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Chaos, Social Justice, and Facing Fear in order to Seek God's Face

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in You.  Isaiah 26:3 A warning in advance-in...

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Toxic Bromance

He Treats Me to a Feast; Notes from my Abundant Life

Toxic Bromance
Stop being deceived: Wicked friends lead to evil ends.
1 Corinthians 15:33(ISV)

More tales from my Gayle.  My godson’s bromance has gone toxic.  It’s really becoming a problem. Her frustration is around seeing her child not commanding the respect, appreciation, and sincere friendship he’s offering.  He just wants to be liked by the kid he wants to like him…so here’s the question….why do we chase after what is clearly Bad (b)Romance?

It can be a person, a habit, certain behaviors, anything.  We want what we think we want when in reality, it just isn’t good for us.  Nobody chooses toxic relationships on purpose, do they??

Well, in reality, we do.  What we want seems really good, at least at first.  The object of this bromance is attractive, popular, and apparently so insidious in his treachery (yeah, I don’t like him, so I don’t have to be objective, hrmph!) that everyone loves him.  You know what I’m talking about, whether it’s the shoes that are SO in fashion but that are too expensive AND make your feet hurt, the dessert that looks beautiful, but isn’t good for your heart OR your waistline yet looks so pretty, the friend who is always a blast to hang out with but slings barbs, so seemingly innocent, that hurt SO bad….we seek out, nay we RUN to pretty poison.  My godson is not alone…..

At the time of the scripture’s writing, Paul was giving the church at Corinth a reality check.  They meant well, but didn’t have much grounding, and even less training (sound familiar?) It’s not like much has trained.  How often to do know better without doing better? If so, then we certainly can’t blame anyone else when they don’t see us modeling the right things to do.

As I’ve told my Gayle, it’s about patience.  In fact, I told her it was like elevator music.  You swear you’re not listening, but you find yourself humming the melodies hours or days later.  As an adult, do you find yourself muttering the very same things which horrified you when they came out of your parents’ mouths??  We’ve got to learn to patiently pour into one another good instruction, patiently seasoned with love and prayer.  Like elevator music.

So what did the evil 6 year old do to my sweetheart this time?? He convinced him to drink chocolate milk, telling him it was good.  The child despises chocolate, by the way.  He drank it, seeking acceptance, and nearly threw it up all over everything.  As you might imagine, my Gayle was PISSED.  However, she calmly talked my boy through it, and though she doesn’t think she is, she’s playing elevator music.  Sometimes it takes a lot of elevator music to really get the tune into our heads.

Lord, I never thought I would, but thank You for elevator music.  Well, not exactly for elevator music, but for the still small voice that speaks to us to say….”naw, you shouldn’t, and you know you shouldn’t” whether we listen immediately or not.  You are clear in Your Word…”Stop being deceived,(my translation….QUIT BEING AN IDIOT) wicked friends lead to evil ends” but You are equally clear in Your Message of unending grace, abounding mercy, and unlimited forgiveness of sin. It’s such a relief to know we are so richly covered….having unending grace to match our unending troubles, even the mischief we make for ourselves.  And that, once again, is further evidence that God is Good.

PS, Lord, please don’t make me have to blog again about that ugly-acting little boy.  I’m trying to be good…..

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Fix me, Jesus

He Treats Me to a Feast; Notes from my Abundant Life

Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?” I answered, “Sir, you know.” And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.  Therefore,  “they are before the throne of God
   and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne
   will shelter them with his presence.
‘Never again will they hunger;
   never again will they thirst.
The sun will not beat down on them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd;
‘he will lead them to springs of living water.
   ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.
Revelations 7”13-17 (NIV)
It looked like my washing machine was dead.  It was behaving like it was on its last legs, though I didn’t think that this time was its time.  I actually thought I could fix it.

It must be this way with Jesus.  No matter what our failing, no matter how far we’ve fallen, He intercedes for us with the Father, and we are made whole.  We get fixed.  Can you imagine being one of those, released from the great tribulation, who would serve day and night in the temple? No to-do lists, no chores, no afterschool activities, no LAUNDRY, just praise while we are sheltered in His presence. 

