Category Archives: faith

Apples and Oranges

One of my brothers and his wife just celebrated 30 years of wedded bliss this past weekend. They’ll tell you it’s not all been ‘bliss’ but downright hard work at times. Relationships usually are hard work. It’s that iron sharpening iron thing – there’s bound to be more than a few sparks.

Something inside me still winces at how long my siblings have been married. Several have been married longer than I was. Sometimes, I get angry about that – that I thought I would be celebrating so many years of marriage. But I will not. Then I think about how my decision to divorce was a matter of life and death for me. I could not continue in my marriage because it had become a nightmare.

I have been with Cycle Dude for almost 8 years. Comparing the time I was married to the time I have been with Cycle Dude is like comparing apples to oranges. Comparing my marriage to my siblings’ marriages is also like comparing apples to oranges. I don’t know what challenges my siblings have faced in their marriages. I know that none of them is married to the type of person I was married to or has to deal with the type escalating behavior I had to deal with.

We cannot compare ourselves to others – our lives, our marriages, our children, our possessions, etc. God creates us to be unique people, a people after His own heart, a people willing to be used by Him for His glory. Wherever we are in our lives, that’s where we are supposed to be. God knows we are not always going to make the right decisions, but He promises never, never, never to leave us or forsake us. Read the lyrics to “How Firm a Foundation”. There is so much wisdom in the old hymns.

God does not compare us. Rather, He likens us to parts of the same body. So, instead of saying, “Gee, I wish my  _____ (fill in the blank – life, marriage, etc.) was like hers”, say, “She is an eye, I am an ear – we are both part of the same body, the Body of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 12:14-31) We are not apples, nor are we oranges. We are different people with different gifts and talents – all for the glory of God. Stay tuned. . . .

Be Willing

I enjoy my job. I know not many people can say that. The reason I enjoy my job is that it gives me an opportunity to serve others so they can do their jobs well. I also get unplanned opportunities to pray with people and share the love of Christ. There have been times when I’ve been in line at the cafeteria and I’ve felt compelled to pay for the meal for the person behind me. That shocks people!

Why would I do things that are so radical – pray for a total stranger in the hallway of the hospital or pay for a stranger’s meal? I pray on my way to work (my commute is 40 minutes). I pray to be willing to hear God’s voice and do what He tells me. Philippians 2:13 says, “For it is God who works in you both to will and then to do His good pleasure.” The Holy Spirit motivates me to want to do and then to actually do what He tells me. (This is NOT a woo-woo kind of thing, nor is it doing violent acts in the name of Christ.) It is living my life as a believer in Jesus.

Sometimes being willing to do what He asks of me is risky – what if that person doesn’t want me to pray with them (that’s happened before)? What if that homeless person throws away the food I just bought for them? Now, mind you, I don’t do things that would put myself or someone else in harm’s way. I’m willing, not stupid. Sometimes I don’t act on what I feel Christ has asked me to do because I feel silly or I doubt I actually heard right in the first place. That’s okay. I do know that the voice of God will never contradict the Word of God.

Be willing to step outside of your comfort zone. Be willing to hear the voice of God. Be willing to allow Him to use you to show a broken world that He so loved the world. Stay tuned. . . .

 

The Tempest

In Shakespeare’s play, “The Tempest” caused a shipwreck that killed the main character’s enemies. One may feel that a divorce is like the tempest. Divorce is painful because it is the rending of two souls intimately joined by promise or covenant – that’s what the rings represent. Divorce can feel like a shipwreck, and all you are left with are splintered boards, broken glass and an oil slick on the water.

I have never endured a hurricane or a storm on the open sea. However, I have endured frightening thunderstorms in the Midwest and dust storms in Arizona. The tempest can take many forms – from thunderstorms whipping the atmosphere into a circular frenzy to mighty winds carrying dust into every nook and cranny and powerful storms over the ocean pushing the sea several miles inland. The tempest can also be the emotional storm that accompanies the ripping apart of a divorce.

I thought about this post this morning. I try to encourage others to walk through their divorce with courage, knowing there is light when you come out of the darkness. I know going through a divorce is not all butterflies and unicorns. I know it can be one of the darkest, ugliest and most frightening places you can be. I think only abuse and death are worse than divorce – at least for me.

