing great things. Needful things. Things like peace and love. Things like believing the best, rather than concluding the worst.

So to label and link and viciously slander an entire group for the sake of comparatively few, is not only illogical, it is wrong. It may be pc to speak and act with such hatred, vitriol and rage against the hatred of some members of another group, and labeling the whole group as misogynist, racist, Islamophobic, homophobic, xenophobic etc – but it is still wrong. How do you compare hatred against hatred? Hatred can only breed more hatred, but love can produce love. Otherwise what does this current reaction to the election achieve? Division and hatred, when it is only love that wins. Otherwise, we ALL lose.

One more thing. We have tried to help our son with autism understand that we are more alike than we are different. It is a matter of where you are focusing. There are many ways we are different – yet no matter what you find, our similarities are even greater. Humans have the same universal needs emotionally and physically and spiritually. Actually, we need our differences and would not thrive if there were massive uniformity. Unity, not uniformity, is the goal.

I have seen through Jordon’s eyes what it means to be barely tolerated. I have also seen the next level – to be accepted. But the best level of all is to be embraced. I would propose that most people have experienced the difference between these levels. I know I have. My hope is that we would chose to land on the ’embracing’ level of one another. The need to be embraced for our individuality and uniqueness is a universal human need. What better time to seek to understand as much as to be understood. To seek to forgive as much as we want to be forgiven. To treat one another in the same manner we would like to be treated – with respect, honor, honesty – and embrace one another in the beauty of our diversity.

The world is watching, waiting, needing for us to rise up as one people. The sworn enemies of our country are mocking us and waiting for us to destroy one another to make their job easier. They don’t care the color of the skin, lifestyle preferences, expressions of faith. We are, after all, to them, Americans, first and foremost.

Now if only we would see ourselves that way.

 

Please watch “Kid President – How to Disagree”. What a wise kid!!

A Mother’s Prayer

Hey guys, this is Mom. Have a seat here next to me while we have a chat…

As I listen to the news or even public conversations, I am stunned at the realization of how quickly wisdom and common sense is being eroded. In fact, what I knew of common sense, common courtesy, commonality, and community are less common with each day. I ask myself, “What happened? Where is the America I once knew – the community spirit that was common? Is there a way to retrieve it and pass on its values?” It is such a heart-wish of mine to want you to share in it.

Unfortunately, as I see it, what happened is that in my lifetime we distanced ourselves in education, public policy, traditions and politics from God and His ways. We as a nation placed Him in a box marked, “Sprinkle on lightly only when needed.”  When we looked at the solid foundations and principles upon which our country was founded and flourished and we decided we no longer needed to uphold the Ten commandments, prayer or Bibles in schools or public places – we essentially turned our backs on God.

When we decided that although it is ‘self-evident that all are created equal with certain unalienable rights – life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ – we reversed it and decided our personal pursuit of happiness gave us the right to do many things, even if it took away from other’s rights – including taking the lives of our very young and most vulnerable. We turned our back on the Creator of life and exchanged the beauty of His ways for an inhumane procedure and then called it ‘good.’ Funny how we think we know better than the LifeGiver by exchanging His gift and value for all life, subjugating it to a ‘right’ to choose. We cringe at the horrors of butchering performed by those in ISIS, yet we do the same in sterile clinics. And still call it good. A ‘right’.

No wonder we hold so little value for the lives of others.

And maybe that’s where it began – we are now experiencing the effects of our choice, of His absence. Child abuse, objectifying women, all kinds of bullying, students not respecting teachers, people not honoring those who have sacrificed for our freedoms – it is all on the rise and many people feel devalued, from the youngest, those with disability, the aged, various minority or ethnic groups. No one is left unscathed.

Logically, since we exert our right to disown God and we distance ourselves from Him, we lose all sense of wisdom – and all sense of everything He is and brings – including goodness, rightness, justice, mercy, compassion, truth, love.

So how, as people created in His image, can we reflect these in our lives?

This Loving Creator designed man and woman specifically separate and equal. No blurred lines. He established family and guidelines for protection and for blessing. So, from that same heart, I would like to pass along some values. Things that were once common knowledge and behavior.

First off, remember your roots. They are your compass, and your foundation. You are meant to build on it. Glean from the good, release any broken stones of pain. Everyone has something painful and challenging, either in their past or their present. You are not defined by the color of your skin, the number on your house or even your abilities. You were given life, but the choices you make and the pursuits you follow will be what defines you. What consumes your mind or what you cherish in your heart will become the ‘who’ in whoever you become. Be wise

Live out your faith. In many ways it is easier to walk by sight and not by faith, but then you miss out on the whole point. We are designed with a general and a unique purpose. The general one is to discover God’s heart and ways, love Him, live in fellowship with Him and reflect His love to others. Seek Him to know the specific way He expresses Himself though you and pursue it with all your might. Don’t fear trying out new possibilities. You can trust Him, even in the craziness and even in the dark. He is for you. Among all the voices in the world, listen to the Voice of the Shepherd and Guide. He can be trusted. Be faithful

– Along with that, remember that we each have been given something to improve the world around us and also something to receive. It might not always be evident, or might not be what you may think. Seek it out in yourself and offer it to the world. Do not be too proud to receive from others. Amazing things occur when we work collectively. Always seek to leave people and places better than when you found them. Inspire hope. Inspire faith. Be the best you can be and bring out the best in others. The world should be a better place because you have left the mark of God upon it. Light your world. Be Jesus.