My washing machine kept stopping, mid-cycle, with a basin full of water.  It wouldn’t drain.  It flashed an error code F-21, so I went to the Internet to do some research.  Who knew I could reliably solve the problem myself? I got my DH to buy in to my being a little adventurous….I really felt I could solve the problem, and I did.  I joyfully called my husband and immediately reported that he owed me about $350 (hey, I didn’t go into NYC to get my hair colored and styled, AND I repaired our Kenmore HE front loader).  Laughing, he said whatever it cost, it was worth it.

What would you pay to get it all fixed? Not the stuff, but your stuff.  What would you pay for joy, for blessed assurance, for the knowing, deep down, that you are redeemed and free?

Today’s lesson comes from the appliance section.  Just as I knew (or hoped, against hope) that it wasn’t my washer’s time yet, we are assured that we are always redeemable by the blood of the lamb.  Like my washer, after days of being water-logged, not working properly, stopping mid-cycle, we are still not beyond His love.  Whew…

What, or who, have you written off lately? Did you do so prematurely? What if you had the power to fix it?  You do…we all do…because no matter what has happened, no matter what you said, or did, or didn’t do, there is abundance in you, just like the abundance I continually discover in my continually amusing life.  And therein, lay my evidence, that God is Good.

PS....click the title to see Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater dance "Fix me, Jesus"

Monday, September 26, 2011

Reality check (cash?)

He Treats Me to a Feast; Notes from my Abundant Life

Reality check (cash?)

Keep me safe, my God,
   for in You I take refuge.
 I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord;
   apart from You I have no good thing.
Psalms 16:1-2 (NIV)

Walking the dog this morning, I doubled back a few steps to chat with a neighbor.  As our conversation ended, I looked down, and there, at my feet, was a twenty-dollar bill. Immediately, I said “thank You, Lord.” 

I didn’t anticipate it.  I hadn’t considered any such thing happening.  It made me smile.  It was my unexpected blessing.  It was my reminder that all things come from God, and when the particularly good ones come without warning, they should be shared.  I gave each of the kids $5.  I give this challenge to you…go be an unexpected blessing, because you will get more than you give, no matter what you give…that is Divine math, and a further reminder that God is Good.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Really not nice….(the mommy version)

He Treats Me to a Feast; Notes from my Abundant Life

Really not nice….(the mommy version)

Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.
1 Peter 3:8-9(NIV)

I should’ve taken a nap yesterday.  Maybe I shouldn’t have gotten out of bed.  I was a very bad mommy, and today I’m sorry.  Ed Asner once said that “raising a kid is part joy and part guerilla warfare.” Yesterday I spent mostly on the battlefield.  When I wrote “Not nice,” I was talking about an emotional bully.  Yesterday, I was the one behaving badly.

I am trying, desperately, to see my glass half full.  I really try to put a positive face on things, but the truth of the matter is, I’m wearing thin.  Just this morning, my daughter complained that I’m always perky and happy.  She has no idea…

My daughter has so much potential.  Seeing all those possibilities, I can set expectations for her pretty high.  She is so very capable of consistently exceeding them that I am a Grinch when she defaults to being a normal, hormonal teen aged girl.  Pumpkin, I’m sorry, this blog is for you.

If I’m being authentic, I fall short of the glory regularly.  Yesterday in particular, I wasn’t nice.  Notwithstanding choices with which I often disagree, there is no valid, Godly reason for me to be so hard on my girl.  I’m not going to do it anymore.  I’m open to any reader, and certainly to You, Lord, for inspiration on how to do it right.  I’ve learned not to yell so much.  Now I have to master not being so nasty-nice.  I think it’s probably worse.  (Both kids tell me they’re creeped out when I’m clearly angry but calm, that they’ll just have to get used to, but I will work on conveying my displeasure without needing to resort to just being plain mean.

Not that it matters, but I think I understand from whence that frustration comes…I wish my children would be more spontaneously considerate.  I try to model that behavior to them, but frankly I feel like they mistake my kindnesses for entitlements, and that kind of inconsiderate behavior I simply will not abide. 

