This is a talk I was privileged to share at a Day of Pampering for caregivers in families affected by disability. As in 2011, this day, the women were treated to a whole person pampering, with a hope-filled message, fun, fellowship, worship, gourmet lunch, hair/nail/makeup care, chocolate fountain/teacakes, massages and personal prayer ministry.
A Child’s view
My 22-month-old grandson is my teacher, and spending time with him teaches me so much about the importance of being childlike (not childish). Things long forgotten, or at least that need to be brought into close remembrance. I wonder who teaches who, as he teaches me things about God, and things about life.
Object permanence – even if I cover up and hide something with my hand or a blanket, hidden from view, it still remains the same, unchanged by my action. And even though circumstances may hide the face of God, He is there, unchanged. In a world of shifting rules, cultural flips and infinite distractions at my fingertips, God’s truth remains forever. His nature, His truth, His love is sure – though darkness seeks to hide Him, and clouds and shadows seem to prevail, it cannot change or overcome the majestic truth of God. This is one of the first building blocks of trust and faith.
Time is a gift and full of choices – My goal was to walk to the playground where we could play and make fun memories. His goal, however, was to make beautiful memories all along the way – counting all the pumpkin decorations, saying hello to every ‘woof-woof’, stopping to lean over to watch a cat scampering out from under a parked car, sniffing at every ‘vower’, and listening to the birds singing on top of the trees. Things I would have missed, forgetting it is not about the destination but being aware of all the wondrous things along the journey. He was fascinated by everything! Oh to recapture the wonder of God’s creation from his knee’s eye view!
And so I am reminded to try to look through the eyes of a child, who follows the very point of God on where to focus very attentively –
‘Look at the birds in the sky. They do not store food for winter…your heavenly Father feeds them. And you are more precious to Him than a beautiful bird…..Consider the lilies of the field and how they grow; they do not work or weave or sew, and yet their garments are stunning…’ (Matt 6)
More is caught than taught – He is like a sponge. Every time I see him he has advanced his vocabulary and understanding of the world. He hears everything spoken echoes it back, trying it on and storing it in his mind.
Intently watching the kids at the playground as they play, he tries to imitate their actions. There is something good about ‘following the leader’ and trying out new things, developing a broader capacity.
However, it is SO important who the leader actually IS. With all the influences available (music, media, video games, movies, peers, family) I pray I will represent Jesus well and he will be drawn to all who lead this way as well. I, like Jesus, want to only speak what I hear the Father say, and do what He does. He alone is my Leader – He alone is who I want to follow and lead others to.
God utterly delights in us – I will do anything, truly making a fool out of myself, to make him giggle! His delight is my aim and his laugh makes me laugh! This is a mere reflection of the Father’s heart toward me. I would fiercely defend him with my own life, seek to equip him for his life, and am deeply committed to his success.
And so God whispers, “This, Cindy, is My heart for all I have created. Enter into the joy of this relationship, and know it is My heart for you.”
To be un offended
Yes, Jordon, I am so sorry and sad to hear that someone was rude to you at work. Walking past you, ignoring your cheery hello while you gather shopping carts, making you feel insignificant.
I know you don’t see this, but when others hurt you, it hurts my heart, too, the same as if it was directed to me. You are my son, and though not born from my flesh, you were born and are carried in my heart. You are part of me. You, who love all people indiscriminately, how can I teach you to develop a thick skin and keep a tender heart with people?
You wonder why others are rude. You ask me if it is because you have autism? Is it because you are biracial? Is it because you are slow? Because of your shoes? Because. because, because ….. you can drive yourself crazy speculating and still arrive at a wrong conclusion. It is not a good road to walk down. Trust me.
I can’t honestly answer why, and without making light of your hurt, I wonder how much it actually matters in the bigger picture. I know how easy it would be to allow your feelings to ‘give it back’ to them. Offendedness only breeds more of the same. I hear it in the news. I see it all around me. People getting offended, often based on wrong conclusions. Some people feel justified in being rude -and worse. It takes a person of great courage to refuse that path, to seek to be unoffendable, and stay on the right path. The path of loving kindness. Because no matter how others react, you are called to return rudeness with kindness and hatred with love. You know a better way. You show kindness because you are a kind person. Remember this: you do it because it is who you are and who you are called to be. You are not defined by others, nor should you return evil for evil and therefore change who you are by following their ‘example’ – and thus become like them. Then they have won. Evil has won. And you have lost yourself.
You are better than that.