Shakespeare’s character conjured up the storm for nefarious purposes. I know of One who calms the storm – for His glory. I can honestly say that if it had not been for my faith and the faith of two close friends, I would not have made it through the tempest. I also humbly admit that I did not ride out the storm as a saint. I rode out the storm screaming and shouting all the way – not out of fear, but out of anger and vengeance. I am not the ideal person to emulate during a divorce. However, I can proudly say that I am still standing, I have withstood the tempest because of the love of Christ.

The storm may be buffeting you all around. You may feel as if you do not have the strength to stand. Pray the prayer, “Help!” You will feel the hand of God calm the tempest and steady you. Have faith. Stay tuned. . . .

Taking a Lesson From Nature

Back in March, I moved in with Cycle Dude. He lives 20 miles from where I lived in Mytown, so now I have quite a commute! I don’t mind the commute – I travel through some beautiful country to get to Myjob. One of the things I like about living at Cycle Dude’s house is the variety of wildlife – mammals, insects, and amphibians – that live around his house. One day last week, I came out of Cycle Dude’s house and saw this moth on the ground. (I did not know it at the time, but the moth was dead.)

I stopped and stared at this beautiful creature! I was amazed at how creative God is! I have never seen a moth like this – with its art deco wing pattern. I am not sure how this wing design functions as camouflage, but I think it’s beautiful!

I have been giving this little moth some thought. This critter can’t help but to be who he is. What if he wanted to be a beautiful Monarch butterfly? Or a breathtaking Luna moth? Or not a winged creature at all? He is who he is because he fills a unique role in creation. His wing pattern alone creates ‘Ooo’s!’ and ‘Ahh’s!” Maybe he is unique food for another critter – bird, amphibian or insect.

I am amazed at how creative God is! We are all who we are because we fill a unique role in creation. I am not rich or famous. I have told God that if my only purpose on earth was to have my children so they could be rich or famous or they could influence another’s life for the better, then so be it. That’s my unique role. No one is nothing – we are all part of the Grand Design. Remember “It’s a Wonderful Life” and how George Bailey wished he hadn’t been born? Remember when he realized all the people’s lives he touched for the better?

Take a lesson from nature – we are all beautiful and unique. There is only one you, only one person with your unique wing pattern! Praise God for your unique role in His creation! Stay tuned. . . .

The Humility of Compassion

I normally don’t post twice in one day, but I just had an experience I need to share. It relates to a larger characteristic I wish I would see more of.

My boss is gone on vacation this week, so I have been taking advantage of the time and walking around the campus at Myjob twice a day. This afternoon, as I was walking by one of the medical buildings, I saw a young family in front of me. I expected them to turn into one of the buildings, but they kept going. I soon realized they were lost. I asked if I could help them find something. When they responded in the affirmative, I took them to where they needed to go. She was pregnant and they were going to her doctor’s appointment. I made sure we took the ‘inside way’ to the correct medical building because it’s turning into a hot day here in Mytown and I knew she’d be uncomfortable continuing to walk outside.

So why was this act humbling and compassionate? The family did not know English very well. They had a map and a confirmation receipt for the mother’s doctor’s appointment. I had to rely on them to tell me where they needed to go. In spite of what I tell my children, I don’t know everything. It was humbling to follow their lead. Why compassionate? The family was lost and it was hot outside – I made sure they found their way and didn’t get lost. I told the dad I was taking him through the building because it was cooler for his family.

There are many people who wrap their acts of compassion in the banner of self-promotion. “Look what I did to help this person or this animal. Aren’t I such a wonderful person?!” Jesus told the story of two men who went to the synagogue to pray – one man was rich and known for his riches. The other man was a tax collector and people despised him. The rich man prayed in a loud voice so the room full of people could hear him. “Oh, God, I thank you that I am not like the sinners – adulterers, tax collectors, cheaters. See how I fast twice a day and give my tithes to the church!” The tax collector stood in a back corner of the room and bowed his head in shame. “Oh, God. Be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.” (Luke 18:10-13) Jesus admonished His disciples and said the tax collector was the better of the two men. Why? Because he prayed (acted) in humility.

When we act out of compassion, we experience humility when we quietly perform our deed. The very action of compassion itself is humbling because we must step outside of our comfort zone to do what we know is right. Was it right to let that family continue to wander around in the hot sun when the mom was so pregnant? No, of course not! The right thing to do was to make sure they got into a cool building and found the doctor’s office. You might say, “Well, that’s just being kind!” Yes, it is. What you don’t know is that this family was of an ethnicity I have expressed a strong dislike for in the past. I had to shove that aside and ask, “How may I be of service to you?”