What can take years to build can take only minutes to destroy, whether it’s your reputation or your relationships. Be mindful what you do and say. If you can’t say something good, kind or true (and kindly true), wait until you can. The manner in which you talk determines the results. If you bring a beautiful message delivered in a bulldozer or armored vehicle, the message will be lost. The manner in which you do anything is what people remember, whether kindness or whether harshness. Don’t feel like you can get ahead by shaming others. Use the gift of your influence to inspire others, to build them up. Create an environment of hope, peace and love around you. It is easy to complain about the state of things, but true strength comes from finding solutions. It’s hard to be positively creative when you live in a negative place. Be diplomatic. Embrace kindness.

Do what good you can, whenever you can. There are opportunities always before you. Treat others the way you want them to treat you, even if it is not returned. Yes, you are your brother/sister’s keeper. You are your neighbor’s advocate. You are your enemy’s intercessor. Yes, you are a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves. Don’t give in to the shallow, “It’s not my job” mentality. Go beyond what is expected. Bring in that extra shopping cart, pick up that dropped candy wrapper, but when you do, send a prayer for the one who will next push the cart, and for the one who dropped the wrapper. Pay (or pray) it forward. Look for ways to bring joy to the heart of another through seeds of kindness. Celebrate the lives of others. Be a hero to someone every day.

Chivalry and responsibility and respectability and honor are only a lost art if you allow it to die. In other words, use polite words. Consider the feelings of others. Look out for the benefit of your neighbor. You don’t get to decide who ‘deserves’ it. Just. Be. Polite. Respect others because you are respectable.

 – Begin with saying please.

  • Say thank you.
  • Say excuse me.
  • Say I’m sorry. I was wrong. Please forgive me.
  • Say how can I help you?
  • Be present
  • Be a history-maker
  • Be a future maker

Practice patience. With the elderly man shuffling across the street. With the exhausted cashier. With the child’s multiple questions. With the driver in front of you. With the person in the wheelchair. With those who are rude or disagreeable. Be patient

– It is good for you to wait for things and not get them easily or quickly. Hard work is good for character building and is a lifelong tool to equip you for many challenges you would otherwise miss out on; skills like patience, problem-solving, people skills, the sense of accomplishment of something done well using your skills and hands. I hope you feel the fulfillment of a job well-done. Don’t always seek the easiest or fastest way  

– Don’t rush things. Look for the benefits of being ‘in the waiting room.” It raises the value of what you are waiting for in your heart. What you look for, you will find. Look for the good. Always.

Truth matters. Listen to both sides of the story, and ask for the discernment of the Holy Spirit to weigh in – always. Speaking the truth, holding on to the truth is foundational and transformative. You can’t negotiate with a plumb line. Live truth

Integrity counts. Don’t promise more than you can deliver. Never promise something you can’t, won’t, or don’t follow through on. Your word is attached to your name, a very precious thing. Earning trust and keeping it can’t be bought or gained any other way. Have integrity.

Honor. All. People. Even if you disagree with their positions or opinions, disagree with gracious honesty. You don’t get to decide who deserves it, but you do get to choose to honor others – because you are honorable. Choose honor

Be unoffendable. Too many are easily offended and quick to be angry and quick to label others; some even feel like a disagreement is ‘hate speech’. It is not hate speech to disagree with someone. Dad and I do not agree on everything, but we love each other dearly. Loving and disagreeing are not mutually exclusive. Be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to be angry   Celebrate differences

-“Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened.” Rev. Billy Graham Courage is not the absence of fear. Do the right thing, even if afraid. Have courage  stand firm  

– Humor should also be near the top of your toolbox. Laughter is good for the body and soul. And for strained relationships. Laugh at yourself and don’t take yourself too seriously. Humor can diffuse stressful situations and lighten heavy burdens. Adopt humor

– When making hard decisions, choose the path of least regret. It is better to experience disappointment for a time rather than regret for a lifetime.

Be proud to be an American. Not arrogant proud, but patriotic proud.

America has brought the world many accomplishments and has been remarkable in innovation because of freedom. Look them up. America is not faultless in its past but it has risen as an outstanding leader in the free world and sought to right its own wrongs as well as compassionately serve the needs of other nations. It’s all on record. It is not without its current challenges, but it is extraordinary and exceptional in seeking to stand for life and for freedom here and abroad.

Greatness does not mean you have an unblemished past but it does mean you learn from it, refuse to dwell on it, but move forward with new understanding and resolve. Books are filled with stories of heroes, known and little-known who have marked the way for us, with true sacrifice. We have lost the understanding of what that means in our desire to have our rights met. Read about them. Honor them. Pray for peace, strength, wisdom and God’s presence to be our Guide into the future.

  • There’s so much more I want to say. Be content. Be compassionate. Be forgiving. Radiate joy. Love from a pure heart and clear conscience.

And just maybe, if you practice these uncommon things, they will once again become common.

Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me

In my previous blog, I put forth an appeal for American presidential candidates, media, celebrities, and all citizens to lay down the weapons of stinging, biting judgmental words and consider a cease fire. It feels like the whole world has gone crazy in a frenzy for getting in the last vitriolic word, discovering and highlighting the latest dirt. But for now, I appeal to my brothers and sisters, fellow believers. We have become caught up in attacks against Trump and Clinton, some claiming that ‘true Christians’ would vote for their particular favorite. (As I see it, the characters of both are appallingly lacking, one covertly, one overtly, so its truly hard to weigh them on any sort of balancing scale. I say overt meaning that Trump’s repulsive tape (with likely more to follow) has been released and we have heard much from his own mouth; Clinton has gone to great lengths to make covert deals to delete or destroy or withhold evidence that must be heavily incriminating )

Even more concerning is when the attacks are railed against Pence. Can we leave the attacking to the candidates and the media, who seem to be working overtime at tearing one another apart? I implore each of us not to join in. It is not for us to lash out at a family member, one who is seeking to live out his faith in a God-given political leadership role. He needs our prayers, not our judgment. Of course we have the right to free speech, but, seriously, it is not free.  Someone pays. Our voices truly need to be heard in heaven as we pray for each of the presidential and vice-presidential candidates, not in judging one another’s choices in whom we vote for.

Influence is a powerful gift of God – a gift to be used for His purposes and in His Name. So I propose we use our platform of free speech in redemptive ways.  I am not a mathematician, but I do know that a negative plus a negative equals a further negative, further away from the positive. Further away from the light. The responses to our negativity attract further hurt and wounding, much like a magnet. Once we tread down the negativity path of others and follow their line of fire, we only bring out more negativity, more darkness, more divisiveness – and less light. Truly, this year the votes will be cast from hearts filled with anger, pride and fear – all negatives. It leads further away from voting from a place of faith (which by the way, is a positive.)

So if we could add our positive responses to the negativity around us, we will be heading in a redemptive direction.  We are not called to be followers of the world’s way of handling things; we are called to follow the Leader, the true Savior. His desire for us is to display His nature. His last prayer was that we would be ‘one’ in unity.

So how can we speak positively? I’m not suggesting we gloss over things or not be truthful. I am suggesting we weigh our words and explore our hearts – are they motivated by fear, anger and/or hurt? Do they seek to further the gossip or do they direct others toward faith that there is a God in heaven Whose power far exceeds the best that the world has to offer? Are our words life-depleting or life-giving?

I wrestle with trying to sort out truth from fallacy, sort through not just gross character flaws but the critical issues that get lost in all of it, and sort through my feelings about all of this. It is overwhelming to listen to the latest newsflashes. But I don’t need to be drawn in and allow it to distract me from my mission – to be a reflector of the light in a darkening society that desperately needs grace and truth to guide them.

“Do all you have to do without grumbling or arguing, so that you may be God’s children, blameless, sincere and wholesome, living in a warped and diseased world, and shining there like lights in a dark place. For you firmly hold in your hands the very word of life” (Phil 2:15,16 JBPhillips)

Rather than joining in and magnifying the darkness, we need to magnify the Light and hope available to all to who will seek it. This may be our finest hour. An hour to bring comfort to the fearful, peacefulness in the turmoil, hope and Truth to the discouraged, which stands out in stark contrast like light against increasing darkness. Whoever wins this election cannot change the hearts of people, cannot bring lasting inner peace. Our trust is not in the candidates, no matter who will ‘win’ the election.

I do not have a nicely-wrapped solution to all of the angst we each feel. These truly are desperate times – times when we are so aware that we are knee-deep in a spiritual battle. They are confusing times. But they are also opportunities for us to stand firm and set our minds and hearts on the bigger purposes God has in mind.

So here are a few of our choices:

To not give in to fear and anger and discouragement;

To not give up in cynicism and resignation;

To not give way and be drawn in to the sensationalism and hype and negativity.

To not give voice to criticisms and judgments of one another.

But to give God’s word space in our minds and hearts, His Spirit reign in our words and our deeds. Let love have its perfect work among us.

If we believe God is true to His promises and His people, the time is now to act on it.

If God is our refuge, strength, redeemer, rescuer and King, then let THAT be the news we share with others. We can hold high the good news amidst all the bad news, independent of people’s choices or votes. Our battle is not against flesh and blood anyway, so let’s put down our weapons and stand in the light – that’s where He is. My guess is that God is not wringing His hands over this election, not intent upon attacking the candidates, but seeking to expose lies vs. truth for the sake of bringing it to the Light.

Not to condemn, but to redeem. 

It is up to us as His people to humble ourselves, pray, seek HIS face (above all others) and turn from OUR wrongful ways. Then God will shower His grace upon us. What if this is a test about how WE respond? It might just be about us and our responses and our leadership – not who we attack or support. I am not blaming us for the state we are in, but I am saying we are part of the solution. As we pray, praise and worship, fear and anger will be dispelled and our eyes will be drawn upwards. Thank You, Lord!

So let us shine on and do not let our hearts be distressed – let us use our words to stir one another to love and good works – and good words – that inspire belief and hope in God, and so much the more as we see the darkness seeking to rule.

Let us cease firing, cease striving, and know that He is God, yes, even over this election.