Here’s today’s lesion.  Repay evil (read the inconsiderate tyranny of an indulged child) with a blessing.  I want to be worthy to inherit my blessings.  I pray to pass them along to my children in a way that they may both give and receive them.  I won’t master this lesson today, but I will begin to try. God’s Grace accompanies me on this journey, because even when I am really not being nice, I feast in His abundance.  And humbled, ashamed and embarrassed, but hopeful, I remember once again that God is Good. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

Not nice….(for my godson)

He Treats Me to a Feast; Notes from my Abundant Life

Not nice….(for my godson)

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Ephesians 5:1-2 (NIV)

My “Gayle” called me this morning, mad.  (Oh come on, if you’ve fantasized at least once about being Oprah, you know who a “Gayle” is…) I was honored that she sought my advice …Lord only knows why she trusts me, but taking the responsibility seriously, I endeavor to be sober and Godly when I’m offering advice….

Apparently, my godson is having a bit of a “bromance” with the popular kid in his class.  Alas, his “bromantic” feelings are unrequited, and in fact, his friend is more than a little ugly in letting him know, as it randomly suits him, that my boy’s offers to play and hang out are unwelcomed.  Sometimes he’s so unkind as to send my dear boy away in tears (he’s only 6).  Truthfully, the boy is more of a frenemy….

She called me, hot like fire, because no one wants to see their baby hurt.  We all know the feeling of being rejected; being odd man out, or watching someone we love being mistreated and wishing, praying, they’d just stop running towards the abuse instead of in the opposite direction.  My girl needed to be talked OFF THE LEDGE.

Not only have I witnessed similar interactions, I remember the feeling.  It may well be the reason I appreciate my perspective as observer as much as participant in social settings.   Nobody likes someone who’s not nice.

My best advice to my godson’s mother was to help him articulate his feelings about being mistreated.  In a Christian school setting, I also suggested she ask him if that’s the way God wants us to treat one another.  Finally, I told her to give it time, patiently plant the seeds.  He might decide today to give up his bromance; it might take a while before he acknowledges rejection and meanness as things to be avoided at all reasonable cost…I also suggested that instead of pouring her frustration into him, which would be perfectly human, she call and vent to me (it certainly seemed to help her this morning; we were both laughing by the time we ended the call).

I love my Gayle.  I love my godson.  I am thankful that God placed them in my life, mostly so that I can articulate to them lessons they will need to teach me sometime soon.

Ephesians gives us instruction on how we should behave. Boiled down, it’s simple.  We should be nice; love one another.  Simple.  Simple is better.  Simple is elegant.  Simplicity is pure, like the love of God.  And when I get bogged down in all of the intricacies of my life and my world, I am reminded, simply, that God is good.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Promise….

He Treats Me to a Feast; Notes from my Abundant Life

A Promise….
That is why the LORD says,
“Turn to me now, while there is time.  Give me your hearts.
Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning.
Who knows? Perhaps he will give you a reprieve,
sending you a blessing instead of this curse.
Perhaps you will be able to offer grain and wine
to the LORD your God as before.
The Lord says, “I will give you back what you lost
to the swarming locusts, the hopping locusts,
the stripping locusts, and the cutting locusts.
It was I who sent this great destroying army against you.
Once again you will have all the food you want,
and you will praise the LORD your God,
Never again will my people be disgraced.
“Then, after doing all those things,
I will pour out my Spirit upon all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy.
Your old men will dream dreams,
and your young men will see visions.
Joel 2:12, 14, 25-26,28 (NLT)

I’m getting stronger.  When sadness, despair, and anxiety threaten to overtake me, I’m not nearly as afraid as I used to be, though I still don’t like it.  When I hear about friends’ misfortunes, my response is “Thank God it’s no worse than it is….” I’m getting stronger.

Sometimes I wonder from whence my strength comes.  Then I return to The Word.  It doesn’t say in Joel 2 that all will be well.  In fact, it’s going to get pretty desperate.  The day of the Lord is coming, and the only way to survive it is to stay close, and to remember a promise.  I’m getting stronger. 

My strength is not my own.  It is rather the confidence I have developed in God’s Word that reminds me to “turn…while there is time.” I don’t need answers.  I don’t need solutions.  I can rely upon a promise.

My strength is nothing more than the good sense to shelter under His Wing.  That’s easy.  That I can do.  I believe in a Promise, because He never lied.  And when sadness, despair, and anxiety try to assault me, I am reminded that while they may draw near, I am covered by many such promises. And coverage is certainly further evidence that God is good.

OneWord 2015

OneWord 2015

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