Humility is stepping outside of ourselves and putting others first. Compassion is showing care for another person (or animal) by serving them as Christ served us. (Matthew 20:28: ‘The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve. . . .”) Don’t be afraid to humble yourself and serve others in the love of Christ. Stay tuned. . . .

Family Reunion

Next weekend, various family members will be heading to MyState for a family reunion. The last time my siblings and I got together was for my mom’s 75th birthday. She will be 80 this year. Some family members are coming that I have not seen in years! I am excited! The only bad thing is that it is supposed to rain the whole time my extended family members are here. Oh, well.

I would not be as excited about this family reunion if I hadn’t taken a bold step last October. My middle son and I were talking one evening about the family reunion and he said something that made me think about my familial relationships. There was one family member that I had not gotten along with for years. I knew she would be at the family reunion. I did not want to make everyone uncomfortable by continuing this feud with her. I prayed and I asked for prayer because making peace with this family member was not real high on my “To Do” list.  Yet, I felt that it was something I needed to do.

I flew to the state this family member lived in. I stayed at another family member’s home and made arrangements to get together with the feuding family member. I knew I needed to approach her as honestly and sincerely as I could. Long story short, we resolved our differences. I was so relieved! Now, this family member and I are going to be first time Grandmas together – her first grandbaby is due two months before my first grandbaby. Now we will be able to share in one another’s joy.

Making peace with that family member was difficult. It is not something I would have done five or even two years ago! Yet, I knew this family reunion was coming up and I wanted to honor my mom’s 80th birthday by having the focus be on her and not on my feud with the other family member. It took courage and it took the willingness to do what I knew to be right even if the family member did not reciprocate.

So what does this have to do with being divorced? Do you have family members with whom you have not talked for a while – perhaps due to your divorce? Perhaps you and another family member said angry words to each other at one time? Perhaps you had a misunderstanding? I would urge you to resolve your differences as soon as possible. Pray about it, think about it, give it some time, but resolve to move forward to make peace.

Why? A couple of reasons: we are not promised tomorrow – make your peace today; you may see your family member at a family gathering – it’s much easier to be at peace with one another than to spoil the gathering for everyone else because you are feuding; and because the Bible commands it – Romans 12:18 states, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Be willing to live at peace with others. Stay tuned. . . .

The Last Day of Your Life

Whenever I hear of a loss of life, whatever the situation, I always think, “Did they (the people involved) know that was going to be their last day on earth?” Most likely, the answer is “No”. I know this may be a rather macabre subject, but I have a purpose in this post.

The years and days leading up to my divorce were dark – I have shared before that I walked around angry all the time. I was bitter, easily agitated, and not very much fun to be around. Some folks would have cheered my passing during that time! I wasn’t much better immediately following the divorce.

It takes me 40 minutes to get to work since I moved in with Cycle Dude. That gives me a great deal of time to pray, think about life and listen to worship music. This morning on my way in to work, I thought about the phrase, “The Last Day of Your Life” and what it means. I thought, what would most people do if they knew when they woke up this morning that it was the last day of their lives? Would they be more compassionate, more kind and generous? Then I thought, we ought to live our lives like that anyway.

Why wait until death is near to be a good person? To have faith in God? To show unconditional love to others? We should live each day like it’s our last. Yes, it’s easy to get angry, to be irritated by the hatred and evil we see around us. But what if we lived each day with a little more compassion, with a kind word on our lips, with a grateful and generous heart? We may not make a difference in the entire world, but we will make a difference in our small corner of the world.

Psalm 90, verse 12 states: “Teach us to number our days, that we may have a heart of wisdom.” And again in Psalm 139, verse 16: “You saw my unformed body. . . You knew the number of my days before there was one of them. . . .”. Whether or not we know the number of our days, God knows. We are to live our lives with wisdom, being selfless instead of being selfish. Instead of living our days for ourselves – in a self-centered, grab-all-I-can for me, me, me lifestyle – why don’t we live our lives in such a way that shows the love of God, or our belief in the goodness of humanity? Whenever we depart this world, we will leave all our stuff behind. I don’t want to be remembered for amount of stuff I had, but for the amount of love I showed. Stay tuned. . . .