An Appeal for a Cease Fire

 

Can we please call for a cease-fire? Can we as citizens declare a truce on the war of words?

I would like to appeal for a cease-fire, beginning with the presidential candidates. A cease-fire of mean-spirited words. The volley of launching insults at each another’s character, and attacking and denigrating one another’s personal history to see who can dig up the most dirt makes it feel like we are observing parents who are splitting up their marriage, and we are children forced to look on. Consequently, it ends up splitting up the whole family, leaving open wounds and life-long scars – not to mention the poor example of how NOT to relate to others. “He who is without sin, let him/her cast the first stone. Seriously, how can we look to you as leaders and examples for the highest position in our country? Are you honestly prepared as those who honor others’ cultures and perspectives on a global basis, using discernment, discretion and diplomacy? You speak of gun control; I speak of word control. Words shot out like bullets can kill someone’s dreams, soul, reputation and future opportunities.

This spoken by one who held that office – “You do not lead by hitting people over the head — that’s assault, not leadership.”  Dwight D. Eisenhower

We need to see the dialogue of personal criticisms off the table and  discussing issues and convictions onto the table in the public forum. We need to hear how you as leaders will bring solidarity, patriotism and unity to our splintered country, solidness in our economy so that we are once again lenders and not borrowers; show us how you’ll bolster our education so that our children can carry on the elemental principles of decency and foundational principles of our Constitution into their generation. We have been entrusted with the privilege of living in this country so we can rise above and lead other nations – not to follow any other constitutions or revise our own. We need to see the qualities of graciousness, kindness, peacemaking and hope, of leadership strength through humility in those who would seek to lead us. We need to see public acts of forgiveness for some of the wrongs in our history and move on together, rather than re-visiting it time and again.

A house divided against itself cannot stand. United we stand, divided we fall.

We are better than this.

I also appeal for a cease-fire from the media, a once trusted profession, which now is reduced to the lowest levels of tabloids and sensationalism. We need a cease-fire of casting blame and spoon feeding us your ‘take’ on the news. Trust us, journalists, that we can make decisions for ourselves based on accurate and unbiased reporting, not based on mudslinging or what has been predigested through subjective filters, but based on a positive message of hope. Use the power of your influence honorably. 

Blessed are the peacemakers…

While we are at it, can we call for a cease-fire between ‘black and blue’? Between straight and gay? Between liberals and conservatives? Do we really think we can gain respect and honor for ourselves by seeking to take it from others? When I hear about American citizens not being permitted to fly an American flag, or Christians not permitted to have their Bible at work or school lest others be offended, I wonder – is it only wishful thinking to want to see our foundational constitutional rights respected – no matter what culture or belief? Because of unresolved wounds, labels like sexist, misogynist, and racist are opinions’fired’ out like poison arrows without respect for context and truth. Let’s call for a cease-fire of labeling. Not to say there aren’t true cases, but when the slightest offense is taken and the label slung, it becomes a distraction from the true cases.

The time is now to rise above the emotionally charged misinformation and judgments that bring out the worst in each of us. If not now, when? We are losing more than we can imagine – what was once considered common sense and common courtesy is becoming uncommon. I implore all of us to seek to be an example of how to bring out the best in ourselves and others; to daily employ acts of loving one another by simply treating one another as we would like to be treated. It’s actually that simple. Can we seek God for the love that is patient, kind, love that looks out for the protection and benefit others, and is unoffendable, rather than reading into things and looking down loaded barrels for offenses and slights?

Let us have a cease fire even among Christians, each feeling like they follow their convictions but have become subject to the judgment of those who disagree on politics (or anything else). (Unfortunately, the world has taken the twisted idea that disagreeing equals ‘hate speech.’ I disagree with my husband on things, but I love him very much and give him the respect of listening to his points. Disagreeing with one another respectfully has a place and can broaden our thinking.  I was taught to honor all, whether I agree with them or not.) Especially with brothers and sisters we can agree to disagree and know God is bigger than all of this and is not distraught over this election. He calls us to faith in Him and faithfulness to His principles and towards one another. This is what we are called to do. Do justly, love mercy, walk humbly with God

Let us be the leaders in love and honor; to walk in love and truth, side by side. We are not at war with one another, Christian or non-believer. “So far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” Romans 12:18. This is what we teach and preach. May it be how we live and lead.

And let this be what the world takes notice of. In a culture where words are being used as weapons that divide, let us use words of faith, of hope and encouragement, of love to bring forth healing and be life-giving. 

 

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations. Abraham Lincoln

Eyes on the Prize

Jordon was watching the Olympics and was quite impressed with the medals given out. He said he would like to have one, but couldn’t imagine being able to perform what they did. I told him it took years and years of commitment to drills and practice, years of saying ‘no’ and sacrifice for a greater ‘yes’, keeping their eyes on the goal. It is not for the faint-hearted but for those with determination to go through rigorous training. We get to see the moments of glory, but not the hours of pain and discouragement. Their prize is well-won. Their medal is more than a piece of gold – it is a statement, a shout-out declaration, of great achievement to them, producing a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment. It would not mean the same if it could be bought or just given out to someone who wanted it.