Notice, I didn’t say you are better than them. But how about we stop the emotional train and put our minds in gear – and deliberately choose to think the best. It is a choice – your empowered choice – to give the benefit of the doubt. To treat others like you would like them to treat you. To not judge, or draw conclusions which may be inaccurate. Just maybe they had a rough day at work and are duly focused on getting home. Maybe they have a sick child at home and are going through a mental list of what they need to get before they head home. Maybe they are hard of hearing and honestly didn’t hear your greeting. Maybe they have had a bad day or bad news or a bad life and do not have the capacity to politely return pleasantries. People can only give you what they have. And just maybe they have a mean streak and are rude, like some can be when you are desperately trying to bag their groceries and they become disrespectful and impatient – and let you and others know. You have experienced that many times before. If so, it is their problem, their life, their choice – not yours. Don’t make it yours.
Because whatever the case, your response is actually to be the same.
Be yourself. Be kind. Be Jesus to them. Give them what they cannot – or choose to not – give you. Pray the gift of a silent blessing over them – it is a beautiful secret between you and God.
Be the light in a dark place. You will feel better about yourself if you walk this road. And quite possibly it will be contagious. You could be the spark of something big and positive, rather than following the circular path of hurt and offendedness that leads away from light and into bitterness and blaming and shaming others. Don’t go there.
Know that whatever hurts your heart, hurts mine, yes, but hurts God’s too. After all, He not only designed you to be just the way you are, He also is family. He is your Father and intimately connected to you. He knows how you feel and has been slighted by many. He honestly feels the pain you feel in ways no one else can. He loves all people, as He is the One who created each of us and delights when we show love and honor to one another, and grieves when we don’t. Yet He continues to show love and grace no matter what. Wouldn’t you rather choose His path of love than the path of rudeness anyway?
You are loved by the greatest Being in the universe. You are treasured in His heart and He has given you a purpose and destiny to make a difference in the world. You can do great things. Things for good.
It all begins with today’s decisions, one by one, to walk in love. Walk in forgiveness. Walk in grace. Walk in the light. And don’t allow a few to take away from the joy you experience with most. Most people are friendly and kind to you.
Do this and you can walk with your head high; you will walk in victory.
Praise the Lord, O my soul. And all that is within me, praise His holy name. 2 Praise the Lord, O my soul. And forget none of His acts of kindness.
3 He forgives all my sins.
He heals all my diseases.
4 He saves my life from the grave.
He crowns me with loving-kindness and pity.
5 He fills my years with good things and I am made young again like the eagle.
6 The Lord does what is right and fair for all who suffer under a bad power.
7 He made His ways known to Moses and His acts to the people of Israel… 11 For His loving-kindness for those who fear Him is as great as the heavens are high above the earth. 12 He has taken our sins from us as far as the east is from the west. 13 The Lord has loving-pity on those who fear Him, as a father has loving-pity on his children. 14 For He knows what we are made of. He remembers that we are dust….Psalm 103:1-14 NLV
The theme for our week at Joni & Friends camp this year was Psalm 23. As often occurs, different words or phrases jump off the page at different seasons of life. The one that the Spirit has been highlighting in this season has been the ‘withness’ of the Lord in everyday life. In the sunny serene times, in the dark or stormy narrow passages, and everything in between, the most precious treasure I hold in my heart is that “You, O Lord, are with me.” During times of correction, times of danger and threat of presence of enemies, I have nothing to fear for He is WITH me. I am not alone on my own, I am never without all that He brings with His presence – provision, protection, comfort, assurance, guidance. And, oh, so much more.
I just passed a mile-marker birthday (no, it’s not 30!) which has brought with it deeper introspection. I was impacted by a quote by DL Moody, “Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.” So questions emerge like what fruit does my life show, how have I used/spent/demonstrated what God has given me, what ways should I adjust for the future years if He grants them to me regarding investment of time, energy, resources, talent, etc? Combine these questions with the ongoing prayer, “Lord, show me how to have ‘whatever-state-we-are-in’ contentment in this season of Don’s health, while praying forward-movement in seeking healing and other graces of God.”
So when things continued to spiral in a downward direction with one thing after the other healthwise (and otherwise), I had been asking the Lord, “Is this the way it is going to be from here on out?” “Are You hearing me?” and better yet, “Am I hearing from You?” I had been feeling the ‘silence’ of the Lord, and though I know the answers by faith, I deeply desired to experience His presence at a deeper level, to rest assured (my definition of faith) that He was indeed, still with us, faithfully presiding over the circumstances no matter how dismal they may look. I have been fairly quiet on social media, waiting and listening, not wanting to speak until I hear from Him. I don’t know that I would classify it as a ‘dark night of the soul’, but I do know that there were enemies and battles that I faced that I hadn’t 5 years ago. The longer the trial, the deeper levels of doubt vs faith we faced.
