The Woodcutter’s Wisdom

Max Lucado

I love this story and it has been a good reminder through the years since I read it. It has challenged me to observe life, people, and circumstances through the gift of my senses, but seek discernment from the spiritual ‘eyes’ of God. In our current culture, we have all become critics and judges and jury, yet only God truly knows what is in the hearts of those we judge. He provides discernment if we are seeking, but He alone is the ultimate judge of circumstances and people.

Please enjoy this story, so applicable to today. Thanks, Max!

The Woodcutter’s Wisdom

by Max Lucado

“Once there was an old man who lived in a tiny village.  Although poor, he was envied by all, for he owned a beautiful white horse.  Even the king coveted his treasure.  A horse like this had never been seen before – such was its splendor, its majesty, its strength.

People offered fabulous prices for the steed, but the old man always refused.  ‘This horse is not a horse to me,’ he would tell them.  ‘It is a person.  How could you sell a person?  He is a friend, not a possession.  How could you sell a friend?’  The man was poor and the temptation was great.  But he never sold the horse.

One morning he found that the horse was not in the stable.  All the village came to see him.  ‘You old fool,’ they scoffed, ‘we told you that someone would steal your horse.  We warned you that you would be robbed.  You are so poor.  How could you ever hope to protect such a valuable animal?  It would have been better to have sold him.  You could have gotten whatever price you wanted.  No amount would have been too high.  Now the horse is gone, and you’ve been cursed with misfortune.’

The old man responded, ‘Don’t speak too quickly.  Say only that the horse is not in the stable.  That is all we know; the rest is judgment.  If I’ve been cursed or not, how can you know?  How can you judge?’

The people contested, ‘Don’t make us out to be fools!  We may not be philosophers, but great philosophy is not needed.  The simple fact that your horse is gone is a curse.’

The old man spoke again.  ‘All I know is that the stable is empty, and the horse is gone.  The rest I don’t know.  Whether it be a curse or a blessing, I can’t say.  All we can see is a fragment.  Who can say what will come next?’

The people of the village laughed.  They thought that the man was crazy.  They had always thought he was a fool; if he wasn’t, he would have sold the horse and lived off the money.  But instead, he was a poor woodcutter, an old man still cutting firewood and dragging it out of the forest and selling it.  He lived hand to mouth in the misery of poverty.  Now he had proved that he was, indeed, a fool.

After fifteen days, the horse returned.  He hadn’t been stolen; he had run away into the forest.  Not only had he returned, he had brought a dozen wild horses with him.  Once again the village people gathered around the woodcutter and spoke.  ‘Old man, you were right and we were wrong.  What we thought was a curse was a blessing.  Please forgive us.’

The man responded, ‘Once again, you go too far.  Say only that the horse is back.  Say only that a dozen horses returned with him, but don’t judge.  How do you know if this is a blessing or not?  You see only a fragment.  Unless you know the whole story, how can you judge?  You read only one page of a book.  Can you judge the whole book?  You read only one word of a phrase.  Can you understand the entire phrase?

‘Life is so vast, yet you judge all of life with one page or one word.  All you have is a fragment!  Don’t say that this is a blessing.  No one knows.  I am content with what I know.  I am not perturbed by what I don’t.’

‘Maybe the old man is right,’ they said to one another.  So they said little.  But down deep, they knew he was wrong.  They knew it was a blessing.  Twelve wild horses had returned with the one horse.  With a little bit of work, the animals could be broken and trained and sold for much money.

The old man had a son, an only son.  The young man began to break the wild horses.  After a few days, he fell from one of the horses and broke both legs.  Once again the villagers gathered around the old man and cast their judgments.

‘You were right,’ they said.  You proved you were right.  The dozen horses were not a blessing.  They were a curse.  Your only son has broken his legs, and now in your old age you have no one to help you.  Now you are poorer than ever.’

The old man spoke again.  ‘You people are obsessed with judging.  Don’t go so far.  Say only that my son broke his legs.  Who knows if it is a blessing or a curse?  No one knows.  We only have a fragment.  Life comes in fragments.’

It so happened that a few weeks later the country engaged in war against a neighboring country.  All the young men of the village were required to join the army.  Only the son of the old man was excluded, because he was injured.  Once again, the people gathered around the old man, crying and screaming because their sons had been taken.  There was little chance they would return.  The enemy was strong, and the war would be a losing struggle.  They would never see their sons again.

‘You were right, old man,’ they wept.  ‘God knows you were right.  This proves it.  Your son’s accident was a blessing.  His legs may be broken, but at least he is with you.  Our sons are gone forever.’

The old man spoke again.  ‘It is impossible to talk with you.  You always draw conclusions.  No one knows.  Say only this:  Your sons had to go to war, and mine did not.  No one knows if it is a blessing or a curse.  No one is wise enough to know.  Only God knows.'”

Just a whisper

I am speechless.

Well, to be more accurate, I am voiceless. As in no voice. Laryngitis. Something I have never experienced.  It gives me a new appreciation for being able to speak, because I have a lot to say, even if I choose not to say it. But I now have no choice, no voice. 

I can listen. And I can whisper. 

But in a crowd, I am unheard. 