The conversation reminded me of Satan, jealous for the worship offered to God alone. We respond spontaneously in worship to God when we see and experience His goodness and His love. He proves that He alone deserves our highest praise. Satan, who knows nothing of and cares nothing for goodness and love, craves the worship without the cost. He knows he can’t get it ‘legally’ so he does what any ‘good’ prosecutor will do – discredit the witness so that the truth gets blurred, testimony discounted. He causes doubt as to God’s goodness and love – beginning in Eden. And yet God, knowing this, allows ample opportunities for us to question as we go through hardship and suffering. He knows we shall come forth as gold as we keep the beauty and practice of worship despite what we experience, for it comes from a place deep inside us and goes beyond our personal and temporary circumstances. The same circumstances Satan would exploit for his own means. The worship Satan can get will essentially be without meaning, but he is determined to substitute whatever he can for it.

Another ploy he has is to pull down God (as if he can) in our hearts and minds. To make the holy, ordinary. To make the sacred, less so. To make a ‘set apart’ God, common. To profane the sacred and holy through profanity, through offering false religions, through distraction, through whatever means he can. He can dangle what seems like a gold medal in front of our eyes, but little do we know it is cheap plastic painted with gold paint. But if it serves to keep our eyes from the true prize and requires less personal sacrifice, he has accomplished it. Cheapened it. He works to reduce the sacredness of God. He works to make the sacredness of marriage seem old-fashioned. To make the sacredness of the beautiful differences between God’s highest creation, man and woman, to be blurred and gender confused, so that what is right seems wrong, and what is wrong seems right. If all is ordinary, all is out of order, then and only then can he emerge as the object of people’s worship. Only then can he re-place God.

(We can even see it at work as he seeks to replace the uniqueness and ‘set apartness’ of the USA and its godly foundations and ally of Israel by causing division and making it seem like the nation that has been a strength to the world should not be so, but should be like everyone else. He makes our strength seem like a weakness and magnifies every weakness, causing discontent and disrespect. Americans who once gloried in our strength, given and set apart by the Creator, now see it as weakness and shame in the eyes of the world)

And unfortunately we fall too easily into his game, his ploys. Why, when we know the One True God Who created us, gave us a mighty purpose and power, redeemed us and has a glorious future ahead for us – why do we fall into it? We lose sight of the big picture and quibble among ourselves or become defensive rather than conquering by love, by overcoming evil with good. Jesus experienced the consequences of the fallen world, including the mocking, shame, pain, betrayal – and yet kept His eyes on the goal. He endured all of that for the joy that was set before Him. He championed over sin and death and is our example of pressing on. Of enduring for the goal, the prize. He deserves the medal of our praise and worship. He ‘won’ it rightfully and victoriously!

We live in a less-than-perfect world. Eternity is set in our hearts so we long for more, for heaven or Eden or perfection for our less-than-perfect circumstances. We know this can’t be all there is. We know we have missed out and desire the gold medal, but don’t feel worthy of it as we stumble on our way. Yet, maybe we are only truly perfected if that is what we CHOOSE given the smorgasbord of what the world offers. It is the process of many ‘no’s’ and sacrifices for greater good and glory. It is the process of experiencing less than perfect circumstances so that we can truly experience God in all His many facets. Maybe this is ‘what is meant to be’ so the crown of glory means something to overcomers, just like a gold medal means something greater to an Olympian. God wants fire tested, tried, true, faithful followers, ones who stay faithful to finish the course. And in the end, we will not only experience heaven and crowns and glory, but the True Prize of God – Himself.

And, amazing thought that it is, we will be His prize.

In the meantime, press on toward the calling of God, not veering to the right or the left. And know the cloud of witnesses cheering you on.

A guest blogger for July 4, 2016

Jubilee, July 4, 1826

The day was scheduled to be a special day of rejoicing, looking backward and forward at the same time. The new nation had survived its birth pangs and, nurtured by the founding fathers, was growing steadily, finally on a more or less steady course toward its goal of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” as a free nation and toward maturity as an emerging world power.

The bells rang, the cannons sounded but before nightfall this Jubilee observance of the Declaration of Independence would go down in history as a day of such phenomenal coincidences that it was unlikely ever to be repeated. Years before, in 1776, John Adams had written to his wife the day after the Resolution of Independence was passed that he believed that in the future that day would be commemorated by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty as the Day of Deliverance.

The eighty-three year old Thomas Jefferson’s deteriorating health had prevented his appearing in Washington for this observance. The night before the fourth he was in a semi­conscious state, perhaps existing solely by his strong desire to be alive for that significant day. His very last words asked whether it was the fourth yet. When just after noon on the great day his heartbeat stopped, he had achieved his final wish.

Had Jefferson known of his lifelong friend John Adams failing health and imminent death, he might have induced in his wish that Adams, too, would see that day. But there would have been no necessity, for in late afternoon of that same day, hundreds of miles to the north in Quincy, Massachusetts, John Adams surrendered his ninety year old frame to death after his final words “and Thomas Jefferson still lives” were erroneously but distinctly spoken.