“Yes, Cindy. Your questions reflect the need for assurance of My presence. I AM and have been with you all along the pathway of your life. Before looking ahead, look back. Not at what you have done, but at Me, and what I have done. The more you look, the more you will see Me. Do not forget a single instance. They are all gifts of My grace for you.”
And so, around Easter, I began to list instances where I was acutely aware of God’s hand in my life, times where He left expressly unmistakable imprints upon my life, God-moments where if it weren’t for Him, the outcome would be disastrous.
I began filling pages and pages of God revealing time after time where He literally rescued my life from the pit of death (like being caught in a riptide and have no idea how I escaped those ruthless waves, or when as a pedestrian, I was hit by a car at a busy intersection and tossed into the air like a ragdoll); times where He intervened in the lives of my family (micro-detailing travel for a doctor from India to come to OUR house to examine Don, or significantly manifesting His protection from physical harm individually over each of our children during separate occasions); times where He sustained us while we had no paycheck, (receiving anonymous gifts, or opportunities arriving out of nowhere); multiple instances of healing (when the mystified doctors could only scratch their heads as they knew when we walked out the door it was not due to their ‘doctoring’; times of emotional and spiritual healing); times of assurance and whispers of hope in the darkness (literally His voice telling me to ‘Turn around, Cindy!’ when I was alone, lost, and about to drive into what I later discovered was the roughest part of the city, or giving me verses and songs during sleepless nights), and so many, many more – I was undone. I wish I could share them all with you. I don’t want to forget a single one of His benefits – truly graces – but to journal and keep a record of His words and works. Of His unmistakable presence. For me. With me.
God has always used many physical markers in the history of His people as reminders, commanding that physical stones to be gathered and piled upon the other, or prescribed festivals that celebrated His hand in their lives because He knows we are a forgetful people. He warns us to not forget the ways He has led, reminding us to recount them and draw forth renewed faith as we do when we, like David, journal and remind our cast-down souls to trust in the faithfulness of God that has been revealed. It is like gathering each one as a pearl and stringing them into a priceless necklace that brings glory to its Designer. It not only raises our level of faith, but it also encourages the faith of others when we share and declare the wonderful works of God, in season and out of season.
I would definitely recommend this ‘rearview mirror journaling’ to anyone, in order to “be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.” (Eph 3:18-19)
Only, not as an ‘exercise’ or project, but as an offering of praise.
In the last couple of weeks, I have seen some encouraging signs in Don’s health, a slow turning away from continuing decline and movement towards health. I can’t even describe how thrilled I am to see it! How thankful for God’s intervening in our lives! I am also glad to have gone through this re-winding, re-viewing and re-minding BEFORE this turn-around, fortifying my spirit and giving me fresh eyes to see the faithfulness and goodness of God revealed in so many numerous ways. I wonder if I would have done it otherwise. This ‘necklace of pearls’ is such a treasure. May these pearls ever shimmer for God’s glory alone.
A prayer for our nation
Lord, as we draw close to the National Day of Prayer next week, we pray as a lifestyle throughout our days that in Your mercy and according to Your great purpose, You would –
Baptize Your Church, ministries and mission agencies with Your grace and boldness to be people of honor, to stand for truth, to see others through Your eyes
Resuscitate the medical field with new breath, compassion and understanding, open their eyes to recognize and respond in awe at Your design of the body
Sanctify the educational field from pre-k to post doctorate with not just academia, but with true knowledge from above
Saturate science with appreciation of the intricate codes of Life, imparting to minds Your divine perspective and wisdom and pour forth the desire to grasp Your reality in individual ways
Infiltrate the military with Your protection and strategy, relying upon You for courage and stamina
Redeem the service organizations and first responders with Your strength, being aware of Your presence in all situations
Fill all counseling, therapy and philosophy rooms and agencies with Biblical precepts of Godly wisdom and compassion
Permeate the arts, drama/acting (Hollywood/Broadway/TV), and all music with True creativity, graciousness and wholesomeness
Invigorate the field of sports with fairness, ability, respect and sportsmanship as examples to others
Generate business based on Kingdom principles and a spirit of generosity, opposing all greed and unhealthy competition
Revitalize all caregivers and families, guiding them in selfless devotion from Your example to serve, filling them with Your strength
Renew Your law and order in politics, Your discernment and wisdom in every judicial area, and infuse all sections of the media with Truth
May all generations, from the youngest to the oldest, across all cultural or ethnic borders, know the beauty of Your love, the splendor of Your majesty, the intimacy of a relationship with You. May none go untouched or unnoticed.