I was able to portray being John the Baptizer and share the early life of Christ to the kids at Bible Adventure. God gave him a powerful message to declare and then a voice with which to do it. What would have happened if he had ‘lost his voice?’  I, on the other hand, noticed afterward my throat felt scratchy. 

I was able to talk to a few at our family reunion – people I rarely see and am interested in their lives. I found, even then, I chose to use my words sparingly and asked more questions so I could listen and not have to speak much. Technically, this is my ‘normal’ mode, but I was much more aware of it as I could feel my voice becoming a bit squeaky and weak. 

What if those words I spoke were the last words I could ever speak? Makes me think about what I say. Have I chosen words that build up, or words that tear down? Words that speak life – or not? Words are truly like seeds that go through the ears and down to the hearts of others. What seeds am I sowing? What fruit will come forth? “Let the words of my mouth …….be pleasing to You….” Words filled with honor, and truth and life. Words of hope.

It truly is frustrating to not be able to speak. There is more I wish I could say. And yet there are many who literally have no voice. Babies in the womb, with others left to determine the course of their lives. Non-verbal individuals who depend on caregivers to ‘read’ their thoughts or feelings. 

We all want to be heard. I take a lot for granted, even my voice. It is a gift, not a right.

Surprisingly, however,  I notice that it also is empowering to be only able to whisper. Those who truly want to hear what I have to say, need to stop what they are doing, lean in and with great intention, listen to my whispering. In a world where we don’t often look at one another because we are multi-tasking, it requires a setting down of what we are doing. It requires leaning in closer. It even requires sacrifice.  

When others do this, it makes me feel valued, like my words are important and worth hearing. And if there are those who don’t take the time or make the effort, it’s ok. If they don’t want to hear me amidst all the other noise and voices of life, I will not (truthfully, I literally CANNOT) raise my voice for their attention. 

Kind of gives me deeper understanding about hearing the voice of God. Is it up to Him to shout in order to get my attention, or is it rather up to me to seek it? 

He is not voiceless. 

He has much to say. 

What He says is priceless. 

Will I in 2020 put things down, lean in closer, and give heed to His words? 

The rugged path toward love – and peace

Love in the same manner as Christ loved us.” This is repeated multiple times and ways throughout the message of Jesus and the letters in the New Testament.

But, how Lord, how do we love those who are unloveable, who intentionally seem to brush against the raw areas of woundedness in our lives, even the ones who are deliberately (or even thoughtlessly) hurtful or offensive to people and their beliefs, opinions and even faith? So many of the leaders (and their followers) have become very mean and even to the point of promoting hostility, which grates at my spirit that longs for peace and unity. How do I show love to them when it flies in the face of my sense of justice and kindness? Surely I can be civil, but love  them? Is love something we can just conjure up – especially when others seem to delight in being oppositional?  And in many ways if I am honest, I just don’t want to work at this love. It requires too much of me.

And yet, Lord, You have called us to love and left an example for us to follow. Your love is for ALL, even those who oppose You. “While we were sinners, Christ died for us.” Because of Your love. How can we as a culture move forward instead of backward – from tolerance to acceptance to love? It has to be supernaturally given – there is no natural way to achieve it !

Cindy, there is a progression of steps to loving others as I do. Be warned – Your heart is not a vacuum. If you don’t invest your love toward them, then hate fills and rules your heart.  

The path to love as I do begins with humility, which is counter-cultural. It begins by asking to see others as I see them. This opens the door for compassion which opens the way for forgiveness, which in turn allows for love and kindness, which then produces peace.

When you see through your eyes or the eyes of others, your heart gets clogged with information, even misinformation. Possibly incomplete facts and wrong conclusions  – but not TRUTH. Then your emotions get caught up and embroiled in it all. BUT you can begin by asking Me to show others to you through MY eyes. My eyes are full of grace and truth. Any other ‘seeing’ is false and not based on truth. Any other perception of another is based upon your self-filters of hurt and blind judgment. And if it is not My judgment, it is not ‘righteous judgment.’  

Only when you choose to see others through My eyes, and only My eyes, will you capture My heart for them. Then you can walk in compassion toward them, knowing it is not flesh and blood that you should be warring against, speaking against and harboring negative thoughts about them. That is not My way. If you are to love My way, it can only begin as you see others through My eyes. Then as you pray in obedience and join WITH My heart FOR them, I will fill your heart with compassion. Compassion paves the way for forgiveness – without which you cannot truly love as I love. Forgiveness of others as I have forgiven them paves the way to love as I love. This is how I love you, this is how I love all I have created in My image. 

Fill your heart with worship and direct your thoughts toward Me, being thankful in everything I show you. Thankfulness paves the way for Me to work in your life – and yes, through you into the lives of others. Your life is a picture, a visual, of My love. If your eyes are focused on the faults of others, your heart cannot be filled with the fruit of My Spirit. If it is not filled with peace and joy and love, it does not reflect Me, either in what I have for you, or what I have for others through you.

Ponderances of Christ’s call as recorded in Colossians 3:12-17-

 

 

A Child’s view

Mimi’s musings

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.

Things like:

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 usI 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.

And small.

Unimportant.

Slighted.

Offended.

Even angry.

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.

Pearl gathering

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.

Filtered Conclusions

“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?

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.