The friends would have been pleased to know that in death they shared yet another common date even as in life their similarities were evident. These giants of their times each had a keen intellect fed and constantly stimulated by the best books available at that time; each had a burning zeal for freedom and justice for this young country; each had signed that

memorable document denoting a turning point in history and forming a new nation; each had married at age twenty-eight; each had accepted difficult overseas diplomatic assignments during the Revolutionary War; each ascended to the Vice Presidency at age fifty-three and the Presidency immediately after. Their lives that had spanned two centuries filled with mutual friend­ship, mutual friends, mutual enemies and mutual national concerns were ended.

The bells tolling throughout the twenty-four states assumed a triple significance that day, July 4, 1826, announc­ing the end of an era and the end of their mutual pledge to each other, their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor as set forth in the Declaration of Independence.

And so they passed from the living, even as a period passes at the end of a paragraph before the next sentence begins.

Waltraut H Geiger (aka “Mom”)

The substance of faith

Jordon is a wisher, wishing for anything that would make his life more enjoyable, from cooler weather (he works outside) to getting cool lawnmowers and robots.

But this most recent wish he voiced really caught my attention.

“I wish Dad had never gone on his mission trips. Then he wouldn’t have Hansen’s disease.”

How do you tell a black-and-white concrete thinker that sometimes obedience to God’s plan doesn’t always look good in the now? That this is a (long) chapter in a bigger book that has a greater purpose than we can imagine? And just because Jordon has autism, it doesn’t mean that we all don’t have that black and white reasoning part that says if we do what is right, then good things will happen – applause, medals, rewards. If we do what is wrong, then bad things will happen – penalties, punishment, loss. Isn’t that the way it’s supposed to work? Cause and effect. It is very clearly underlying the thinking and counsel of Job’s friends, who were examples of voicing conclusions we all naturally draw.

How do I help Jordon, who totally depends upon his senses for all his conclusions, to process that God is good – ALL the time, whether we have a glimpse into His plan or not? That faith requires us looking beyond what we see or feel or taste or touch – that it is a spiritual sense, not a physical sense God calls us to rely on? He is using his God-given brain to reason these things, his God-given compassion for his dad to feel deeply these things. I want God-given faith and discernment to guide him.

Yes, Jordon, I can understand that wish. Truly I do. In the night when I hear Dad tossing from pain, I, too have wondered what it would be like had he not gone. When I have to explain once again and again what his symptoms are, where he got them, and, no, he is not contagious, I have wondered. But we can’t go backwards and wish things away. Even if we could, I believe Dad would make the same choices, because they weren’t made by relying on his senses, but relying on his God and his faith – a decision made in his heart of obedience.

 Sometimes there are undesirable consequences to an act of obedience and righteousness – people get fired, lose limbs or even life, receive persecution, etc., because they acted upon their Spirit-led promptings and beliefs. We expect medals for heroes, but that is not always the case. In fact, we are seeing it more and more in the news that good people try to step up and yet receive penalties for their faith and goodness. But our God keeps track of every act made on behalf of Him.

God has a whole different time frame than we do, and He promises to honor and reward obedience. And He always keeps His word. It might be sooner (don’t we wish) or later – but it is always kept. Your dad (and I) would rather suffer consequences for doing what is right, than suffer the consequences of disobedience. Life is risky by nature, but it is always a sure thing to depend on God, and absolutely always much riskier to go our own way. If somehow Dad could have seen ahead and known the implications on his health, our family, work, etc., it would have been much more difficult to make the decision, knowing it would impact each of us. Knowing it would limit his times of fun with you. That’s probably a good reason God shields us from knowing what’s ahead and promises that He will be with us no matter what.

So I don’t know the consequences if he had disobeyed the call of God. Would life have the same meaning? Would we have gained what we have, despite the persistent pain and the loss? Or would we have lost something even more precious and dear? Somehow, I think so. There may be a cost to obedience, but there are also rewards that far outweigh it. However, there are greater costs to disobedience and haunting lifetime regrets that make people toss and turn and lose sleep. The emotional pain and spiritual cost can be relentless. My son, courage is choosing the right path, despite the consequences. I don’t know if it takes more courage to have eyes open or to face the unknown, but no matter what, courage requires a heart to follow the right path, feet stepping out in faith.

I know you like reassurance as to what will happen and I cannot give that to you. I do know we are no longer in what we thought was Plan A or even Plan B. We don’t know the next step. There is no going back. There’s a lot we don’t know. But instead of this filling you with anxiety and sadness, let me remind you about what we do know.

There is NO doubt we are still in God’s plan, we are still walking in faith, we are still knowing with spiritual senses that He has a purpose greater than we can know. And that it will turn out for good. That it will move us forward. I cannot answer when or where or even why – but I can answer Who. And because of this great God, we can remain steadfast. And we can rest in His promises.

There is much we cannot do, but there is much we CAN do. We can still keep a tender and thankful heart. We can still set our hearts beyond what is seen. What is seen is temporary, broken, and lacking but what is unseen is actually the REAL place where we find purpose, peace, wisdom, strength, grace. We can use this to form our spiritual eyes of faith and pursue a heart for God; we can use it to deepen compassion for others who are also in a place of loss or pain, and pray for them from this place of knowing. It is a sacred place.

And we can look for God’s goodness, and point it out to one another. We all need these reminders. Because it is always there. God’s design is for us to walk through trials – to triumph.

 

When I go down the path of thinking the wish that you expressed, I hum this song.