Bridge these various segments of the gift of our community and society, fit together like segments that make up a complete orange. May we appreciate the differences in one another, respecting one another’s perspectives and truly seek to be one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
And may all peoples of the earth, Your creation made in Your image, experience the hope, peace and unity that comes from hearts seeking and worshiping You, our loving Creator, and respond in ways that are loving toward one another as our neighbors.
“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Not too far along in our marriage, I came to the realization that my husband was, what I felt, controlling. I had lived on my own for a bit and had my own schedule, my own habits, my own freedom, which was now being limited by him. When I would want to go to Walmart at 10 pm, he would point out that it was at the ‘bad end of town’ and didn’t I know there was an attempted assault there last month? When I would mention someone hitchhiking and I wanted to stop but sadly passed the opportunity, he was GLAD and reminded me the danger of a woman at the hands of a stranger. So who is he to restrict my freedom to be myself and make my own choices?
As I took on this filter, I began to become resentful, and then mildly resistant (which would be a natural course for someone feeling their ‘rights’ and freedoms are restricted). I would read about controlling people and it would justify my perspective. And the more I looked at our situation through this filter, the more I would find! And then I would want to counter-control!
I prayed for him to change to the way I would like. Then God reminded me to be thankful for the gift that He had given me. As I prayed for him and thanked God for him, my eyes saw him in a new way and my filter slowly disintegrated. Don has been designed and wired with strong protective instincts. He sees a broader picture, where I see my part and plan. This enables him to make strategic plans that often transcend even his own plans. I love that about him. And, to top it off, this is his way of saying, ‘I love you; I want you safe. I want you around for a long time.” One day, a friend said to me, “I wish my husband cared for my safety like that. He doesn’t really care what I do.” This clinched it for me. Funny, how I looked at the same situation but now concluded differently.
We draw conclusions through the filters we have – filters based on others’ opinions or past personal experiences, either good ones or hurtful ones. We can easily and unknowingly attach our wounded filters onto how we perceive others. And often wrongly conclude.
God is the only One Who sees accurately. He is Truth, and until I take on His eyes, I will miss the mark every time. When we ‘see’ through the filtered eyes of what has been pre-digested for us from the media, we can easily miss the truth. And an opportunity to pray for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.
“First of all, then, I urge that petitions (specific requests), prayers, intercessions (prayers for others) and thanksgivings be offered on behalf of all people, for kings and all who are in positions of high authority, so that we may live a peaceful and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This kind of praying is good and acceptable and pleasing in the sight of God our Savior…” 1 Timothy 2:1-3 Amp
We are urged and exhorted to intercede for all people, and specifically for those in authority over us. Intercession is taking on God’s heart and desires for another and praying it back in agreement with Him. I am a portal between heaven and earth and as I pray “Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven,” I am an instrument through which He does just that. Whether or not I appreciate or agree with their positions, I do pray that each leader who bears any office have an encounter with the Living Christ as Saul-turned-Paul did, and live out their mission as ordained by God Himself. That is my mission.
Beyond that, I am to add prayers of thankfulness for them! Thanks?! According to this, I am not asked to give thanks only if I agree with them. It is about my agreement with God for them, not my agreement with them! Each authority representative is granted that position, and completely under God’s ultimate sovereign authority – and we are given the responsibility and privilege to express thanks to God for them! If we as believers would focus on agreeing with God in intercession and thankfulness, then we would be more in agreement with one another, setting down our pieces of agendas and taking up His broader picture and purpose. I believe if I fail to pray God’s heart for others, I end up with, by choice, a hardened heart, something God warns us about.
Sometimes I think we forget how good we have it (not perfect, but good in relation to other countries), when we focus on how ‘bad’ we have it. We need a filter adjustment, which only comes through a heart of thankfulness and recognition of the mighty sovereignty of God.
So I wonder if we followed this simple-yet-profound exhortation (which was incidentally, NOT given as a mere suggestion), given under the inspiration of God’s Spirit to a people who were under the heavy rule of the Roman government (including fierce persecution against the Christians):
– To petition God with specific requests, as the ultimate Ruler (“the Most High who rules the kingdom of men and give it to who He will and sets over it the lowliest of men” Daniel 4:17)
– To intercede for all in authority over us, joining God in praying for HIS mission and purpose for each of their God-given lives
– To offer thanks for them, asking God to remove my inaccurate filter in exchange for His heart and see through His eyes on their behalf, ………
……..I wonder how our hearts might change toward our President and all in this current administration, either side of the aisle, as well as all those in authority desperately in need of God’s wisdom for such a time as this?
‘This [kind of praying] is good and acceptable and pleasing in the sight of God our Savior.”
Seriously, what better result and conclusion/result could we ask for?
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