            God is too wise to be mistaken

            God is too good to be unkind

            So when you don’t understand,

            When you can’t see His plan

            When you can’t trace His hand

                        TRUST HIS HEART

 

It kind of all trickles down to this: Love God. Trust and obey Him. Let your days be ruled by showing kindness and speaking truth. In all things take courage, knowing He, a good and purposeful God, is with you. And loves you with a forever love.

 

As do I,

Mom

Pass it On

‘Your mother can’t pass along what she doesn’t have’ the cancer geneticist told me as she went over my test results last week. My doctor had flagged me as ‘High risk’ due to a significant level of cancer in my family history, recommending that I get the test done for the BRCA gene responsible for ovarian and breast cancer. After waiting weeks to get the results, it was a relief to hear those words, not only for my sake but to know I can’t pass on this particular cancer gene to my children.

And yet, as my mind expands the meaning, I wonder – what has been passed to me? What have I passed on? In my youth I looked to hear ‘I love you’ verbally from my parents. If I solely focused on that expression, it left only disappointment, but when my eyes and ears were opened, I saw them live out love in action and ‘heard’ it in a thousand non-verbal messages.  Mom and Dad demonstrated it with their lives daily toward us, toward others. Possibly due to her personality/love language (which is sacrificial acts of service and giving), Mom did not speak it out loud then (but at age 86, she does verbally ‘pass it on’ to me today, and has for years).  Or maybe it was due to her generation that wasn’t as expressive verbally or her cultural background; in any case, the verbal expression was not passed to her, and therefore not to me. For me, it feels vital that I pass it on multiple times a day. (Maybe too much for my kids!) Yet a wonderful legacy has been passed to me, one I am proud to pass along. A legacy of faith, gracious living out love, wisdom, of quiet service toward all.  I pray I have passed these ‘genes’ to my children.

I know this is not true for many. I have spoken with many who have been bound by past disappointments, by parents or others, who did not pass along ‘good’ genes of kindness and love. The void haunts them 50 years later. So what has been packed in your life bag? No one escapes negative experiences and filters to overcome, but hopefully they are mixed in with sweet moments of success and joy to be remembered. Examining the bag in my life has brought some understanding that each of us has something to offer, and each of us needs something to receive. We are interdependent and need to seek to draw forth what others have to offer, but always remembering that they cannot pass along what they have not received. I believe this is by design, so that we continually look to Jesus to fill our bag of longings – and also so that we can pass along what we have received. How freeing it is to know that though He often reveals Himself in the lives of others, if their life bags don’t contain what we long for, we can confidently go to the Source and receive all we need from Him.

There have been times I have sought for something that others did not have the capacity to give me, whether time, friendship, encouragement or whatever. Instead of sitting in disappointment I remind myself that they cannot give what they do not have; therefore I can turn it around and have compassion for them, realizing I might be the one to give them what is needed in their bag. A word of courage, a whisper of hope, and hand to serve, a shoulder to offer. An opening for their bag to receive something new. A pathway for them to reach in and find something special to pass along to someone else.

It’s also daunting to think what negative things I could pass on without even realizing it, like a contagious disease. Like a cancer gene. A thoughtless word here, a not searching-and-seeing-and-valuing what another can offer. When I am only thinking about what I have to offer, or seeking only whatever I feel my lack is, I miss the beauty of what another might have, hidden beneath the surface, like a gem yet to be discovered and revealed. Sometimes another is not even aware of what they have and it is a powerfully joyful privilege to show them the value of what they have in their bag. It is such an honor to see another through Christ’s eyes and realize the power of passing on fresh seeds of life that could bear fruit in another’s life. And who knows how many lives can benefit?

Whether we receive what we’d like to from others or not, Jesus promised that He packed all we need in our bags. We have been given everything we need for life and godliness – freely, generously, purely. And because it is not a ‘thing’ wrapped in gift wrap, but the actual living Being of Christ, there are no limitations to what can pass through us. Freely we have received, freely we can give what has been given to us. Or should I say Who has been given to us.

Lord, make me ever mindful of all You have passed to me and the opportunities to share You with others!

Perilous travel

“Where are you?!” I found myself shouting desperately to the gps app on my phone, which was loudly quiet. I was traveling in unfamiliar territory, a self-described country girl in the bustling city of Philadelphia, after spending an emotionally grueling day at the hospital as my husband underwent yet another surgery as well as a plasma exchange treatment that day. By the time I left, it was wintry dark and the windshield kept freezing up from the driving sleet. Though I held printed directions I couldn’t read them in the dark and was desperately trying to be vigilant of slippery conditions, oncoming cars and road signs, not to mention the icy windshield.

Even the poorly placed signs seemed determined to hinder my progress and hide my way rather than mark my way. A sign to a major expressway was covered by a heavy cloth and though I could see it under the cloth, I could not make out which direction it would have pointed towards. Is the cloth covering it because there is a detour ahead? What good is a road sign without providing a direction, I thought? Further down the road, I ‘happened’ to catch a small sign for the highway I needed, posted under a low trestle and had I missed it, I would have been traveling in the opposite direction! Why hide such a major sign, I thought? Shouldn’t it clearly mark the way?

As I strained to see in the dark, I slid through a stop sign, fearfully gripping the steering wheel as my brakes were outmatched by ice beneath the tires. Thankful there were no other cars, I slowly continued on in the dark. As I was nearing my destination, the gps finally came to life, providing directions for the rest of the way. Though I was grateful, I still wondered, “Where were you when I needed you? I could have lost my way!”

After I could park along the snow laden roadside and peer through the dark, I was relieved to see the house number for my niece’s house. Thank You, Lord, I breathed and relaxed my over-tensed shoulders.

As I lay in the warm bedroom, grateful to be safe and sound, I thought of how many times I could have made the wrong turn. Of how the signs were either hidden, inefficient, or not there for me.

My thoughts traveled to the path of life, and how especially in this election year the signposts seem hidden, covered or missing. Of how I seek clear direction for that, for Don’s health concerns, for the lives of our children. Lord, we need Your light…shed Your grace on us.

My harrowing experience left such a mark on my spirit and causes me to think of those journeying the road of life in general, caught in the dark as they try to find their way. Those seeing signs which may promise directions toward safety, but waylay and distract travelers. I thought about hidden signs that should proudly and broadly mark the way, rather than appear, almost apologetically at the last minute, near a bridge or fork along the way. I thought about the need for the presence of another who knows the way, yet of the silence of my gps partner, who I had been depending on and how frustrated I was to not hear the voice designed to help.

Lord, help me be a well-lit sign and confident voice toward life and safety to those traveling along the road of life; not silent or hidden, not absent or even apologetic. I want to be a bold and clear marker, a presence of accuracy, of genuineness and of comfort for those needing the compass of truth. For travelers along roads that are marked by danger and fraught with innumerable occasions to be wrecked or lead away from light, life, hope and safety. I don’t want to ever hear, “Where were you when I needed you?” as they travel through murky darkness. May no one lose their way on my watch, or lose opportunities to find You as the Way, truth and life.  May I be a beacon of light, a voice of truth, a sign toward hope for any I meet along the way.

Rest Assured

After months of waiting, we finally saw a specialist in Philadelphia who came highly recommended by the pain management doctor at Hershey. He is one of few who treat chronic pain through a particular type of infusion. He is very hopeful that this procedure will bring relief for Don. After 4 years of being in persistent, unrelenting pain and seeking various forms of relief, we thank God for hopeful news, knowing His hand is the one who ultimately brings strength and healing. We are thankful for the many who have sought to help along the way. Thankful for this promising possibility. Thankful for the Promiser of all Hope.

This procedure will be up to 3 weeks in duration while he is admitted to the hospital in Philadelphia. Which is approximately 2 hours from home. Because of needs at home with my kids, my mother, and other duties, I will be traveling to and from, with occasional overnights over the course of the 3 weeks. And so it begins….

“Make sure you wear warm enough clothes for work, clear the ramp of snow, feed the pets…..”

“Make sure you check on Nana. Here are some names and numbers if you need help. These are possible meals….”

Lists of things for the ‘kids’ to remember, lists of things for me to remember. Dare I trust them to follow what I’ve taught them, thinking about how I would handle things if decisions arise so things run smoothly? Is this how Jesus felt as He was preparing His followers for His departure? Trying to take them into unknown places when they didn’t know what was ahead, knowing only that He wouldn’t be there? Leaving them with so much more than they could grasp? Trusting them to make their own mistakes and get up and begin again? How did You leave them and be at such peace, Lord? “Peace I leave with you; My [own] peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. [Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.] (John 14:27) Wow! The Amplified version really hits me between the eyes!

Because already the unsettledness, the inner conflict has begun, foreseeing that when I’m with Don I will feel like I need to be here.  Knowing when I am here I will feel like I need to be with Don. What if this doesn’t bring about the expected results for him? What if he needs me and I’m here? Can my heart stretch the 2 hour distance? My energy?

“Cindy, rest assured that I AM WITH YOU. I am with Don. I am with Jordon and Karisa. I am with Mom. I span all distance, all time, any limitation you feel. Abide with ME and you will be at rest.”

 “But, Lord, this doesn’t look restful to me….”

“Cindy, I am never anxious, never frantic, never tired. As you put your trust fully in Me, you can be in that restful, sacred place where I dwell with you. Faith in Me means to inwardly rest assured. Assured that I have it all in My capable…Willing…Strong…Tender…Loving hands. Place it all in My hands, daughter. I will take care of it. I will take care of them. I will take care of you. You can rest assured in My promises. It is My pleasure! But remember: True rest is not passive. It is being mindful of Who I Am in the midst of unrestful circumstances. This is where the test of rest exists. This is where you overcome. Not when things are going according to your plans. And not focusing on the ‘what ifs.’ Trust Me, Cindy, My nature, My power, My love – and you will see Me, and know Me, in the midst of it all – with you. Trust Me enough to follow My lead and leave the results with Me.”

“I am looking, Lord. I am trusting. I am seeking to rest assured. To be still and know You are God. Help my fluttering emotions, my weak knees. I want an undivided heart that’s found only in You. Bless Don with rest, with strength, with healing power. Bless those at home with rest, with grace, with resolve. Thank You that Your wings carry and cover all of us.”

 

photo                    (A picture of being under His wings. Check out the wingspan, holding both close to heart!)